Now with 50% more useless text Circulation: 182,804,412 Issue: 417 | 6th day of Storing, Y11
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Changes and Friendship: Part One


by sapphirekira

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A loud, piercing sound filled the house – ringing in the most distracting way, waking almost everyone up. Winkie the Faerie Kacheek woke up with a start. Sleepily, but quickly, she ran over to the alarm clock at the other side of her bedroom and bashed it, hard. The tone died down immediately. Winkie sighed and mumbled to herself, “Alright, I’ll get up.”

     She looked nervously at the pile of her new school uniform, waiting there, to be worn by her for the first time. There seemed to be a cold, nervous feeling at the pit of her stomach – today was the day. She was going to start at a new Neoschool, at the beginning of a new school year, and there was no telling what was in store for her. Winkie had never been ‘new’ to a place or group before – apart from when she started Neoschool for the first time. She’d never been involved with those sorts of group activities, because she didn’t like being involved with large amounts of Neopets – she preferred to sit in her room alone, being so quiet in her nature, and think.

     She hadn’t had a very good night’s sleep, of course. There were so many things keeping her awake. What would happen here? Was it good to be new? Maybe she could have a fresh start? Could she actually make real friends? Even a best friend – someone for her to rely on. Someone who would always be there for her. A friend who always cared about her...

     Feeling that she was getting a bit too hopeful, Winkie grabbed her school dress and pulled it over her head. She would just have to wait and see...

     ***

     “Bye, sweetheart! Tell me about your day at your new school!” Winkie’s owner, Jenny, waved at her as Winkie set off along the path. Winkie tried to smile back, but wasn’t sure if she managed it, because she had so much on her mind.

     Even in this early hour, there were many Neopians about, and Winkie decided it wasn’t safe to fly. What if she crashed into someone? She’d only just been painted Faerie, and wasn’t very good at flying yet. So she tucked her beautiful wings back, as neatly as possible, and walked.

     The walk was long, tedious and quite boring. Flying, it took about twenty minutes, but now it took an hour. Neopia Central, since it was the main hub of Neopia, was just the same as usual. Owners and Neopets were hurrying around, shopkeepers holding up endless ‘SUPER SALE!’ signs, laughter filling the air and, in an insignificant corner, Winkie’s new school building. A large sign on it read, ‘Neopia Central Neoschool’. The building looked like any other – just a stack of bricks, really. Nothing on its outside seemed to give any hint to what the school was like.

     I’ll just have to wait and see, Winkie reminded herself. I’ll just have to wait and see. She pushed open the door and entered.

     It wasn’t really surprising that, although there were still twenty minutes until school started, masses of Neopets were already inside, rushing up or down stairs, looking around confusedly, searching for new rooms and lockers or talking to their friends. Winkie spotted the desk with the secretary Zafara, who was looked bored as she sat there, listening to the loud screams of the crowd. Winkie hurried over and, in a slightly embarrassed tone, asked if she could have help in this new place. The Zafara smiled at her.

     “Of course you can, and you will! Hold on a minute. Maylene. MAYLENE!”

     A pretty Chocolate Xweetok, who had been talking animatedly to her friends a few moments ago, rushed over quickly and looked obediently at the Zafara.

     “Yes, Miss Aleri?”

     “Maylene, this is Winkie,” Miss Aleri replied, waving a hand in Winkie’s direction. “She’s new here, so I’d like you to help her out. This should be convenient for you, as you’re in all but one of her classes – and she doesn’t have that class until the end of the week. Please be kind enough to show her around, help her out, and introduce her to everyone. Got it?” she finished in a rather business-like tone.

     Maylene nodded and looked up at Winkie, smiling. “Hi! So, do you want to come around quickly? I can show you the most important parts of the school, before we head off to class. It’s really nice here; I’m sure you will like it. Everyone – well, nearly everyone, there are black Babaa in every flock – is great, and I’m sure they’ll like you.”

     Winkie smiled widely at these kind words. “Thanks so much,” she said, as she followed Maylene towards a small door. “I usually find it hard to be accepted within a community, so this is really great of you!”

     Maylene chuckled. “You’ll be accepted fine here, alright. Everyone is accepted – even if they’re unpopular, or if most Neopets don’t like them... or if they don’t really talk to anyone. They’re still accepted as part of the school.” She opened the door with a kick. “Come on!”

     Maylene had time to show Winkie the bathrooms, the library, the main office and the locker area before it was time for them to head to class. Winkie walked to the classroom reluctantly as she stared at those small letters on her timetable - Maths. She had never been good at maths, and heavily disliked the subject. Hopefully she wouldn’t make a fool of herself in front of the whole class in the first lesson of the first day at her new school.

     Maylene sat down at the centre table, and patted the one next to her to invite Winkie to sit there. Winkie was flattered – she’d only been here a few minutes, and Maylene was asking her to sit beside her, rather than with her ‘better’ friends. There wasn’t much that Winkie wanted to say, but they still felt comfortable next to each other as they sat down and waited for the teacher. All of a sudden, the door banged open.

     What Winkie noticed immediately about her teacher was his height. The Red Techo towered far above all the other Neopets, and even had to bend down, just slightly, to fit through the door. He had apparently never taught this grade’s students before, because everyone was muttering to themselves as they watched him come in, carrying a large suitcase.

     As soon as the teacher stood up in front of the whole class, the room fell silent. He gave everyone a creepy smile. Winkie couldn’t help but feel frightened, but that was silly – she didn’t even know the teacher yet!

     “Good morning, everyone! My name is Mr Leguka,” he said. “Today, we’ll be working on some basic algebra.”

     Everyone groaned.

     “Please turn to page 241 in your textbooks, and work on exercise three.”

     At least this is better than being asked questions in front of the whole class, Winkie thought, as she stared at the problems, struggling to work them out. Maylene was finished within minutes, but Winkie felt embarrassed to ask her for help, so she plodded along on her own.

     She was relieved when, eighty minutes later, Mr Leguka announced that it was recess time. She wanted to get as far away from that creepy teacher and his maths as possible. Yet, as she left the room, she couldn’t help but notice a lonely-looking Yellow Aisha, sitting at the back of the room. She was the only Neopet in the class – apart from Mr Leguka – that wasn’t painted an exclusive colour. Everyone seemed to ignore her as they walked out of the classroom, but she didn’t care, didn’t notice or was used to it. Maylene hurried Winkie on, but her mind was filled with more thoughts as she left the room.

     ***

     “Oh yeah, that was so funny! And when he put the sausage in the...”

     The group of Neopets burst out laughing.

     Winkie smiled. She was sitting with Maylene’s group of five friends, and she was mostly just listening to them as they talked. She sighed and thought back to what Maylene had said in the morning. While Winkie had been worrying about making friends, Maylene had reassured her that everyone was accepted here. This was true – she didn’t really feel like an outsider– but she wondered if she wanted a bit more than that. Everyone else seemed to have a best friend, but she didn’t.

     As she gazed around the school grounds, she saw something – or, rather, someone – that distracted her from her thoughts. It was that same Yellow Aisha she’d seen sitting by herself in Maths, only a few minutes ago. This time, she was just sitting by herself, under a tree, looking cut off from everyone else.

     She must be lonely, Winkie thought. But she was too scared to talk to her – the Aisha had probably never even seen her before! What would she do if a random Neopet came up to her and started talking to her?

     However, before she could think of anything to say, the bell rang for the end of recess.

     ***

     “Come on, everyone, come on!” The Science teacher, a Striped Blumaroo with glasses, was looking rather stressed as she hurried the class in. Maylene rushed to the back of the room, and Winkie followed behind her. She sat down next to her, but Maylene paused and frowned.

     “Winkie, I’m sorry, but I was wondering if Sadie could sit here. If she doesn’t come, you can, but do you think you can move over to the next desk when she does? We’ll still be near each other!”

     “Sure,” Winkie said, but she wasn’t really feeling like that. However, there was something ticking at the back of her mind – none of the friends Maylene had been sitting with at recess was named Sadie. She wrinkled her brow as she tried to think. What was this about?

     “Sadie! Sadie, over here!”

     Winkie saw Maylene waving to someone, so she good-naturedly moved to the next seat. Yet, when she did, she realised something. She was still on the same desk as before. This ‘Sadie’ would be sitting next to Maylene, but really, she would be sitting next to her. That meant, if they were doing some kind of partner task, they would be together.

     “Speak of Sloth,” Winkie muttered, as she looked at the board. The teacher was writing instructions on the board for their first task, and she could see the words ‘partner – person on your desk’ written there.

     But when Winkie finally turned to look at Sadie, she had to stop herself from gaping at her. For next to her, sitting there, mumbling a few words to Maylene was an Aisha. A Yellow Aisha. The Aisha she’d seen at the back of the class in Maths, and sitting by herself during recess.

     She was Sadie.

To be continued...

 
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