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Without Lights

by potatorewkiki


This is for Mark, and for all the things that I messed up. Always and forever. ;)

Sprinkled upon the sky, dropped bit by bit into the blanket of darkness hovering far above our heads, were the stars. I watched them as they twinkled, as they glowed. Over two hundred thousand miles away, the moon hung, crescent shaped and shining down on us like never before, or maybe it just seemed like that because it was beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Covering almost everything you could see was about six inches of snow, seeming to have a texture like that of marshmallows. A brown Uni stood next to me, literally staring out into space.

     "Beautiful night." My first remark was a vain attempt to simply break a long period of silence. He merely nodded in response, which oddly enough made me smile.

     "Kottske… Do you remember last year? Last Christmas?" I hoped for him to finally look at me, but he just closed his eyes and nodded again. He had just experienced a shift of emotions, as I could see a sorrowful look appearing on his face. Still staring up at the stars, he finally spoke.

     "Only faintly, until I really try to. I wanted to erase that Christmas from my memory until a few weeks after your birthday when I just gave up." I narrowed my eyes. My birthday was in early February.

     "That-that's over two months." He faked a smile, playing with a rubber band with his hooves.

     "There was this girl…" And when he said that, a cold feeling spread through me. My own memories were returning, and I soon remembered and realized that it wasn't the best Christmas for me, either.

     "She was a shadow Gelert, but her fur was totally black to me. Her cerulean blue eyes were so bright that they seemed to show light themselves. She had been my best friend for as long as I could remember, and we always hung out together. Always. She may have been a year younger than me, but she was probably two years smarter and twice as funny. On the other hand, she had a certain disregard for the rules, and that led her to hanging out with the cooler people, not the stupid eighth graders like me that had no one else.

     "The thing I liked most about her was how she still didn't leave me out. Whenever possible, she would ask her friends if I could join in too, or if I could come with. Jake, another seventh grader, was always open to letting me hang out with them. When he was around, I could hang out with them whenever my friend wanted me to.

     "Over time, our friendship weakened. She was always going here and there with her new group of friends and, though I didn't want to be so selfish, oftentimes I wanted to just call her up and tell her how I didn't like most of those people and how I never talked to her alone anymore and how she's changed so much that I practically didn't know her anymore. But I was smart enough, sensible enough, to know that she would just be mad at me for doing that.

     "As winter break came closer, I made more of an effort to talk to her and ask if we could do something sometime. Something sometime is no way to ask her, because she had a mind of her own and was ready to come up with any idea. I forgot that 'we' now meant her, her new friends, and me, not just she and I anymore. As soon as she suggested that we should get together at someone's house, I knew that the plan she had was going to go wrong. Of course, her new 'group' liked the idea and decided to hang out at Jake's house that Saturday from six to nine.

     "She announced this to me the day before, on Friday before we left school. My heart sunk, because even though I told her I would ask and then call her, I knew the answer already. I wasn't going to be allowed to go to this. I didn't know half of these people and only two of them liked me the least bit, anyways. And the cool people? No way. Despite how sure I was that I couldn't go, I asked my mom, to keep my promise to my friend, determined to stay a good friend myself even if she couldn't.

     "But, as I suspected, my mom asked who would be there right away. I ran off the list of names, and she threw a suspicious glance at me, because she could tell that I was nervous about asking her and that I wasn't confident in the fact that I could go. Not only that, but she only recognized my friend's name in there. So she said a simple no, and that was that. I called my friend up and told her that I'd show up if I could. If I had told her that I couldn't, she would want to know why, and if I told her, she'd say 'so?' and start naming off ways to get around it. I wasn't like that. I couldn't do it, so I just didn't show up, and a week later it was Christmas.

     "The doorbell rang after I finished lunch at about half past one. I swung it open and nobody was there, but a present sat there. It was in the shape of a CD but thinner and more light, and wrapped in dark blue paper with silver stars on it, with 'Kottske' written in silver permanent marker and the neatest form of cursive I have seen - what I have known only as my friend's. I smiled, and picked it up, running with it to my bedroom, and I slammed that door shut as I hopped onto my bed and carefully opened one end of the gift. Slipping it out of the paper, I held it up. It was an Little Alton Had A Farm sticker book. I just stared.

     "In my mind, I wondered if she thought this was funny. I wondered if this was some joke to her, something that she and her friends cooked up for their own amusement. I opened the miscellaneous drawer to my desk and shoved it in there, closing it shut, and I never opened it again, because I thought she was trying to be so funny, pushing the fact that I wasn't allowed to hang out with her new friends in my face.

     "She and I never spoke about it after that. Her friends soon found new people to hang out with and she found me again, but we still never mentioned it. Not until the next Christmas Eve, at my house. Not until now, Blue." And I looked up at him with tear filled eyes. My heart had been sinking lower and lower throughout the story, but it didn't hit the bottom until he said my name.

     I never cried, and I didn't know myself as sympathetic enough to do it because of this. But somewhere inside of me I felt so terrible that I never realized that I had done that. I never took it into consideration that the looks he gave me after break in school were because he didn't realize what my present was really about. And after almost a year, I still hadn't bothered to explain the truth to him.

     "KOTTSKE!" I jumped over to his desk and pulled open his drawer of random stuff, throwing papers over my shoulders as I dug through it, eventually finding a small sticker book close to the bottom. I opened to the first page and gave it to Kottske.

     "This joke had another purpose," I whispered.

Dear Kottske,

     There is no Christmas tree without lights, no dream if you have no determination, and certainly no you if you're not being yourself. And I am writing you this note to regretfully tell you that I really haven't been myself lately. These new friends have been a really big change and a big part of this year for me but I am not ready to go and act this way towards you because they won't accept you and you can't do everything they can. There's no problem with that, and, because I can't risk losing a friend like you, I will do whatever I can to work around it. This must be the most sophisticated thing I have ever written, and I know it sounds really dumb and 'I've learned my lesson and we'll be friends forever'-like, but, frankly, there's no other way to put it. And, as I'm trying to be myself again, here's my little Christmas pressie for you. Enjoy, Kottske.

Always and forever,

Blue =)

P.S. I didn't really learn a lesson. Lessons are for spelling.

     As his eyes stopped moving and I concluded that he had finished, a smile appeared on his face. Not the huge yet oh-so-stupid 'I learned my lesson too. Let's give each other a big hug and do the happy dance.' smile, but nothing at that moment could satisfy me more then that and his response.

     "You really put the lights on the tree, and, believe me, it looks absolutely wonderful."

The End

Author's Note: I really hope you have enjoyed this story. =) I know I haven't sent anything into the Neopian Times in a while, and I actually wasn't planning to ever again, but my friends encouraged me to send this in. It would be awesome if you could perhaps drop me a Neomail sometime, and it's fine if it isn't about this story. =D

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