Invisible Paint Brushes rock Circulation: 186,904,169 Issue: 196 | 24th day of Relaxing, Y7
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True Friends: Part Two

by extreme_fj0rd


Angela walked slowly through the streets of Neopia Central, shoulders slumping, head bowed. The streets were crowded with pets happy that it was the weekend; they veered around the Acara, giving her glances askance as they passed. Angela was too unhappy to care about that, though, and simply ignored them.

      She soon reached her favorite spot. The Wishing Well was tucked into a corner of the Neopian Bazaar, a pocket of calm and quiet. Trees surrounded the Wishing Well, screening it from the street that ran past, and a couple of benches had been placed around the Well for people to sit on. Angela sat on one now, resting her head on her paws. She'd thought Becca truly was her friend. She'd thought that the Elephante would keep her promise to not buy the dress unless Angela could buy it as well. But then again, who knew what went on in the minds of rich pets.

      The Acara wiped her eyes with her paws, sighing. She knew she'd never have been able to afford the dress, and Becca knew that, too. But still, seeing the Elephante wearing it--wearing makeup--standing around with all those fancily-painted pets--was more than irritating. Angela felt betrayed, betrayed by the only friend she'd ever really had. Sure, she talked to people at school, but Becca was the pet she'd felt closest to. Their minds had been so alike that they could almost anticipate what each other said next, but different enough that once in a while, they surprised one another.

      Angela cried there for a long while. No one disturbed her; not many people came to wish at the Well, these days. The Wishing Well was one of the few things she hadn't told Becca; the years before she met the Elephante, Angela had been teased for being shy and poor and studious--all the things Becca had understood so well, or perhaps hadn't--and she'd often had to retreat here, to the Wishing Well, to regain her composure and carry on doing her homework quietly. Once she met the Elephante, though, Angela thought that that had all changed. She wasn't just Angela any more; she was Becca's friend Angela. Ever since then, the Acara hadn't been teased, hadn't cried.

      And now the very thing that ended those years was bringing them back again. Angela's tears were slowing, stopping, but her anger and rage against Becca was undiminished. She blinked back the last few tears and stood. For a moment she paused; then she dropped a one Neopoint coin into the Wishing Well without making a wish and left.


      Becca fidgeted. "Really, Jessica. You don't have to show me all of your--"

      The Faerie Zafara interrupted her with a grin. "I got this last year," she announced, holding up a pink, flounced dress. She hung it neatly in Becca's closet and pulled another out of her luggage. "This is from my school play," she informed the Elephante.

      Becca fought a yawn. "Why don't we go down and see if Martha has dinner yet?" she suggested, moving to the door. To her relief, Jessica nodded.

      "I am a little hungry," the Zafara said, following Becca out of her room and down the stairs. "You eat in the kitchen?" Jessica asked, wrinkling her nose.

      The Elephante was getting more than a little tired of Jessica's airs and graces. "Yes," she said shortly. "Hi, Mom."

      "Hello, Becca. Hello, Jessica. Dinner's nearly ready," Becca's red-haired owner said with a smile. "You could go tell Amy and Marcus to come to dinner--by the time they come, it'll be done."

      Jessica nodded with Becca, but as soon as they were outside the kitchen, the Faerie Zafara rolled her eyes. "Oh, puh-lease. How do you stand her?"

      "Who?" Becca asked, bewildered.

      "Your owner, Becca! Sweet Fyora, you'd think I was speaking a totally different language," Jessica snorted. "Marcus never asks me to do anything," she added grandly.

      "We don't have fifteen maids running after us to pick up every piece of paper we drop," Becca muttered. "Well, are you coming?" she asked, raising her voice to a normal speaking level. She turned towards the stairs.

      "Oh, I suppose so." The Faerie Zafara sighed to show that it was a concession on her part, and followed Becca up the stairs to the guest rooms where Marcus and Amy were staying.


      Becca yawned over her NeoCrunch Cereal the next morning. "'Morning, Mom," she mumbled when Martha entered the kitchen.

      "Good morning, Becca." The red-haired girl sat down across from Becca with a yawn and set that day's Neopian Times on the table. "Do you want comics, then?"

      The Elephante considered. "No, you can have them first today. I'll take short stories, though."

      "Okay." Martha handed her the short story section and stood again to get herself a cereal bowl.

      Becca scanned the section for the names of famous Neopian Times authors, then began to read the first story in the list.

      "Any good ones?"

      The Elephante shrugged and kept reading. It was an interesting story, called "Untrue Friends". The username was one she didn't recognize, but it was good; perhaps a first-timer, Becca thought.

      "Marcus and the others are leaving tonight," Martha added, pouring cereal into her bowl, "so I thought you might want to show Jessica around Neopia Central for a while. How does that sound?"

      "Fine," Becca said absently, though really she'd been hoping to sneak off for a while and apologize to Angela.

      "Good. Maybe you can introduce her to Angela!" Becca's owner beamed. "I'll give you some Neopoints, in case the three of you want to go somewhere--" She bustled off to find her money, leaving Becca still reading. The Elephante wondered briefly if she ought to tell Martha about what the dress they'd bought implied, but shook her head. There was no reason to involve her owner in this mess. She finished the story she was reading and went on to the next one.

      "Here you go, then," Martha said, coming back. She set two thousand Neopoints on the table next to Becca. "Treat them to lunch, maybe." She smiled and sat back down to eat her cereal.

      The Elephante glanced up and shook her head, then folded the short story section and put it on the table. "I'll go see if Jessica's awake," she told her owner, and left the room.

      Instead of going up to her room, where Becca knew very well that the Faerie Zafara slumbered, the Elephante sat down on the staircase. A sigh escaped her lips. Angela probably thought that she was horrid, breaking her promise and all that. Maybe she could ask Jessica what to do--though the Zafara's advice was often bad, at least she'd get another perspective on the matter, and Jessica wasn't likely to tell anyone about it.

      With that decided, the Elephante stood again and slowly ascended the stairs. She rapped sharply on her door, then pushed it open. "Good morning," she told Jessica.

      The Zafara opened one eye with a sigh. "It is quite definitely too early to be awake," she said.

      "Pretend you're asleep, then." Becca crossed the room to push aside the curtains. Sunlight streamed in on Jessica, who was pulling the blankets over her head to escape the light. A few moments passed; then the Zafara's head poked out. "Well, I'm awake. What do you want?"

      Becca smiled. "I was wondering if you could give me some advice--" She outlined the situation in vague terms.

      "And who's this--this friend of yours?" Jessica asked, standing now. She pursed her lips at the mirror and smeared on a coat of lipstick. "Is she well-off? Rich?"

      "She's rather poor," the Elephante admitted.

      "Ah. Well, then, it's easy. You shouldn't associate with people like that." Jessica smiled at Becca. "What're we doing today?" she asked, changing the subject.

      "Martha thinks that I should show you Neopia Central," Becca said.

      "I didn't ask what your owner thinks we're doing. I asked what we are doing." The Zafara smirked. "There's a difference. When do I get to meet this friend of yours--the one you mentioned yesterday. Angel, I believe the name was."

      "Angela," Becca corrected automatically. Did she want Jessica to meet Angela--did she want Jessica to be along when Becca apologized? No, the Elephante decided. "Um--she's out of town. Vacation, y'see."

      "Oh. Where?"

      "Faerieland," she said, that being the fanciest place the Elephante could think of off the top of her head. "Maybe I'll see her when we get back, then," Jessica said. "What does she look like?"

      "Oh, no--she's coming back this afternoon. Late this afternoon," Becca added. "She'll probably want to unpack, and all that."

      Jessica gave a small sigh, but didn't ask any more about Angela. "What about your other friends?"

      "I--it was spring break this last week," the Elephante invented. The lies were piling up quickly. "Most of them are on vacation, too."

      "I see." The Zafara paused. "Do you have any food in this place of yours?"

      "We've got cereal downstairs," Becca said, grateful for an excuse to draw the subject away from her lies.

      "Cereal. How inelegant." Jessica sighed, then shrugged. "I suppose it will have to do."


      The rest of the day was spent--wasted, in Becca's opinion--showing Jessica around Neopia Central. It was a relief when the Faerie Zafara and her family packed and left in the evening, taking an Eyrie taxi bound for Faerieland.

      The Elephante went to sleep that night dissatisfied, trying to think of a way to explain her actions to Angela. When she woke the next morning, she still had no ideas, but she got up anyway and prepared to go to Neoschool. Along with her morning routine--brushing her teeth, dressing, making sure she had all her homework done and eating breakfast--Becca put on lipstick without really thinking about it. She added a touch of mascara before she realized what she was doing. Hastily the Elephante put down the makeup and splashed water over her face, trying to get it off, but the mascara was waterproof and the lipstick only smeared.

      She sighed and wiped her face with a towel, and put on another layer of lipstick to cover her botched efforts to remove it.

      Angela wasn't waiting at the front gate; when Becca walked past the Acara's locker, Angela was nowhere to be seen, though Angela customarily waited for the Elephante there when the two missed each other on the way to school. Swallowing hard, Becca went to homeroom and then her first class, science, before catching a glimpse of Angela in the halls.

      "Angie!" she called after the Acara. "Angela!"

      Either Angela hadn't heard, or she pretended she hadn't; the Acara slipped into the crowd and was lost to Becca's sight.

To be continued...

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Other Episodes

» True Friends: Part One
» True Friends: Part Three
» True Friends: Part Four

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