There is No Cost to Friendship: Part Five
The next morning, a cheerful Sam packed up her duffel bag and rolled up her sleeping bag to leave Brooke’s house. No words were said about the night before when Brooke practically begged her to tell her darkest secrets and she did not answer. Brooke knew that Sam was not asleep when she asked to tell her secret, but she just refused to tell it. Was she scared? Did she not trust Brooke? This Brooke did not know herself, but she decided that it would be best if she did not bring it up.
Her mother made breakfast that morning. Fresh waffles with blueberries and strawberries on top looked delicious and both girls happily dug in. Sam finished both of her waffles before Brooke was finished with one. And Brooke thought that she was a fast eater; she had never seen anybody eat as fast as Sam.
“So, Sam, when do you think your mother will pick you up?” Brooke’s mother asked cheerfully as she placed two glasses of orange juice on the table.
Sam swallowed. “Actually, I was planning on riding home. You know, on my skateboard. My mom is, um, working today. She works a lot.”
“Oh, you poor thing,” said Brooke’s mother. “You weren’t thinking on skating all the way to Brightvale, were you? We’ll arrange for an Eyrie cab to pick you up.”
Smiling, Sam said, “Thank you. That is very kind of you.”
The two girls finished their breakfast without Brooke’s mother hovering over them. Sam sipped her juice. “This has been really fun,” she said. “Thanks for inviting me.”
Brooke laid her fork down on her plate. There was something she knew she had to say before Sam left her house. “Sam? Do you remember last night when I told us to say our biggest secrets?”
Sam wrinkled her brow, her mouth tightened into a tiny O.
“Okay,” Brooke replied, slinking down into her chair. She felt so embarrassed. Now Sam would be wondering exactly what she was talking about because she did not remember. She actually was asleep when it was her turn to share her secret. At least Sam did not remember the secret that Brooke told. It took a lot of courage to say those words out loud.
As Brooke finished off the last bit of her waffle, a new thought crept into her mind. Was Sam actually that clueless about the night before, or was she a better liar than Brooke thought? Brooke immediately shook the thoughts out of her mind. Why would she accuse her new friend of lying? Sam was keeping no secrets from her, Brooke decided.
Sam had only been gone for two hours, but Brooke’s parents were talking non-stop about her. “Samantha is such a nice girl,” her mother said as she set the table for lunch. “You should invite her over often. When do you think you two will get together again?”
“I don’t know, Mother,” Brooke said coldly, taking a seat at the kitchen table. She was in a bad mood. Bored, Brooke was hanging around the house without doing anything in particular.
“Will you see her at school on Monday?” Brooke’s mother asked.
“Probably,” Brooke replied without the faintest trace of emotion. “After all, school is the place where I met her.”
Brooke’s mother turned around to face her daughter. “What’s wrong, honey?” she asked. “Are you sad that Sam is gone?”
“No!” Brooke stood up hastily from the table, knocking over her plate with her elbow. “Why do you assume that Sam is the center of my life?” she screamed. “That I’m only happy that Sam is around and that she is my only friend? I have other friends, too! It’s not like I’m some loser who is so obsessed with one person that everybody else hates me!” Brooke shot one last tearful glance at her mother and stomped up the stairs to her room, slamming the door behind her.
As she lay down on her bed, Brooke replayed her outburst in her head. She had never spoken that way to her mother, but she was so angry. She sucked in a deep breath of air and buried herself in her pillow. Then she realized that her mother had a reason for thinking that her own daughter was a loser. Sam was the first friend Brooke had invited to her house since third grade. That was four years without any friends or any sign of friendships blossoming.
Brooke screamed, a scream so loud that it could not even travel to her own ears. No wonder her parents were so obsessed with Sam; they were afraid that if they did not mention her she would become a ghost of a friend that Brooke once had. Brooke knew that she needed to spend as much time with Sam as she could, because Sam was the only person she could ever call a friend.
“Hey Brooke!” a familiar voice chirped. Brooke could smell the equally familiar flowery perfume in her nose and immediately knew it was Sam.
“Hey!” echoed the Xweetok. She pulled Sam into a tiny hug.
“I just wanted to say that I had a lot of fun on Friday and Saturday,” Sam said, glancing at the clock. It was almost time for first period to start and both girls knew that they needed to talk as quickly as possible if they did not want to be interrupted by the bell.
Brooke smiled. “Thanks,” she replied. “I had a lot of fun, too. You know, Sam, maybe sometime this weekend or next weekend we can hang out at your hou-”
Without even finishing the last word, Brooke was interrupted by a “No!” from Sam.
Sam laughed nervously, playing with the hem of her shirt. “Yeah, uh, I don’t really like people in my house,” she said. “And my mom is kind of... particular about stuff like cleanliness and all that. She also doesn’t really like meeting new people.”
Brooke shrugged, trying not to let the hurt show on her face. “Maybe we can hang out at Ultimate Bullseye this weekend.”
“That’ll be fun,” said Sam, cracking a smile. “I’ll ask my mom about it tonight.”
It was nearing the end of the day. Brooke searched through piles of papers in her locker, trying to find her books to her last period class. Chatter broke out all around her. Suddenly, she heard a high-pitched voice squeal, “Oh my god, Sam, you are just too funny!”
Immediately, Brooke whipped around. In the corner of the hallway she could see a familiar red Ogrin talking with a disco Uni. Brooke had to strain her eyes, but she soon discovered that it was Corrine, the leader of the popular girls, that Sam was talking to.
“So, Sam,” Corrine said. “Lauren and Alyssa and I are having a sleepover this Friday night. We don’t normally invite other people, but we decided that you were cool enough to join us. What do you say?”
Brooke gritted her teeth, bracing herself to be betrayed by the only friend she had. She pictured Sam gleefully saying okay to Corrine’s slumber party and forgetting all about the plans she and Brooke had made only a few short hours before. Sharp tears pricked her eyes.
It took a while for Sam to respond. Brooke could not stand waiting anymore. Students passing by gave her weird looks, as if it were an abnormal thing for somebody to be eavesdropping on two other Pets.
“Sorry, Corrine,” Sam replied, an apologetic look crossing her face. “Brooke and I already made plans on Friday. But if you invite Brooke, I’m sure she’d love to go to your sleepover, too.”
Brooke’s jaw dropped. She could not believe what she was hearing. For once in her life, a friend truly cared about her and would never stab her in the back.
“I guess that’s fine,” said Corrine. “I’ll tell Brooke that she’s invited, too.”
Brooke was absolutely ecstatic. She started dancing in the most goofy way possible, not caring about the other people staring at her.
After school that day, a particularly whiny Ryan and a particularly overjoyed Brooke flew down to Neopia Central on an Eyrie cab to volunteer at the Soup Kitchen. Their mother decided that it would be a habit of the two of them to volunteer every Monday.
“I don’t get why we have to do this,” Ryan complained as they stepped off of the Eyrie cab.
“Just smile and get it over with,” said Brooke. She felt as if she were floating on air and did not want her little brother to ruin her good mood. As soon as last period ended, Corrine met up with her and asked her over to the slumber party. Brooke was not hesitant to say yes.
Another reason why Brooke was so happy was that she saw Sam the last time she volunteered at the Soup Kitchen. Maybe she’d see her again.
The Soup Faerie handed the two siblings hairnets and assigned them jobs to do. An hour or so passed and Brooke was bored out of her mind. Suddenly, she turned around to look at the clock and saw Sam talking with the Soup Faerie.
“Hi, Sam!” Brooke called.
Sam smiled. “Hey,” she replied.
“You just popped out of nowhere,” said Brooke.
Laughing a little bit, Sam said, “How long have you been here?”
Brooke tried to remember. “About an hour,” she said. “Well, ask the Soup Faerie if we can work together. I have to go to the bathroom.”
“Okay,” said Sam.
Brooke left the main room of the Soup Kitchen to the bathroom and returned eager, ready to work with Sam on a project. As she turned around to face the caldron of soup, she could not believe what she saw.
She saw the kind Soup Faerie, leaning over the caldron of chicken noodle soup, holding a soup ladle, watching as the soup slid down a poor Pet’s throat.
And that poor Pet was Sam.
To be continued...