The Ties That Bind: Part Nine
Author's note: I just want to thank all my readers, because without you I would have never been able to finish this. So thank you so much for reading, and I hope you enjoy the last part. Neomails are definitely appreciated.
Garret stood in the middle of the dance floor, looking around dazedly. Mikey and Chad were off dancing with random girls, and he was just standing there, feeling like an idiot.
All the yellow Eyrie could think of was what he had done. And why he had done it. The day before, he had stolen an expensive bracelet from a jewelry shop. And then he had given it to Mel, just around twenty minutes ago. He sighed. Why did he have to feel guilty now? Why couldn't he have felt guilty the moment he had stepped out of the jewelry shop? Or even before Chad had convinced him to steal the bracelet?
He rubbed his forehead. He felt dizzy. Then he realized he hadn't used the bathroom yet, which was supposed to be the very first thing he had done when he first arrived at the party. He had ran into Mel on his way there, and then he'd forgotten all about doing his business...
The yellow Eyrie made his way toward the long hallway on the east side of the room, pushing dancing pets out of his way as he went.
"Okay... okay... I'm going to go to the bathroom. And then I'm going to find Mel and ask her for the bracelet back. I need to return it. I... I can't live with a guilty conscience!"
Garret finally made it to the bathroom, and once he was done and had stepped out, he saw Mel storming down the hallway right toward him.
The Eyrie took a deep breath as Mel approached him. "What are you doing down here again?"
She shook her head, looking down at the ground. "N-nothing..."
"Err... what's wrong?" The Eyrie may not have been the brightest of his class, but he could tell when something was bothering someone, especially Mel.
"Nothing. Look, Garret, I just wanted to say thanks for the bracelet. I'm sorry I acted the way I did. I was just... overwhelmed. Even more so now."
Garret could feel sweat dripping from his forehead. "Well, about the bracelet..."
His heart was pounding against his chest. He looked down toward Mel's hands. It was dangling from her left wrist.
"What about the bracelet?"
Garret sighed. Better get it over with now... he told himself.
Mel was tapping her foot on the ground impatiently.
"I... I-need-it-back," he spat hastily.
"I... I need it back!" Garret repeated, more slowly this time.
Mel wrinkled her eyebrows. "What? ...Why?"
"It's too hard to explain. Please, just give it back." He reached for her wrist, expecting Mel to pull it away, but she didn’t move at all.
He stared into her eyes as he removed the bracelet from her arm. Her water-blue eyes were welling up with tears. He couldn't bear to look into them any longer, so once he had the bracelet in his hands again he turned his back to her.
"I... stole it."
"I wanted... no, needed you to forgive me... for... everything." He took another deep breath, before continuing. "And I thought a stupid bracelet would make you forget everything. ...I don't know if you were mad at me for hanging out with Sam, or something I said or did, but I just want you to know that I never did any of it to hurt you. Because hurting you is the last thing I would ever want to do, because I... I..."
Garret turned around slowly. Mel was gone.
Mel wiped her eyes as she sat on the cold wooden floor of a dark room she had shut herself inside. The yellow Usul looked out of the window at the snow falling softly onto the ground. The buttery moonlight was shining through onto the floor.
She didn't know what to do anymore. She felt betrayed. Confused. Lonely. What was wrong with everyone? Garret had given her a bracelet out of the blue, probably one of the sweetest things anyone had ever done for her, and then he took it back... because he stole it?
And Sam was all of a sudden best buddies with Krystal, who was Kelsie's cousin?
Mel found her paw shaking in anger, and she held it with her other one to make it stop.
Tears streamed down from her eyes, like rain rolling down a window on a rainy day. She wiped at her eyes, trying to make herself stop, trying to get herself to breathe regularly, but she couldn't. She was just too upset about everything.
Why would Sam hang out with Krystal in the first place? The last time I checked, they hated each other's guts... and why didn't Kelsie ever mention that she had a cousin named Krystal? After all I’ve ranted to her about a red Krawk named Krystal? Wouldn’t she have said anything? Mel thought.
The yellow Usul chuckled to herself, despite her overwhelming emotions. But... of course, it's been a couple years since Sam and Krystal hated each other. Everything changes, of course. Everything changes...
Mel heard a creak, and from the corner of her eyes saw a beam of light creep into the room. She turned her head. Kelsie was at the door.
Mel didn't respond. Kelsie slowly walked over and sat down on the cold floor across from Mel. They sat in silence for a few moments.
Finally, Kelsie said something. "You know... I'm sorry about all this."
"You're upset. About Sam hanging out with Krystal. I'm really sorry, I didn't know...”
"You don't know anything," Mel spat coldly, turning her head away from the Island Zafara.
Kelsie looked down at her feet.
Mel took a deep breath. “...You know how Garret gave me that bracelet?”
The Zafara nodded.
"He took it back. He said... he said h-he stole it?" Mel managed to choke out. Her voice was breaking up; she wouldn't be able to talk for much longer without bursting into tears again.
Kelsie didn't say anything. She knew she didn't need to.
"I can't believe... he'd do that..."
Kelsie opened her mouth to say something, but Mel cut her off.
"And Sam. She never wrote me back... and then she shows up, acting like everything is just like it used to be. I can't believe she would hang out with Krystal. Krystal, the one who completely ruined my life. Sam isn't my friend... she never was... all she'll ever be now is someone who betrayed me."
"And you... you're Krystal's c-cous..." Mel swallowed, nearly unable to keep on talking. "You never told me?"
Kelsie looked back up at Mel again. The Usul had finally let herself go. She was crying uncontrollably. Kelsie waited until Mel could control her emotions before speaking.
"You know, Mel... there are some things you need to realize."
"No! I don't need to realize anything! Don't say anything, just leave me alone!" she whined, covering her face with her paws, drenching her fur as she sobbed.
"I'm going to say it, whether you like it or not. Now stop crying and listen to me."
Mel wiped her eyes and looked up.
"First of all, why do you have to hold grudges? Why can't you just forgive and forget? Sure, Sam made a mistake, but she's still the same person. She's still your best friend. I know it, and Sam knows it, and I know that deep down inside... you know it, too.
"And why be mad at me just because my cousin is Krystal? So what if I never told you? To be frank, it's none of your business. If you'd just stop thinking about yourself all of the time and start thinking of others, maybe you'd start to respect life a little more. The world doesn't revolve around you, you know. Now stop whining and acting like a two-year-old and go out and get your best friend back. And apologize to Garret. You know, he cares about you. A lot more than you think he does. And he deserves a lot more respect than what you've been giving him lately."
Kelsie stood up abruptly, making her way back to the door. She opened it and looked back at Mel one last time.
"He stole it. And then he took it back from you. He did the right thing, Mel. You should be proud of him."
And then she left.
Mel found Garret sitting on the steps of the great marble staircase near the front door of the house. Nobody else was around. She sat down next to him. They didn't say anything to each other.
After what seemed like an eternity of silence, Mel spoke up. "I'm sorry. For acting like such a jerk."
Garret didn't respond.
"I'm really sorry. Really."
The yellow Eyrie turned his head away from her. He didn't want to look at her.
"I said I was sorry!" Mel said impatiently.
Garret merely sniffed.
"I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm SORRY! You did the right thing, Garret, and it was wrong of me to be mad at you for it."
The Eyrie turned to face her again. "...It’s okay. I... forgive you. I hope you forgive me, too."
Mel nodded. "Of course."
Garret hugged Mel, and they sat there together for the longest time.
Mel found Sam lying in the snow outside the mansion, looking up at the stars. The yellow Usul went over to Sam, and stood there for a while. Sam didn't look at her.
Mel lay down next to Sam finally. The snow was cold.
They stayed there for a long time, not saying anything. They looked up at the stars and the moon. The clouds had moved on, and the sky was clear.
"Sam..." Mel whispered, breaking the silence. She turned her head to look at her best friend. The faerie Uni glanced over at her.
Sam frowned, her voice shaking in the cold. "I thought you'd be jealous when you saw me with her..."
Mel nodded. "Well... it worked."
"I was jealous of Kelsie,” Sam admitted. “So I tried to get Garret to hang out with me. When that didn't work... I ran into Krystal, and, well..."
Mel didn't say anything, so Sam continued, "The whole time I've been here, all I wanted was for you to be my friend again. To talk to me. And to be the friend you used to be."
Mel smiled slightly. "I'm sorry. I was stupid. I was just so worked up about you not writing me back all those times... and then you just showed up here, so suddenly. I was overwhelmed. You were acting like everything was still the way it was."
Sam blinked a few times, looking back up at the stars. "...Why can't everything still be like the way it was? Before?"
The Usul sighed so softly she couldn't even hear herself. She didn't reply. She didn't know the answer. Things were just different, that was all. There was no reason things couldn't be the same as they had been before. They just weren't.
They watched their breath in the cold air in front of them, looking up at the yellow moon in the dark blue sky. The only sound was the patter of the snow landing softly on the ground around them.
After a while, Mel decided to ask Sam something she was dying to know. She thought she had known the answer before, but she wasn't so sure anymore.
"...We're best friends, aren't we?"
"I'd say so, yes."
Mel smiled. "And we always were best friends... weren't we?"
Sam nodded, unsuccessfully trying to hold back a grin. "Yeah. We were."
The Usul reached over and placed her paw on top of Sam's hoof.
"And we always will be best friends, right?"
Sam laughed. "Mel, how many times have I told you this? We will be best friends forever."
"Oh, okay. I just wanted to make sure." Mel looked up at the bright round moon.
And they sat there, together, hand in hand, looking up at the stars. Sam would be returning to Mystery Island soon, and Mel's life would go back to normal.
...Or maybe it would never go back to normal. What was normal, anyway? Even she didn't know.
Maybe there was no such thing as normal, she thought, smiling to herself. Because things always change, and nothing can be the same forever.
She may not have known what normal was, but what she did know was that she would be best friends with Sam forever. Mel realized that as long as things changed, they could live on forever. Their friendship, or anything in life for that matter, could endure pain and suffering, and in the end still be there like it was since the beginning when it took its first breath.
Their friendship had changed, but it was still there. It was still as strong as it had ever been, because nothing could break the bond they shared. Mel realized something that night...
True friendship can be changed, but never destroyed.
Mel lay there for a long time with Sam on that cold, peaceful night. She thought about things, and she thought about how everything had changed since Sam moved, how everything had changed since the day they met, when everything in life was so simple.
And she thought about how everything was different, yet at the same time, everything was still the same.