Confessions Of A Musically Inclined Hissi: Part Two
I noticed the looks I got in the halls. The way pets would stare and whisper, weaving up fine stories, stitched from the folds of their minds. Tales that voiced my deepest, greatest fears; that Adrian was not really my friend, that I was talentless and alone. And yet I felt so, so guilty whenever I began to question the blue Lupe. He was so kind to me, always patient when I was singing, and eventually, he had given up on eating lunch with his popular friends and chose (despite my protests) to sit with me. We'd laugh and nibble on Chomby chips outside on the grass, telling stories about our families and, of course, conversing about music.
Soon enough, I considered him my best friend. But the nagging fear still remained: what if one day he realized just how uncool I was? Would he stop being my friend? Why WAS he even my friend? I knew why I was friends with him; he had a heart of gold, was helpful, and very thoughtful and caring. Me, on the other hand? I was snappy most of the time, blunt, and not very interesting. Or even too talented.
I was pondering over this one day during a lesson. Adrian was teaching me the song from the musical Koi Lake; I poised my scaly lips, ready to sing out a high C. Instead, the words came tumbling, spilling out like rainwater into the air.
"Why are you so nice to me?"
I wanted to scream myself silent, to disappear--I couldn't breathe. I was shaking, and Adrian just sat there for a while, a touch of hurt in his eyes, paws hovering over the ivory keys.
"Because, Mel..." he was staring into space. His voice was soft and almost trembling. "Because we're friends. Why would you... why would you even ask a question like that?"
I felt sick for upsetting him like that, but I couldn't stop myself. "Because... because you have all of these friends who are better than me. At everything. And yet you still would rather spend your after-school time babysitting some dumb, ugly Hissi? It doesn't make sense."
I knew we were still friends when he quickly said: "You're not ugly, or dumb." But I also knew he was unhappy when he continued with, "Don't think like that. It's not you."
"What do you know?" I snapped, but to my surprise, a thin, crescent of a smile traced over his lips.
"That's why we're friends." Adrian's teeth poked out from his stretched, smiling mouth. "You say what's on your mind."
He almost sounded... bitter. Jealous. Of me?
I quickly shook away the thought. He was wrong, anyway.
I did not use my words to express myself; I used them to hide.
And I soon learned that Adrian did, too.
"Why is my name on the audition list?!" I was shaking horribly, the starry patterns of my skin trembling in my fear. "Adrian, answer me!"
An innocent smile bloomed on his lips. "A certain Lupe may or may not have put it there."
"I knew it!" I shrieked; from within the sound-proof walls of the music room, no one could hear. "Why would you do that to me? I'm going to be humiliated all over again!"
"WHAT?!" I was seething.
"Uh, wow." he managed, awe in his eyes, before he finally managed to form a coherent sentence: "...You really know how to make someone lose their train of thought."
"Excuse me?! You're the one who forged my signature and plastered it over the AUDITION SIGN UP SHEET for the school musical! I'm allowed to be angry!"
"Oh, yes, as I was saying," Adrian grinned, and I knew he was playing dumb just to see me flip out. Jerk. "We've been working for months. I'm not going to let you throw that all away and waste it by never singing in public."
His words were wise, which annoyed me even more. "Why don't you sign up for the musical then, huh? Mr. Big Shot? Mr. Seven-Octave-Range? Huh? H--"
"Seriously, Mel. I've had enough time in the limelight. It's your turn."
"Why? You're good at singing. People like that about you. I'm not. Nobody--"
His eyes went stony; he seemed tired. "We're not going to start that again. Mel, you've got to stop kicking yourself down."
The moments dragged on into silence until we excused ourselves and went home.
I found a note stuck onto my locker the next day, with bright, bold letters streaked over the paper:
BELIEVE IN YOURSELF.
"My name is Melody." The deja vu may have made me only a tiny bit more nervous than I would have been. "A-and I'll be singing 'Cherry Blossom Tree' by U.N.I."
The musical theater teacher, an elderly Chia, merely raised a fine, moon-white eyebrow and ushered for me to start. The other students crowded in the seats simply stared at me with blank faces, although some were smirking haughtily at me. Others looked at me with eyes the ugliest shade of pity. And that's when I saw him; pale and blue with pointed ears and teeth. Adrian. He was beaming at me, and suddenly, I wasn't alone. I had him with me. I would do fine. I would sing.
And... I did.
"The blossoms stream in the air, a rosy halo in the sky," I recited, in what I considered my prettiest Soprano. "The petals shift in the wind, but do not say goodbye." I was no pop-star, but I realized that it didn't sound completely horrible.
I noticed some pets looking up, no longer bored and staring into their laps.
"Old, wooden branches are laced with blooming dreams." Adrian had this proud look in his eyes, and I was almost sad to finish with, "The sweet song spreads to the sea, from the Old Cherry Blossom Tree."
And then I clamped my mouth shut with quick ferocity, before whispering a slip of a 'thank-you' to the crowd. The reality hit me the moment I finished singing my last note; there were people watching. People I didn't know. People that weren't Adrian-
Adrian. The name calmed me, and as soon as the letters danced through my mind, I heard a faint, clapping sound. And then it grew. And grew, and grew, and grew, until it was a roar of applause, rattling my boneless body.
I stared at all of the unfamiliar faces; I felt myself going light-headed.
They were clapping for me. Not laughing, not pointing, not judging. Cheering. Applauding.
I felt like I was flying.
I didn't know what to feel, though, when other pets began smiling and waving to me in the halls. I didn't know what to do when people would purposely try to sit next to me in class, when they would ask me 'what's your secret to being to talented?' and 'where did you learn to sing like that?'
I'd always laugh a bit awkwardly, saying something like, "Oh, Adrian helped me a lot with pitch and control and stuff..."
And I'd get equally fake giggles and smiles of 'understanding'. Eyeroll.
But I'd eat it all up. I mean, I knew I was being stupid, but it was like I was on some sort of popularity binge. I knew people only liked me for my voice, and I was perfectly okay with that.
I didn't see Adrian very often, though. I mean, we had our lessons and our lunches, but between those times we hardly had any free time together. There was always someone following me around, telling me that I was a shoo-in for the lead, telling me that they were sorry for making fun of me because I was the new girl-
It was beyond strange. I couldn't have been that good.
But... apparently I was.
And while I mulled over my little problems, I noticed a swipe of vivid purple streaking the halls. Ugh, Tiffany; she had recently been painted Usuki, and was flouncing around like she was the queen of the world.
Only, she was smiling and coming my way. Before my brain-waves managed to send the ALERT message to my tail, she was right in front of me, a fake, moon-white smile painted over her face.
"Mellie!" she squealed, like we were best friends. "You were amazing back there."
"I... was?" Tiffany shot me this horribly strained smile, and I decided to play along. "Oh, thanks... Tiff."
Wow, was I lame or what?
This seemed to settle her down a bit, or maybe she was a better actress than I had originally presumed. "No prob!" she giggled, before her doll-face took on a more serious, almost sinister expression. "It's been going around the school that you've been saying that Adrian was your teacher?"
I looked at her blankly for a moment, taken aback. "Uh, yeah. He wa--no, is my singing teacher. He taught me how not to be all pitchy and to prepare myself for high notes."
"Mm," she murmured, sounding almost serpentine. "Well, if I were you, I wouldn't stick around with him for too long."
I think my brain cell count must have reduced to an even zero at that point, because words were lost on my sloppy tongue. "Wha... wha... why?!" Praise Fyora, a full three syllables! "He's... he's my best friend!"
She laughed crudely, and it did not reach her eyes. "Oh, you're so adorable, Mellie. So naive." She beamed.
I raised an eyebrow. "What do you mean... um, 'Tiffie'?" I don't think she caught the venomous sarcasm.
"Well, I know this may be hard to swallow, since Adrian's been such a loser lately," Tiffany started, and the urge to slap her with my tail increased by tenfold. "But once upon a time, he was my 'best friend', too."
Somebody needed to give me a mop, quick, because I was sure my heart had exploded and scattered onto the ground.
To be continued...