It Ain't Easy Being Grape: Part Three
“What?” I asked in disbelief. “You’re going already? Wh-why so sudden? You’ve only been here a few days!” I stammered.
Oliver shook his head, obviously just as upset as I was. “I don’t know why, Violet. We move around a lot. Listen, I only found out just then too, so I wanted to come over to tell you first.”
“But you can’t go! We’ve only just become friends,” I said, becoming increasingly distressed.
“I’m sorry, I don’t want to go, but I have to,” Oliver said. He tried to force a comforting smile, but I could see right through it. “I’m sure you’ll be fine without me. Don’t worry about me, either.”
I tried to contain my emotions. “When are you leaving?”
Oliver looked down at his feet again. “First thing tomorrow morning. I’ll try my best to come visit you, but I can’t guarantee it. Like I said before, we move around a lot.”
I nodded, unable to speak.
“I just wanted to tell you you’re a great friend, and thank you so much for making me feel welcome. I really appreciate it,” he added and waited patiently for a response.
Still, I couldn’t open my mouth to speak. I was afraid that if I said something, I would immediately start bawling. What kind of lasting impression would that make?
When he finally realised I wasn’t going to say anything, he gave up. “Look, I’m really sorry, Violet, but I have to go pack now. It was a pleasure getting to know you,” he said quietly before he walked away.
“Go away, Rosie, I already told you I need to be alone right now! You can brush your hair later!” I yelled from under my pillow. I spent what felt like hours lying on my bed, tears streaming down my eyes. It wasn’t fair; why did it have to happen like this? More precisely, why did it have to happen to me? I lost a potential best friend before I even got to know him better.
“It’s me, Violet. I’m worried about you,” Ellie called from the other side of the door. “Can I come in?”
I grumbled, and then decided it was best that I didn’t let Ellie worry too much. “Come in.”
Ellie came in and sat down on my bed, next to me. “I thought you might like this,” she said, handing me a scrunched up piece of notebook paper. On it read ‘127935 Tiki Tack Street, Mystery Island’ in neat handwriting which I recognized – it was Oliver’s handwriting. Ellie had probably gone over to Oliver’s house to ask for his new address. She was always thoughtful and considerate like that.
“Thanks, Ellie, but neomail is just not the same as talking to someone face to face,” I said, placing the piece of paper down at the end of my bed. All of a sudden, an idea came to mind. “Ellie, do you think we could go to Mystery Island? I mean, for a holiday or something. You know I’ve always wanted to train with the Techo master at the training school there,” I asked eagerly.
Ellie raised a dubious eyebrow. “Are you sure that’s the only reason why you want to go there? Sweetie, a holiday costs neopoints - in fact, bags and bags of them. Sorry to burst your bubble, but you have school too. Who knows, by the time it’s holidays they might have moved elsewhere.”
“I guess you’re right... it’s just that I’m going to miss Oliver so much. He was my first and only true friend.” I sighed, all out of ideas.
“Sweetie, who says he’s going to be your last friend? From what I hear from Rosie, she says you say you’ve changed and not everyone’s out there to get you. Now with a positive attitude like that, I think you’re going to attract a whole lot more friends,” Ellie said as she tried her best to comfort me.
I managed to form a smile. “I hope so.”
“Well, I know so. What would Oliver say if he saw you like this, hmm?” she asked while gently holding my hand.
I thought for a while. “He’d probably tell me to stop wallowing around in self-pity.”
Ellie laughed. “That sounds like good advice to me. Now are you going to be alright?”
Nodding, I answered, “I’m okay, Ellie. Thank you.” But I wasn’t sure if I was.
At night, I found it unusually difficult to fall sleep. As I tossed and turned in bed, I couldn’t stop thinking about Oliver. I admired him – he was strong and courageous – everything I used to pretend to be but was actually the stark opposite of. Now, thanks to Oliver, I had understood what it meant to accept yourself for who you were. I thought back to what he had said earlier that day. “But you have such a great personality. I mean, you’re smart, kind and have a great sense of humor. What more could you ask for in a good friend?” he said to me. Those were the kindest words anyone had ever said to me, and I never thanked him for it.
Suddenly, I felt the urge to retrieve the scrunched up piece of paper Ellie had given me. I patted around my blankets and realised it was no longer sitting at the end of my bed where I’d left it, perhaps because of my tossing and turning. I quickly jumped out of bed and peered underneath my bed.
“Eureka!” I whispered to myself as I snatched the piece of paper, aware of the fact that Rosie was dozing peacefully in the bed next to me. Tiptoeing to my desk, I turned the desk light on. I took another look at the piece of paper. This time, I noticed something I hadn’t noticed before. On the other side of the paper, there was a small scribbling in the bottom right hand corner. It had what seemed like another address on it. Squinting, I could hardly make out what it read. ‘129102 Strawberry Crescent, Jelly World.’ I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. Was this another joke? I made myself accept that it was, letting out a somewhat forced chuckle, although there was always that strange tugging feeling in the back of my mind.
I spent the next hour or so writing him a letter, explaining how his few days spent here had changed me immensely. I liked being purple, edible and delicious, and was even starting to change my mind on being called ‘cute.’ Besides, it was meant to be a compliment, right? Finally, I realised that being defensive wasn’t the solution – I had to be more open. I was going to cut down on training, attending classes perhaps once per month and think of an alternative to karate-chopping. I could be less snappy, but instead being friendlier with new Neopets. After all, that was how I came to know Oliver in the first place.
The next morning, I was feeling slightly better but was still in a rather melancholy mood. After posting the letter to Oliver (hoping that it would arrive at his new home before he did), I made my way to school. Although Ellie advised me that she would be fine with me staying at home if I wasn’t feeling well, I decided that I would go to school and not ‘wallow around in self-pity.’ It was what Oliver would’ve wanted. As I walked to the back of the classroom where my student desk was, I stared at the empty seat next to me where Oliver used to sit. I wondered whether he had left for Mystery Island yet, and immediately felt another pang of sadness.
At the front of the classroom, Miss Willard was trying desperately to control the students. “Quiet, please - enough chattering!” she yelled and finally the class settled down. Miss Willard smiled. “Well, as you may or may not know already, our new student Oliver has left the school and moved to Mystery Island for unknown reasons. Coincidentally, we have a new student here today. I want everyone to give a warm welcome to Todd!” she said, gesturing at what appeared to be nothing but thin air. It was not without squinting and leaning forward that I realised what she was pointing at. Beside her was a 2-inch tall Neopet, green, round and jolly. A Pea Chia. “Todd’s from the Ice Caves at Terror Mountain,” she said.
“Hi, everyone,” Todd said with a tiny high-pitched voice. “I’m really excited to be here! It was too cold up at Terror Mountain, and my owner didn’t want me to become a frozen pea,” he said. The class laughed hysterically, but Todd didn’t show much concern. In fact, he beamed proudly at the response to his joke. “It’s so nice to meet you all!” he exclaimed enthusiastically.
I smiled to myself, and sensed that somewhere down the track, Todd and I would become friends.