There is No Cost to Friendship: Part One
For the first time since school was finished in June, Brooke packed her knapsack. She filled a burlap pouch stuffed to the brim with pens such as her favorite Ketchup Bottle Pen and her Earth Faerie Pen. She placed various erasers and markers in the pouch as well. A hole punch in the shape of Florg, the mutant Chia, was also put into her knapsack. Five notebooks, one for each class, were placed in a row next to the pencil case and hole punch along with each textbook, smelling of fresh paper, the plastic coverings looking shiny in the fluorescent lighting of Brooke’s house. The last thing in the knapsack was her lunch, a lunch that she packed herself. Brooke chuckled to herself, knowing of the little brownie she packed herself for dessert that would have never made it into her lunch if her mother had packed it. Her parents hated sweets.
Brooke did not know what to think as she slung the knapsack over her shoulders and waited for her younger brother to be ready so they could walk to school together. She was certainly not happy that school was in session after such a short summer vacation, but the thought of entering a new grade and being in new classes excited her quite a bit. She smiled at the thought of meeting new friends, learning new things, and experiencing her new grade in the best way possible.
Her mother was busy in the kitchen cleaning up after breakfast. She took a peek at the clock and jumped up a bit. “Ryan!” her mother called from the foot of the stairs. “Ryan, please come down! Your sister is waiting for you!”
The first day of school was always hard on Ryan. He was quite a lazy green Skeith and hated anything to do with learning. During the summer, he was never awake until Brooke was finished with her lunch. He never did anything unless he had to, and that included waking up from one of his slumbers. Brooke would not have been surprised if he were still sound asleep in his bed.
After a brief moment, Ryan stumbled down the stairs. His fur was uncombed and his shirt was buttoned wrong, but he did not seem to care.
“You missed breakfast,” Brooke said. “I guess you’re just going to have to buy food at school.”
He did not even hear her. “I’m ready,” he muttered, tying one of his shoes. He turned to Brooke. “Are you ready?”
Nodding, Brooke said, “Just hurry up, Ryan. Do you know how bad a late mark would look on your permanent record?’ This was a joke, of course. Brooke still had not told him that permanent records did not exist and there was nothing to worry about.
Ryan perked up and grabbed his backpack off of the steps. “Come on!” he urged, opening the front door to the Neohome. “We cannot be late!”
Brooke smirked a bit to herself as she followed Ryan out the door.
The walk to school was long and quite boring. Brooke and Ryan lived a long distance away from their school. There actually was another school about fifteen minutes closer to their Neohome, but it had a reputation for being a bad education, so their parents sent them to a better school choice forty-five minutes from where they lived. Brooke and Ryan had to face the forty-five minute walk every morning, so they had to wake up earlier than most everybody else. They had to exit their home in Meri Acres Farm and pass Turmaculus, Illusen’s Glade, and the Symol Hole before reaching Brightvale, where their school was. Luckily, the school was only a few steps inside Brightvale’s gates.
Their school was definitely beautiful, as was everything in Brightvale. Trees surrounded the building, the walkways were made of grey cobblestone, and the windows were made of ornate stained glass in bright blues, yellows, and greens. Brooke sometimes wished that the buildings in Meridell were as beautiful as they were in Brightvale.
As Brooke and Ryan reached the steps to get to their school, they could already see masses of people waiting for the doors to open so they could find their new lockers inside. The school was placed on a large hill, so a long staircase was needed to reach the front door. A staircase of over fifty stairs was the answer to the hilly problem and also served as a primary hangout spot for students.
Ryan quickly found some of his friends and eagerly went over to talk to them. Brooke stood awkwardly at the foot of the stairs, pulling on her long, blue Xweetok tail, waiting for somebody to go up and talk to her. She did not normally like to admit it, but she was jealous of Ryan and the friends that he had. She was not really friendly with anybody at school because she was so afraid of talking to anybody. Ryan was much more social than she was and it made her mad.
Suddenly, she heard a high-pitched squeal in the distance. She whipped around and saw the popular girls. This exclusive clique consisted of only three girls who considered themselves queens of Neopia and did not care about what people thought of that. They only cared about themselves and how popular they were. They were also all Uni, the vainest of all species of Neopets, and were all painted disco. The brightness of their coats made them stand out even more than when they gossiped and laughed loudly. Their names were Lauren, Alyssa, and Corrine, and Brooke hated them with all of her might.
“I hate the first day of school,” Lauren whined.
“Me too,” Alyssa agreed. “I wish that summer was still going on, and we were sipping lemonade...”
“Lying by the pool,” said Lauren. The two of them often finished each other’s sentences.
“Stop whining!” Corrine yelled. She lowered her voice and the other girls started laughing. Brooke looked over at the girls to see what they were laughing about and she could see a hoof pointed at her. She caught Corrine’s eye and this only made Corrine laugh more. Brooke’s face reddened when she realized that they were laughing about her. They had no reason to hide the fact that they hated Brooke because Brooke already knew. She sighed. Everybody hated her.
The bell rang to signal the start of class for the day. People shrieked, not used to the loud clamoring of the bell. Brooke took a deep breath and braced herself for another year of loneliness, teasing, and tears. Why did she think that morning that she was going to make any new friends? Why did she think that she was going to learn anything new?
She stared at the floor of her school, not listening or watching anybody, when suddenly she heard her name.
“Hey, Brooke,” Corrine said. Behind her, Lauren and Alyssa stood, their arms folded and their mouths pulled into a pout.
“Hello, Corrine,” Brooke replied. She did not want to do anything but be nice to Corrine and her friends, and all they did was be nasty to her.
“I like your outfit,” said Corrine. “It’s very chic.”
Brooke immediately looked down at her outfit, instantly a bit flattered. Then she realized that her shirt was on backwards. She blushed and faced Corrine again, who collapsed in a fit of giggles.
“Bye, Brooke,” Corrine said, waving. Her two clones, Lauren and Alyssa, did exactly the same, following their leader to her locket.
Brooke stopped short in the middle of the hallway, blocking traffic. Angry Pets yelled for her to move, but she could not. This was definitely not the worst thing that Corrine had ever done to her, but it affected her the most. Why was Corrine so mean? And why was she only mean to Brooke? Brooke did not know, and maybe Corrine herself did not know, either.
A strong looking Grarrl knocked into Brooke and took her out of her reverie. She then figured out how to move her legs and she found her locker, stuffing textbooks and notebooks into it. It was going to be a long year.
A faint sound of wheels on linoleum traveled to Brooke’s ears. She furrowed her brow and turned around. An unfamiliar red Ogrin was wheeling through the halls on a purple skateboard. The Ogrin’s eyes were closed as she traveled faster and faster through the halls. The Ogrin wore a denim skirt and three tank tops layered on top of another, along with canvas sneakers. She was probably the coolest person Brooke had ever seen, and Brooke did not even know her name. The Ogrin skidded to a stop at a locker, fingered the lock, and opened it. Brooke watched with her mouth agape as the Ogrin placed her skateboard into her locker.
Brooke gathered her books for her first class and walked slowly across the halls. The Ogrin turned around right as Brooke walked past her. She waved with a small smile on her face. Brooke knew that the smile and wave of this Pet was real.
At least somebody at this school liked her.
To be continued...