Through Three Eyes
Note: This is a companion story to Salba. I recommend you read Salba before this one, but it’s not necessary. Thanks so much to all of the friends and fans who encouraged me to write more. I don’t know what I would do without you! I’m going to say this now, instead of at the end: feel free to neomail me with comments!
The news always comes fast. Sometimes it hits you like a well-aimed punch, knocking the wind out of you for a few seconds so you can’t speak. Other times it gets you talking, trying to convince them against their decision, or their owner’s decision, but it’s no good. There’s nothing you can do to stop it, no matter what you try.
It was a peaceful morning near the end of sixth grade. There was about a week left of school, and everyone was jumping out of their seats just to get to their next classes. Everyone tried to make the days move as fast as possible, just so school would be out for the summer. I was in the hallway, rubbing my matted fur and trying to get some of the knots out at the last minute, when Salba came up to me.
Salba was my best friend. She was a mutant Quiggle, and she told me that she would never change. There was a time earlier in sixth grade where no one had accepted her because of her color, but I changed all that. By becoming a mutant Chia, I made a statement that changed the whole way people thought. Due to some problems with my brother being allergic to mutant Chias, I had to change back into an Ixi, a brown one to be exact.
“Hey, Jhinni,” Salba said, leaning against her locker.
“What’s up?” I asked cheerfully, closing my locker and walking down the hallway to head to my homeroom. She walked by my side, looking quite sad. I hadn’t seen her like this since the beginning of the school year, when she was down in the dumps because everyone made fun of her.
“It’s nothing,” Salba mumbled, sighing and hanging her head low. I could tell something was very wrong. “You don’t need to know yet. You’ll probably find out soon enough soon anyway.”
“I do need to know,” I replied. “I’m your best friend. I can help you if something’s wrong, Salba. I don’t care what it is.” I smiled at her, trying to cheer her up, but it was no good.
“I’ll see you later, Jhinni.” Salba sighed, veering around a corner and disappearing behind another door. I figured I would just talk to her later, so I went down the hall and slipped into my own homeroom.
The room was alive with excitement. As the last day of school neared, much more seemed to be going on. Everyone chirped merrily, spreading gossip and exchanging stories as I settled into my seat, next to a friendly blue Yurble named Gemma. “Did you hear?” she whispered as she leaned toward me, her countenance serious.
“Hear what?” I cupped my hoof around my ear and leaned in towards her mouth, so she could tell me something without being heard.
She cupped her paws around her mouth and leaned in even closer. “You probably know this already, considering she’s your friend, but Salba is moving to Faerieland,” she whispered, sitting back upright and nodding her head.
At first I just figured it was a stupid rumor, just like the other ones that spread around the school. There was a lot of gossip, and I sat down at my desk until another one of my friends came over. We talked until the end of homeroom.
But, as the day went on, I realized that what Gemma said made perfect sense. Salba’s sour mood in the beginning of the day was an indication, and the fact that she wouldn’t tell me what was bothering her made it seem even more true. I tried to get to her between classes, but I couldn’t catch her. I sat through fourth period, worried that she was actually moving. In the short time that I had known her, Salba had become my best and closest friend, the friend I could tell everything to, the friend I could talk to for hours, and the friend that I practiced Yooyuball with. It wasn’t possible that she could leave. I didn’t think I could live without her.
Then, right before the last period of the day, I saw her walking down the hallway, looking down at the ground. “Salba!” I called over the rush of the crowd, anxious to get to their classes.
She looked up, and I ran over to her, making sure that she couldn’t walk away. “Is it true? Are you really moving?” I asked, hoping with all my heart that she would say no and that it would all stay the same.
Slowly she nodded, letting a tear escape from her eye. Before I could say anything else, she ran off. I tried to go after her, but the crowd was too strong, and I was shoved the other way. Dusting myself off, I went on my way to the last class of the day, extremely worried. “How could she leave me?” I constantly asked myself, but I knew she didn’t want to. She was probably suffering more than I was.
When I walked into class, I decided that I would go over to her house after school. I looked down at the desk in front of me, playing with my pencil. A million thoughts were running through my head, when Gemma walked up to me. “Are you alright?” she asked in a caring tone.
“I’ll be fine. Don’t worry,” I responded the best I could, and she walked to her desk. I needed to be alone for the moment, to mull things over and make sure everything was okay in my head.
“Okay class, I want you to open your notebooks. We’re having an open-note quiz today. It’s the last one of the year!” our teacher announced, walking into the classroom just as the bell rang.
I knew this class was going to be the longest one of the year.
* * * * *
As soon as school let out I rushed to get my backpack ready. The wave of students trying to get to their lockers was almost unbearable, but I managed to make it quickly enough. As soon as I stuffed the books I needed into my backpack, I zoomed out the door and went straight to Salba’s house. I often went there spontaneously after school, and I made sure that my owner knew that I was there by getting Salba’s owner, Alana, to neomail him, just so he didn’t worry.
When I arrived I could see a few boxes stacked outside on the front porch. There weren’t many, but I could tell that Alana was eager to move out. She had already started packing for the move, which was seven days away. I knew there was no way anyone could convince her to stay in Neopia Central.
“Hello?” I called as I knocked on the old red door at the front of the home. I waited a few seconds and Alana opened the door, looking cheerfully down at me.
“Hi Jhinni, come right in. I think Salba’s in her room. I’ll neomail Sam right away,” she told me, and I sprinted up the stairs. The soft carpet on the floor felt good under my hooves, and I opened the door to Salba’s room slowly, as if I expected some sort of alarm to go off.
“Go away.” The voice was half-sobbing, half-commanding, and I peered in to see Salba lying down on her bed, crying her eyes out. “I just want to be alone, so please go away.”
I walked out of the room like she asked, and I waited in the hallway a bit. I kind of understood why she didn’t want anyone to be with her. It was like in school today, when Gemma was there to comfort me but I just wanted to be alone. It was her way of coping with the things that were happening to her. “Please, Salba, can I come in?” I tried again, knocking on her door lightly.
“No,” she replied firmly, her voice a little less shaky.
I went in anyway, and sat down next to her. She glared at me, and tried to push me off the bed. “I want to be with you before you move,” I said, moving to a place on the bed where she couldn’t reach me. “I understand your pain. I’ve moved too. But you’ll make new friends, just like I did. Just like you did here,” I tried to console her.
“You don’t understand,” she countered, starting to cry again. “Every time I move I’m shunned by everyone around me. I was really lucky that you were there in school. Otherwise I would have been a hopeless reject, just like I always was and always will be.”
“Please, Salba. Give people a chance, give moving a chance. You’re so nice, people have to like you,” I said, patting her back.
“You’re wrong. You’ve never been like me, Jhinni, you’ve never seen things through three eyes. Go away!” I had never seen her so angry, so I walked out of the room and down the stairs. A part of me was angry at her for not listening, for not giving moving a second thought, but I decided that I could talk to her at school the next day.
“I’m leaving!” I told Alana as I walked through the door. And so I did leave. As I started on the road to home, I could hear Salba’s muffled sobs through her open window.
“It’s not fair!” she mumbled to herself. “Why do we have to move? This ruins everything! I’ve never had any friends, and I make a few and now we have to move! It’s not fair!”
I didn’t notice it at first, but I was crying too. Salba was the best friend I had ever had. She wasn’t superficial or shallow at all, she could see through colors and through the outside.
I ran the rest of the way home.
* * * * *
The next few days flew by. School was almost a blur it went so fast. We had some parties and played some games. It was the most fun week of school ever. And Salba wasn’t there to enjoy it.
Salba didn’t come to school, and after she had forced me out of her room, I thought it was best not to go back to her house. She was supposed to move right after the last day of school, and I didn’t know what to do. Every day without her seemed a waste, almost. I felt as if I should have been spending every minute with her before she left, having fun and lots of laughs. Instead, I hadn’t seen her since I was kicked out of her room.
Before I knew it, it was the last day of school. Everyone was cheering and having a blast. For them, it was a happy day.
I was kind of happy. I knew this was the final day I had to deal with work, getting up in the morning to go to school, and all of that, but I knew it was the final day I would get to see Salba, if I got to see Salba.
The day was only a few hours long. It ended at 12:00, and Salba’s Eyrie-drawn chariot to Faerieland left at 1:00. I didn’t know whether I wanted to say good-bye to her, and I didn’t know if she wanted to say good-bye to me. I only knew that I had three hours to decide what to do.
I couldn’t figure it out. One moment I knew that I had to rush over right after her and say my final good-byes, but the next moment I thought that we would have another fight, and I didn’t want that. Any hints of anger at her had disappeared from my mind, and I constantly wondered if her anger had disappeared too.
All too soon it was 12:00 and the last bell rang. There was cheering through the halls, and everyone rushed out of their classrooms. If there were papers to throw, they would have been thrown. I rushed out of school, an empty backpack behind me.
I walked down the road solemnly, trying to figure out what to do. There was a fork in the road up just ahead. One side of the fork, the left side, lead to Salba’s house, while the right side lead to mine. When I arrived, I sat down. Slowly I unzipped my backpack. I don’t really know why, it just seemed the right thing to do at the time. When I peered inside, I noticed a small light shining. Reaching in, I felt a smooth item run across my hand. I pulled it out and looked at it. It was a picture of me and Salba, our arms around each other, at her birthday party.
I knew what to do.
I sprinted down the left road as quickly as I possibly could. I knew that I had wasted too much time thinking, and if I didn’t hurry, it would be too late. A tear streamed down the side of my face. I had to get there in time, I just had too.
Finally I arrived, just in time to see Alana and Salba climb into the Eyrie-drawn chariot. “Wait!” I called desperately.
The Eyrie looked over as he was about to lift up into the air, and he put his wings down. I ran as fast as I could up to Salba, who was crying as well.
“I’m really sorry,” I told her when I reached the chariot. “I’m going to miss you.”
“I’m going to miss you too,” Salba said, jumping down from the chariot. We hugged each other tightly, not wanting to let go. But we knew we had to.
“Here, this is for you. Never forget me,” I said as I handed her the picture.
“I’ll come visit from Faerieland, and I’ll write lots,” she assured me as she climbed back into the chariot.
The Eyrie started the float up into the air, and I waved to Salba as they left. I could see a small grin on her face as she went up, until she was just a speck in the clear blue sky.
I sighed, tears still running down my face, and turned to Salba’s old house. Just for tradition’s sake, I knocked on the bright red door and waited. But no one answered.
Slowly, I walked back home.