The Not-So-Fake Friendship
“So, you gonna do it or not, Jay?”
No, it surely did not sound fun what my friends were suggesting, yes, it sounded cruel and shallow, and of course, I am going to do it.
I was a normal spotted Gelert, and it would’ve been better if my parent’s salary was normal. My jeans were all one-month-new; my vests glittered in the sunshine. I had an octagon, as Kyle said, of friends who were ridiculously proud to say, “Jason’s my bud.” I was the smart guy, the cool guy, the dream guy at school. I wasn’t mean or shallow and I surely didn’t try to put people down. I thought I was above taking dares like, “Let’s see how bad a mutant Gelert cries when you turn on ‘em.”
But I wasn’t.
My so-called-friend Jenna, a pretty-in-pink-pink Lenny, had laid a wing on my soldier and announced at recess she was going to dare me to break the spirit of the exact mutant Gelert who had spilled soup down her 105th favorite skirt (traumatizing, I know). Everyone was staring at me expectantly; all I could do was smile weakly, wink, and say, “This’ll teach me how to delete Neofriends.”
Today is the day I have to go up to her; apparently her name is Jayla (irony can be such a bore sometimes). Today is the day I take revenge on someone I never met, and never wanted to take revenge on.
It was free period, and it was time.
Jenna pointed Jayla out to me, and I gulped. She was bigger than I would’ve imagined. I began walking coolly up to her, but I saw her suddenly fumble with her books, and sprinting up behind her, dived on my back and caught them.
I grinned up at her distorted face, saying in that cool, relaxed way of talking, “Hey. Gotcha books.”
She turned to look down at me, and I instantaneously realized something very important.
This was not Jayla.
The male Gelert growled and snatched the books out of my paws, muttering, “Populars. Jerks, of all ‘em.”
I quickly sat up, and brushing myself off, snapped irritably to the baffled Jena, “I thought you said Jayla was a girl!”
Before she could reply, an oddly melodious voice broke in; “Actually, against contrary belief, Jayla is a girl.”
I swiveled to see a mutant Gelert that was definitely not the shy, reclusive Gelert I had expected. She was small, for one, and the way she draped her spiky ears over her shoulders looked... decent. She had at least four colored and non-colored girls standing aggressively behind her, and one looked like she would make sure I locked my doors and windows for the rest of my life.
But I was Jayson Jyter. Few people ever saw me stutter.
“Ah, so you’re Jayla.” I gave her a reassuring smile; she frowned.
“What do you want, Jyter?” she replied flatly.
I kept my cool and stuck to what I had been told about Jayla and my own little lie. “I heard you’re in the upcoming talent show; you’re singing. Well, I wanted to do a duet... with... you.”
Jayla’s friends gaped, but she didn’t. She just lifted an eyebrow and stared back coolly at me.
“Can you sing?”
“Then you’re in.”
I grinned; that was easy. We shook paws and headed separate ways, scheduled to meet again after school.
I walked to the auditorium, where Jayla was sprawled out onto the stage, her mouth opened in a perfect ‘o’, a clear sound emitting from her throat.
I knew the song she was singing well, so I joined in, adding a bit of flair to it. Or so I thought.
“You sound terrible.”
“Your voice is... good, but you have no emotion. You just stand there and... sing,” she retorted, getting to her feet.
“Isn’t that what I’m supposed to do?”
She shook her head and walked up to me. She narrowed her other-wise wide eyes and punched me right in the chest.
I staggered back, my cry full of surprise. She reached out a gnarled paw and grabbed me before I fell; I wrenched my paw from her grasp and yelled, “You nuts?”
She gave me a white-toothed grin and said, “You put feeling into the squeal. Do the same for your music.”
I bristled as we walked up to the stage, rubbing my chest. “You’re crazy. And guys don’t squeal, especially me.”
She just laughed and took my shirt in her tight grip and we began our duet.
The deal was, become friends with Jayla in a one week period, and then toss her like last-weeks sneakers.
I didn’t do that.
We chatted quite amiably to each other every day; we shared classes luckily, and I would throw a little paper airplane with the wonderful things I thought about the lesson scribbled messily on it. We would play a short, intense game of Yooyuball at recess and after school we’d go to the Neopian bazaar. On the fourth day I bought us a smoothie and she announced, “Jayson, you’re my best friend!” and gave me the fondest back-slap I’d ever received.
It wasn’t until the fifth day I realized I had spent zero time with my actual friends. I went to Kyle’s house and his maid answered the door after ten minutes, staring coldly at me and hissing, “Kyle is not home at the moment. I suggest you go and play with your new friends, Master Jayson.”
I left pretty downhearted; I knew Kyle’s maid wasn’t friendly, but I’d never seen a Uni hiss like that. I decided to check every one of my friend’s houses; just to check up and show them that everything Jayla and I were doing was fake.
Only maids and their attitudes (without leashes) greeted me.
I trekked home, lonelier then I had ever felt. An idea sparked in my mind, so crazy and desperate I grabbed onto it, for it was my final lifeline.
Rain had begun to drizzle from the overcast sky, shrouding my body in mist as I ran. My heart beat against my chest as I silently began to chant, Please be home, please, please be home...
I staggered up concrete steps to an expensive looking door. I knocked forcefully on it, relieved when it opened. I tripped inside, landing on my muzzle with a dull thud. I sheepishly looked up into the face of a female royal Gelert who was dressed in purple tank-top and long shorts. I assumed she was Jayla’s sister.
“Hey,” I said, my voice muffled by the thick carpet.
I practically flew to my feet, my voice forcing its way through my constricted throat. “J-j-jayla?!” I practically squealed.
The Gelert smiled and patted me on the back. “Should make singing with me a lot easier, buddy.”
I don’t know what made me say it. Maybe it was the anger and confusion that had been building up in me since Kyle’s maid had told me to go play with my new friends. Maybe it was just I didn’t want to prolong my own agony. Maybe it was because, deep down, I really wanted to be Jayla’s friend and knew this was what was best for her and me.
“So, now you actually feel like you’re like, cool enough to talk to me?” I retorted coldly, brushing myself off. “Paint doesn’t cover your insides, miss; you’re still a loser deep down. I came to tell you it's over. I’m not doing the talent show with you. Bye.”
I let myself out, trying desperately to let the stricken look on her face go with the rain rolling off my pelt.
I sat alone under a shady tree at recess, listening to my breathing and the sound of frantic, care-free screaming. I had finally worked up the courage to apologize and explain to Jayla what happened. I had been wracked by guilt and hurt and anger at what I had done. I was going to make things right again.
I never saw her again.
I learned eventually she had moved away to Faerieland to pursue her Yooyuball career. She had left a note for me, her friends said, and it finally wound up in my paws. I remember to this very day reading those simple words:
I won’t forget you.
Be that a friendly promise or a not-so-friendly threat, it was all I had.
I'm back in the NT! Yeah! Thanks everybody at my guild for reading it and being otter-tastic!