Table for One
“Sendrii, the usual?”
The Plushie Cybunny looked up from her seat at the counter, and smiled at the aproned Shoyru in front of her. The shop was busy that morning; the bell jingled as customers walked in and out of the door. The Cybunny leaned closer so that the shopkeeper could hear her.
“Yes, please,” she said. “Mint Tea would be lovely.”
Sendrii leaned forward to pick up her magazine, but was interrupted by a voice to the right.
“Sendrii? Is that you?”
Sendrii turned to see Elisha, a Faerie Xweetok from her homeroom. She was sitting with a Pink Poogle whom Sendrii didn’t know. Both of them drank tea out of large blue mugs.
After they’d exchanged greetings, Elisha looked at the empty seat next to Sendrii.
“Are you waiting for someone?” she asked.
“Oh, no,” Sendrii said. “I came here alone.”
Elisha’s smile faded slightly. “I see,” she said. “I don’t know if I would have... well, I don’t know if I would have what it takes to do that.”
She turned back to the Poogle, and leaned in close to whisper something in her ear.
Sendrii left the Coffee Shop at five o’clock. She paused to pick up a copy of the latest Neopian Times, which she perused by the exit. A group of gaggling Lennies walked past, headed towards the Art Gallery. Sendrii thought she recognized them from school, but she wasn’t sure. It would be embarrassing to ask, she countered, in case she didn’t know them.
She threw the Neopian Times in the trash and climbed the stairs.
Sendrii opened the door to her Neohome quietly, and closed it in the same fashion. She tiptoed past the living room, where she could see two of her siblings sitting by the fire. Jaraiya reached for something that Amasaia was holding, and fell over in the process. The Pirate Poogle winced, and his sister laughed playfully.
“You can’t get it!” she said, and she inched farther away. The Island Gelert ruffled her brother’s hair and darted to the other side of the couch.
Instead of going to her room, Sendrii walked down the other stretch of the hallway. Her siblings must have been playing a game earlier; the Playroom was a mess. She kicked over a Green Poogle Toy and knocked on her sister’s door.
“Julia?” she asked.
The door opened a second later, and Sendrii jumped back.
The Blue Acara grabbed her sister’s hand.
“Come in, I want to show you something,” she said. She led Sendrii to a corner of the room.
“Do you like it?” she said.
Propped against the closet was a tea table. Julia had painted the original wooden structure pink, and arranged tea cups and plates around each of the four place settings. Sendrii sat down on a pink chair, which creaked under her weight.
“No, Sen!” Julia said. She pulled her sister up. “Those chairs are just for decoration. I need to get some more two days from now, for when everyone comes over.”
“I thought you just had a sleepover last night,” Sendrii said. She glanced around the room. “Sure looks like it.”
Most of the furniture was damaged or tipped over, and plushies were scattered everywhere. A left-over snack had been forgotten on Julia’s coffee table.
“I did,” she said. “But it’s Kirara’s birthday, and I’m having a special celebration for her.” Kirara, also a Faerie Xweetok, did not go to Julia and Sendrii’s school.
Sendrii curled up on Julia’s bed. The Acara, noticing her sister’s expression, scooted next to her.
“Is something wrong?” she asked.
“Not really,” Sendrii said. She took a deep breath. “It’s just that... I saw Elisha in the Coffee Shop today, and I got the message that she thought it was weird for me to be sitting alone.”
Julia opened her mouth, but it was Sendrii who spoke first. She pointed in the direction of the tea table.
“I know!” she said. “I’ll have a tea party. It’ll make me more social.”
“It’s perfect! I’ll invite Maddie and a couple of other classmates.” Maddie was a Sponge Peophin, and Sendrii’s best friend.
“Sendrii, I don’t know if this is such a good idea – ” Julia started to say, but Sendrii was already out the door.
“What’s gotten into you today?” Olivia said at dinner. “You’re talking a mile a minute.”
Sendrii stopped speaking in mid-sentence and looked at her owner. She grinned sheepishly and took another bite of her meal.
“Oh, I’m just excited,” she said, her mouth full.
“For what?” Jaraiya asked.
“Yeah, what?” Amasaia and Olivia repeated.
Sendrii glared at her brother before turning to the rest of her family.
“Well...” she said, “as I’ve explained to Julia, I’m going to have a tea party this coming Saturday. I’ve already invited four people, and they’ve said yes.”
“And where exactly is this party going to be?” Olivia asked.
“I was thinking we could do it in my room,” Sendrii said.
“Sounds great!” Julia said before Olivia could say anything more. Sendrii shot her sister a quick look of gratitude. The Acara responded with a small smile. “We can help set up after dinner.”
After the dishes were done, the family went upstairs to prepare for the party. Julia brought in her tea table, and Olivia provided four chairs from the dining room. Jaraiya gave Sendrii his extra couch, and Amasaia ran to the store to get food.
At eleven o’clock, Jaraiya collapsed on Sendrii’s bed. He looked up at the ceiling, out of breath.
“I think it looks great,” he said. And it did. They’d found streamers to hang around the room, and the entire floor was spotless. Olivia straightened up from fixing the carpet.
“Beautiful,” she said. “Now, I think that’s been enough excitement for today. Let’s all get rested for the big night tomorrow.”
“Sendrii, relax,” Jaraiya said. He walked into the living room, where Sendrii was sitting on the couch. She tapped her fingers on the armrest.
“Are you sure that we have everything?” she asked. “Food, party favors, games...”
“Yes,” Jaraiya said. “We have everything.”
The doorbell rang sharply, and Sendrii jumped up.
“That’s them!” she said.
The first pet to arrive was Alyssa, a blue Aisha. She smiled at Sendrii and gave her a hug. Sendrii returned the gesture hesitatingly.
“Just go right on upstairs,” Sendrii said. “You can put your bags in my room. I’ll come after you in a moment.”
She followed Alyssa up the stairs, and into Sendrii’s room. Alyssa looked around at the wallpaper, the bed, and the tea table. She smiled wanly.
“Where should I sit?” she asked.
“Well...” Sendrii paused. “I was thinking we could do the tea party first and then play a game in the playroom afterwards. Go ahead and sit on one of those chairs.”
The doorbell rang again, and Amasaia brought May and Lizzie upstairs. The two girls were twins, both yellow Wockys. They shrieked when they saw Alyssa, and took their seats at the table.
“Now it’s only Maddie left,” Sendrii said to herself. “I hope she comes.”
“Maybe we should just start without her,” Lizzie said. She reached for the tea pot.
“No, wait!” Sendrii said, but it was too late. The lid of the tea pot came off in Lizzie’s hand, and the rest of the pot fell on the floor. It shattered, and pieces scattered everywhere.
“Oh, no,” Sendrii said. She got on her knees to grab the pieces, and no one offered to help her.
“What’s wrong?” Olivia asked when Sendrii came into the kitchen.
“Lizzie picked up this tea pot, and it broke,” Sendrii said. She dumped the shards in the trash and wiped off her hands.
“Is that the doorbell?” she said excitedly. She rushed to the door, to find Maddie was standing outside. As soon as the Sponge Peophin stepped in the doorway, Sendrii reached forward and hugged her friend.
“Is everything okay?” Maddie asked. She looked, bewildered, from Sendrii to Olivia, who shrugged.
“I was thinking we could play a game now,” Sendrii said when she walked back into her room. She lifted a plate from the table to offer a cookie to Maddie, but saw that there were none left. Alyssa giggled, her mouth dotted with cookie crumbs.
“I’m ready!” Jaraiya said. He walked into the room, with Amasaia and Julia in tow.
“We’re playing... with your family?” May asked. She glanced at her sister, who seemed equally perturbed.
“Yes, if that’s all right,” Sendrii said. “Believe me; these games are much more fun with a lot of people.”
After half an hour of playing, May and Alyssa were beginning to grow restless. They sat next to each other, and after every couple of moves, sighed audibly. Lizzie was losing; she bit her lip and tried to ignore the small amount of neopoints she’d collected.
Sendrii noticed this, and she patted Lizzie’s back.
“You know, they’re not real neopoints,” she said. “It’s just a game.”
Suddenly Lizzie stood up, scattering her coins all over the table.
“I don’t care about this game!” she said. “It’s the most boring thing ever.”
She ran out of the room, leaving the rest of the family dumbstruck.
After Lizzie had calmed down, Sendrii assembled everyone in her room.
“I’m really sorry about what happened,” she said. “What do you guys want to do now?”
“We could give each other makeovers!” May said. Sendrii jumped at her enthusiasm.
“Great idea! I’ll go get my... makeup. One second.”
She knocked on Julia’s door, and Julia let her in.
“Yes,” Sendrii said. “I never wear makeup, and they want us to do makeovers. Have any extra I could use?”
Julia led her to her dresser, and opened the drawer. Inside were all kinds of nail polish, eyeshadow, and perfume. Sendrii grabbed a couple of bottles.
“I never thought you’d come asking me for cosmetics,” Julia said, grinning.
The rest of the night went well, but Sendrii couldn’t shake the feeling that she was doing something wrong. When she combed Lizzie’s hair, she wondered if she was pulling too hard, and when she sprayed May with perfume, she hoped she hadn’t put too much.
She was almost relieved when everyone left, and closed the door with a sigh. They’d loved their party favors, or at least pretended to. Sendrii had given each of them a book – titled Modern Shenkuu – which she now supposed only Maddie had appreciated.
“It’s over now, anyway,” she said to herself, and walked up the stairs. She was almost to her room when she decided to go to Julia’s instead.
“Julia, I have a question,” she said when she walked in. Her sister lay on the floor, under the bed.
“One sec!” she called up. “I just need to find my hairbrush, and my perfume bottle. I think Kirara might have borrowed it the last time she came over.”
“How do you DO this?” Sendrii said finally.
Julia jumped up.
“Well, usually my hairbrush is on my desk,” she said. “But I must have misplaced it - ”
“No, I mean... ALL of this,” Sendrii said. She spread her arms wide, to encompass the messy rug, the turned-over table, and the rumpled sheets. “I had a sleepover last night, and it was the most stressed out I’ve been in my life. I don’t see how you can do it all the time.”
“I guess pets are just different,” Julia said. She opened a drawer, found her hairbrush, and began combing her fur. She looked over at her sister.
“You’re the kind of pet who likes reading a book rather than going to a party,” she continued. “I’m just the opposite.”
“I don’t get it, though!” Sendrii said. “Around you – around my family – I’m happy, and outgoing. But Maddie’s the only other friend I feel that I can really talk to.”
“Look,” Julia said. “I just like having a lot of friends, and you like being close to one. But that’s not weird at all. And neither is sitting alone in cafés or bookstores.”
Sendrii didn’t seem convinced, and Julia put her arm around her sister’s shoulder.
“Plus,” she said, “I personally think that Elisha is a bit of a snob. Don’t listen to what she says. Just do your own thing, and don’t care about what other pets think.”
“Thanks, Jules,” Sendrii said. She left the room.
Sendrii walked into the Coffee Shop, and looked around, dismayed. All of the tables were filled, and the store was filled with a heavy chatter.
In the back of the store, though, the Cybunny saw a spare seat. She walked over to the table, to find that sitting there was a Cloud Ixi. Her head was buried in a book, which Sendrii could see only the cover of.
Sendrii cleared her throat. “Um...” she started to say. The Ixi didn’t look up.
“Hello,” Sendrii said, and the Ixi looked up and smiled.
“Can I help you?” she asked.
Sendrii, in response, gestured around the store. “It’s just that all the tables are full,” she said, “And I was wondering if I could sit at yours.”
“Of course!” the Ixi said, and her expression brightened. “Take a seat.”
Sendrii sat down, ordered her usual drink, and pulled out a book. The Ixi looked up and smiled at Sendrii, and she returned the gesture. Then the two pets ducked their heads again and read in silence.
ALL neomail is appreciated! I hope you enjoyed this!