In Perfect Harmony: Part Four
“I’m sorry!” the Chia cried in a pained tone.
Jenny’s house was a humble place. The only furniture inside it was that which was necessary for decently comfortable living. The color scheme was plain and there were few decorative pieces. Yet it gave off a vibe of welcome and peace: something that reduced Ali’s anxiety as soon as she arrived at the house with her owner. She couldn’t believe how easy it had been. Jenny apologized immediately; she was obviously a kind soul who had not realized the effect of her actions.
The two Neopets and their owners were seated in a small living room: Ali and her owner on a brown sofa, Jenny and her owner in dark brown armchairs. There was a low, glass table in front of the sofa on which a few magazines were stacked. Ali observed two tattered copies of Neopia Culture; obviously Jenny subscribed. How else would she have heard about the same contest Rose had been telling her about?
“Thanks.” Ali revealed a small appreciative smile.
Jenny’s owner cleared her throat. “I only learned about this video of you singing on Neovision today when I was notified, but I’m sure Jenny had a reason behind it.” She turned her head and looked encouragingly at her Chocolate Chia.
Jenny sniffled. “You’re so talented, Ali, and I’m really sorry, but I just had to enter you into the Neopia Culture contest. I asked Lea after you left about what happened when you were announced winner of her contest and she said you didn’t want to sing in it. I thought maybe winning the Neovision contest would make you more enthusiastic about singing, because you’re so great!”
There was a long pause after the detailed explanation. Ali had no idea what to say in response: it was a relatively sweet act that had some thought behind it, and although she felt somewhat touched, she could not deny the anger that had captured her ever since she had seen the video.
“Thanks.” Ali’s cheeks flushed slightly; she was embarrassed.
“No, you really are great!” Jenny assured her enthusiastically.
The Yurble laughed uneasily and glanced at her owner, hoping she could save Ali from the awkward position.
“Well, we do appreciate your apology,” Ali’s owner quickly interjected, “but you did enter Ali into this contest, Jenny, and I’m not sure if you are allowed to submit a video like this when it isn’t of you.”
“Oh,” Jenny sighed, “but I didn’t think it would be a problem! When I put the video up I mentioned that it was Ali singing and not me. So the people who run the contest will definitely know that I’m not the one singing!”
“But you see,” Ali’s owner paused, wondering how to get Jenny to understand, “the judges of this contest are going to wonder why Ali herself did not put the video up. They might become suspicious.”
“Why don’t you see if you can take the video down, Jenny?” the Chia’s owner suggested.
“Alright,” Jenny replied dejectedly.
Ali got up from the sofa and patted the Chia’s arm reassuringly. “I really appreciate it,” she said, hoping to lift Jenny’s spirits. But the Neopet only nodded before standing up and heading to her bedroom to try and take the video off of Neovision.
After around ten minutes, the Yurble poked her head around the corner of the hallway Jenny had gone down to her bedroom. She saw the Chia slowly approaching from a room at the end of the hall and closing the door.
“Hey,” Ali said, as Jenny entered the living room, her eyes watching the ground.
“So, could you do it, dear?” asked Jenny’s owner sweetly.
The Chia did not answer immediately. She sat back down in her chair and looked at Ali’s face for a moment. “No, I couldn’t take it off,” she announced quietly.
“Really?” asked Ali’s owner, surprised, “I would think you would be able to.”
“Well, you can,” Jenny admitted, “but this is a contest submission, and there was a notification that you shouldn’t remove submissions to contests because it can confuse the judges and people running that particular contest.”
Ali grimaced. “But I don’t want to stay in the contest, so it should be fine!”
The Yurble laid her head on her owner’s shoulder, watching her speak. “That’s true, Ali, but it can mess them up still. They might think you are still in the contest when you aren’t, and so on.”
“Oh, I understand.” The Yurble buried her head in her owner’s soft clothing.
“Thank you for your time,” Ali’s owner said appreciatively to Jenny and her owner, standing up. She motioned for Ali to stand up as well. “I think that we’ve achieved everything we can here; it seems like the video has to stay up for now.” The owner shook Jenny’s owner’s hand. “It was nice meeting you, goodbye, and thanks again for understanding!”
“I’m very sorry for this whole problem. Nice meeting you too, bye!” Jenny’s owner responded. “I wish Jenny had asked me if she could put this video up beforehand.”
Jenny said nothing but smiled dimly at Ali right before the Yurble and her owner left the house.
* * *
Tuesday morning arrived and Neopia Central was already unusually warm for the hour. The premature heat surprised the citizens, but they only pondered the weather for a moment before starting the tasks of the day. Summer had nearly arrived: children were anxiously counted the hours until Neoschool ended that week, nervously completing their penultimate and last assignments.
Like always, the three siblings—Ali, Mat, and Rose—set out for school together after bidding their owner goodbye. Usually the walks to school were filled with nonstop chatter between the sisters and occasionally Mat, but this morning’s journey was quiet. Although Rose made attempts to talk with Ali, the Yurble was still upset about the way things had gone at Jenny’s house. Her only hope was that the entry would be disqualified due to Jenny having entered someone else and not herself. But pessimism conquered Ali’s hopes, and she feared that she would win a prize that she neither wanted nor deserved.
Suddenly, Rose stopped walking. At first, Ali and Mat did not notice, but then the Draik realized that their sister was not beside them. “Rose!” he called out. “Come on, we have to be at Neoschool on time!”
The Shoyru refused to continue onwards. “I’m not walking until Ali tells me what happened yesterday! I know that something’s wrong.” She pursed her lips, stubborn.
Ali sighed. “It’s not a big deal, Rose.” She motioned for the Shoyru to start walking again, but Rose once again shook her head. Ali shot a look at her brother, who simply shrugged. “Jenny did put the video up and she apologized, but she said she couldn’t take it down because it would confuse the people associated with the contest. Are you happy now?”
Rose paused and then nodded slightly. “I guess that’s as good of an explanation as I’ll ever get from you.” She skipped up to where her annoyed siblings were standing. “Thanks, let’s go now!”
When the Neopets arrived at school, they parted to go to their respective classes. Ali spent most of the day sitting at the back of each room trying to restrain from talking unless it was necessary. She just wasn’t in the mood. But during lunch period, she ran into Jenny.
“Oh, Ali!” the Chia cried, surprised. “I never seem to see you here in Neoschool, but here you are! Come sit at my table!” She motioned towards a table that was empty except for a Scorchio who Ali had never seen before and a lunch tray that was most likely Jenny’s.
“Sure,” the Yurble responded shyly. She had not chosen a table yet, and it would have been rude to refuse and have Jenny see her look around for somewhere else to sit. She just hoped that the Chia’s talkative nature would allow Ali to keep quiet for most of lunchtime.
“This is Sam,” Jenny said after leading Ali to the table, pointing at the Scorchio.
The Scorchio waved but did not look up from his food. Ali nodded, feeling no greeting was necessary, due to his obvious disinterest in meeting her.
The Yurble sat down hesitantly next to Jenny and began to eat, hoping that nothing about the contest would come up. But the more she hoped, the more she knew that it would in some way.
“I know you’re probably sick of talking about it,” Ali braced herself for Jenny’s words, “but I have to apologize again.”
“You already apologized to me yesterday; it’s fine,” Ali mumbled, hoping Jenny would agree and change the subject.
“No, it’s not fine, because I was going to apologize about something else.” The Yurble looked up and examined Jenny’s gloomy expression, surprised. “I said that there was a notification about not taking contest submissions off of Neovision.” Ali nodded. “I was lying, though, and I’m so sorry!”
Ali tried to look understanding, but her anger overwhelmed her attempt. “What has your owner taught you about what’s right and wrong? First you put a video of me on Neovision without asking me; you enter me into a contest that I don’t want to enter without asking me if you can submit the video; now you’re lying about things that you’ve said! What kind of person are you?” The Yurble covered her mouth with her hand immediately after the outburst, ashamed of her words, despite their honesty.
“It’s so true,” Jenny mourned. “I don’t know what’s come over me! I was just so blown away by your voice. I guess that I was so eager to do all of this that I was oblivious to anyone else trying to convince me otherwise. And I really am sorry, Ali, I mean it.” The Chia looked like she was trying not to cry.
“Then take the video off of Neovision!” Ali yelled. She paused and turned towards the Scorchio. “Could we have some time alone, please?”
“Oh, sure,” he responded without hesitation. He picked up the rest of his food and stood up, flashing a friendly goodbye smile at Jenny.
“Listen, Jenny. I don’t doubt that you are a good person; you seem like a very nice girl. But sometimes you have to accept things as they are. You can manage to change people’s minds about things occasionally, but if you can’t, then you have to respect their opinions. Focus on how you lead your life, not how others lead theirs.”
The Chia nodded, sniffling. “You’re smart,” she murmured almost inaudibly.
Ali giggled. “I sure hope I am!” She held out her hand. “So, are we friends?”
“Friends,” Jenny agreed, shaking the Yurble’s hand. “When I get home I’ll take the video off of Neovision, so if they’ve already seen my entry, they’ll probably disqualify you from the contest.” She stood up. “Lunch is nearly over; we should go now.”
Ali stayed sitting down, her eyes closed.
“Are you coming, Ali? I don’t want you to be late for your next class.”
“I changed my mind, Jenny.”
“What do you mean?” the Chia asked, confused.
“Leave the video up. If they disqualify it because I didn’t enter it myself, that’s okay. But if it is entered into the contest, then that’s okay too. I love singing and all my life people have been complimenting my voice. I guess that’s my talent, and sometimes I really do dream of singing in my future.” She paused. “Sure, I hate performing, but I guess I should get used to it now!”
“Because one day, you’re going to be a star!” Jenny exclaimed.
The two Neopets exited the lunchroom, giggling in perfect harmony.