A Tutor of a Different Sort
"Where do you think you're going? You have a tutoring
session with Ms M. today," Julie, a blue Gelert reminded Mala stubbornly, as
the red Yurble began following her home. Mala made a face at her older sister
and looked at the ground.
"I have no idea what you are talking about."
"Mala," Julie gave her sister a stony glare.
Giving an exasperated sigh, Mala turned around
and slowly dragged herself to Ms. Muffins' house.
When she finally stood squarely in front of it,
the red Yurble looked up from her feet and stared at the house that would lead
to her to a certain doom. It surprisingly didn't look like a house that would
eternally doom people, but Mala knew that being innocent was just its cover-up.
There were navy blue curtains hanging from the two windows that accented the
brown door which sat primly in the middle. The green lawn was perfect, with
each blade similar and as perfect as the other.
Mala was so engrossed with the estate that she
nearly jumped out of her backpack when a sharp voice yelled, "Is that you Mala?
Get in here!"
She looked up at the open door and saw a strict-looking
blue Eyrie standing there with arms crossed. Her bright yellow eyes bore into
Mala like nails and the red Yurble, who had suddenly become very pale, hurried
up the path to the front step.
"Leave your disgusting jacket on the porch. I
will not have any dirt in my house," Ms. Muffins said coldly before walking
through the door without another word.
Slightly confused, Mala draped her favorite worn-out
denim jacket on the wooden steps before slowly following her new tutor into
"Wipe your feet off on that rug and then come
into the kitchen," the blue Eyrie instructed before moving swiftly into the
When Mala walked in, she was extremely startled
to find that Ms. Muffins had now donned bright white oven mitts and was sitting
straight-backed at the table.
"Um," Mala began, more than a little confused.
"I think that my owner wants me to have math lessons, not cooking lessons."
The Eyrie shook her head, as if at the young
Yurble's ignorance, and beckoned her to sit down. "Math book," she demanded.
Mala rushed to get her math book from her backpack
and handed it to Ms. Muffins. She took it and rubbed it with the mitts before
setting it down on the table. "As I suspected," she commented, holding out the
"What's wrong with them?" Mala asked, raising
"Can't you see all of that dirt on my mitts?
And that all came from your book! You young ones are disgusting. I wear these
oven gloves so that I don't get your germs. And, as you can see from the repulsive
appearance of my mitts, that was a good idea.
Mala squinted at the oven mitts and tilted her
head, but could see not even a speck of anything on them. Shaking her head,
she said quietly, "Of course, how smart of you. But what about the math?"
"Young Neopets never seem to appreciate good
hygiene these days and you are all so demanding!" The Eyrie stated irrelevantly.
"Yes, you're right. I apologize for my fellow
peers," Mala responded through clenched teeth. Ms. Muffins was getting on her
They sat in silence for a minute before Ms. Muffins
bellowed out suddenly, "What are you doing wasting our valuable learning time?
We should be halfway through the book by now! Honestly, you young ones get distracted
so easily." She picked the book back up again and began leafing through it,
trying to find the right page. "Ah yes, here we are. The wonderful world of
addition and subtraction. Mala! What is one plus one?"
Mala snapped out of the bored daze that she had
been in and at the sound of her name and exclaimed, "Twenty-four!"
Suddenly, she felt a soggy something hit her
arm then roll of onto the table. Looking down, the red Yurble was extremely
startled to find a mushy breadstick sitting by her. "Did you just throw a breadstick
at me?" Mala cried out in frustration.
Without answering her question, Ms. Muffins glared
at Mala. "One plus one is not twenty-four. If I had one Snicklebeast, how many
Snicklebeasts would I have?" she asked.
Mala sat for a second and looked at the ceiling,
squinting one eye in concentration. Sighing, she looked at her fingers and her
lips moved silently. Finally, in a hesitant voice, she asked, "One?"
The Eyrie gave the slightest of nods then asked
again, "If I had another Snicklebeast, how many would we have all together?"
After a few moments of tense silence, Mala spoke
up, "Two, I think."
"Right. So, what is one plus one?"
Mala rolled her eyes and a sly smile slipped
up for a second before she pulled her face straight again. "I told you, it's
Another breadstick hit Mala squarely in the ear.
"Don't be pert, Yurble. What is one plus one?" Ms. Muffins snapped.
"Sorry," Mala looked down at the table shamefaced.
"One plus one is two."
Ms. Muffins got up and took a pie out from a
green shelf in the corner of her kitchen. "Now, here I have a pie," she began
and set it on the table.
"Mmm, pie!" Mala exclaimed. "What kind is it?"
"Blueberry," the Eyrie said absentmindedly. As
if snapping out of a daze, she continued in a crabby voice, "Not that it matters.
This is math, not a bake-off!"
"You're the one that brought pie up, not me,"
Mala grumbled. "I've never heard of blueberry pie, but it sounds good, I guess."
She reached over to grab some of it, but was stopped in her tracks when a breadstick
hit her in the arm once again. "I hate breadsticks," she muttered grumpily.
"No, you may not eat this pie! It's my dinn--I
mean it's exclusively for math," Ms. Muffins stopped for a second and cleared
her throat. "Now, this pie is cut into four pieces. If I ate one of those pieces,
tell me how many we'd have left in a fraction." While the Eyrie was talking,
she took out a tool that looked like a garden spade and cut the pie into four
equal pieces, then scooped out one of them and set it on a plate.
"Why can't I be the one to eat a piece?" Mala
"Because. Now stop that! Just answer the question,
please," Ms. Muffins ordered with glinting eyes.
Mala looked at the pie and counted the pieces,
then counted the blank spots in the pan where a piece had been cut out. "It
looks like three-fourths would be left," she told her tutor uncertainly.
"That is correct. Let's say I took another piece
out and ate it, then how many would you have left?"
"You are such a Snorkle, eating all that pie!"
Mala blurted out before thinking first. She clapped her hand over her mouth
and avoided eye contact with Ms. Muffins. "I mean, I'm glad to see that you
like to eat pie. I think that there would be two-fourths of the pie left," she
said, changing the topic quickly.
Ms. Muffins' yellow eyes focused on Mala, making
the young red Yurble's skin crawl for a second before her tutor said, "Yes,
and two-fourths is equivalent to one-half. I think you're okay on the basics
as long as you don't fool around, so we'll move on to a little bit of algebra."
Mala groaned in agony. Algebra was her least
favorite part of math, and the part that she was worst at. "Okay, but be warned;
I'm absolutely terrible at algebra."
"Oh, don't worry, Yurble. Given you're previous
performances in this subject, I was already aware of that," Ms. Muffins assured
Now it was Mala's turn to give a hard glare.
Ms. Muffins returned the look and won out easily. "Alright, we're going to start
out with a simple equation," the Eyrie explained. She got out a piece of loose-leaf
paper and a blue pencil from the door then put it in front of Mala. "Write this
out; 'a' plus three equals 4."
Mala wrote the equation on the paper, than looked
at it. "I hate this! Why'd they have to go and mix letters and numbers in like
that! As if one at a time wasn't hard enough," she complained in an annoyed
voice. A sudden breadstick flopped in front of her and landed on the sheet of
paper. Mala picked it up with a disgusted look on her face, but then looked
at the paper. A long figure with rounded edges was printed along the page. "Oh,
the breadstick left a mark! Let me try!" Mala flipped the page over and wrote
out her name by pressing the breadstick down in lines. "It's so pretty!" Mala
exclaimed when she was done. She paused, and then added, "And so greasy!" Looking
over at her tutor, she frowned. "What's wrong?"
Ms. Muffins was sitting with her arms crossed
on the table and her head in the niche that they created. "You know what?" she
asked in a muffled voice. "I think you're done. Tell you're owner that you are
to come over here once a week, but no more, okay? Take you're breadstick-printed
paper and I'll see you next week. Now go!" the Eyrie told her without looking
Mala slowly got up from her chair and looked
around, slightly confused. Shrugging, she walked to the door and left through
it, shutting it behind her. She giggled, happy to finally be out of there, grabbed
her jacket from the porch, and ran down the street to her Neohome.
Ms. Muffins, who had gotten up to watch her pupil
leave through the window, also smiled to herself and pulled the blue drapes
wide open. She ran over and knocked a bowl full of fruit over onto the floor
and giggled happily as they splattered on the floor. She skipped over to the
couch and knocked all the seat cushions off, then bounced on it like a hyper
Mynci. When she got exhausted from that activity, she went into her kitchen
and picked the pie pieces up. The old Eyrie ate them quickly, getting it on
her face and the table. At last, when her stomach was full and the house was
in havoc, she went into the living room and sat on the cushion-less couch. "Perfect,"
Ms. Muffins exclaimed with a cheerful sigh.