The Garden Party Fiasco
Melinda sighed as she looked in the mirror. The blue Wocky was dressed in her finest, which meant a white lacy dress with a matching sun hat, complete with sky blue ribbon. Her fur had been brushed so much that it was a miracle it hadn’t all fallen out.
“Are you ready to go?” Melinda’s mother, Sara, asked as she poked her head into her daughter’s room. The older green Wocky had really out done herself this time. They were getting ready for a garden party, hosted by one of Sara’s friends, Mrs. Prewett.
“Yes, Mother,” Melinda said softly, glancing in the mirror one last time before following her mother out of their elaborate Neohome, located on Meri Street, Meridell.
“Now remember, dear,” Sara began, “you must be on your absolute best behavior today. No whining, no scratching, no slang—“
“No running, no shouting, no nose-picking—Mom, I know the drill.” Melinda moaned. She had heard this lecture a few too many times now. Sara seemed flustered, but said no more on the subject.
After a brief walk in which Sara continuously warned Melinda not to soil any of her finery, they arrived at Mrs. Prewett’s house. They walked around the path to the back yard, where at least a dozen ladies were mingling, all dressed in their sundresses and looking very elegant.
“Jane!” said Sara lovingly as she spotted her dear friend. At the sound of her name, a smiling Acara came over to meet them.
“Oh dearest Sara, it’s just lovely to see you,” Mrs. Prewett said, daintily kissing her acquaintance on each cheek. “And Melinda darling! What a pleasant surprise!”
“Oh, hello, Mrs. Prewett,” Melinda mumbled, stepping away slightly in order to avoid any physical contact. Fortunately Mrs. Prewett didn’t seem to notice and continued to beam at them.
“Do come and have some refreshments! And of course you must say hello to everyone.”
“Is there a, uh, kids corner or something?” Melinda inquired.
Sara glared at her daughter and said quickly, “Oh, Melinda, what a funny joke. But of course you’ll be talking to all of the ladies because you’re grown-up now.”
“Actually, now that you mention it, there are two other young ladies here,” Mrs. Prewett said thoughtfully. “Would you like to meet them?”
“I would love to,” Melinda replied in the most polite voice she could manage, looking pointedly at her mother. Sara went off to chat with some of her other friends while Mrs. Prewett led Melinda through the garden to a small table at which two solemn looking Aishas sat.
“Melinda, this is Autumn and Summer,” said Mrs. Prewett, gesturing respectively, “And this dear girls, is Melinda.” With another grin, she left the young girls to their own devices.
Melinda smiled nervously at the twin Aishas as she sat in the unoccupied chair and asked jokingly, “So where are Winter and Spring?” She expected them to laugh, but instead the young women looked at her with disgusted faces. There was an awkward silence, and then the one that Melinda was fairly certain was named Summer spoke up.
“We don’t appreciate your childish humor.” She raised a glass of punch to her lips and drank slowly as she said this.
“I’m sorry, I was just trying to be friendly,” Melinda retorted, annoyed.
“We don’t want you to be our friend,” Autumn replied coolly.
“Fine then! You know I was just trying to be nice, trying to make you feel special!” As she spoke, Melinda’s voice grew louder and louder so that she was nearly shouting. She flung her hands up in desperation, but as she did so, she accidentally knocked into Summer’s glass of punch. The bright red juice spilled all down her sky blue frock and onto the white table cloth.
“Look what you’ve done!” Summer shrieked, pointing at Melinda. “You’ve ruined everything!”
At this point the entire garden party was staring at them. Turning to see all of their faces, filled with combinations of curiosity, disgust, and disappointment, and then looking back at the enraged Aishas, Melinda felt trapped. She then did the only thing she knew how to do. She ran.
The young Wocky was determined to run forever to be as far away from these ridiculously proper people as possible. She ran like she had never run before, not caring if her dress tore or her fur was covered in mud. Tears sprang to her eyes as she thought about what had just happened, and her blurred vision caused her to stumble slightly. After running until she could no longer breathe, Melinda collapsed on the ground in a heap. She lay in the grass crying, her body shaking as the tears streamed down her face.
After a few minutes, she felt a gentle paw on her shoulder. Alarmed, she rolled over to see an unfamiliar, yet kind looking yellow Gelert crouching next to her.
“Are you okay?” he asked in a pleasant voice, his soft gray eyes filled with worry.
“No!” sobbed Melinda. “I’m not!”
“I got dragged along to that stupid garden party—I don’t even like gardens, or fancy ladies with their stupid dresses! And then Mrs. Prewett told me there would be other girls there and I was so happy. I thought, ‘Maybe I’ll finally make some new friends!’ Because you know what, I don’t even have any friends because I always have to talk to my mother’s friends and I can’t make any of my own. And guess what. They were awful! That stupid Summer and Autumn, who thought they were just so cool. And then okay, I accidentally spilled a drink on one of them. No big deal! But no, they all had to start screaming at me!” As Melinda recounted her tragedy, she had forgotten that anyone was there. She gasped as she looked up and saw that he was still sitting next to her.
“I’m so sorry!” she apologized. “I forgot you were here.”
She looked like she might cry again, so the Gelert said quickly, “No, no, you’re okay. It’s always a good idea to talk about your problems.”
“Well, maybe, but I’m sure you don’t care about them. I don’t even know you...” she trailed off.
“I’m Luke,” he supplied, smiling warmly. “And I do care about your troubles.”
“Why? I’m just some stupid girl crying in your field.”
“Well, first of all, I don’t think you’re stupid, and secondly, Summer and Autumn? Those are my sisters.”
Melinda gasped in shock. “Oh my goodness, I’m so sorry; that was awful of me to—”
Luke held up a hand to silence her. “Trust me: You think that was bad? They’re even worse to me!”
Melinda laughed, a hiccup escaping as she did so. She clapped a hand to her mouth, which then made Luke laugh. He faked a hiccup to tease her, and then she playfully pushed him. They both lay on the grass chuckling and smiling at one another.
“So, do you think you can go back to being proper now? It’s really not so bad, you know,” said Luke with a grin.
“Oh trust me, it was,” Melinda said strongly. “But I think maybe I can handle it now.”
“What made the difference?”
“Having you as a friend.”