Faerie Best Friend: Part Two
I just about had to pick my jaw up off the floor, but I somehow managed to keep it in place. I didn’t, however, manage to keep myself from glaring questioningly at her, as I often did at our school cafeteria menu. Reading my expression, Filly smiled sheepishly.
“Ugh... Of course,” scoffed Mrs. Werdingham, returning to her usual mood. “Neopets these days... Always getting painted or dressed-up or zapped by the lab ray... Is it too much to ask that my students remain the same species for a week? I suppose it is! Now get to your seat, girl, before you decide to change gender!”
Filly raised an eyebrow and walked to the back of the classroom. I shot a hard glance over my shoulder, but I waited until Mrs. Werdingham started lecturing before turning to bombard her with questions.
“We won a paint brush from the Fruit Machine,” Filly answered before I could speak. “I’m sorry I didn’t tell you... I was sort of embarrassed...”
“Embarrassed?” I laughed, thoroughly appalled. “Look at you! You’re absolutely gorgeous! Why didn’t you just tell me?”
“Well... I wasn’t sure how you’d react, exactly,” Filly trailed off. She looked at me pleadingly, and I suddenly understood.
“Oh,” I said, feeling a little awkward. It certainly was going to be different for us, now... She being painted would be a whole new social experience. Again, how lucky can one neopet be? It was as if anything good would inevitably find her. And how would I fare if all my good fortune was being pulled in by her built-in luck magnet? I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised that she, of all people, had won something valuable from the Fruit Machine, but I still hadn’t stopped to think how I would react if she did.
I wasn’t even resolved on my reaction, now...
“I’m happy for you, really,” I finally said. I was still a little indecisive. “Don’t worry about me, okay? You’re still the same... Best friends as always, right?”
Filly sighed and smiled hugely. “Of course, Skye.” I wasn’t sure what she saw in my expression then, but she seemed extremely relieved by it.
When the bell rang for lunch, Filly and I gathered our books to head out. But as I turned to face her, I saw a large, jet black paw resting on her desk.
“Hey,” said Luke as he stared down at Filly.
“Um... hi,” Filly responded, flustered. She seemed just as surprised as I was to see him there. After all, this was the first time he had talked to either of us. Okay, so he wasn’t really speaking, or even looking at me. In fact, I doubt he even noticed I was there.
“You look nice,” he continued, still staring only at her. “I was wondering if you’d like to come sit with us at lunch today.”
Filly gave me a peculiar look; almost as if she was begging. Luke didn’t seem to notice. He was positioned in such a way that would not allow her to simply walk past him to lunch, and saying ‘yes’ may have been her only option. Waiting at the door of the classroom, I noticed Glinda and Shen staring at him with disgruntled expressions.
“Is that okay with you, Skye?” Filly asked. I don’t think it would have mattered if I said ‘yes’ or ‘no.’ She was looking at him with the same dreamy expression I’d had yesterday morning.
“Um... I guess --” was all I managed to get out before she skipped away. I had to admit, I didn’t want her to sit with him... at all. She was the only friend I had at lunch, and without her, I would be completely alone. But a feeling of guilt suddenly washed over me... Was I being selfish? Despite being as lucky as she was, this was the first time she’d ever had an opportunity like this. I didn’t want to ruin it for her; she deserved better than that from me. I sighed in defeat and walked to lunch alone.
I walked through the lunch line, gathering up the food items that looked most edible, which, unfortunately, were few and far between. Maggot stew? I figured there had to be some law against feeding students things like that, but no one seemed to be enforcing it. I searched the cafeteria for someone to sit with, and spotted a familiar red Quiggle. His name was Rupert, if I remembered correctly, and he didn’t have many friends, either - in fact, he appeared to be sitting alone today. I didn’t know him very well, but at least I figured he wouldn’t make fun of me.
“Hi,” I said tentatively, as I walked toward his table. He turned slightly, appraising me with his big, Quiggle eyes. It made me nervous. “Um... do you mind if I sit with you today?” I asked politely. “My friend is busy, and I have nowhere to sit.” He seemed to consider this a moment, then closed his eyes and nodded assent.
He wasn’t unpleasant to talk to. In fact, any awkward silences I may have expected were filled with conversation, mostly about collectable coins. I didn’t mind a bit, though. He reminded me so much of Filly and myself, and it seemed impossible to dislike him. However, I couldn’t refrain from looking over at the table where my best friend now sat. She was talking animatedly to Luke, who sat across from her. She had a huge smile on her face, and I even saw her throw up her head and laugh. She seemed to be having fun...
“Hey, are you okay?” Rupert asked. I snapped back to reality and realized that I was scowling.
“I’m fine,” I lied, pathetically. I laid my head down and flopped my long ears around my face- I didn’t want him to see how upset I really was. He talked some more about collectable coins for the remainder of the lunch period, and I tried my best to listen.
“This one I have here is very rare- mint condition,” he continued. “I haven’t seen another one like it, but then again, the world of collectable coins is vast. See? Look how shiny it is!” As he held the coin up for me to see, I saw three very familiar faces approaching. Glinda and Shen had just gotten up to throw their trays away, their lips curled into venomous smirks. Shen, who stood only several feet away, did her best to imitate the Quiggle, widening her eyes goofily and holding up an invisible coin toward Glinda. She, in turn, stuck her ears straight up and acted exaggeratedly surprised, in an obvious attempt to emulate my expression from yesterday morning. They laughed hysterically as they walked past our table, Filly trailing behind them. I looked at her, my eyes narrowed, and she stopped. As she stared back at me, I could see the tiniest hint of apology in her eyes and nothing else. I waited for her to say something, but she turned and left without a word.
“What?!” I thought angrily to myself. “Did that just happen? Did that seriously just happen? She walked away without saying anything!” I was not going to stand for this! Hadn’t she noticed all the times we’d been made fun of? Didn’t she know how angry it made me? And here she was, hanging around with the same people who had antagonized us for so long. She was such a hypocrite!
“That wasn’t your friend, was it?” asked Rupert. His brow furrowed as he stared after her, and he turned to look at me with questioning eyes. My expression snapped from anger to surprise- he was quite perceptive. And I thought, as I felt the sadness well in my throat, that he had raised an important question.
“No,” I decided, frustration marring my voice. “She’s not the friend I know.”
I stood at the front entrance, waiting impatiently for Filly to appear. She wasn’t going to get away so easily with what she’d done - not without getting a good talking to from me. If she was the best friend she claimed to be, she had to be aware of how much she’d hurt my feelings.
“Hey, Skye!” My quiet fuming was interrupted by Filly’s enthusiastic voice. “You have to hear what happened at lunch today. It was so hilarious! You see, Luke spilled his drink all over -- hey, are you okay?” She trailed off as I turned to scowl at her.
“No, Filly. I’m not okay. Would you mind explaining to me what happened with you at lunch today?”
“What?” She seemed utterly bewildered, as if she had no idea what I was talking about.
“Don’t give me that. Why did you let them make fun of Rupert and me? You know how that makes me angry.”
“Oh...” Her ears drooped and she looked at the ground. When she met my eyes again, she looked ashamed. “I’m really sorry about that, Skye.”
“If you were sorry, why didn’t you say it at lunch?” I growled. “Or were you too scared of looking stupid in front of your new friends?”
“They’re not my friends!” she declared, her eyes wide.
“Then why are you hanging around with them? They’re brats, Filly, and you’re not! But I’m afraid you’re turning into one. Truthfully, I just wish you didn‘t win that paint brush, Filly. It’s changing you so quickly.”
Her eyes narrowed, and I could tell I’d struck a nerve. “Being painted faerie has not changed me. I didn’t say anything to you.”
“Well, maybe that’s the problem,” I retorted.
“Hey!” We both turned at the sound of Luke’s voice from behind us. He was standing in between Shen and Glinda, waving in Filly’s direction. When he caught her eye, he tossed his head and ran his paw through his fur, evidently trying to look cool. “Are you coming?” he asked. “Or are you just going to stand around and talk to losers all day?”
I glowered at him, though I was sure he wouldn’t notice, and turned back to Filly. “So, what’s it going to be?” I asked her harshly. “It’s either me or them. Because I know I can’t be friends with someone who makes fun of me all the time.”
For a second, she looked very hurt, but her expression quickly flitted to anger. She took another moment to glare at me, and turned defiantly to trot after Luke. “Wait up, Luke!” she called, realizing that they were already heading off without her. Suddenly, I was all alone.
I was consumed by anger and frustration as I stomped home by myself. How could things go so wrong so fast? Why did she do this? Why was she loyal to them, after all the times they’d made fun of her, as opposed to me, when I’d been her best friend for years? I supposed there was nothing I could do about it. She’d chosen who she wanted to be friends with, and she’d chosen them, not me. It wasn’t my fault - she’d just have to live with the consequences of being with a bunch of brats!
But at the same time, I felt a surge of regret. We were almost like sisters. We’d been inseparable for so long, it was hard to imagine life without her. She was the only person I could trust entirely, and now I felt as if I couldn’t trust her at all. And if I was being honest with myself, I didn’t have many friends at all besides her. What was I going to do?
When I reached the creek that led to my house, I took out my neodeck. I began rooting through it and removing all the cards she’d given to me: the Flutter card, from when I was feeling depressed; the Money Tree card, from when I hadn’t had enough money to buy it, myself; the Undead Cybunny card from... well, I didn’t remember why she’d given me that one. But none of them felt special to me now, and I threw them one by one into the creek. When I was done, I realized I was left with only half a deck. I stared at it for a bit, and then sighed and tossed the rest of them into the water before trudging the rest of the way home.
The next day, I could not have been more unhappy to be at school. I never thought I’d ever feel the way I did, but I certainly did not want to see Filly right now. Too bad she sat right behind me, otherwise I might have been free to look out from underneath my ears. As it turned out, I’d flopped them over my eyes and nose as soon as I’d sat down at my desk. It was an embarrassing habit, but I did it automatically whenever I felt I was about to cry. And I did feel like crying...
“Skye?” I heard the tentative voice come from in front of my desk. Slowly, I peeked out from under my droopy, blue ears and looked up at the yellow Ixi who was talking to me. She stared down with a forlorn expression which I’m sure mirrored my own, and I couldn’t help but lose my grip on the tears that had been threatening to spill over.
“Where... where are your wings?” I asked quietly as a tear streamed down my cheek. Chagrinned, I quickly wiped it away.
“They were starting to bug me,” Filly said, and despite herself, she managed a smile. She sat down in the desk next to mine and continued to smile apologetically.
“Why? How? How did you get the money to change yourself back?” I was so confused. “A yellow paint brush has got to cost at least as much as that Rainbow Fountain card you have!” She laughed a little, but the apology did not leave her expression.
“That’s the thing,” she said, looking down at her hooves. “I sold it. I sold the rest of my deck too, because the paint brush cost so much.”
“But why?” Honestly, who would give up being a faerie for being yellow? Especially when they had to pay for it? I just didn’t understand.
“Skye,” she responded. “It’s just not worth it, being painted. If I have to give up my best friend in the whole wide world just so I can be a frilly little brat with wings, I’d rather be yellow any day.” Suddenly, she looked sad again. “And you’re right... I was being a brat,” she added.
“Don’t even give me that, Filly,” I said, frustrated. “You didn’t do anything wrong. I was the one being selfish. I guess I was just jealous...” I mumbled. She smiled at me, and I smiled back.
“Speaking of jealous,” I said, changing the subject. “How was it? Hanging out with Luke, I mean. Next to being a big jerk, I’ll bet he’s pretty lame.” She started to laugh.
“You got that right!” she said, snickering. “You know how he doesn’t talk much in class? Well it’s like that the rest of the time, too. He’s so boring...” She sighed, exasperated. “You remember me telling you how he spilled his drink all over himself? Well, I started laughing, like any normal person would, and he just stared at me. They all did -- it wasn’t natural. I have to say, it was really awkward sitting with them the rest of the lunch period.” She shuddered exaggeratedly and I had to laugh.
“It wasn’t just him, either. They were all pretty boring. Listening to Shen and Glinda drone on and on made me just about want to spork my eyes out. You have no idea how glad I am to see you, really.” At that point, I looked over at them curiously. Luke was staring at us with the same blank expression he always had, and Glinda looked positively disgusted. Shen, however, had a fathomless expression -- shocked, for the most part, probably for the same reasons as me, but also inexplicably ashamed. Before I could figure it out, she turned away.
“Well, I guess this is good for you,” Filly said, interrupting my pondering. “Having sold all my collectable cards, it will be a while before I have a deck as big as yours, again. But I’ll catch up, just you --- hey, what are you laughing about?” She broke off as I started giggling.
“That’s what you think!” I said, still laughing. “I don’t have a deck anymore, either. I got mad and threw it into the creek yesterday!” She stared at me blankly. It took a minute for her to process the information, but when she did, we were laughing together.
“Ahh... So where does that leave us?” she asked. “We need some sort of hobby, don’t we?” I looked across the room at my new friend, Rupert. The red Quiggle winked and flashed a collectable coin in my direction as I smiled.
“I think I have an idea.”