Happy Little Usul
"I don’t know.”
My sister, Lianna, always said that to me whenever I tried to talk to her about Hannah. I mean, Hannah was amazing! She was everything I was not: pretty, brave, adventurous, smart…. And so cool! Her adventures in the ice caves and with the pirates were my favourite stories. The Usul had been my hero ever since I had learned of her existence.
“But you have to have some ideas of how she trained in order to be able to defeat the pirates!” I pleaded. “What do you think she will do next?”
Lianna simply rolled her eyes and went back to draw. I sighed. Even though Lianna was my best friend, I could understood why the topic bored her. We had had this discussion so many times before, and to be honest there was nothing more to say about it.
Nobody would chat and speculate with me about Hannah, nobody cared about the things I liked. I couldn’t blame them, though. There was nothing special about me, nothing to make me interesting. I had always been a small, green Kacheek, not a dashing Usul like Hannah. Oh, what would I give to be cool like her…
Lianna had never understood my admiration of her, but then again she was amazing like Hannah her self. As long as I had known her, she had had a beautiful pastel-coloured fur, befitting a cute, artistic girl like her. I don’t know how she did it, but despite being a mere Kacheek like me, she managed to shine on her own. Everyone liked her, and even though she was part of the cool crowd at our school she was genuinely nice to everyone. Mom had been so happy when she came home with her from the Pound. I was content to stay in her shadow. At least back then I was. I had always been a bit shy and making friends was really hard for me. I didn’t have that many people to talk to.
I shambled to the kitchen where mom was making tea. She smiled when she saw me.
“Would you like a cup, too?”
“Yes please,” I said half-heartedly. She frowned.
“Is everything okay?”
I sat silently, and took a sip. I had to fight back tears, and the hot liquid that filled my stomach didn’t make it any easier. “I don’t know…” I sighed again. “It’s just… I would like to be noticed sometimes.”
Mom put her hand over mine. “Who do you want to notice you?” she smiled softly.
“I don’t know… Anyone!” I exclaimed. “Why can’t I be more like… like Hannah!”
“Sweetheart, you know that most people are not like her either,” she said. “Besides, if you were like here you wouldn’t be you.”
I sighed. I should have known she wouldn’t understand.
“Haven’t you ever wished you were someone completely different,” I pleaded. I knew that the normal me just wasn’t… good enough, but how could I say that aloud? Mom smiled softly.
“Well… if you could choose, who would you want to be?”
I blinked. The only thing that came to my mind was a dashing Usul, someone pretty and daring.
Mom nodded. “Well, I wasn’t sure of what to do with it, but I found a Rainbow Usul Transmorphing Potion when I was at the market today. I quess you could use it if you want to…”
I swallowed, and my heart was racing. I nodded furiously. Maybe an Usul me would be able to be really popular!
Mom took the red bottle from her back, and gave it to me.
“Just remember, we love you no matter how you look.”
Next morning, I woke up excited. Even though I loved reading and learning, I had never really looked forward into going school and staying in the shadows. I combed my new, red collar and smiled.
At breakfast, Lianna looked like she had cried and avoided looking at me. I shrugged and ate my cereal. “I can’t wait for everyone to see my new look!”
Mom smiled silently.
Our first lesson was math. Math had always been my favourite subject, so the day couldn’t begin better. As I was walking to the classroom with Lianna, I could feel all the eyes on me. I smiled at the other students, and for the first time in my life people really talked to me. I took my usual seat and continued the chat. Lianna was quieter than usual, and I noticed that her best friend hugged her.
Then our teacher, Miss Leanne, entered the room. Like I usually did, I closed my mouth and began to concentrate on the lesson. Donna, a pretty kougra who usually hang with the popular crowd, sat next to me and grinned. Today I was the talk of the town. “How did you get a potion like that!” she whispered to me. Miss Leanne was going through a problem that I had been wondering about, but a cool Usul would not concentrate on schoolwork instead of chatting with friends. I changed notes and whispered with a few other girls during the lesson instead of listening our teacher, but glanced at the blackboard forlornly every now and then.
The day went on like that. I chatted and smiled and chatted and smiled. The lessons went on, and when I returned home a few girls asked me to hang out. A girl like Hannah would, of course, hang out with them, so I did. At the end of the day I was more tired than I ever remembered being. But people noticed me.
The next few days were even more taxing for me. I felt like I was falling behind on the lessons, and I felt like an evening spent writing and reading would be more than their weight in gold. When I was finally alone in the evening, I tried to get into the stories I hadn’t finished yet. But I always fell asleep before reading one page, the candle still burning. One evening, when I woke up for a moment from my restless sleep, I realised my cheeks were wet.
Lianna wasn’t really talking to me anymore.
After two weeks, I could’t take it anymore. I could never sit in peace and get lost in a wonderful story. I had to learn about all the gossip in the school, and about fashion. Those were two subjects I had never had interest in. Whenever I tried to talk about my favourite books or math, I received blank stares. I had a few friends that I had chatted about those things before, but they mostly looked at me a little frightened these days. Lianna was warmer towards me again, but every now and then there was this hurt look in her eyes. So finally on friday night I made an excuse and told my new friends I couldn’t go anywhere.
To my surprise, my sister stayed in also. I noticed her working on her new drawing. I hadn’t had time to see it yet or ask about it.
Mom put her hands on my shoulders.
“I’m glad you’re home with us today,” she said, as she was making hot chocolate.
I smiled. “I know, I’m just tired.”
Mom nodded. “How does it feel to be popular?” she asked and smiled. “I saw how many new friends you’ve made.”
I bit my lip. “To be honest…” I took a deep breath. “I miss being… me.”
Mom raised an eyebrow. “And?”
My head turned sharply.
“But… am I not a better person now? People like me.”
“Do they now?” she said, with a wry smile. “Or do they like the happy rainbow Usul?”
“Leesa,” Lianna said, suddenly behind me, “I miss you.” Her eyes were watering.
The picture she had in her hands was about two Kacheeks, one green and one pastel.
The next morning I was a green Kacheek again. And in the evening mom and Lianna both listened to a story I had written that day, and we all were smiling again.