The Teacher's Pet: Part Two
All this was how I ended up alone with my bagged lunch in the pristine, ready-for-gym-class girl's locker room on my first lunch period at Central Neopian Neoschool. I sighed and tried to force an egg salad sandwich down my throat without much luck. Why had I spoken up? Why'd Georgia need to let everybody know she'd adopted me? Couldn't I just go through Neoschool as the pet nobody notices? Was that too much to ask?
But I knew I had to defend Georgia. She was my owner, never mind that I hadn't been with her for long. If I couldn't bring myself to stand up for her now, I wouldn't be able to any time. It just didn't seem fair! All I was getting made fun of was the fact that I belonged to a certain person! Those dumb pets, I thought angrily, don't know what they're talking about.
So why did it hurt so much to be made fun of?
I couldn't help it. Every time as I walked from class to morning class, I was mocked. I had tried to remain calm, but my blood boiled at every rude call of "Teacher's Pet" and "Princess Gullible". I'd gotten paper airplanes and lame excuses flung at me. The worst of that crowd were Jan the Kyrii, the Poogle, Kincaid, and the Mynci with the swamp-colored camouflage fur, Drake. They were the leaders of the taunts and teases. All the others followed their attacks.
Jan, Kincaid, and Drake were not tolerated in any of their other classes (at least, not in the ones I happened to share with them). They got by with nothing and were often sent to the principal's office. No wonder they picked on Georgia so much - it was their only chance at Neoschool to misbehave! What sick owner chose THEIR personality traits at the Creation Center, I wondered to myself.
I guess I didn't notice myself tearing apart my sandwich angrily. I had bits of egg salad on my wings and in my feathers, and bread scraps were all over the floor. I then squished my Zeenana until it was a load of mush inside an unbroken peel. I put my fruit on the tile floor, stomped on it, and didn't even care when all the mashed Zeenana spewed across the room.
It was in this way, looking like a total loon from prehistoric Tyrannia, that the Xweetok sisters found me. They pushed open the door so silently that I didn't hear them until Maja cleared her throat.
"Oh, um, hi, guys." I knew I was blushing under my feathers and I stared at the Zeenana-covered floor in an attempt to hide my embarrassment. "Nothing to see here. Gym's not for a couple of classes yet."
"Then why are you here?" asked Kelsey softly.
Said Maja, "Looks like there's plenty to see! How'd you get fruit on the ceiling?! You've got to teach me how to do that."
I snorted. "Kelsey, I'm just gonna hide out here for a while, okay?" I said, ignoring Maja.
"Not okay, Asha." The Faerie Xweetok shook her head. "It's the first day of Neoschool. You've got eight months and two weeks left. You can't give in now!"
"What's the use?" I moped. "It's only going to get worse. They're not going to let up even if the Virtupets Space Station crashed into the Language Arts room during class."
"There's got to be a way," Maja shrugged casually. "If I can get away with hiding a Cobrall in Kelsey's canteen last school year, then there's a way to make those pets stop mocking your owner."
"That was you?!" shrieked Kelsey. "Oh, I should've known! You are so grounded when I tell Darth."
"Shoot," grumbled Maja. "Gotta stop thinking out loud."
"Anyway, Asha," Kelsey sighed. "Things will get better. I promise. We just have to make a plan."
"Well... let's think about it," I began. "There is no way they're going to stop calling me Princess Gullible and Teacher's Pet, now that they know I belong to Georgia. But maybe we could fix Georgia! That way, if SHE wasn't made fun of, I wouldn't be made fun of, problem solved!"
"Um, 'fix' Georgia?" repeated Maja. "She's not a machine, she's your owner. We can't just pull a few wires, loosen a few bolts, reboot her, and have a new Georgia."
"It doesn't work that way," agreed Kelsey.
"You're right," I admitted. "That wasn't a great way to phrase that. I love Georgia. I don't want her to change. But something has to in order to make things right, doesn't it?"
"That's the only way anything can happen," Kelsey said. "But it's not personality your owner needs help with. At home, she's awesome. What needs to change is her teaching methods. Georgia needs to be comfortable at Neoschool, and to let everyone know that she's in charge."
"Yeah," I nodded, catching onto the idea. "That's it. ...But, uh, how do we do that?"
"We put together some sort of thing," said Maja firmly. She wasn't the best with words.
"A curriculum," Kelsey corrected. "The Georgia Hallie Teacher's Curriculum."
"Puh-leez." Maja made a face. "Gross. That sounds boring. How about, 'Ms. Hallie's Guide to Awesomeness'?"
"That's too unprofessional!" objected Kelsey.
"Look, you guys." I often had to interject when the Xweetok sisters argued. "Compromise. How does 'The Georgia Hallie Teacher's Guide to Awesomeness' sound?"
"It's a start," the two sisters decided. "Now, to work on the actual content..."
The lunch bell rang just then.
"Oops." Kelsey stood up. "Asha, you and I've got Algebra and Maja's going to Gym. We'll meet on the ferry back to Roo Island after Neoschool lets out, okay?"
"Got it." Maja collected her book bag and we all wandered out of the locker room and into the hall.
Every day during lunch, free period, on the ferry, and after Neoschool, the Xweetoks and I worked on the Georgia Hallie Teacher's Guide. It came along at a slow but steady pace. As none of us had been a teacher before, there were spots where we got stuck. The main theme of the guide, however, was to be kid-friendly (no lame jokes, no boring monotones, no sarcastic comments about how we all love homework - Georgia didn't do any of these, but she had to know what to avoid, right?) while still letting the class know that they were the students and she was the teacher.
Meanwhile, as we worked on this program, I had to weather the mocking of most of my peers. Drake, Jan, and Kincaid were always following me down the halls, putting on innocent faces when teachers passed. As soon as they were out of earshot, the name-calling returned. Sometimes I used this short time interval to slip into the girl's locker room (if I was near it), where about half of the bullies' band couldn't follow. Maja and Kelsey ate their lunches in there with me every day. Since I always brought lunch from home, and didn't dare go where I could be tortured by all the bullies at once, I had never been into the Neoschool cafeteria. It was pretty pathetic.
Finally, finally, the curriculum for Georgia was completed. We added the finishing touches, revised some misspelled words (mostly from Maja's section of the guide) and it was done. I couldn't have been more eager to start with Georgia. That was when I discovered I had forgotten something after all: how to approach my owner with the curriculum. Wouldn't she feel insulted if I told her straight up, 'Hey, Georgia, your teaching methods are seriously flawed, but the Xweetok sisters and I wrote you this guide to help. Let's get started. Chapter one is called How Not to Act in Front of Your Class.' I believed she would.
I addressed this concern the first chance I got during the next day of Neoschool. We had been hiding in the locker room at lunch period for all four weeks since classes started, and I was getting to know the place pretty well, better than I would have liked.
"It's Friday!" sang the desert Xweetok as she joined her sister and me in the locker room. "Friiiiiidaaaay! Finally! It seemed to take all week to come."
"You're hopeless," Kelsey informed her, rolling her turquoise eyes. "So, Asha, how's the program going? You introduced it to Georgia, right? She's really excited, right?"
"This IS meat, right?" Maja poked at her "chicken", served in the cafeteria.
"Wrong," I admitted.
"About the chicken, or the guide?" asked Maja. "Because I can promise you that thing on my tray just wobbled, and I didn't touch it."
"Probably both," I sighed.
"What went wrong?" inquired Kelsey anxiously. "Georgia's not going to let you help her?"
"Oh, no, it's not that," I said quickly. "I'm just not sure how I should go about telling her. It's kind of awkward."
"I see." Kelsey nodded. "I didn't think about that. Maja, what do you think?"
"I think it's definitely not chicken." Maja looked disgusted. "I can't put my paw on that taste. It's sort of like sock processed with aluminum, swimming in oil and brown food dye."
"Oil and brown food dye? It's called gravy," Kelsey groaned.
"You taste this and try to convince me of that."
"No thanks. I am so glad I brought lunch from home today." Kelsey turned back to me and left Maja to pry apart her lunch, looking for bits of cloth that would prove her processed sock theory. "Anyway, back to the real matter at hand. Maybe you should just go up and say, 'Georgia, I don't like how those kids at Neoschool are making fun of you, and I want to help you.'"
"I'll build off of that," I agreed. "Thanks. Now, what'd Georgia shove in my lunch bag as I ran out the door?"
"Whatever it is," Maja piped up, "I'll trade it for this fresh, delicious *cough* piece of chicken breast."
To be continued...