Nonlinear Companions: Dawn: Part Three
”Sooooooo, how'd it go? Fantastically, I bet." Westron wheedled.
I never liked to talk about how things went in exams, inevitably I would be wrong. However, on this occasion I felt I had done quite well. All the questions had been in the areas I had understood best, and all in all, I was quite pleased with what I had written. I said nothing to Westron, I just gave him a casual half smile and changed the subject.
I told him about the events of the previous evening, Westron was as concerned as I was. He expressed his empathy toward Priyia and her family, and shared my hopes that her grandfather would recover swiftly and that she would return promptly.
We were sat in the park again, the wind was even chillier than last time, I'd lent Westron my red hoodie, it suited him. I, myself was wearing a white cardigan over my floral dress.
"So, what do you want to do after University?" I asked him.
"Not sure, there is some pressure on me to work for Lord Darigan, up in the Citadel, but I don't think that’s really for me," he said wistfully. "I think I'd rather move to the Haunted Woods and find work there."
"Why on Neopia would you want to do that?" I asked incredulously.
"Because," he said, "I find it to be an interesting place, all those ghost, monsters and mystery, it all sounds very exciting."
"Well, I'm hoping to go back to Brightvale after University, at least for a little while," I stated, "I want to show my mother what I made of myself."
"Good for you." he smiled.
I looked at his face, he looked tired.
"Are you okay?" I asked.
"Yeah, fine, you?" He turned back to me.
He was avoiding my question, but I didn’t want to push it, it was such a lovely crisp day and I didn’t want to ruin the mood by pushing the matter, he obviously didn’t want to talk about it.
"So, when do you find out your results?" He asked, changing the subject.
"Next week," I replied. "Then we can start planning that trip to Terror Mountain."
"Yes!" He exclaimed. "I'm so excited to be going back there, it's so much fun, you're gonna love it!"
I smiled internally, 'that’s cheered him up' I thought to myself.
I was sat in my room, staring at the pile of books in front of me, deep in thought and not really seeing anything, when I heard the front door go. It took me right out of my own little world, right back to Neopia and the present.
I was about to get up when there was a knock on my room door, "Come in," I said.
The door pushed open, Priyia was standing on the threshold, she looked better than the last time I had seen her. I ran over and gave her a quick hug.
"Let's catch up in the kitchen." I said casting an eye around my messy bedroom.
We sat at the kitchen table and caught up. Priyia's grandfather had made a full recovery from his illness, her family were all well, and she told me about how nice it had been to see them all. I thought wistfully of my own family, I hadn't seen my mother since I tried to contact her about coming home almost two years earlier. It got me thinking that I should probably try and speak to her at some point.
I told Priyia about going to Terror Mountain over the Borovan Day weekend with Westron. She seemed as excited as I was. I was just about to offer to make us both dinner when there was a knock at the door. I got up to answer it. It was Westron.
"Hi, Rae." he greeted me.
"Come through," I replied, "Priyia's just got back, I'm going to make some dinner in a bit. Do you fancy joining us?"
Westron's face lit up, "Oh yes please!" He said, barging past me to the kitchen.
"Don’t mind me." I yelled after him.
I vaguely heard him say "Okay." back.
"Pfft, boys." I muttered to myself as I shut the door.
Back in the kitchen, Westron had sat on my stool, so I pulled up a third stool and joined the two of them. Priyia was doing that silly thing with her hair again.
"What're we gonna do for dinner then?" I asked to them collectively.
"I thought you were making something?" said Westron without hesitation.
"Yes, that’s fine, but what do you guys want?" I asked.
After a couple of minutes deliberation, we settled on pasta, the student staple. Westron and Priyia chatted animatedly, whilst I cooked up some Seafood Pasta Salad. I came over with the three bowls and silence fell as we ate. I kept catching Priyia looking at Westron.
"Mmmmm, Rae, you sure know how to cook!" exclaimed Westron.
Priyia nodded in agreement, "She sure does!"
After dinner, Priyia agreed to do the dishes. Westron and I sat at the table and he asked me about my exam results.
"I get them tomorrow." I told him.
Shortly after Priyia joined us and the three of us spent the remainder of the evening talking about Terror Mountain. Priyia, never expressed her interest, in going with us, to Westron, I could see she was waiting for him to invite her. But he never did.
I was sat in the lunch hall, staring at the brown envelope. I couldn’t open it. Well I could, but I was nervous. I decided to wait for Westron. Just as I decided this, he appeared as if my mind thinking his name had summoned him.
"So, are you coming with me to Terror Mountain? Or am I going by myself?" He asked as he approached.
"I don’t know yet, I can't open it." I replied, not taking my eyes off the brown envelope, as if by staring at it hard enough, I could ensure that my mark was a pass.
"What's wrong? Feeble lickle arms not strong enough to open the big bad envelope?" He jeered. He grabbed the envelope from my grasp and tore it open, "Here let me do it for you." he said.
I closed my eyes, hoping for the best. Breathing loudly. I waited. All I could hear was the general bustle of the food hall, the scraping of chairs and the greetings of friends. I slowly opened one eye, everything was white, I opened the other eye confused. Then I realised what was going on, Westron had held the results so close to my face that the whole page had become a white blur. I pushed the paper back and refocused my eyes.
My lower jaw dropped as I read the page.
"Well," demanded Westron, "What did you get? I couldn’t look, I thought you should look first."
"I...I....I...." I stammered.
"Oh come on, Janurae, the suspense is killing me!" Westron said flipping the paper round so he could see for himself.
"Oh my Fyora, you got a distinction! Second in the class! Congratulations!" He hugged me so tight I nearly choked.
I couldn’t breathe, never in my wildest dreams did I think I'd do that well. Second in the class, wow.
Westron took me out for dinner that evening, we went to a fancy restaurant near King Skarl's castle, and chatted excitedly over the fillet of beef, about our plans for the trip to Terror Mountain.
Westron told me about all the amazing trips he had taken there as a child. It was a wonderful evening, I'd not enjoyed myself so much in as long as I could remember.
After dinner we retired to my dorm room, and spent the rest of the evening perusing through brochures. A while later Priyia joined us and we sat about, the three of us, giggling and enjoying life. It was so refreshing. I felt I was finally was making something of myself, I felt celebrated and special.
The following morning Westron and I went down to the holiday shop to book the ferry up to Terror Mountain. He wouldn’t let me see how much it was costing.
"Don't worry about the cost, like I said before, it's my treat, and besides you totally deserve it. I still can't believe you got second in the class!" he said.
The pink chia booking the ferry for us, looked at him with a bored expression on her face as she handed him the itinerary and the bill. Westron took one look at the information on the paper and handed it back.
"Uh, no, I said I wanted the upgraded ice rink tickets, balcony access on the ferry and the first class ski lift passes, uh, Mary" he said, peering at her name badge and sliding the paper face down across the desk.
The chia's face lit up, she crossed some things on the paper out, scribbled on new details and prices and handed the paper back to Westron.
"There you are, sir," she said, "If you're sure you can afford all these upgrades?"
"That's better," replied Westron, ignoring the slight on his wallet.
I looked at him, was he mad? We didn’t need all these upgrades. I was perfectly happy with the basic ferry package, and was perfectly capable of queuing for the ice rink and ski lift. Westron lifted out his wallet from his pocket and paid Mary.
"Wonderful," she said, passing him back the tickets. "Pleasure doing business with you."
As we stepped out into the streets of Meridell, I was overcome with joy.
"I'm going to get to see snow!!" I yelled, so loudly in fact, that I startled a nearby blue meerca who shot me a dirty look and stalked off. Westron chuckled.
We spent the rest of the day shopping for warmer clothes and excitedly discussing our impending trip.
"It's going to be so nice to go back with a friend." Westron said jovially.
"Have you ever been with anyone other than your parents?" I asked him.
"I haven't even been since...." He paused for a moment. "No, only my family." He finished.
I wondered what he was going to say before, but one look at his grim face told me I shouldn’t ask. Maybe I'd ask him while we were away.
To be continued…