Gina and the New Girl: Part One
“FOR THE SAKE OF THE SNOWAGER, WHAT DO YOU WANT?!”
Aeriel the red Blumaroo bounced excitedly on her tail. I was trying in vain to eat my Peanut Crunch Cereal in peace. I was wearing a lime green shirt and jeans, which complimented my green Kougra fur nicely.
“You’ll never guess,” Aeriel taunted, bouncing so hard it upset the cereal box. As a result, peanut-shaped bits spilled onto the floor.
“I’ll pick those up,” Aeriel said, heading to the attached kitchenette for the broom. The Blumaroo’s equally annoying petpet, a Mutant Bearog named Clyde, started to gobble up the spilled cereal while his owner’s back was turned.
“Aeriel, what is it you were trying so rudely to tell me?” I asked, taking advantage of the moment’s peace and spooning Peanut Crunch rapidly into my mouth.
“Oh, that!” Aeriel returned with a towel, but Clyde had just finished off all the spilled cereal. Not wanting to waste a perfectly good paper towel, Aeriel started excitedly folding it into a hat. “There’s a new girl at Neoschool, Gina! She’s in your class, and her name is Kaitlyn, and she’s a yellow Ruki. Isn’t that the most exciting thing in the WHOLE WIDE WORLD?”
“That’s it?” I asked plainly. “So there’s a new Ruki in school. Big deal. I would’ve found out soon enough anyway.”
My eyes wandered to the clock on the wall and I gasped.
“We’re gonna be late!” I cried, shoveling the last of my cereal into my mouth and flinging my backpack over my shoulder at the same time. “Come on, Aeri! Hurry!”
“But I’m not ready,” Aeriel wailed, scrambling around the room and flinging things into her own backpack.
“What have you been doing all morning, then?” I demanded as I opened the front door.
“Well,” Aeriel blushed. “I’ve kind of been too excited about the new girl.”
I snorted. “There’s no more time. Come on!”
We bounded down the sidewalk and arrived a few minutes late at our Neoschool. My teacher clucked disapprovingly as I snuck as quietly as possible into the classroom. Class was already in session. The teacher scribbled something down in her notepad, shaking her head. I suppressed a groan. Another owner-teacher conference, most likely. This was not the first time I’d been late that week, or the second or maybe even the third; honestly, I’d lost count.
During the boring lesson describing the ancient Meridell-Darigan war, I spied a new face a few desks ahead and to the left. It was a slim, tall yellow Ruki wearing a light jacket and scarf, which, despite the room’s notably low temperature, she seemed to be sweating under. From nervousness, I guessed. The Ruki hung on every word her teacher said, jotting down notes in a fat binder with a new pencil.
My observation of the anxious new student was interrupted by a tap on the shoulder. I quietly turned around and accepted a note from the pet behind me.
“From your Shoyru friend,” he whispered.
I looked around to see if the teacher was watching before carefully unfolding the note.
New girl, up front, it read. I sense a n00b :o Catch up with me after class :D ~S
“Smiley!” I thought, restraining a light growl. “You’re going to get us in trouble.”
Smiley was a good friend of mine, but he could get a little carried away sometimes. It’s like he forgot school wasn’t the boards; you weren’t “free to post”. I hurriedly tried to hide the note, but the pet in a desk diagonal to me - a pink Cybunny named Cynthia that one might call a “goody two-shoes” - shot her paw up in the air and cried, “Teacher! Gina is passing notes!” as if it were the most thrilling and urgent emergency that she’d ever witnessed.
The teacher send a scowl my way and tap-tapped in her high heels over to my plain, boring desk. Upon reading the note in silence, she sent an even deeper glare at Smiley and stuffed the note in the trashcan by her desk.
“Stay after class, Mister S.,” the teacher said grimly, in a tone that might suggest to the class that Smiley was plotting the return of Sloth. Smiley barely flinched, keeping his somewhat ignorant cool.
After that class let out, I had a few minutes to get to the next. Smiley came in about five minutes after that teacher began talking and took his seat, stuffing a note on school stationery in his backpack. My desk in this class, as I discovered, was even closer to the new girl than in the last. I saw the crisp new, basic clothes the Ruki wore, her blue fishing hat sitting in her lap and her too-big blue sneakers nearly falling off her feet under the desk. A Kaki skirt and basic white top told me that Caitlyn’s owner either was broke, new, or had no fashion sense.
After that class came lunch. Aeriel met up with me in the hallway, bombarding me with questions about the new girl.
“Look, Aeriel,” I said. “How would I know if she’s anything special? I haven’t talked to her!”
With a flapping of wings and a *woosh*ing of air, Smiley glided over us and landed a few feet ahead, where he turned to grin at us with his amazingly white-hot-colored teeth.
“No flying in the halls, Mister S.!” a passing teacher called.
“He’s not even one of your teachers!” I exclaimed.
“I’m famous :D,” Smiley shrugged. “So, lyk, what’s up? Didja see the new girl, Gina? IMO, she looks a little too smart and A-plus-ish.”
“Of course I heard about her,” I grumbled. “You passed me a note during class, about her, remember? Hey, what was your punishment, anyway? It didn’t take more than ten minutes.”
“Oh, that, :P,” Smiley said. “Just an owner-teacher conference. I have a collection. LOL.”
Smiley talked like that a lot. Every spare second was spent on the Neoboards, from HC to NW to RP... English had become a second language to board-speak!
Suddenly, up slid Lani the slim blue Xweetok, another one of Aeriel’s and my friends. Lani preferred to hang around when Smiley wasn’t there, because he annoyed her to no end. She was a big grammar-lover, and a future Neopian Times star, as far as we, her friends, were concerned. So you can see why Smiley’s Neoboard obsession drove her crazy! She also had a talent in the field of fashion, and besides these had many various gifts.
“Hey, Lani.” I smiled. “How’s it going?”
“Pretty well.” Lani flashed her somewhat crooked white teeth. “But I’m starving. Why does the cafeteria have to be at the other end of the school?”
Lani’s stomach let an unpleased growl, and we laughed.
“Lyk, LOL,” Smiley said. “Your stomach sounds like the Turmaculus!”
Lani didn’t exactly scowl. Her face just sort of fell and her eyes squinted a little bit in Smiley’s direction. I could read her desire to take a large, ominous machine, hook up suction cups to Smiley’s head, and download all the knowledge from every grammar and spelling book into his mind. She didn’t say anything, though - which is bad as an insult from Lani - so I spoke up instead.
“Now, Smiley,” I said firmly. “Remember our agreement? You don’t use chatspeak while Lani’s around, okay?”
Smiley scratched his head. “Lyk, I guesso...” he began, before I raised an eyebrow at him. He struggled to repeat, saying, “I guess I remember that. Sure, okay!”
And he won our approval with his snow-white smile. We continued down the hallway.
“So, Gina,” Lani said inevitably. “What’s she like? ...You know, the new girl!”
“Ugh!” I groaned. “What’s the big deal about this new girl?!”
“Well, Gina,” Lani said, taken aback, “it isn’t very often we get a new student. The last one was a year and a half ago, when the Sally who sits behind you moved here. Remember?”
I did remember. There was a huge fuss, and currently Sally was the best-dressed Neopian in school, a total cool-to-be-with pet. I guess it was supposed to be an “honor” to sit right in front of her, but I didn’t care. All I got was the occasional squealing comment of, “You’re so lucky!”
“Yeah, Gina!” Aeriel said, happy to have someone who understood her excitement. “What if Kaitlyn is the next Sally? So come on, tell us about her!”
Lani nodded encouragingly. I sighed in defeat.
“Look, you two,” I said. “She’s a yellow Ruki who takes notes in class, wears all basic General-Store clothes, and was sweating from nervousness all through history and math. Mr. Tanner also handed her math pop-quiz back with a big A++ stamped on it. Not another Sally, and nothing special.”
Lani gasped. “General-Store clothing?! No way!”
“Hah!” Smiley laughed. He’d been quiet, trying not to talk so he wouldn’t be tempted to break into his first language. “I told you so, Gina! N00b, through and through!”
“Smiley...” I sent a meaningful glance at the red Shoyru, and he corrected himself slowly, as if speaking a foreign word.
“A... uh... newbie,” he said, smiling proudly. “Newbie. Newbie-newbie-newbie-newbie.”
He sounded like a toddler trying out a new word.
“Khaki skirt, basic shirt, blue sneakers, fishing hat,” I listed for Lani, nearly making her faint. “Green backpack, yellow lined notebook (from what I could see), blue pencil with eraser, and pink pencil tin.”
“No, no, no!” Lani cried. “All that doesn’t match at ALL! Where is she? I need to take her around Neopia Central and get her an outfit!”
As we walked down the halls, Lani excitedly took out her own blue shimmery notepad and drawing pencil and started to scribble down ideas. Meanwhile, Smiley forgot our agreement and broke out into a conversation with Aeriel in 100% board chatspeak. Lani pressed down on her pencil so hard it snapped in half.
“Oh no!” Lani wailed. “My last pencil!”
Figuring she didn’t need to hear Smiley’s board-speak chorus precisely then, I said to Aeriel, “Hey, Aer, didn’t you forget your lunchbox in your locker?”
Aeriel was about to pipe up with a, “No, I didn’t, it’s concealed in my backpack,” when I nodded slightly at her.
“Oh, darn!” She slapped her forehead. “I did. Come on, Smiley, let’s go get it.”
“KK,” Smiley agreed and followed her back down the hall.
Lani is a total pencil-chewer. She’s probably chewed through more pencils than Dieter has blocks of snow. It’s a nervous habit she can’t help, and as a result her pencils can be pretty weak from her wearing them down during tests. Her last pencil being snapped in two was a pretty big tragedy.
“Um,” a meek voice behind us said. “You can borrow mine, if you like.”
We whipped around. Lani dropped the two halves of her pencil. There stood a Ruki with a blank, I-have-no-idea-where-I-am look in her eyes. She looked wobbly, trying to stand on two legs, her backpack lopsidedly hanging off one shoulder. Her hat fell down in front of her eyes.
“Thanks,” Lani said in a hushed tone. She accepted a crisp new pencil from the Ruki’s claws. “I’m Lani.”
“Gina,” I introduced myself.
“O-Oh.” The Ruki looked as if she hadn’t been expecting an introduction. “I’m Kaitlyn. Nice to meet you.”
“Hi, Kaitlyn!” Lani smiled, and asked, even though she knew the answer, “I don’t remember seeing you around here before. Are you new?”
To be continued...