Superficial: Part Three
The next day dawned bright and sunny. Mother had left the
house before I came down for breakfast, but as I cleaned up my plate of streaky
bacon and Rilla escorted me to school once more I felt the ache in my belly evaporate
with the dew on the grass. It really was too lovely a day out to be moody. Besides,
I told myself, why was I getting so upset anyway? I knew Mother was a busy woman.
I knew she often left and came home at odd hours. Of course it shouldn't be any
different now. I shouldn't let it bother me. When I next saw Mother, then I could
tell her of Neoschool and all the fun I was having there. I stepped up my pace
into a jaunty trot. Today would not be spoiled.
I arrived at the gate to find, to my surprise
and pleasure, that Satisha, Sugar and Farowyn were there already, waiting for
me. I dashed joyfully across to greet them, and together we went up the path
to the school.
We spent an enjoyable morning with Mrs. Sandestripe
as she taught us addition and subtraction with beautifully glowing organic apples
and pears, which she let us snack on after we were finished. Then there was
Ms. Spineworth's Geography class, where a wonderful large map of Neopia was
brought out, and Ms. Spineworth, a young smiling Yurble, called upon us one
by one to paste the names of various Neopian provinces onto their respective
places. After that was Mr. Yonks' art class, where we made beautiful messy collages
of paint, glitter and various other things. Several of the boys got into a paint-fight
at the back of the class, and while they got in trouble for that, I think the
rest of us found it a great joke.
By the time recess rolled around I was blissfully
happy. All the negativity of yesterday seemed to have disappeared completely.
Neoschool was a wonderful place! I loved it. From now on, every day would be
as glorious as this one.
I was sitting at our table in the cafeteria,
tucking happily into a slice of fresh cherry pie while I listened to my friends
chatter, feeling on top of the world, when I noticed Sekya out of the corner
of my eye. She was sitting at an adjacent table with the lanky red Lenny and
the shy-looking yellow Kacheek. As she caught me gazing at her, she shot me
a venomous glare and looked away again.
I felt that ice of yesterday lance through my
heart again. What had I done wrong? Sekya clearly had something against me,
but I couldn't for the life of me figure out what it was. Was she still angry
with me for knocking over the Kacheek? Possibly. But I'd already apologised
for that... or had I? Perhaps I hadn't made myself totally clear. I made up
my mind to go and talk to her later, and get the whole issue cleared up.
When the final bell rang on our Neopian History
lesson, I packed up my things quickly and approached Sekya's desk. She was gathering
up her books and saying something to the Lenny when she saw me. Her eyes turned
"What do you want, Uni?"
"Please," I began. "I just wanted to ask you
why you don't like me. Is it anything I said? Is it because I knocked over your
sister yesterday? Because-"
"Oh please," the Gelert snapped, cutting me
off, "don't patronise me, Uni. I know pets like you. Spoiled, overstuffed, perfectly
groomed, strutting around the schoolyard in that pink painted pelt of yours,
all prettied up with ribbons, like you're the Faerie Queen. Showing up at school
with your human maid. Making Babaa's eyes at the teachers, just so you can get
them to like you."
I stared at her, mystified. Sekya, seemingly
encouraged by my confusion, went on.
"There's plenty about your lot, too. You and
your snotty painted friends, laughing and chattering away in the cafeteria like
a flock of Pawkeets. It's always the same, a bunch of painted pets who only
hang around with each other, because we plainfurs and those whose owners don't
get much NP a day just aren't good enough to be your friends. Or do you even
read the Neopian Times, Uni?"
Several pets had begun to gather around us.
I heard murmuring, and several of them darted glances at me that ranged from
curious to suspicious. I felt my ears fold back of their own accord, feeling
rather embarrassed by their scrutiny. I still didn't understand.
"What we want to say is, Uni, is that it doesn't
matter to us what you think," put in the Lenny icily, gazing at me imperiously
down his long beak. "We won't be made to think of ourselves as low down or 'not
good enough' just because we aren't rich and we wear the colours we were born
with on our backs."
The Kacheek said nothing, but gazed at me with
the same expression of fear.
"B-but..." I stuttered. This was too much to
take in at once. Why were they accusing me of thinking they weren't good enough?
Sekya simply rolled her eyes and turned her
back on me, the Lenny and Kacheek following suit. I stared at them as they strode
out through the class door, feeling my entire inside frozen numb by the onslaught.
I hardly noticed the small group of curious onlookers around me drift away,
still whispering amongst themselves. I think I stood there until a soft paw
brushed hesitantly against my foreleg.
"May?" came SugarFlower's whisper of a voice.
"Why were those pets shouting at you?"
I felt the firm, familiar press of Satisha's
paw on my shoulder, behind my wing. "May? What happened over there?"
I shook my head, trying to sort out the confused
gale of thoughts and emotions tearing through my mind. "They... I... don't..."
"Are you alright?"
I lowered my eyes to the floor, miserably. "I...
don't know. I... don't... understand..."
"What did they say, May? What did they say to
you?" Satisha was beginning to shake me. For some reason I couldn't get the
words around the knot of shock and pain in my belly.
It was Farowyn who came to my rescue. "Don't
press her, Sati," she said in a low voice, coming up behind us. "May, let's
get you sent home for now. If you want to talk about it, you can send us a Neomail
or wait for tomorrow. Okay?"
I nodded dumbly. Satisha looked like she wanted
to say a great deal more, but she nodded as well and together the four of us
made our way outside.
Later that night, I was curled up in my bed
under my duvet, waiting for sleep, when there was a soft tap at the door and
I heard it swing open.
"Maybellene?" came Mother's voice. "Can I come
I poked my head out from under the bedclothes
and turned over onto my back, glad to see her despite myself. She hadn't appeared
for dinner again, but she was apparently here now.
Mother seemed to take that as a yes, and she
came to sit beside me on my bed. I studied her profile in the dim light of the
room, the long, narrow human face, the pointed nose, the wispy auburn hair tied
back into a severe bun. It wasn't often that I got to really talk to Mother,
and she never came into my room much. This was a surprise.
"Maybellene, I am sorry. I... had forgotten
what a special day it must have been yesterday, for you. And I realise I should
have been there for you, as your owner... perhaps I just... don't know how.
I admit I am... not always what an owner should be, Maybellene."
"No, Mother," I protested, surprised at what
I was hearing. "You give me so many things! How could you be a bad owner?"
Mother sighed deeply. "Never mind, Maybellene.
Suppose you tell me all about Neoschool"
I gave her an account of everything the past
two days had held for me. Or at least... almost everything.
"So, you've made new friends, you and the young
"Oh yes! There's SugarFlower, she's a white
Usul who's really shy and sweet... and Farowyn, this demure Zafara. I'd like
to invite them to our house sometime... Mother, may I?"
"Of course, Maybellene. Any friends of yours
are more than welcome here." She looked at me meaningfully. "And has anyone
given you any... trouble at school?"
Something gripped my chest, making me catch
my breath. I coughed a little to recover myself.
"Maybellene? Are you alright?"
I held up a hoof and raised my eyes to hers,
managing a weak smile. "Yes, yes I'm fine, Mother. And no... there hasn't...
really... been any trouble at school."
"Ah, good, good. I knew you would make me proud."
Mother nodded approvingly and got up again. "Well, I shan't keep you awake any
more. You'd best get to sleep."
I nodded assent. "Good night, Mother."
I waited until the narrow track of light from
the doorway had thinned out and disappeared into darkness before I burrowed
back under my quilts.
Sekya's words still rang in my head, weighing
heavily on my soul. I wasn't a stuck-up, snotty pet, was I? Surely not. Why
would Sekya think that about me? And more importantly, what could I possibly
do to prove to her that I wasn't?
This last thought filled me with a determination
that somewhat lessened the weight. I decided I would ask Satisha, Farowyn and
Sugar. Surely between us we could come up with some idea.
To be continued...