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True Friends: Part Three


by extreme_fj0rd

--------

Becca sighed as she stared at her sandwich. The lunchroom was filled with chattering students, but Becca sat alone at the table she'd customarily shared with Angela and the rest of their friends. The rest of the group was sitting a few tables over, talking, with no few glances in the Elephante's direction. It seemed they were talking about her.

      A tear dropped onto Becca's sandwich--her lunch--and then another.

      "Hi," someone said.

      "You don't want to talk to me," Becca said, her voice choked with tears.

      "What's wrong?" the voice asked.

      The Elephante swiped at her eyes with her sleeve and glanced up. Pattie, one of the more "popular" girls in their grade, sat across the table from her. Pattie was a rainbow Aisha, slender and petite; her clothes were always fashionable, and she always wore makeup. Becca and Angela had sworn, once, that they would never be like Pattie.

      But times had changed. Angela was ignoring her. Becca managed to return Pattie's smile. "Nothing, I guess," she said.

      Pattie shook her head. "Something's wrong," she insisted. "What is it?"

      Becca's eyes slid sideways, to the table where all of her friends--ex-friends--sat, laughing and talking. Angela was the only one who wasn't glancing surreptitiously at Becca and Pattie.

      "Oh," Pattie said. "Those losers." She sighed. "Some people just aren't true friends, you know?"

      Becca nodded.

      "I bet it was over a boy," the Aisha said. "Or clothes."

      "Clothes," the Elephante mumbled.

      Pattie wrinkled her nose. "Well, for now, you can come sit at our table, if you'd like."

      Pattie's table. The collection of the prettiest girls in the whole grade, probably in the whole Neoschool, and quite possibly in all of Neopia Central. Becca was awed even by the concept.

      "Sure," she said, wrapping her sandwich in its waxed paper again. She followed Pattie over to her table; five pairs of eyes from Angela's table tracked their progress. Nikki, a red Nimmo, leaned over to whisper in Angela's ear, but the Acara just shrugged her off as if she didn't care.

      Becca cared. But just now, following Pattie to her lunch table, that concern was distant.

      "Everyone, this is Becca. She's having friend trouble, so I thought she might like to sit here," Pattie told the girls at the table they stood next to. All of them were painted. All were wearing makeup, and Becca would've bet her sandwich that their clothes were some of the most expensive ones that came in those sizes.

      "Hi, Becca," a few said. Two of the girls slid over to make room for Becca next to Pattie's empty spot. The Aisha hopped over the bench and sat, smiling up at Becca as the Elephante hesitated.

      "It's okay, we don't bite," Pattie said. Becca smiled, a little, and sat. "Okay," she said. "That's Rachel, and that's Julia, and over there is Sarah. Next to her is Sarah, too."

      "And I'm Sarah Three!" a Faerie Lupe announced, grinning at Becca.

      "Right," Pattie said with a wry smile. "On this side of the table, there's Greta, Maari--" Becca's eyes widened; the one Pattie had called Maari was a Maraquan Aisha--"and on your right, there, is Naomi."

      Becca nodded. "Am I supposed to remember all of those?"

      "Of course!" said Sarah Three before anyone else could answer. "And if you don't, you'll get kicked out!"

      For a split second, Becca thought she was serious. Then the table burst into laughter, and the Elephante laughed with them, embarrassed for having thought Sarah's answer was anything but a joke.

      Becca spent the rest of the day in their company; at least one of the group was in every class the Elephante was, which was a relief, as Angela was in most of her classes as well. The Acara was still studiously ignoring Becca; when the Elephante gave a correct answer in class, Angela didn't pass up a note saying "Well done!" or "Wow, I didn't know that," and when Becca tried to speak to her after class, the Acara simply brushed past her as if she wasn't there.

      "Ignore her back," Maari advised in sixth period, Language Arts. "Give her a taste of her own medicine. She's not a true friend."

      "Then what is she?" Becca asked, glancing over her shoulder at Angela, who was sitting three rows back and a few seats over.

      "An untrue friend," the Maraquan Aisha said. "Like--did you read that story in the Neopian Times this week?"

      "You read the NT?" Becca said incredulously. "I mean--I'm sorry," she said, not bothering to mention that her cousin had given her a bad impression of rich, popular girls. They were really all right, just like normal people.

      Maari just laughed. "Yes," she said. "You're not the first one to be surprised by that," she added, "so don't feel bad. I've even tried to get in a few times, but writing isn't my strong point."

      Becca smiled. "Mine either," she said. "What're your stories about?"

      "Articles, actually," said Maari. "Well, I tried one about the Wheel of Excitement, but I couldn't get quite enough words..."

           Maari and Becca ended up talking for most of the period about the Neopian Times; they got their work done at the same time, which was more efficient than Becca and Angela usually were. They'd just spent their class times talking, and done homework at home. But Maari, it appeared, was a great believer in multitasking, and so, when they left Language Arts, Becca had perhaps fifteen minutes worth of homework for the class. The two parted ways in the hallway; though Maari technically had the same last-hour class, gym, the Maraquan Aisha swam laps in the pool instead of participating in the class.

      Becca arrived in the gym and glanced around for Angela. The Acara's eyes flickered over her with a faint hint of recognition; then Angela turned away.

      The Elephante sighed. She'd been a fool to think that Angela would speak to her again, after such a short amount of time. She began the stretching that was their warmup that day, pushups and the like, her eyes glistening with unshed tears.

           After class, a yellow Aisha approached Becca. The Elephante recognized her immediately; she was one of the pets that customarily sat at the lunch table with Angela and Becca.

      "Er, Becca..."

      Becca nodded. "What do you want, Ellen?" she asked, though she thought she already knew what was coming.

      "Angela's mad at you," the Aisha said.

      The Elephante nodded again, nearly smiling at the obvious statement. "And?"

      "I--she won't tell us why, just that you broke a promise to her," Ellen said. "I was wondering--"

      "Why?" This wasn't exactly what Becca had expected. "Well, it's sort of complicated," she said finally. "But if I had to guess, I'd say that if you don't stop talking to me now, Angela's going to be pretty mad at you."

      It was true; Angela stood on the other side of the gym, glaring at the Aisha.

      "I--I guess so," Ellen said, and scurried off to join Angela.

      Becca sighed and walked out of the gym to get her backpack from her locker.

           "So where do you live?" Pattie asked. She'd waited at Becca's locker; both ignored the whispers of "What's her name? She's hanging out with Pattie?" that followed them through the halls and out the main doors of the school.

      "Up on Chia Crescent," Becca said, nodding in that direction.

      "Amazing!" The rainbow Aisha laughed at Becca's surprised expression. "I live up there, too," she explained. "Maari's on Wishing Well Drive, and those two," she said, nodding at a purple Gelert and golden Eyrie whose names Becca didn't remember, "are over all the way on Rainbow Lane."

      "Cool," Becca said, and meant it.

      "No. Awesome!" the Aisha corrected her with a smile.

      "Right. Awesome." The Elephante smiled back. It felt good to be part of a group again, even if Angela was ignoring her.

      "What's awesome?" Maari asked, joining the group.

      "Becca lives right by me!" Pattie said happily.

      "Oh, cool!"

      "Awesome," Becca corrected, grinning at Pattie. The Aisha laughed.

      "She's one of us already," Pattie said.

      The Elephante felt that she knew them enough already to reply, "Is that a good thing or a bad thing?"

      The group burst into laughter.

      "She's got you there," Maari said after catching her breath.

      Sarah Three shook her head. "It's a bad thing, Becca. A very bad thing."

      They all laughed again, though the Faerie Lupe said things like this all the time.

      The group split up, still laughing and talking. Pattie and Becca headed towards Chia Crescent, pausing for Pattie to yell back to the others, "See you tomorrow!" Becca waited for the Aisha, smiling a little. They walked in silence for a time, but when they were about halfway there, Pattie spoke.

      "So, what do you think?" she asked.

      "About... the group?"

      "Yeah." Pattie nodded.

      "They're cool," Becca said.

      "Awesome."

      "Awesome, sorry." The Elephante smiled.

      Pattie smiled, too. The rest of the walk they spent in silence. Pattie turned off first, at a large mansion Becca had always admired. She'd never quite felt good about mentioning that to Angela, but as the rainbow Aisha walked up the path, Becca called, "I always wondered who lived there."

      Pattie turned and smiled. "Now you know," she called back.

      Becca nodded and turned to keep walking, turning only when Pattie had gone inside.

      "Martha," said Becca over dinner that night, "could I possibly--get painted?"

      Her owner glanced up at the Elephante. "Why, Becca. You've never shown much interest in getting painted," she said.

      "Well--" Becca shrugged.

      "I know, I know. You're getting bigger and like to look pretty." Martha smiled. "Sure. It'll have to be fairly inexpensive, though--we can head over to the Rainbow Pool after you've gotten your homework done and see what colors you can be painted."

      Becca already knew what color she wanted to be painted, but she nodded anyway.

           She finished her dinner and went to do her homework; she was finished in a matter of minutes. "Done!" she called to her owner.

      "So quickly?" Martha came out of the kitchen, wiping a clean plate with a towel.

      Becca nodded. "I did most of it today during worktime."

      Martha nodded. "Just a minute," she said, disappearing into the kitchen. She emerged a few moments later, having discarded the plate and towel for a purse and hat.

      They walked down to the Rainbow Pool; the sun was just setting, spreading a rainbow of colors across the sky and clouds. Once they were in sight of the Pool, that rainbow was supplemented by the one that sprung from the Pool.

      "Let's see," said Martha, flipping through a booklet. "Oh, my. There are a lot of them." She passed it to Becca, who glanced through it.

      "Well? See any you like?"

      Becca flipped back a page and nodded, holding it out to her owner.

      "Starry?" Martha nodded slowly. "Looks good," she said. "How much?"

      They investigated and quickly found a trade; Martha withdrew the Neopoints from the bank and exchanged them for the paintbrush. They walked back to the Rainbow Pool. It was nearly dark, and stars were starting to pinpoint the sky. A perfect setting.

      Becca took the brush from her owner and waded into the Pool. With a few broad swipes of the brush, she covered her body in the navy-blue paint and closed her eyes. A tingling announced that the paint had taken, and the Elephante stepped out of the Rainbow Pool. She looked down at herself and almost gasped. The stars were bright gold against the dark blue background of Becca's body.

      "Exquisite," Martha said, taking the used paintbrush from Becca to dispose of. She smiled. "Angela will be surprised."

      The Elephante couldn't deny that. She nodded, but her thoughts were on what Pattie, Maari and the others would have to say.

To be continued...

 
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Other Episodes


» True Friends: Part One
» True Friends: Part Two
» True Friends



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