Do you want to know something?
When someone says they’ll be your Friend Forever, they’re telling a big lie. And lying is something that you shouldn’t do, because it’s mean and it means that other people can be confused or even sad. That’s why I don’t tell lies, and tell my friend Spotil if I rip one of my new plushies and it wasn’t even an accident. I could have said that it was an accident, but that would have been lying.
My friend Sooty told a big lie. She said that we would be Friends Forever and that we would never be parted, and we even made a fancy wiggly handshake that nobody else knew, just to show that we were Friends Forever. It felt like we were in a special secret club for just us two. She would come around to my neohome to play after school even though it wasn’t properly finished because only one half had carpet, but she didn’t mind, because we didn’t need carpet to play imaginary games with my plushies – all we needed were pillow islands surrounded by blue-sofa sea. And sometimes I would go to her house after school, and her owner would make us Mashed Potatoes and Gravy, which is my favourite dinner, and afterwards she would make us each a Sparkling Mint Dessert with a cherry on top and me and Sooty would swap cherries because we were Friends Forever, and that’s what Friends Forever did.
But then Aliecka came into our class. At first I thought she might be lost because she looked like such a big kid, and probably belonged in a big kid class. She had long flowy hair like the kind on my Usuki doll before me and Sooty decided to give it a haircut. It was purple and green and was tied up in a uni-tail with a sparkly pink ribbon. I wasn’t the only one looking at her either – The whole class was looking at her, and I heard two girls behind me whisper something about her fancy pink skirt behind their paws. I was just about to turn around and join their whispering conversation when Mrs Harvey came into the room, and pointed her big Elephante trunk at me.
“Turn around in your seat, Kida – You can talk to Molly and Annabele at break time,” she said loudly, and I turned around quickly and drooped my ears because I liked Mrs Harvey and I didn’t like her telling me off, especially because if you did something bad you might not get a uni sticker to put on the back of your paw at home-time.
“Class,” said Mrs Harvey, going to stand next to the big kid, and I sat up straight to show her I was Being A Good Girl And Listening. “This is Aliecka. She’s new, so I want you all to make her feel very welcome. You all know what it’s like being new, so I want you to all be polite and kind to her.” She looked around the class. ”Sootsoul, could you be Aliecka's buddy and show her around?”
Sooty nodded happily and moved over so that Aliecka could sit next to her. I used to sit next to Sooty but then Mrs Harvey had to move me to a different table because we talked too much, so I felt a little bit jealous that this strange girl was sitting in my old seat next to my best Friend Forever, but then Sooty gave me a little wink and I knew things would be okay.
But they weren’t. During Spelling, Sooty and Aliecka kept giggling and looking in a special shiny pencil tin that Aliecka had. Their heads were bowed in together like they were having their own special secret conversation that nobody else was allowed to hear.
Then in Writing when we were supposed to be writing a poem about our neogardens, Sooty and Aliecka kept passing notes and laughing behind their hands when they opened them. I wished that Sooty would send me a special funny note, but I didn’t even get a chance to speak to her until break time.
When the bell rang, I went with Sooty to our usual lunch-time bench and took out my Blue Cybunny Lunch Box and Sooty took out her Blue Gelert Lunch box and I was sure things were back to normal, until Aliecka came waddling over, a glamorous Illusen Lunch Box swinging from her hand. She asked if she could sit with us and before I could answer NO, Sooty nodded, and Aliecka pushed her great Quiggle bottom between me and Sooty, forcing us apart.
“I was sitting next to Sooty,” I said in my best Friendly Voice because if you are mad at someone the best thing to do is tell them why you are mad in a Friendly Voice so that they won't get angry or sad or confused.
“Well,” Aliecka replied in a very grown up voice, swishing her long hair. “I’m sitting next to Soul now.”
“Her name’s not Soul, it’s Sooty.”
“Sooty is a baby name,” Aliecka replied, nudging Sooty and smiling a secret smile at her. “Soul is much cooler, right, Soul?”
Sooty looked at me and smiled a big smile, and I thought she was going to tell Aliecka how wrong she was and that her name would always be Sooty. But then she said:
“It is kind of babyish, Kida. Soul makes me sound much more grown up.” And then she tossed her hair just like Aliecka did, even though she only had a little bit that flopped over her head and so the toss wasn’t quite as cool.
So I tried to change the subject, because I didn’t want to get into a fight with Sooty because she was my Friend Forever and Friends Forever don’t fight.
“Do you want to come to my house after school to play plushies?” I asked Sooty, looking at her very hard to show her that I was speaking to her and definitely not Aliecka. Aliecka was certainly not allowed to come back to my neohome. She would probably play plushies all wrong, and might laugh at my neohome because only one half had carpet. But what I didn’t know was that she could ruin it without even being invited, which is a bit confusing, so I’ll tell you how it happened.
I could see that Sooty was going to say yes because she lifted her chin in a little way that meant that she was going to say yes, and I knew that because we were Friends Forever, and Friends Forever knew those sort of things. But then Aliecka said:
“Urg, Lekida, you don’t still play with plushies, do you? That’s sooo babyish.” And she made the ‘o’ of the so long enough so that she could roll her eyes before she got to the next word. “Soul would much rather come and play with my Usukis, wouldn’t you? I even have the Pop Princess Usuki Set.”
I waited for Sooty to tell her that she didn’t like Usukis because they were all plasticky and hard and couldn’t go on proper adventures through the weeds in my neogarden because their little skirts got caught, and their little shoes fell off and got lost.
But she said something quite different.
“Oh Aliecka, that sounds so cool, but I have to go straight home today. Would tomorrow be okay?”
Aliecka nodded with a big ugly smile right across her fat green face.
When the bell rang for home-time, I immediately grabbed Sooty’s paw, dragging her towards the classroom door. Our houses were on the same street, so we were allowed to walk home together, though not by ourselves yet. My friend Spotil and Sooty’s owner still came to pick us up, though most of the time they walked behind us going talk talk talk about groceries and stocking markets, so me and Sooty could still have a private conversation. Luckily, Aliecka took the Uni bus home, so she couldn’t tag along and ruin everything again.
“Sooty,” I said, once we started walking, and was about to say some more when she interrupted me in a high tinkly voice that didn’t sound like her at all.
“Oh Kida, I’m Soul now, remember?”
I grunted to show I remembered, but then carried on with what I was going to say.
“Do we have to play with Aliecka? I don’t like her very much at all. She makes fun of our plushie games.”
“Oh, Kida!” Sooty said in her strange faerie voice. “They are a bit babyish, you know. And Aliecka is super-cool! She even has a Green Faerie Eraser that has all these stars on it and she said she’s got another one at home that I can have!”
“But you already have an eraser, the Imiya one.”
I had saved up to buy it for her birthday last year – Spotil had taken me to play hide and seek more times than I could count, until my paws almost fell off with the cold of standing in Terror Mountain snow, waiting for her to find ne.
“But that one’s got all grubby, Kida, and her face is almost rubbed away.”
“But you can still use it.”
“Kida,” she said, and her tinkly voice suddenly disappeared. “Stop being such a baby. Aliecka is so nice giving me a present, and she’s new. You shouldn’t be so mean to her!”
“She was mean to me.”
“But she’s new!” Sooty replied, making the word ‘new’ all loud and long like being new was a very special thing to be, even though it wasn’t really.
“But you’re still my best Friend Forever, right?” I asked carefully. She sighed loudly.
But that was a LIE. A big big LIE. Over the next few days, Sooty started giggling to Aliecka more and more, and talking to me less and less. She came to school with her hair tied up in a uni tail and wearing a little pink skirt even though we’d always agreed that it was silly when pets tried to be like owners and wear funny clothes. She always used her Green Faerie Eraser, carefully rubbing out each wrong answer with just one corner, so that the rest of the eraser would always look new and shiny.
At break times, they sat in my and Sooty’s spot, heads bowed over their lunch boxes, while I sat on the end of the seat and scuffed my toes in the dust.
But then it got even worse. During Art one day, Aliecka pulled my tail so I squealed and had to go for a Little Time Out To Calm Down. Then she tipped a pot of paint all over my finished picture to make me cry and she told Mrs Harvey it was an accident and Mrs Harvey gave me a tissue and said Accidents Happen and gave me a new piece of paper even though I could see Sooty and Aliecka laughing quietly behind her paws which meant that it hadn’t been an accident at all.
During Reading, they threw little white things at me that bounced off the back of my head and one even landed in my ear and I yelped and Mrs Harvey told them to stop being mean and that they both wouldn’t get a uni sticker at home-time that day.
When I got the little white thing out of my ear, I looked at it closely. It was spongy and soft, and when I pulled it close to my eye so I could see it better, I could just make out the torn up remains of Imiya Eraser’s little sleepy face.
After that, they didn’t pull my tail or tip the paint of throw things at me because they wanted to get uni stickers, but they didn’t talk to me either.
Sooty would go around to Aliecka’s house, and Aliecka would go to Sooty's and they probably swapped cherries on their Sparkling Mint Desserts because they were best Friends Forever now. At first, Spotil asked me why Sooty wasn’t coming to our house anymore and I said we weren’t best friends forever and she said that was silly and I said it was true so she went to have a Little Chat with Sooty’s owner and came back very late, so late that my Big Brother Tovet had made me dinner but it was very yucky because he can’t cook very well.
When Spotil did come home, her face was like a statue, and her speckly paws were going stomp stomp stomp across the carpet. I wanted her to say that Sooty’s owner had given Sooty a Good Talking To and now we could be friends again, so I got off my blue sofa-bed, and ran over to her but I ran a little bit fast and almost tipped her up so that she stumbled and had to do a funny dance with her paws to stop herself falling.
“What happened?” I asked, looking up at her. “Can we be Friends Forever again?”
But Spotil just made a tut tut tut noise and shook her head. “You’d do well to be shut of that family anyway, Kida. I thought Shelly and I were friends, but I go in there and she’s talking to another human owner, and I try to have a conversation with her, and what does she do? She talks down to me like I’m one of her pets – Just because I don’t have two legs doesn’t mean...”
But I couldn’t hear the rest.
I had buried my face in the scratchy blue pillows of my blue sofa bed, squishing my ears and blotting out her words.
After that, I knew it wasn’t going to get better. Sooty wouldn’t talk to me at all, and she and Aliecka would run away if I came near them, giggling loudly.
So now I just sit in the library at break-time, which isn’t so bad. I found a book on writing stories that I could read a few pages of (but only a few, because the rest had big confusing words), but it still was very helpful.
It made me want to write this story.
Because if I didn’t write it down, I might forget, and wake up one morning thinking me and Sooty were Friends Forever again.
Author’s note; Thanks very much to Rararee for allowing me to feature Aliecka in this story.
You’re a star!