Changes and Friendship: Part Two
“Everybody, my name is Miss Taily. Today, we’re going to start with observations. It’s really important to the rest of your science learning career – you need to learn how to observe!”
By now Sadie and Maylene had realised that they wouldn’t be partners, and were talking about switching seats, but they couldn’t. Miss Taily was already writing down everyone’s names in the rows and seats they were in, as an attempt to know them better. It looked like they weren’t allowed to switch seats next time, either. Sadie and Maylene looked at each other, shrugged and turned to their respective partners.
Miss Taily handed out worksheets for each pair. “Answer these questions by observing the test tubes. And once you have finished,” she added, “make sure you answer the questions of page 97 of your textbook.”
It sounded really, really boring, but Winkie just nodded at Sadie and took out her textbook. Her mind was buzzing as she saw Sadie sitting silently, looking, her head cocked, at the book. Painted or not, Sadie was really pretty, Winkie thought. She looked like a really nice sort of Neopet. She wished she could see her smile. Realising that she was daydreaming again, she quickly turned back into focus.
The two of them stared at the worksheet, neither of them knowing what to say. There were pictures of test tubes on them, and a whole load of questions underneath. They gave each other a quick glance, then, embarrassed, stared at the worksheet again. Neither of them knew what to say.
“Well,” Winkie began hesitantly, “I think the answer to the first question is Test Tube C.” She bit her lip, and looked at the sheet intensely.
Sadie nodded, not saying a word, and wrote ‘Test Tube C’ on the line. Winkie’s jaw dropped as she stared at the perfect letters she was writing. “Your handwriting is so neat!” she gasped. Sadie looked a little embarrassed.
“Oh, it’s not, really...” she said, speaking to Winkie for the first time.
When it was Winkie’s turn to write, she felt a little flustered as she scribbled down the answers. Next to Sadie’s, Winkie’s words looked like they’d been written by a five-year-old... She tried to make them look neater, but it didn’t quite work. Her face went red when she watched Sadie read the answer she’d written, but she didn’t say a thing, nor did she seem to care that her handwriting was so messy. Winkie went on to answer the extra questions, seeing as they’d finished, but Sadie simply shut all her books and leaned back in her chair, apparently thinking and doing nothing. Or maybe she wasn’t. What was she thinking about? Winkie glanced at her. Sadie was such a mysterious one...
Winkie’s head, too, was buzzing as she scanned her book without taking anything in. Sadie seemed like such a nice Neopet, and they both had one main thing in common – they were quiet Neopets, who didn’t really like to talk to others. She looked at Maylene, who was now chatting away with the Ogrin next to her. Maylene could make friends anywhere, with anyone. They – Sadie and Winkie – couldn’t. But what did that matter?
Twenty minutes later, Miss Taily was asking different students in the class to call out their answers for the textbook work. Sadie suddenly realised she was in trouble. While everyone else had been working, she’d been sitting around... Hopefully the teacher wouldn’t call on her...
“And... Sadie, what is the answer to question thirteen?”
Winkie suddenly realised what was happening. Miss Taily was already looking angry – back of the room or not, she could see Sadie’s expression. Winkie hurriedly shoved her notebook sideways, her paw on the question Miss Taily was asking.
“Sadie, did you do it? Is your book even open? Are you with us or not?” She started to stalk over. At this point, Sadie suddenly noticed the notebook right under her nose.
“Y-yes, Miss T-taily, I did the question, the answer is f-four spoonfuls.”
Miss Taily smiled brightly. “Very well done, Sadie! That was a difficult question.” She turned back to the class. “Violet, what is the answer to question fourteen?”
The voices of the teacher and the student answering her question seemed to disappear, as the two girls looked at each other.
Sadie gave Winkie a half-smile. “Thanks,” she whispered.
Winkie grinned broadly. “It’s OK.”
“Why does Sadie always sit by herself?” Winkie asked. “I thought you were friends with her – didn’t you ask for her to sit next to you in Science?” As soon as she spoke, she realised how accusatory she sounded, but Maylene just shrugged.
“She likes to be alone. You saw her in Maths, didn’t you? And at recess. She just dislikes large groups of Neopians, or crowds, or talking to others.” Maylene gulped down some water. “Still, the two of us are best friends – kind of. I’m always her partner for camp, in activities, and stuff like that. When we’re allowed to choose.”
It was lunchtime, after Science and another period of Geography. Winkie was once again sitting with Maylene and her friendship group, but she wasn’t sure how she fit in. She felt rather uncomfortable – they were all very fun, and happy all the time, always laughing and cheering... ‘active’ was the word... maybe even ‘crazy’ but in a good way... Still, she wasn’t that sort. She liked to be left to her thoughts... just like Sadie. But she wasn’t really brave enough to go over to Sadie and talk to her. She’d helped her out, but that didn’t mean anything. They weren’t really friends yet.
She spent the rest of lunchtime staring in Sadie’s direction, feeling a little nosy, but curious all the same. At one point, Maylene saw, her, and whispered, “She’s had a difficult past, y’know.”
“I mean she’s had a difficult past. I’m the only one she’s told, so don’t go away gossiping. She’s been in the Pound many times, from what I can guess, and I don’t think she’s ever had a great owner. Or she was treated badly. Something like that... probably why she likes to be alone.” Maylene held a finger to her lips. “As I said, don’t tell anyone. I’m sure she wouldn’t like that – it’s her own private business. I’m only telling you because you seem so interested in her.”
Winkie nodded, unsure about whether that last comment was mocking her or a compliment, and looked back at Sadie. She looked lonely, but not really sad, or anything like that. She was probably accustomed to sitting alone, and maybe even liked it. Winkie sighed again. Should she disturb her? If they had time to know each other...
She didn’t have time to decide – it was already the end of lunch. She hadn’t realised how long she’d spent staring at the corner of the playground, under that tree. She checked her timetable as she stood up. Next period was English – and Sadie was in her class.
“Girls, that’s enough now. Everyone, who would like to read out the story they’ve written?”
Winkie shifted uncomfortably in her seat as she stared at her notebook. The page was blank, apart from one sentence. She’d had hardly any ideas. A few seats away from her, Sadie had written two pages, and Winkie knew they had to be really good, from the way she’d seen Sadie concentrating. Inside, she half-hoped that Sadie would read out her story.
The bald Brown Ixi, named Mr Denton, looked around the class hopefully, seeing all the hands that were up. “Alright, Caita, you first.”
Winkie felt even more embarrassed as she listened to the great, detailed stories everyone else had written. Hers was only a paragraph! She felt really dumb, compared to everybody else. Her brain seemed to be weakening... this first day had been so tiring. She watched as Sadie read over her writing again and again, frowning, thinking, trying to decide whether or not she should read it out to the whole class. Inside, she urged her on. She really wanted to listen to what Sadie had written. Somehow, she really admired this Aisha, and how kind and smart she was. She could never even compare!
Almost everybody in the class read theirs out. A few Neopets, like Winkie, hadn’t finished and were trying to in time. Others read it in a boastful voice. Some felt a bit shy and had somebody else read it. At last, the only Neopet left who was yet to read hers out, and had finished, was Sadie.
Mr Denton narrowed his eyes at Sadie. “Sadie, do you think you could read your story out for us? I’m sure we’d like to hear it.”
The whole class stared at her, some nodding in agreement, others simply watching her embarrassed look. Sadie seemed really uncomfortable.
“Well, mine’s not... I mean, I don’t think my story is very detailed... I kind of... um....”
Mr Denton shrugged. “The class would like to hear it, and I’m sure your story is great – whatever you’re saying about it right now. And anyway, it doesn’t matter about detail. Please read it to us.”
Sadie glanced at Maylene, who gave her an encouraging smile.
“Well then... OK.” She looked down at her notebook and started reading.
To be continued...