True Friends: Part Four
The starry Elephante nodded. "Like the new look?"
she asked, performing a quick spin.
Pattie smiled. "It's nice," she said. "Pretty."
The Elephante smiled and started to walk towards
Neoschool; Pattie fell into step beside her.
"So what's your first class?" the rainbow Aisha
"Awesome," Becca said with a small smile.
Pattie glanced at her, confused for a moment,
and then laughed. "Exactly. Awesome."
Math passed with no more fuss than usual; when
Becca made her way through the halls, whispers seemed to follow her as they
had the afternoon before. The Elephante chose to ignore them and opened the
door to her science classroom.
"Becca!" a Maraquan Aisha said almost immediately.
"Hi, Maari," Becca said.
"You're starry," Maari said, with slight surprise
and--was that regret? Becca frowned. "Oh, I like it," Maari said hastily. "I
just--is that just because we're all painted?" she asked, referring to the lunchroom
group that Becca now sat with.
Becca shook her head, and wondered how much
of her sudden decision had in fact been due to that point.
"Good," the Aisha said. "We don't want to make
you feel like you have to be painted to fit in," she added. "I mean, you were
fine red, too. But starry is nice."
The Elephante smiled. "Of course," she said.
"And it wasn't particularly that--I've been thinking about getting painted for
a while," she added. Another lie. Well, perhaps it'd been since Saturday when
Angela had stopped speaking to her; was that a while?
"Anyway," Maari said, "it's cool that you're
in my science class." She smiled. "We have a lot of classes together."
Becca nodded. "It's weird--I never really noticed
any of you before. I mean, I knew you were in my classes, but it--"
"Didn't really register?" The Aisha smiled.
"It's odd, how people can fade into the background sometimes."
"Yeah," Becca said.
The gong sounded softly for the late bell, and
their science teacher stepped forward to start the day's lesson.
After science, Becca was leaving the room when
Angela brushed past her. The Elephante turned as Angela came past; for a moment,
their eyes met. At first the Acara didn't recognize her.
Then, "I hate you," Angela hissed, her eyes
narrowing with recognition and the hatred she'd just declared. She turned on
her heel and marched off.
"Angela!" Becca called after her, but it was
too late. Too late for a lot of things. The Elephante sighed and headed towards
her locker. Maybe she could catch Angela during gym, though she doubted it.
Or possibly at lunch? The Elephante pondered the question as she walked through
the halls, and nearly ran into several people because of it.
"Sorry," she said each time, but without conviction.
She had to find a time to talk to Angela.
The last class of the
morning, art, passed with no further incident. Becca and Maari walked together
to the lunchroom, where they met the rest of the group; Becca glanced over at
Angela's table several times during the twenty minutes they had for lunch, but
the Acara was still avoiding her gaze.
The rest of the day dragged by for the Elephante;
classes seemed to take twice as long as usual, especially the ones that Angela
was in as well. English, gym, all stretched almost endlessly from Becca's point
The Elephante darted out of her last class as
soon as the bell rang to run to her locker. She grabbed her backpack and slid
through the crowded hallways to stand next to Angela's locker. The Acara always
left half her textbooks in her locker, so she'd need to come by, Becca knew;
they'd been friends for years, long enough to get to know each other's habits.
Sure enough, only about thirty seconds had passed
before the Acara came into view, drifting towards her locker. A few of Angela's
friends were with her; though all of them tried to ignore the Elephante, none
of them did quite so good a job of it as Angela. They gave her sidelong glances;
whispers went around the group several times, and Becca caught the words "her"
The Acara retrieved her books and stood up,
slamming the door to her locker and twisting the lock dial to secure it.
"Angela," Becca said.
The Acara turned away again, but the crowds
had thinned and the Elephante was able to easily catch up. "Angela, I have to
talk to you."
"Fine. Talk." The Acara turned, glaring at the
"Alone," the Elephante said, glancing around
at the others, who were clustered around Angela as if they could protect their
friend by glaring daggers at Becca.
With a sigh, Angela looked at her friends and
shook her head. They drifted off to walk home, muttering farewells to the Acara.
"Angela, I want--I'd like to apologize," Becca
"Don't bother," the Acara snapped. "I wouldn't
listen. It'd be a waste of breath, and you could probably use that talking to
your new friends. Your popular, rich, new friends."
"They really aren't that bad, Angie," the Elephante
said, then stopped herself. "Look, I don't want to argue with you."
"Then why are you arguing with me?" Angela asked.
"You're such a hypocrite. Just like your new friends. They're all so popular,
so rich, so snobby. They probably suggested that you buy that dress."
"Angela, I didn't know that you'd see it!" Becca
said, and then realized her mistake. "I--I thought I could just wear it that
once, and you'd never know, I mean, we don't go over to each other's houses
and--" Tears welled in her eyes, and she bent her head to hide them from Angela.
"And Jessica, my cousin, she's always lording it over me how rich she is and
she's always got tons of nice clothes and dresses," she sniffled. "I just wanted
to get back at her, I didn't even think--"
"Well, that's obvious," said Angela, but it
was more friendly than snide. She put her arms around her friend, and Becca
sobbed into the Acara's shoulder. "I wasn't thinking either, Becca. I was just
so angry at you for buying that dress, and then not even telling me," she added,
looking at the Elephante.
"I know, it was awful of me," Becca said, wiping
her eyes on her sleeve and pulling away from Angela. "I--I'm sorry, Angie."
"Apology accepted," Angela said briskly. "As
long as you promise to never call me 'Angie' again, and to never wear makeup
in my sight."
Becca managed a laugh. "Does this mean we're
friends again?" she asked.
"Of course. You're sitting at our table for
lunch tomorrow, right?"
"Well--I mean, I like you guys, but Maari and
Pattie and everyone else are true friends too. They helped me, let me sit with
them. I can't just abandon them. And really, Angela, they aren't any different
than you and the rest--everyone just pays more attention to them."
Angela shrugged. "Whatever," she said, but it
was plain to Becca that the Acara was hurt. The Elephante hesitated, unsure
of what to do, then started to walk towards her house. Angela fell into step
beside her, and the two walked in silence all the way to Becca's front yard.
"Wait here just a minute," Becca said then,
and ran into the house.
"Becca?" Martha called. "Is that you?"
"Yes--just getting something for Angela!" the
Elephante yelled back, taking the stairs up to her room two at a time. She took
the dress off of its hanger and put it carefully back into the white box it
had come from the Clothes Shop in.
Becca ran back down the stairs and out to the
waiting Acara. "Here," she said, placing the box in Angela's paws.
"What? Becca--" She opened the lid an inch to
peer in at the dress; when Angela looked back at Becca, her eyes glimmered with
tears. "You don't really mean this? Pattie and... and whatshername... are in
there giggling at all this, right? This can't be for real. Becca--"
"No," the Elephante said, and shook her head.
"This is real. Pattie and Maari don't even know about this," she added. "It's
for you. You always wanted it more." She gently closed the lid again. "Take
it. It's yours. Besides," she said jokingly, "now that I'm Starry, it clashes."
"And we can't have that," Angela said, wiping
her eyes on her sleeve. "Can we?"
"Nope," Becca said, grinning. "Definitely not."
"Pattie, Maari--Sarah--" Becca added. "Meet
my friend Angela."
The Acara shuffled her feet and managed a small
smile. "Hi," she said, waving.
"Angela. Nice to meet you," Maari said, smiling
back. "Any friend of Becca's is a friend of ours."
Pattie nodded, swallowing a bite of her lunch.
"Right." She smiled and moved over to free two seats together; Becca sat, gesturing
Angela to the other seat. The Acara hesitated, then sat as well, placing her
lunch on the table in front of her.
"Angela. That's a pretty name," one of the Sarahs
said. "Sarah's so common. Just at this table, there are three."
"So is mine," Maari added, and everyone laughed--even