Super Chel: Part Two
Chel stared at Eric. He was a boy. She was a girl. If she went up to him to try to become friends she’d be an outcast. There would be endless teasing by Isabella, Chel’s best friend, and the other girls.
But on the other hand, he wanted to be a super hero. She wanted to be a super hero. But she couldn’t. No one wanted her as a super hero. Even her mom, Ana, got mad when Chel tried to wear her red cape. Chel had even promised herself that she wouldn’t pretend to be Super Chel any more.
Eric had just told the class that he wanted to be a super hero, and the class was still laughing. Girls played with dolls, boys raced. No one played super heroes.
“Now, now, children,” said Ms. Stuart, their rainbow Kau teacher. “Everyone has different aspirations and we have to respect that.” She dismissed Eric to sit down then started the lesson. Today they were working on addition. “Chelsea, can you tell me what the answer to this is?” She pointed to the board where “7 + 3 = ___” was written.
“Twelve?” Chel was only guessing. She couldn’t concentrate. Thoughts of the Pant Devil being chased by a baby Ogrin wearing a red cape kept creeping into her head. But every time it did Isabella’s words would also echo in her head. “You could always go play with the boys.” It wasn’t a suggestion, it was a threat.
“No, Chelsea, seven plus three does not equal twelve. You’re not trying. Use your fingers.”
“I don’t have enough.” A couple people giggled. Someone suggested that Chel should use her toes too. She did. It took both feet and one finger to make seven, and one hand made three. She counted them all. “Ten.” Ms. Stuart nodded and moved on. Chel sighed. She never got called on when they were reading and she was really good at that. Adding was just harder.
When play time came, they went straight under the large tree to set up a tea party for the dolls. Isabella didn’t even comment on Eric. So Chel did.
“So this new kid, what do you guys think about him?”
“He’s a weirdo,” giggled Trinity.
“Altador is so cool,” said Emma. “I wish I could go there someday.”
“He’s a boy. Who cares about him?” Isabella’s voice was light. Chel wondered how such an easy-going voice could be so full of menace.
“I-I couldn’t care less about him. I just think Altador is cool,” said Emma.
“He’s a weirdo just like all other boys,” said Trinity. Chel looked down. She knew that Isabella wanted her to say something, but she wasn’t going to. Chel was appalled by Emma’s and Trinity’s actions. They were just sucking up to Isabella so she wouldn’t hate them. Was Isabella that important? Was she the only one who could make you popular? Chel thought for a moment. Yes, yes, she was.
“Well, before we have this tea party, this island Kiko still needs a name. Help me name it,” said Chel.
“Chelsea,” suggested Emma.
“You are so unoriginal.”
“Yeah and just think about how confusing it would be,” said Trinity. “We should name it something exotic. Lau? Lei? Lala? Lulu?”
“I think it should be Kiora,” said Isabella.
“I don’t think so, Isabella,” said Chel. “I like Trinity’s idea. Lulu’s perfect for her. Now who wants to have a tea party?”
That morning, Chel had resolved not to say anything to Eric, but as she was getting ready for bed, she found herself dreaming again of Super Chel. It was so much fun and taking care of dolls was just so boring. She decided to wear her cape to school the next day and to talk to Eric that morning.
The next morning, when the small Ogrin put on her cape, Ana’s mood quickly got sullener. Daniel told her to ignore it, but it seemed she couldn’t. Chel was about to ask again why her mother hated it so much, but they reached the pre-neoschool yard before she had summed up the courage. It was obvious that Ana didn’t want to share, that or she just didn’t have a good reason.
Eric was already in the pre-neoschool yard when Chel got there. He was alone, climbing a tree. He seemed to be talking to himself. Was this how she had looked when she had played super heroes? It would look less crazy if he was playing with someone.
Chel looked over at where the girls were playing dolls. Isabella would be there soon. She could feel the weight of Lulu in her backpack. There was still time to back out of this. But she wasn’t going to. Chel walked over to the tree where Eric was.
“Hey, Eric?” There was no response. “Eric?” Again, nothing. “Eric!” Everyone heard her. Girls and boys alike had turned to stare at her. Eric turned around, saw Chel, and then swung down from the tree.
“Who are you? Are you here to help me foil Sloth?” he asked.
“Well, uh, I don’t know. My name is Chel, and I was--”
“You’re wearing a cape. Are you a super hero?”
“Well super heroes don’t have names like Chel. Short for Chelsea, right? That’s too normal. You need something cool. Something super. Like Zafara Boy.”
“Well, I usually call myself Super Chel.” Chel became more confident; she was proud of Super Chel.
“You sound like a super hero,” said Eric. “Now help me foil Sloth’s latest plan.” He started climbing up the tree.
“Are you sure I can play with you?” asked Chel.
“That’s not for me to decide. If you come play super heroes near me, I can’t do anything about it, and you’d be playing with me. If you decide to do something far away, then I guess you’re not going to play with me. I can’t control what you do.”
Chel had never thought of it that way. She followed Eric up the tree; they went all the way to the top. When Super Chel asked, Zafara Boy told her what was happening.
“Sloth has his mind set on domination of Neopia again. He’s enlisted hundreds of Grundos against their will and has sent them down to Neopia. They will slowly lessen the power of Neopian leaders around the globe, and then just when it looks like everything will dissolve into pure chaos, Sloth will step in and start his dictatorial regime.
“That’s why we’re up here,” continued Zafara Boy. “We’re on the look out for Grundos. When we see one we’ll challenge it to a Battledome fight, and take it on and win. Then we’ll take away its tracking device and its communication system that it has been issued by the Virtupets space station, and it will be free from Sloth’s wrath. Look there!” Zafara Boy pointed across the school yard. “We have our first Grundo already; it’s orange and is wearing a Virtupets head set. It must be from Sloth. Let’s get it!”
Zafara Boy nimbly swung down from the tree and ran over to where he had pointed. It took Super Chel a little longer because her hooves were not as well suited for tree climbing, but it wasn’t long before she too was confronting the Grundo.
“What you are doing is wrong, minion!” said Zafara Boy. “Subtly infiltrating the school system just because Sloth told you to? Sad.”
“Well, what are you going to do about it? You two are just babies with capes on,” said the Grundo. “I am trained in combat, and I have a plan.”
“Well, if you are so high and mighty,” said Super Chel, “then you won’t mind fighting us both in the Battledome. There’s just one thing I have to warn you. We’ll win, because we’re super heroes.” The Grundo agreed, and battle ensued on the spot.
Just as the battle was finished and Super Chel and Zafara Boy freed the Grundo from Sloth’s enslavement, Ms. Stuart called the kids inside for the beginning of the day. As Chel walked towards the door, Isabella caught up with her and said,
“Honestly, I thought you were done with that super hero thing. You were playing with a boy too. Do you have any pride at all?” Chel didn’t respond. Instead, she stared at her toes as Isabella walked away. Her words bit like the winter wind.
“Who’s that?” Eric was by Chel’s side.
“Just a friend. Her name’s Isabella.” Chel didn’t look up.
“She didn’t sound very friendly.”
“I’m her best friend. That wasn’t an argument; it was just advice.” Chel sat down at her desk to avoid any more questions. During class she was asked to read “Xweetok”. She read it instantly. Ms. Stuart complimented her but Chel was too preoccupied to care much.
When Ms. Stuart announced that today they were going to have an art class, the whole class rejoiced, even Chel. Eric ran up to Chel and told her of his plans to draw a Grundo spreading rumors about King Skarl. Chel decided to draw Sloth in his planning room.
About halfway through their drawings, Isabella, Trinity and Emma came over to Chel’s table.
“Hey, Chel,” said Isabella. Her voice was overly cheery. “I just finished this drawing and I thought that you might like to see it. You usually like seeing my work, and I figured that you didn’t want to miss out even though you’re sitting with him.” Her last word dripped with venom as she held out a drawing. It was a picture of Chel sitting all alone as Isabella and the rest of the girls were pointing and laughing at her.
“I thought you might want to see mine too,” said Emma before Chel could comment on Isabella’s drawing. The baby Wocky held out a clearly labeled drawing that had boys on one side and girls on the other with a barrier that said “Do not cros!” on it.
“You misspelled “cross”, Emma.” Chel tried to be nonchalant but inside she was fuming. Trinity’s list of why dollies were better than super heroes did nothing to help Chel feel better.
“Nice friends,” Eric said as the girls left.
“You don’t know anything.”
“They were attacking you for wanting to play super heroes with me.”
“Leave me alone. It’s just their subtle way of giving advice. I told you this before.” A tear slid out of Chel’s eye. She wiped it away quickly so no one saw.
“Chel, they’re bullying you. We have to fix this. We can show Isabella who’s cooler.” She looked up from her drawing; a glimmer of hope was in her eye. But then she shook her head.
“You really don’t know anything. She’s the most popular girl in school and nothing we can do can change that.”
“Well, fine if you think so.” Eric looked disappointed for the first time. “But it’s not just you they’re making fun of. It’s me too; anyone who wants to be a super hero. And trust me, I’ll find some way to change their opinion of me and you, even if you don’t help me. You just wait and watch.”
To be continued...