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Kilmeny: A Simple Song of Happiness, Chapter 2

Here's chapter 2 of Kilmeny!

Title: Kilmeny: A Simple Song of Happiness
Chapter #: 2
Rating: G
Genre: Romance, Drama, Friendship

CHORD 2: Malakai and Me, Together

I really don't like school at all.

If Malakai were to hear me say this, he'd belabor and palaver about it, saying "you're actually very lucky to go to school! You get to learn new things about the world!" and all that stuff. Don't get me wrong, I know Malakai's saying this for my own good, but I say that I don't like school because Malakai doesn't get to share it with me. He can't go to school anymore and I feel bad, even though it's not my fault that I go. School would be a lot easier if Malakai were here with me. For me, he makes things a whole lot easier to tolerate, and it's the same with him and me. If he wants to go somewhere but is scared to do it alone, he asks me to come. I don't mind. I like doing stuff with him. But I'm still sad about the fact that he can't come to school with me anymore. It's been like this for a long time, but I'm still not used to it. Another reason why I don't like school is because of the students here.

Most of the kids in here are really stupid and mean and cowardly. Almost none of them are as sweet and kind as Malakai is. In fact, they're the total opposite! I don't even get why Dad even put me in a public school instead of a private school. But I guess it wouldn't matter anyway because most of the private schools here reject disabled kids either because of a lack of services/resources or because of religious clashes or because of plain old intolerance, the latter being the most common in some of the private schools I've seen. I'm sure not ALL of them are like that, but I'm just pointing out that most of them in my area don't like disabled children. That really makes me mad. But being surrounded by naughty and stupid kids as these makes me even more mad! Especially Rebecca Higgins! She's the one I don't like the most. All the kids call her Becca or simply Beck. She's about a few months older than me and has long, straight blonde hair and dark brown eyes like mud (if I said they're like chocolate, that'd be a compliment, and Rebecca Higgins is definitely NOT one to compliment) and this knock-out model figure. I don't see why she's so special. Everybody says she's popular because she's pretty, cool, and because her father runs a super cool restaurant in Kentucky. But I don't see those as good points, especially if you know that Rebecca is nothing but a cruel, snotty, rude, and downright heartless little witch. If anything, I actually see her as a waitress at a bar when she's older. Y'know, the ones who work at those bars that serve beer and wear those revealing outfits with the really short skirts, high heels, and the really open shirts?

Right now I'm in school and I see her, along with her clique consisting of her friends Tasha Haywood and Chanel Medina. They're quirky little girls, but they're not as cruel and catty as Rebecca is. All they do is follow everything she does. Right now they're in the corner of the homeroom while I'm sitting at my desk reading one of my favorite books, The Secret Garden. But I'm too irritated to enjoy it because some of the boys are being loud and saying ribald things that I don't want to repeat. The only nice people in this classroom are Mr. Sterling, the homeroom teacher, and Dolce Elfman. Mr. Sterling is the nicest teacher I've ever known! He's Irish and has dark hair and the nicest blue eyes and the coolest sun tan. I wish Malakai were here. He would LOVE Mr. Sterling. But I tell Mr. Sterling about Malakai a lot and I tell Malakai about Mr. Sterling. Dolce is a sweet girl, with short auburn hair, dark eyes, freckles on her face, and pale white skin. Unfortunately, she is also a target of Rebecca and her clique. That's because one time Dolce caught Rebecca texting during class and she told the teacher about it and got Rebecca detention for two days. Unfortunately, Rebecca found out about it and began picking on Dolce to the point of scratching her face and drawing blood with her "neatly and nicely polished nails" (as Rebecca puts it). Rebecca got rebuked for that too, and it only got worse after that. I guess I can consider Dolce my friend. She's almost as sweet and dear as Malakai, only she's also rather playful and mischievous at times, but not to a big degree. I guess you could say she's like a cross between Amy and Beth, two of the girls from Louisa May Alcott's famous book, Little Women. I like that book a lot.

So right now, some of the noise has died down and I can enjoy reading The Secret Garden...well, I only got to read a few pages of it until Dolce approaches me.

"Good morning, Piper!" She chimes sweetly.

"Oh! Hi Dolce! How are you?" I reply.

"Fine. Oh! Is that The Secret Garden? My mom loves that book! Of course, I prefer A Little Princess. That's my favorite!" Dolce beams happily as we start talking about books. I didn't know she liked books like these. I guess that's another thing we have in common!

"Umm...how's Malakai doing?" She asks. She knows about Malakai. She's close enough to me to be trusted when it comes to Malakai. She knows a bit about him and his background and, thankfully, doesn't have a problem with it. Thank goodness.

"It's getting cold, and I don't think Malakai has enough winter clothes. I might knit a sweater for him later on," I tell her. Then she gasps and clasps her hands together.

"If it's soft fluffy yarn you want, I can give you some! My mom's good at knitting but there's a pile of yarn she doesn't use anymore. I can get it for you if you want!" She edicts with a smile.

"That's great. Thanks a lot. Oh! What colors do you have?" I thank her for her kindness. Now I see why she's called Dolce.

"There's dark blue, light pink, light green, and orange," She replies. "I also have some white and light brown, but I think those colors might be a bit too bland for him."

"I'll take your orange yarn. He might want something nice and warm, and he has enough bland-colored clothes in his box," I tell her. As we're talking amongst each other, I suddenly hear Rebecca and her clique gossiping amongst themselves.

"Hmph! They're talking about saving poor people again!" Rebecca sneers in a maligned voice.

"What a waste of life! They'd be much more popular if they didn't spend their days knitting ugly clothes and giving food to hoboes!" Chanel exclaims.

"Hoboes aren't good for anything!" Tasha retorts.

"Ooooh! Burn!" Chanel and Rebecca exclaim and they make their little popular girl gestures.

What a bunch of dopes they are! Helping the poor and being kind and generous isn't something to be viewed as a waste of life! It isn't a waste at all! In fact, it helps save lives! And I wish they'd stop saying hoboes. I hate the word hobo. That's like saying someone who's homeless and desperately needs help is viewed as nothing but worthless human trash, meant to be taken advantage of and thrown away all the time! What do they know? Even my thoughts don't seem to stop them from gossiping and palavering about anything they want to rip to pieces with their words.

"Maybe the new sweater will look totally ugly!" Rebecca sneers again.

"It should look like that ugly unicorn sweater my aunt made for me! My parents won't let me burn it!" Tasha said.

"Yeah. That thing belongs to a 5-year-old!" Chanel said.

"I wonder if that Malakai kid is ever gonna lose his home and live on the streets already?"

Okay. NOW I snap. I walk away from my table and throw a small, hardcover book at Rebecca in a paroxysm of anger. Chanel, Tasha, and the rest of the class gasp in shock, but in my vehement hostility, I honestly don't care.

"I dare you to say that again, you stuck up anorexic turkey!!" I scream angrily as I'm about to socket her again. No, she's not anorexic, but that's how I construe her in my mind. Nobody makes fun of Malakai in front of me! Especially if they wish that his life be worse than it already is for him! How can people be so cruel and odious!? Rebecca stands up and gets mad.

"You call ME anorexic!? At least I'm not living in a house full of dirt and forced to wear ragged and dirty clothes all the time!" She yells, but that doesn't stop me.

"You think he wanted all that!? He doesn't! He didn't want his life to turn out so bad, so stop claiming you're any better than he is!" I
tell her through my tenacious front.

"What if maybe he DID want to be poor and homeless? Maybe he wants to live in a lifeless house and wear tattered clothes and eat dirt all day?" Rebecca snarls.

"Oooooh!" Tasha and Chanel exclaim loudly.

"You know what!? You always think you're all that! With all your fancy jewels and clothes and done up hair and polished nails! You think you're smarter than the president! Who do you think you are!? Queen Latifah or something!? You know absolutely nothing! You're nothing but a selfish, complacent, arrogant, heartless little witch who doesn't give a rat's hat about anyone but herself!! That's what you are! All you ever do is binge on sweets and candy and rely on your family's name to get somewhere in life!!" I yell. She raises an eyebrow in anger.

"Why you snotty little--!!" She's about to assail me, but Mr. Sterling comes in between me and Rebecca, stopping the brouhaha.

"Children! Stop this nonsense right now! Rebecca, you shouldn't say nasty things about someone who's going through hard times. You shouldn't say he wanted a bad life. Just because we happen to be a bit more fortunate than some people, it doesn't mean we're any better than them. Do you see how it's not fair for you to deem yourself superior to others?" Mr. Sterling tells her in a merciless, austere tone. Rebecca falls quiet. Chanel and Tasha say nothing. Dolce comes to my side. I'm relieved, then he turns to me.

"Piper. I know how much you care about Malakai, and how much you want to make his life better for him instead of your own. I truly do laud you for that. But it's not nice to throw things at other people or call them names. You should know better. But since this is your first offense, I'll simply let you off with a warning. That is all," Mr. Sterling explains. Yes, I know I shouldn't let my anger get a hold of me, but I can't help it. I don't like it when people make up stupid lies about Malakai. As soon as he hits the last sentence, Rebecca gets mad again. Her face is totally red as a tomato.

"WHAT!? A warning!? You should be giving this tramp a detention!" Rebecca exclaims, but Mr. Sterling grips her arm tightly to the point where it almost hurts her.

"YOU, on the other hand...I'm calling your parents, young lady. Come with me," Mr. Sterling says as he takes Rebecca out of the room. Chanel and Tasha look at each other for a minute, then run back to their desks. Soon the bell rings and we get to class.

But the rest of the day doesn't turn out the way I wanted it to. During art class, this one kid named Lex started an uproar by calling the substitute teacher a bad and extremely inappropriate word that I seriously do not want to repeat just because of the way she looked. That Lex kid is such a dork! All he does is shout ribald things that are way beyond his years and cause trouble and make stupid rapping sound effects everywhere he goes! Malakai hated him a lot. In fact, Lex was the one who kept bullying Malakai when we were little. Lex and I don't have a good history. And is it just me, or did he gain a lot of weight?

English class was fine. Mrs. Bergmann, our English teacher, gave us a book project to do. I already decided on the book I'm going to do my report on: The Dog of Flanders. We were going to work on it today in class since we have computers, but some of them are not working so we watched a movie instead, which was Bridge to Terabithia. I like the movie, so class went okay. Science was fine too. We did an experiment on how to turn a copper penny into gold. That was fun. Dolce was my partner in the experiment, so that went great. But everything after that? Oh lord. In math class and health class, Lex caused all kinds of trouble. I don't even want to describe the kind of trouble he caused, but it wasn't pretty. Gym class went awry because Lex's friend Abdul accidentally gave one kid a nosebleed by throwing a dodgeball at him and because Gavin and Eduardo got into a fight over the stupidest thing ever: a twinkie. In gym class. They should've known not to bring food in the gymnasium! Mr. Spencer broke them up and sent them to the principal's office. Lunch was okay, but the rest of the day went pretty irritatingly wild.

By the time I get home, I'm already tired and agitated. I drop onto the sofa like an exhausted, dried up husband after a hard day of work. I feel awful. I hear Mom come into the room.

"Hi Piper. How was school?" She asks as she sits on the sofa with me.

"Ugh. Wild. Terrible. All sorts of stuff happened. But I'm too tired to explain it all right now. Sorry," I reply, even though my face is buried in the pillows.

"That's perfectly fine, dear. You can tell me when you're ready," She said as she starts rubbing my back.

But through my pillows, I smell something. Something sweet and warm. I immediately perk up and get up from the sofa.

"Something smells good!" I chirp as I hop out from the sofa like a jack-in-a-box.

"Oh! You noticed. I just finished making an apple pie," Mom explains with a smile. Right then, I'm immediately embraced by joy.

"Apple pie? You serious!? Umm...can I have a piece?" I exclaim. Mom chuckles a bit.

"Of course, dear. Perhaps this will help you relax after a hard day of school!" Mom beams as she proceeds to go to the kitchen, cut out a piece of apple pie for me, and give it to me. I immediately start chowing down on it. It's all soft and full of fresh apple jam. It tastes wonderful!

"Mmmm! It's so awesomely good!" I exclaim as I'm chewing on it.

"I'm glad you like it," Mom says when suddenly an idea bursts into my head like a mob of robbers trying to raid a mini-mart.

"Hey Mom! Would you mind if I ran over to Malakai's house and gave him a piece?" I can't help but ask. Mom smiles at me and cuts out another piece.

"I don't see why not. But I want you to be home by dinnertime, okay?" Mom explained as she wrapped the piece of apple pie into a box and put it in a bag, along with a plastic fork and knife. She gives it to me.

"Hooray! Thanks so much! I'll be back!" I exclaim as I take the pie and run out the door. Maybe this will help me get over my hard day at school. A nice little walk to my favorite person's house will definitely help! Plus I don't have to carry all my school stuff with me right now! But then I remember something else.

"Oh! I almost forgot! Treats for Kilmeny!" I exclaim as I run back into the house, pick up some dog treats I got for Kilmeny earlier this week, and run back out.

When I get there, Malakai and Kilmeny greet me at the door and let me in. We sit in the bare and empty living room as I watch Malakai munch on his piece of apple pie along with Kilmeny happily nibbling on the treats I got her. I feel happy as I watch them eat. I'm sure they haven't gotten much to eat in a while. But I can't help but feel a little sad inside because of the clothes Malakai is wearing right now. He is wearing a long-sleeved, light brown spring shirt along with ragged light blue capris and dirty white socks. I'm sure he probably doesn't like looking so dirty. I don't think those clothes will be able to protect him from the cold, especially since winter's just around the corner! Malakai would love to take a nice soapy bath right now. Especially a warm one where he can wash his hair with his favorite shampoo: rosy rainforest rhapsody. But their water's been shut off, so he has to take his bath in a river nearby. He doesn't like that because rivers are full of animals and plants and rocks, and he prefers not feeling anything when taking a bath. As I'm thinking these thoughts, I hear Kilmeny bark a bit. It pulls me out of my reverie.

"What's wrong, Piper? Your brain went on vacation just now," Malakai said softly.

"Oh! Did it? Haha! I guess I must have dozed off or something!" I exclaim.

"So...how was school?" Malakai asked.

"Ugh. Terrible. Lex went wild during art class, math class, and health class today. It was awful! And Rebecca Higgins said some mean things about you. I taught her a lesson! And Eduardo and Gavin got into a fight in gym class over a stupid little twinkie! I mean, all that fuss over junk food? And in gym class of all places! Come on!" I explain, feeling a bit irritated. Kilmeny approaches me and rubs against me. I pick her up and put her on my lap. Malakai giggles a bit.

"Looks like you had quite an adventure!" Malakai told me.

"Eh...I wouldn't call it an adventure at all..." I tell him.

"What else is new?" Malakai asked.

"Nothing much, really. We got a new waitress in the coffee shop so business is running smoothly. Mom's thinking about putting her apple pie recipe on the menu," I tell him. I forgot to mention that my family runs a small coffee shop in town. No, it's not a Starbucks if that's what you're wondering. Our family's been pretty famous around here for it. Malakai and Gerald used to go there and visit us a lot. Malakai always used to order fresh, warm, fluffy pancakes with maple syrup and iced tea. But now he can't eat them anymore because he and Gerald are so low on money now. I really feel bad. I miss serving them at the shop.

So basically Malakai, Kilmeny, and I talked and talked about tons of things together. I told him about the book project I'm doing in English class, and he's happy with the fact that I picked Dog of Flanders because that's one of his favorite stories of all time. Mine too, because it deals with poverty, hardship, undying compassion, and kindness towards others. I really think people should read more stories like it. Too bad girls are too busy squealing over Twilight and Robert Pattinson. They're so annoyingly bland and overrated! Forgive me for being blunt, but that's just my opinion and I'm entitled to it. I also tell him that we watched Bridge to Terabithia in class and he groaned a bit because he wants to see it. He never got the chance to do so, neither in theaters or in DVD or VCR form. He doesn't have a DVD or VCR player (or even a TV for that matter) so he can't watch movies. But I know he loves movies. I also tell him about the fun science experiment I did with Dolce in class about turning a copper penny into gold. He was shocked because he's never believed that you can turn anything into gold. Of course, it isn't real gold.

I seriously wanted to hang out with him more. If only my dad hadn't barged into the house and dragged me out!

What do I mean? Simply put, as I was about to ask Malakai if he's gotten any money from the librarian he's working for, Dad just barged into the house without even knocking. He surprised both me, Malakai, and Kilmeny. I gasped.

"Dad!" I yelped.

This is my dad, Renaud Anthony MacPherson. He's in his early 50s as far as I know. He's tall and bulky and has short dark brown hair, brown eyes, a little brown moustache, and he always has a stony expression on his face. Right now he's wearing a big dark red jacket over a brown work suit and a blue scarf. He surely doesn't look happy.

"I've been looking all over for you, Piper! You should've been home a half hour ago!" Dad yells suddenly. Malakai quickly covers his ears. He hates the sound of people yelling.

"I told Mom I'd be back before dark! What's wrong with visiting a friend and giving him a little treat?" I interject.

"Visiting people isn't exactly bad. But sneaking around and doing things as you please without my permission is! It's time to come back home, Piper. I won't allow you to lollygag any longer," Dad exclaims.

I am seriously mad right now. I am NOT lollygagging! I'm helping Malakai! But I know I can't argue with Dad when it comes to this stuff. As much as I don't want to, I go with him and leave Malakai, but not before saying goodbye to him of course! Dad takes me home in his black limosine, but I sit in the back seat and I'm irritated. I seriously think that Dad has some kind of grudge against Malakai that I don't know about. He doesn't want me to see him as much anymore. He doesn't even let me give him food to eat or clothes to wear or give him some of my old stuff that I don't even use! What's his problem?

My suspicions were finally confirmed at dinner time.

Dinner started out ordinarily enough. Mom cooked up some shrimp scampi, corn, crescent rolls, and rice pilaf. I love all of this stuff, and so does Malakai too (though he doesn't like shrimp scampi). She said she's allowing me to have some apple pie for dessert, but I already had my piece so I won't have any. I was halfway finished my dinner and was about to start eating my corn until Dad suddenly spoke up. He coughed a bit and began speaking.

"Piper? There's something I need to speak to you about," Dad began.

"What is it?" I ask.

There he lights the powder keg that's my anger.

"It's about that boy you've been rendezvousing with. The one called Malakai. Personally I don't feel as though you should be seeing him so often anymore."

"Huh? What do you mean? What's wrong with Malakai? I've known him since 2nd grade! You have too! Why the sudden change in attitude?"

"Please understand. There isn't anything wrong with the boy, but you know how hard he's fallen through the cracks in life. Considering where he is now, he's never going to amount to anything."

BAM!

I slam my hands on the dinner table, causing it to shake a bit.

"Amount to nothing my foot! What's up with you!? So what if Malakai's situation has gotten worse and worse!? That doesn't mean he's gonna be that way for the rest of his life! What do you know!?"

"Piper! Please, calm down!" My mom says, but I don't listen.

"You're getting yourself much too involved with his personal life, Piper. You're giving him food and clothes. That's not something a child of the MacPhersons should be doing. The boy's turned into a beggar and a pauper."

"Beggars and paupers are people who rely on other people in order to get by and can't do anything on their own! Malakai NEVER asks for
ANYTHING! He doesn't even ask for food and clothes! I give them to him on my own accord! It's what I'm doing, not him! And besides, he got a job in a library along with his father! That's a start, right!?"

"It'll never work! Not only that, you even give him things you don't use anymore!"

"Yeah! Things that I DON'T use! If I can't give them to Malakai who REALLY needs my help at the moment, what else should I do with them?"

"You could sell them at a yard sale!"

"We're already rich enough to own the city of Baghdad!"

"Piper! I'll have none of this! Starting today, you will be forbidden from seeing that boy."

"What did he ever do to you that's so bad!? He never did anything wrong! He never does anything wrong, and yet everybody thinks he's the bad one! They're too imcompetent to see how awesome he really is! Now you're crossing over to their side too!? Screw you, Dad!"

"Piper! Don't talk to your father like that!" Mom exclaims.

"I'm sick and tired of being told to clam up!"

"Can I at least tell you that I'm transferring you to Pilgrim Academy?"

"Pilgrim Academy? That little private school?"

"Yes. I feel that this public school is not providing the suitable education that you require. You shall go there starting next week."

"I don't need to go to a stupid private school. You know what they're like! We're not Catholic, Dad! Haven't you ever been taught the meaning of the words tolerance and acceptance!? Mr. Sterling says we should celebrate our differences and not treat anyone like dirt because of it!"

"Then that teacher is not fit to do his job! You will not see Malakai again!"

What do I do then?

I throw my shrimp scampi at him. HARD. Straight in the face.

"Piper!!" Mom yells.

"I HATE YOU, DAD!! How could you be so heartless and incompetent and stupid!?" I scream at the top of my lungs and run away from the dinner table.

I dash into my bedroom, hop onto my bed, and cry into it. It's bad enough practically 90% of this town's population hates Malakai's guts and wish he's gone. But now Dad's hating him too!? What a fool he is! How could he be so cruel and heartless!? What did Malakai ever do to him that was so bad!? He's known Malakai for years and years. So now that he's poor he's decided to hate him and prevent me from seeing him and say he's never going to get anywhere in life!? Well, I say screw it! Screw him and everyone else in this wretched town! What did Malakai and I ever do to deserve all of this!? I cried and cried into my bed and didn't bother to stop until another half hour. After a while, I look up and the first thing I see is my desk. It has a round mirror above it, a flowery lamp, some pencils, my camera, my iPod, my cell phone, some of my books, and a few other trinkets. I slowly crawled out of my bed, ambled toward it, opened one of the drawers, and pulled out some pictures.

These pictures are ones that I took myself earlier in the year, most of them during the spring. The trees and flowers we saw all around the neighborhood were just absolutely beautiful. Their back garden was beautiful too. Practically all the flowers were in bloom. In fact, they were so blossomy and beautiful that not one little green leaf was present on all the trees and bushes. Malakai and Kilmeny love spring. I do too. My favorite picture is one of me, Malakai, and Kilmeny standing in front of a beautifully blossoming tulip tree smiling happily. Gerald used my camera to take that picture. Plus I had on my best spring dress; a pink sun dress with three different prints of flowers all over it with green stripes on my pink skirt hemline and a large pink bow wrapped around my waist. I also wore a pink ribbon in my hair and white shoes. Malakai said I looked as sublime as an angel blessing a flower garden. Those were his exact words. Gerald and Kilmeny agreed too. I felt warm when I remembered that compliment. I clutch the pictures and press them against my breast. I can't help but cry a little bit more. I just don't understand. What is it about Malakai that's so bad? Everyone's too imcompetent to see how awesome and sweet and adorable he really is! To them, he's basically a brat who wasn't raised right or disciplined correctly or all that nonsense! They're just blind! They're too busy being the narcissists they are to see how wonderful he is! Now my dad's becoming one of them!

As much as I don't like Lex, Gavin, Eduardo, Shane, Rebecca and her little posse, I don't want to go to another school. I like this school the best! Sure there's a lot of mischief that goes on, but I don't want to leave Mr. Sterling and Dolce and some of my other favorite teachers behind! It's not fair! What does Dad know? Nothing, that's what! I know I'm acting like a spoiled brat right now, but what else can I do? I don't like to keep things bottled up inside me. My health teacher said that's not good. My art teacher said it's good to express yourself, not just in art or writing or music or for entertainment purposes, but for the sake of just letting it all out so it won't dominate you or make you explode and hurt everyone. Lots of people tell me I'm very outspoken and too blunt for my own good. I don't care. So what if I say things that are a bit over-the-top and always say what's on my mind? I'd much rather have it all out and over with than kept inside of me because people are always telling me to shush or be quiet or clam up or shut up and all those things. I say screw all that too! I know you probably think I'm a spoiled brat right now, but it's not like I want to act this way. I'm just so sick and tired of everybody treating Malakai like garbage when he's anything but! I'm sick and tired of it all! Now my dad's joined the party and it's making me sick inside. I hate how repulsive I feel down there right now.

So I spend the rest of the day doing my homework, reading books, listening to music on my iPod, and thinking about Malakai. I know winter's sneaking up on us and I hear that it's not going to be pretty. Thankfully enough, when the next day came around, Dolce got me the yarn that I wanted. That really made me happy.

"I managed to find lots of orange yarn! Mom says that orange isn't exactly her favorite color and she wants to wish you good luck on your quest to help Malakai! Oh! She also said you should run a little charity when you're older."

I love how Dolce is so amiable and sweet when it comes to this stuff. In exchange for Dolce giving me all this yarn, I tell her I'm gonna give her the recipe for my mom's apple pie. I know she'll love it. Plus her own mom's a great cook too, so it'll be perfect. Once school's over, I run to my room and work on making the sweater. I make sure it's all stuffed in my bag nice and snugly so that way Dad doesn't notice. Thankfully he doesn't. He doesn't even notice even when I'm in my room working on it. He usually doesn't come up to my room anyhow. Privacy reasons, maybe? Who knows. Mom's been teaching me how to sew and knit over the past few months, and I've gotten pretty good at it. I've managed to make a nice wash cloth, so I could possibly be capable of making a warm, orange sweater for Malakai. Another plus is the texture of the yarn. It's soft and plushy. Malakai's going to love it.

But man! Knitting a sweater is hard work! Secretly, Mom helped me with parts of it and fixed some mistakes I made. She's the only one who knows about my goal for right now. It takes me a few days to finish the sweater, mostly because of school and homework. After all that, I finally get the sweater done, and I must say it looks awesome! Today's Sunday right now, and Dad has a lot of errands to run so while he's gone I run out and visit Malakai. When I get there, I see him playing the violin in his front yard with Kilmeny sitting down and looking up at him with her pretty eyes.

"Malakai!!"

I manage to get his attention.

"P-Piper! What are you doing here?" He asks.

I immediately show him the sweater I made for him.

"I made this just for you, Malakai! Winter's gonna come in fast, and you don't have that much warm winter clothes, don't you? So, I made this sweater for you!" I told him with a smile.

Strangely enough, he doesn't accept it right off the bat. He just stares at it with a dejected expression.

"What's wrong?" I ask.

"Piper, I...I appreciate this very much. I really do. But...you shouldn't be doing all this for me. I've caused you too much trouble already. I don't want to be a beggar," Malakai explains softly and sadly.

"Beggars are people who beg for things and rely on other people and ask for stuff on a regular basis! You've never asked for anything! I made this out of my own choice! I do everything out of my own choice! And you don't cause me any trouble. Besides, if you don't wear lots of warm clothes, you could get frostbite or even die from exposure! I don't want that to happen!" I explain to him.

"I guess you're right," Malakai said. Then he very slowly takes the sweater from my hands.

"Thanks," He murmurs.

"You're welcome," I reply.

He and I sit down on the porch. Kilmeny sits on my lap. I decide to tell Malakai about what my dad said earlier in the week.

"Malakai...you never cause me trouble. You're my best friend in the whole wide world, and I would never trade you for anything more. You're the best thing that's ever happened to me in my life. But...to tell you the truth, Dad doesn't think so anymore. He thinks because of where you are now, you'll never amount to anything. He thinks you've turned into a worthless beggar boy and wants to keep us apart. He wants to transfer me to a private school. But I don't want us to be separated! I love hanging out with you and listening to you play your violin and play with Kilmeny and all those fun things we did together! When he said all those mean things about you, I threw my shrimp scampi at him and threw a good old temper tantrum too," I explained.

"You shouldn't throw things at your parents. It's wrong," He said.

"But what else could I have done!? After what he said, I don't think I'll ever forgive him unless he sees how wonderful you are!"

"Piper...you know very well that I'm not wonderful at all."

"Don't say that! You're all kinds of awesome! Nobody else sees it but me and a few other people! They're just too stupid and brainless and incompetent to see for themselves!"

"Piper...maybe what your dad says is true. Maybe I am a beggar now."

"I don't want to hear that out of you, Malakai! Don't ever think that of yourself!"

"Nothing I've done has ever gotten me anywhere. I want to learn and be smart, but I got kicked out of school. I try to be as good and kind as possible, but everyone thinks I'm a spoiled brat."

"That's just because they refuse to acknowledge that you're a great person!"

I wanted to stay longer, but it was getting late, so I had to leave.

"Malakai...don't let anything that everyone says get you down. I gotta go now. I'll see you later...if people will let me!"

"Bye-bye Piper!"

I felt bad for leaving, but I had to. If I got home after Dad did, he'd start interrogating me like crazy. But while I ran back home, I wondered if anything good will ever happen to Malakai.

I found the answer the next day.

Once school ended, I decided to walk home. I had just happened to pass by a big street light until I saw a little flyer taped onto it. It read:

"The Galloway Township Academy of Music and Theater will be holding a special musical competition on Christmas Eve! All applicants must be younger than 20 to apply. We are looking for innovative and budding young musicians! The winner will attend the Galloway Township Academy of Music and Theater with a $20,000 scholarship covering their full tuition! If they live far away from Galloway Township, they will be given a place in the dormitory. The winner's fees will be covered as well. Applications are being given out all over New Jersey. Go to our website for instructions on how to download the application and what you need to do. The deadline for completion is November 17th! If you have a musical dream to fulfill, don't miss this blissful opportunity!"

WHAT!? A music competition? Awarding a full scholarship to a fancy music school and a dorm just to play great music!? Oh my God! This is EXACTLY what Malakai needs! I hastily grab the flyer, stuff it in my backpack, and run to Malakai's house. I NEED to tell him about this!

So I arrive at his house and I show him the flyer. He and Kilmeny look at it with fascinated eyes.

"This will be your dream come true! And we live right near Galloway Township! You'll be able to go to a fancy school and live there and play music all you want! It's perfect!" I exclaim gleefully. After a few more seconds of looking at it, Malakai smiles and looks up at me.

"If this will really help me, then...I guess I'll do it," He says.

I can't help but jump for joy.

"Hooray!" I yell. Kilmeny barks happily and jumps with me.

"I'll look on their website and see what we need to do. If I find anything interesting, I'll definitely let you know...if Dad will let me go out, of course..." I tell him.

"Sure. Thanks a whole lot," Malakai replies.

I stick around for a short while, then I decide to run back home. Once I get there, I'm going on my computer and looking this stuff up in a millisecond! This whole music competition thing will be a piece of cake if Malakai wins! If he wins, he won't be so indigent anymore! He'll be able to live his dreams! Big time! Just thinking about it is sending me on an epic adrenaline rush!

But my adrenaline rush was destroyed when I got home. I had just barely walked into the living room when I saw Dad, Mom, and a male employee from the coffee shop in the dining room talking amongst themselves. It's Mr. Murphy, an African-American man who I really like. He's one of the best employees we have in the coffee shop. He liked Malakai too. (No, it's NOT Eddie Murphy!)

"Renaud! I can't believe you didn't even consider hiring Gerald and having him work in the coffee shop! That would've saved him a lot of trouble findin' a job! Especially in this economy!" Mr. Murphy exclaims with concern in his voice.

"I agree. It would've helped him a lot if--" Mom was going to back up Mr. Murphy, but Dad interjected sharply.

"Mr. Weaver is not capable of making coffee, let alone serving it!" He exclaimed.

"That's why there's lessons. I could teach him! You know how experienced I am!"

"Even so, I am not hiring a beggar and having him survive on my hard-earned wages!"

"You think he's a beggar!? You've gotta be kiddin' me, Renaud! Poor Gerald's never asked for anythin' as long as I've known him! He's worked hard and hard his entire life! He's got his kid to take care of, too! He's done lots of things for you and yet you don't even thank him!"

"The Weavers have done nothing but cause trouble and bring bad luck to the MacPherson name. Piper's already been bewitched by the boy. She's giving him food and clothing, something she should not be doing! I believe the boy is manipulating her into doing these things."

"Jeez! You're worse than my Ma! Malakai probably doesn't even know what the word manipulate even means! He's never asked for anythin' either! He's worked hard too! And if anythin', sweet lil' Piper's doing those things for him because she likes him! He never asked her to do it! She's doin' it out of her own choice!"

"Yes. That's true, dear. We've known Gerald and Malakai for a very long time, and as far as I can remember they have never asked for anything in regards to charity. Especially Gerald's been working very hard ever since his wife died."

"And where did that get them? Nowhere! Don't you see? They're falling further and further into the lowest pits of poverty! We've done our part in keeping them afloat, and I refuse to be involved with them any further! Those Weavers will become selfish and beggar-like in no time flat! That's why I'm having Piper enroll to Pilgrim Academy, so she can be set straight!"

"She don't need no settin' straight! She's a good girl! Malakai didn't do nothin' to her! Why you bein' so selfish, Renaud?"

"ME being selfish!? I'm doing this for Piper's happiness! I don't want her to suffer the name fate as the Weavers. If she and Malakai become romantically intimate, their lives will be horrid! The boy won't be able to provide anything for her if they were to be married! They'll get into all kinds of trouble!"

"You don't know that, dear. They're still only children."

"That's right! Name ONE time Piper said she likes him in a romantic fashion!"

"I will have none of this! I've done by part in keeping them afloat. I refuse to involve myself, or my family, with those wretched Weavers anymore! Piper is forbidden to see or interact with Malakai ever again! I won't have her forming unnecessary intimacy with that retard!"

That's when I snap. Again.

"So that's it? You think Malakai and I are romantically involved? That's NOT true, Dad! And Malakai's NOT A RETARD!!! Why can't you understand!?" I scream angrily and I run to my room in tears. I flop onto my bed and am about to cry a bit more, then my phone suddenly rings. As much as I hate the phone, I answer it out of habit.

"Hello?" I murmur.

"Piper? Is that you? It's me, Dolce!" The voice replies. Dolce is calling me? Well, at least this is another good thing happening.

"Hey! What's up?"

"I wanted to tell you...my birthday's coming up and I'm having a birthday party at my house. There's gonna be chocolate cake and games and goody bags and other fun things! I was wondering if maybe you and Malakai would like to come! You're both invited too!"

No way! Dolce is inviting both Malakai and me, together, to her upcoming birthday party!? My sudden anger spell vanished and I'm suddenly overcome with joy.

"Wow! That's awesome! Thanks a lot, Dolce! Malakai and I will DEFINITELY come!...well, as long as my dad doesn't have any sudden plans or restrictions put on me."

"Your dad must be a real slave driver when it comes to you. Oh! Mom's calling me! I have to go now. I'll give you my home address next time you come to school! Okay?"

"Alright! Thanks! See ya!"

"Bye-bye!"

I hang up the phone and I suddenly start jumping around the room. Malakai and I are invited to Dolce's birthday party! I'm so happy!

I wonder if good fortune has finally fallen on Malakai now?
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