Kris: Best Friends Forever?
Written by The Milo Murphy's Law Wiki Guy and Krazy4Kris.
January 19th, 2018.
Kris pondered as she observed the possible food choices on display at the Danville High cafeteria.
On the one hand, she could have a mystery meat that looked like a Grallax delicacy.
Then again, what she had in her bag was a Grallax delicacy, so what else is new?
On the other hand, there was an… “Appealing” looking burrito that seemed to be… Alive?
The burrito turned to Kris and winked.
“If you eat me, you’ll die!”
Kris was getting better at trying new things, but she drew the line at food that threatened her very existence!
She closed her eyes and pointed at the Grallax meat.
“I shall have one fine serving of your best… Whatever this is.”
She looked from side to side.
“Beef? Pork? An animal that the F.D.A would approve of?”
Lunch Lady Grau picked it up with her clearly dirty hands and the meat splated on the plate, looking even worse now.
“I don’t make ‘em, little one. I just serve them.”
“Speaking of serving, how many years in jail again?”, Kris thought to herself, cracking up, before correcting herself.
“Come on, Kris! That was unnecessarily rude! She might be nice! Looks can be deceiving!”
Kris sighed as she walked off with her meat.
“Boy, was that the truth!”
Kris had once thought that she was the very best, like no one ever was (“Ooh, I haven’t heard that in a while!” she thought. “I better put it on soon!”), but a fateful slumber party 3 weeks ago had proven to her: She had a lot to improve in.
For the last 3 weeks…
She sort of had!
Kris smiled proudly as she reminecd on the last 3 weeks, feeling good about herself for the first time in forever.
For a long time, Kris had been selfish, self centered, self serving… All the selfs!
And she hadn’t even noticed! Somehow, she had convinced herself that she was doing the right thing, that only she knew what was right, what was best for everyone!
“Leaping Trashcandroids, how wrong was I!”, she thought as she neared her regular lunch table.
For a long time, Kris had treated everyone poorly.
Except for her annoying and controlling mother Lian Chang, Kris had only made it harder for those who bothered about her to care!
But 3 weeks ago, in the middle of one of her famous slumber parties, her friends Sara Murphy and Wally Daley, as well as new friend Milo Murphy, had managed to open her eyes.
She had seen the light: She was a terrible friend, and a terrible person!
But it wasn’t too late!
So, like a villain redemption arc on TV, Kris set to work on improving herself!
Things were better in her parties…
“What do we do now, Kris?”, Sara asked, Wally and Milo behind her, curiously watching.
“Well, let’s consult the wheel of suggestions!”, Kris announced, and she unveiled the wheel of suggestions that she and her friends had made for the party.
She gave it a mighty spin, causing her to fall and nearly smush her beloved cat Galaxy, who leaped to the side with a screech.
The wheel finished spinning, and it landed on Sara’s suggestion: Dr. Zone cards against humanity.
“Aw yeah! Sara for the win!”, Sara cheered and danced a silly victory dance.
Kris giggled as she stood up. “I gotta admit, sounds fun!”, she smiled genuinely.
Kris smiled at the memory. She really had loosened up in that respect!
Being more open to things had made the slumber parties more fun, but it had also earned her a new friend: Milo Murphy…
“Kris, what are you going to do?!”, Milo narrated, scared out of his wits, the usually optimistic boy now petrified.
Milo and Kris were at a lunch table in the park, and across them was a brown haired boy with a smug grin and an even smugger attitude.
“He’s got you on the ropes! With his Trashcandroid and Pinata Percival combo, you’ve lost command of most of your deck!”
Kris, groggy, slowly got up, a wounded but determined look in her eyes.
“Down but not out, Milo! Hand me my deck, eager young space cadet!”, she ordered, and the jinxed teen hurridly handed the deck.
The rival sneered, letting out a mocking laugh.
“It’s too late, Krissy girl! Your mentor figure is in the shadow zone, your sidekick has been imprisoned, even your snappy comebacks have been neutered by the censors!”
Kris barked back. “It’s not my fault the wiki is child friendly!”
The rival grinned with satisfaction, balancing his card with his pinky. “Who cares? You’re going to lose anyway!”
Kris grinned. He was walking into her trap.
She selected her weapon of choice, and she awaited for her plan to set in motion.
The rival chortled again, and he presented…
“Mysterious arc villain! No one can beat the mystery and intrigue of someone who speaks vaguely so you won’t figure out his identity!”
The card was placed on the table, causing a small explosion.
Milo shrieked, his voice shaking the heavens themselves. “KRIS-CHAN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”
Kris smiled to herself, and shook her head, a light shining from her glasses.
“Tut tut, Rival. You activated my trap card!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”
Kris dropped her bomb, and imitated an explosion.
“DUN! DUN! DUN! Protagonist powers! I can’t lose, because I am the main character himself, Dr. Hankrey Zone!”
Kris cheered as the Rival gasped in shock.
“No! No! You’ve… You’ve beaten me! Again!”
Kris smiled cockily and pointed at a clock. “My, my, would you look at the time! Time to ad-ad-ad-ad-ad-ad admit I’m better at this than you!”
The Rival respectfully extended his hand, and the two shook hands. “You’ve done it again! I hope to be as good as you one day!”
Kris high fived Milo. “Well, I had some help!”
The two laughed, enjoying each other’s company.
Kris chuckled. “Yeah, I was wrong about him. He really is a cool guy!”
Kris had even begun accepting that her opinion isn’t the only valid one in the world…
“You’ve gotta be Seed Beasting me!”, Kris cursed as she fumed at her computer screen in her room.
Wally, lying on her bed with a pizza box in one hand and a horse mask on his head, approached her.
“What’s up? They announce another live action remake?”
Kris turned to him, annoyed. “No, though that does boil my blood.”
She pointed at the Dr. Zone Wiki’s forum page, highlighting a response from AccidentallyMe5/7.
“This… This… This newbie thinks that “Adjunct Faculty Member Zone” is not the biggest embarrassment the franchise! I mean, just saying its name out loud makes me want to expl…”
Kris suddenly went off and spontaneously combusted from sheer geek rage.
The door opened and Lian popped her head in. “No explosions, Kristina Chang! Tiān nǎ!”
She then looked at Wally with a mixture of disappointment, yet lack of surprise. “…Wallace Daley, please take that off. You’re disgracing the entire human race with that getup.”
As Wally sheepishly took off his mask, Kris reassembled and shouted out “Mother! I will spontaneously combust whenever I want!”
She then threw her arms up in the air. “I mean, look at this! How can anyone think that?”
Wallt placed a comforting hand, blushing at the feeling of his crush’s shoulder. “Kris, remember: You promised to be more open.”
Kris was about to argue, when she remembered what she promised.
She saw her reflection in the mirror, and she took a deep breath, relaxing herself.
“I… I promised to be more open. You’re right. My opinion isn’t the only one.”
She then closed the site, revealing her screensaver, an image of her, Sara and Wally goofing off and singing (off key) the Dr. Zone theme in their pyjamas.
Wally scratched his head. “Why did you close it?”
Kris smiled cockily. “Just because I respect the difference in opinion doesn’t mean I need to respond! Besides, I doubt I will ever meet that person again!”
Wally just smiled and shrugged. “Close enough!”
Kris laughed too. “Yeah, I guess you’re right…”
Kris smiled once again.
“It’s been great!”
Suddenly, a familiar friend appeared, sitting on her shoulder, smiling proudly.
“Yes, I must say, you’ve made an improvement that’s given you the time of your life!”
Dr. Zone may be a fictional character to some, but for Kris, he’s a trusted friend and confidante, and another shoulder to cry on…
Not that she cries all the time or anything!
Kris grinned back at her partner, eyes closed and joyful. “Yep! I feel so alive!”
Zone ruffled her hair, promoting a giggle from the girl. “And why wouldn’t you? You’ve proven that you are a good friend and a good person!”
Kris beamed now, really feeling good now.
“Why, you’re right, doctor!”
Dr. Zone smugly bowed. “Whenever am I not?”
Kris fist pumped. “I feel great, I’ve been kinder, nicer, better! Why, I’m an awesome friend now!”
She jumped on an empty lunch table and she sent her arms wide in excitement.
“I’M A GOOD PERSON!”
No one noticed at all, of course, too busy with their own lives and phones to even notice Kris’ exclamation.
Kris sheepishly got off the table, a little embarrassed now, but still happy with herself.
Dr. Zone shook his head disapprovingly, clearly belonging to a different generation.
“High School: Even in the future, the majority ignore the minority, preferring to indulge in their small, self serving squares rather than to leave them and discover what this green earth has to offer. One’s achievements are nothing in the hustle and bustle of gossip, SAT’s and school yearbooks. To quote myself: Major bummer, man.”
Kris cocked an eyebrow, smiling jokingly. “Beautiful. Your words are like music.”
Zone winked. “Well, I have been taking poetry classes.”
Kris scratched her chin thoughtfully. “Actually, maybe I should try something like that…”
Kris clattered onto the ground, her glasses now crooked, and as her vision cleared, she could now unfortunately recognize who was above her.
“Hey, Chang! Watch where you’re going!”
Stuart, a towering ape of a boy, with biceps like construction drills, glanced down at Kris with a sharp stare, hoping for an opportunity to knock her down again.
Kris rolled her eyes and got up, wanting this to be over already. “Oh, Stuart. So sorry, but the sale on brains finished, you just missed it!”
Stuart frowned. “You can’t talk to me like that, maggot!”
“My bad. What a pleasure to see you. Honestly, I’m hyped. Look at me, I’m as giddy as a school girl.”, she replied blankly, half annoyed at his appearance, but half glad that he showed up so that she can burn him a bit.
Stuart grunted. “Don’t use all those big words! You know I hate them!”
Kris replied dryly. “My bad, Stuart. I must have made the immesurable mistake of indentifying you as a human thesorus.”
Stuart fumed at this. “I am not a human theasours!”
Kris smiled smugly. “That’s what I said, genius boy.”
Stuart raised his fist. “You starving for a knuckle sandwich?!”, he threatened.
Kris shook her head, still smiling smugly. “Can’t do, I’m afraid. Dietry restrictions, you know.”
As Kris left, Stuart called after her. “There’ll be hell to play, Chang!”
Kris snapped back without even looking. “My friends will help me, as ever.”
Now it was Stuarts turn to laugh. “Friends? Your friends are just waiting for the opportunity to leave you! And mark my words, they will, you no good for nothing waste of space!”
Kris violently rolled her eyes and ignored him as she approached her table.
She looked at Dr. Zone with ticked off eyes. “Gee, that was a real barrel of laughs. How about we maximize the fun with some emotional trauma?”
“Relax!”, Zone said, and he began to massage Kris’ aching shoulders. “Stuart’s just being Stuart. You’re doing great! Why would your friends leave you?”
Kris smiled, reassured now. “You’re right, Doctor! My friend always have my back! And they’ll never leave me!”
She closed her eyes as she finally arrived at her regular table. “Now to have another great lunch, as I’ve always had, with my two bestest friends in the whole wide universe: Wally and Sara…”, Kris started, before noticing something very odd: Wally and Sara were at the table as always, true…
But so was another guest.
Her black hair collected in her purple hijab, looking cool and comfortable in a red tee and jeans, Faria Khan was the new girl in school, but her attitude did not reflect that.
She felt right at home, as her calm and collected demeanor showed.
In fact, she seemed to have already made some new friends, which was already better than when she lived in Bangladesh.
She and Sara were laughing at an unheard joke, while Wally smiled at the nice sight.
Only one person was dissatisfied with what was going on: Kris.
She wasn’t quite angry as much as she was flabbergasted. What in all that was Orton Mahlson was going on? Who was this new girl, and what was she doing living it up with her best friend?!
Kris tried to calm down, and she opened her mouth, hoping that words could still come out in a logical way.
“…Hey, fam! ‘Sup? What’s going on here, I can see three people instead of two, like, odd numbers, am I right? So… Indivisible by two… And that’s odd… Which is why they’re called odd numbers…”
Kris stopped talking… If you can call that talking, and the three occupants of the table gave her odd (not to be mistaken with the numbers. For that article, see Odd Numbers) stares.
“…Sara, Wally, mind introducing me to… This pleasant surprise?”
While Faria tried to smile brightly at Kris, who totally ignored it, Sara pointed at Faria and gave Kris a confused look. “Kris, don’t you remember? Faria joined today, at homeroom!”
Wally nodded, he too perplexed by his friend’s lack of knowledge. “Yeah, don’t you remember? What were you doing?”
Kris’ looked at them with a blank expression, and she flashbacked to earlier:
The police dragged Pinata Percival out, his preposterous pleas failing to purvey pity from the police.
“And I would have gotten away with it too, if it wasn’t for Dr. Zone and that meddling teenage girl!”
Dr. Hankrey Zone, looking as heroic as ever, turned to the brave young girl, and he proudly shook her hand.
“Magnificent work, Wendy! If it wasn’t for your quick thinking and slightly disturbing obsession with my career, I would have never beaten that terrible villain!”
He shook his fist with rage. “The fiend! Attacking hormonally stressed-out children!”
He then extended a thumbs up at Wendy. “I am sure that one day, you’ll be as great a hero as me!”
Kris’ tears streamed down as her heart hurt from the story. “It’s… It’s like this story gets me!”
She hugged the laptop screen, nearly destroying the device, the tears still flowing down.
“Wendy, you beautiful creature, you! You’ll most definitely be a hero!”
She blew her nose on a tissue from a box that Wally always held for such occasions.
She kept reading, immersed in the story before her.
Dr. Zone then suddenly leapt into Cleopatra Zero’s firm hands, and he stared at her face with a crimson blush.
“Cleopatra Zero, darling, will you marry me?”
Cleopatra Zero, already dressed in a wedding dress, nodded her head. “Yes, darling. Yes. I most definitely will!”
Dr. Zone pointed at Wendy. “She’s the bride’s maid!”
Wendy cheered, beaming proudly.
Suddenly, Time Ape crashed in and breakdanced.
Kris looked up from the screen.
“This is the greatest thing I’ve ever read!!!!!!!!!!!!!”, she suddenly shouted.
Kris finished flashbacking and she rubbed the back of her neck, now sheepish. “Yeahhhhh, you know how it is: You go into the Dr. Zone fanfic folder, you don’t stop at one, you know? Gotta read that fluff and angst!”, Kris explained lamely.
“I mean, it’s not like anyone cares about what Mr. Gregorian has to say, right?”, Kris tried to explain, when suddenly, Mr. Gregorian passed, enraged at the comment.
Kris gulped, prepared for her existence to be nuked.
Suddenly, Mr. Gregorian began to spray tears, crying heavily. “You’re right! No one cares about what I have to say! Least of all me! Which is why I’m finally accomplishing my dreams!”
He suddenly put on a cow costume and he burst through the window, racing down the fields.
“I’M COMING HOME!”, he cried, and he disappeared into the horizon.
Kris blinked in confusion at this, and then she looked back at her friends.
“Anyhow, you know how it is, right… Whatever your name is?”, Kris laughed embarrassedly.
Faria extended a hand. “Faria Khan…”
Kris ignored her. “Great, anyway, that’s why I wasn’t aware of your totally welcome interruption of my lifestyle. You know how it is, right?”
Faria shook her head, apologetic almost. “Sorry, not much of a Dr. Zone fan. I’m more of a “Galactic…”
Kris once again ignored Faria, and she picked Sara and Wally up in her arms, showing surprising strength. “Yeah, great, um, do you mind giving us a moment? I need to tell my friends all about my… Intense rash?”, she cringed at the terrible excuse.
Faria nodded understandingly. “I totally get it! Rashes are the worst! Why, I once had this REALLY bad one, I might have an ointment that can…”
But Kris had already dashed off with her friends.
Faria just watched them run off.
“…This place is bizarre.”
She then smiled. “But it’s not bad at all!”
Meanwhile, Kris dashed past a disgruntled hall monitor and a wet floor that made her skid and slide into a closet, crashing in spectacular fashion.
As the door closed, Sara and Wally shook their heads to refocus and they both gave Kris questioning looks. “What’s going on Kris?”, Sara asked, confused. “Why are we in the closet?”
“Yeah, I wasn’t planning on being in one today.” Wally said, a broom falling on his head. “Yowch! Watch where you’re going!”
The broom apologized, and it moved aside.
“Thank you.”, Wally said.
Kris looked at her friends, trying to hide her annoyance. “I just wanted to have a private conversation with my two bestest friends in the whole world! Is that so much to ask for?”
Wally and Sara stared at each other blankly, feeling like they know where this is going.
“…Is this about Faria?”, Wally asked.
Kris, not wanting to look bad, let out a loud fake laugh, one that reverberated across the room and hurt Sara and Wally’s ears.
“Oh, Wally! That’s rich! Always the jokester, our Wally! That’s our comedian!”, she lied, still pretending that she wasn’t screaming inside her soul.
Wally pondered this. “I’m the comic relief? I always thought that was your role in this trio.”, he said, pointing at Sara.
“No, I’m more the straight man trying to keep this group together from whatever stupidity is coming.”, Sara answered blankly.
Wally nodded, understanding. “I see. Do you want to switch roles?”
Sara shook her head. “No need. It’s not much, but it’s a living.”
Sara then stood up and pointed behind herself at the door. “Look, Kris, as much as I love to go into closets and talk to you for no reason…”
Kris objected. “Sara, I had a reason! I was just wondering why Faria is joining us for lunch? I kind of remember the last 13 years of lunches being very much just the 3 of us! And they were perfectly adequate!”
She held up a scrapbook of her, Sara and Wally sitting for lunch, all with very neutral expressions, the book’s title stating “Perfectly Adequate Lunches With My Friends: 13 Years of Passable Cafeteria Periods”.
Sara put a calming hand on Kris’ shoulder. “Look, Faria is new, and she’s nice, and cool, and funny!”
“And so am I!”, Kris said, feeling offended.
Did Sara really not see how clearly better she was?
…’Cause she was better than Faria.
Sara turned back to Kris. “Look, nothing bad is going to happen!”
Kris didn’t agree, but she pretended to nod.
Sara smiled and she walked out.
“If you want, you can join us in recess. I’m showing Faria around the school!”
Kris shook her head, a fake smile on her face. “No need, buddy! I have a previous engagement… Talking all about my… Repressed angst?”
Sara looked at her blankly before smiling. “About time!”
Sara left, none the wiser, and Kris suddenly frowned. “Oh, do I have a previous engagement… Spying on this insanity!”
Wally, with a slightly done expression, looked at Kris. “So… You’re jelly?”
Kris turned to Wally, annoyed at the insinuation. “Ok, 1. Jelly is so weird. Don’t say it.”
“It’s true, though.”
Kris raised a finger. “And 2. I am not jealous! I am just concerned. Faria may not be what we think she is!”
Wally rolled his eyes. “Yeah, and I’m sure this has nothing to do with you wanting Sara to hang out with you and only you.”
Kris ignored the comment, and she searched her backpack for binoculars. “Wally, have you forgotten what Dr. Zone taught us? What if she’s a shape shifting alien? Or an evil robot? Or a furry?”
She then stared at the screen, prodding it with anger. “Oh, and readers: This is NOT because Faria is a Muslim. I would have been suspicious if she was white, blonde and Christian, ok? No racial profiling!”
Wally stared at this in confusion, before addressing Kris’ problem again. “Kris, this is a relapse. I mean, it’s in-character and everything, but still!”
Kris began to leave. “I am not jealous! I’m just trying to make sure that Sara hasn’t left me!”
She ran off with her binoculars, a mad look in her eyes. “FARIA WILL NOT STEAL THE TIME APE TO MY DR. ZONE!”
Wally stood in silence in the closet.
“…Honestly, this isn’t too bad, this closet. Kind of homely. Some curtains, and maybe a vase, and the place will look real pretty!”
He sat down, and he closed his eyes, his arms behind his head.
“I’m sure there’s no harm in staying! I don’t NEED to go out there. I mean, it’s not like Kris will make things way worse…”
Wally opened his eyes, and begrudgingly got up.
“Who are you kidding, Wally? Your future wife is the queen of this.”
He ran off.
“Kris! Wait! Don’t make it worse! Please!”
“…So then, like, I look at him, and I’m covered in coleslaw, and he’s being trampled by giant staplers, and I look at him with the most serious expression, and…”, Faria stops to laugh, and Sara giggles too.
“What did you say?”
Faria nearly doubles over, and she tries to get her composure back. “I’m getting there, girl!”
She takes a breath. “I look at him, and I say… “You see now why my Aunt hates Post Modern Art?”
Faria and Sara nearly collapse laughing, tears of mirth in their eyes.
“That’s the craziest story I’ve heard in my life! And my brother literally has the worst luck in the world!”
Faria got up, panting for air. “Is your brother really that nice?”
Sara nodded. “He’s the best. You’d love him.”
Faria smiled, and she let her now loose hair flow in the wind. “I’m sure I will, seeing how fun you are! I can’t believe that we both love all that geek stuff! I thought I was the only one!”
Sara pretended to bow.
“Welcome, sister, to the church of the weirdos.”
Faria put her arms on her hips, all sassy like. “Welcome? I INVENTED that church!”
Sara grinned jokingly. “Guess I owe a ton of tuition fees!”
Faria edged closer. “Oh, we don’t pay in money…”
She whispered in Sara’s ear. “We pay in blood…”
The two laughed again, overjoyed at their vibing. “You’re so funny! I’m so happy I met you!”
“Me too!”, Faria smiled, failing to believe that she had made a friend this easily.
Meanwhile, up in a tree, Kris trained her envious eyes on the duo with her black army binoculars.
They had a glow in the dark setting, which Kris really liked, and they had a zoom in feature!
Honestly, they were pretty awesome, but Kris didn’t have the time to admire her binoculars, her best friend was being taken by this… This… Friend stealer!
“Dirty, rotten, friend stealer! There’s, like, a million other kids in this city! She just had to pick the one I need! Dear Zone, I hate plot contrivances!”, Kris complained, a half frown half pout decorating her lips.
She would never show it, but her eyes seemed to tear up for a second as she looked at Sara laughing.
“…Sara never laughed like that when we hung out...”
For but a moment, Kris felt like crying.
But she quickly rubbed her eyes and refocused on the task of listening to Sara and that wicked Faria Khan.
Dr. Zone suddenly materialized, with his own set of binoculars.
“So, I see that you’re not liking this whole Faria thing. You wanna talk about it?”
Kris turned to him, annoyed. “Contrary to popular belief, I don’t need to talk about my problems all the time! Heck, I barely make any! I’ve improved a ton, remember? You only said that a few hours ago, for Cerebroids sake!”
Zone turned to her, concerned. He hated seeing Kris revert to type like this. “Kris, love, I get why you’re worried, but Faria seems nice!”
Faria took out a bag of skittles and offered it to Sara. “Want to share? My parents are a little bossy over my “sweet tooth”, so I’m sort of obliged not to eat the whole bag.”, she explained, a hint of annoyance on her face.
Her parents could really get on her nerves!
Sara nodded and smiled. “Sure! But I don’t need too many, just the…”
They both exclaimed at the same time. “Grape ones! Jinx! Double jinx!”
They giggled again and Kris growled.
“See? She planned that interaction! She’s evil!”
Zone shook his head. “You clearly need some time to digest all this. Session after school?”
Kris could swear she heard him laughing as she shook her fist. “I am ok! I don’t need joke therapy sessions with my imaginary friend/conscious!”
Suddenly, she heard a throat clear, and she looked down to see Neal give her an odd look.
“…Don’t you have better things to do?”, Kris asked, embarrassed.
Neal left, and Kris shook her head. “What does Sara see in that weirdo? Now, to spy on her and her new friend!”
Kris continued to observe as she overheard Sara and Faria continue to bond.
It truly pissed her off.
Yes, sure, she could be a handful, but she had always been a fateful friend to Sara!
She had never just gone up and made a new one!
Kris was devoted body and soul to this relationship, always trying to cheer up Sara!
Did Sara not remember the days when she felt so alone, so unimportant, so unloved?
And who was there to cheer her up with some geek talk? With some Dr. Zone binges? With some free Chinese takeout?
Yet, here Sara was, talking to this oh-so-perfect Faria, and having such a great time!
…Had Kris been such a bad friend, that Sara just needed one opportunity to leave her?
Kris looked down, almost ashamed.
“Am I the bad guy? Was I so selfish and controlling, that I drove her away?”
Kris nearly considered this to be true…
But her ego burst in, and she refused to acknowledge the possibility.
No, it couldn’t be!
Sara was being stolen by some poser, and Kris was the victim!
Kris almost smiled at this prospect.
Finally, a reason not to hate herself!
Suddenly, she heard something that stopped her train of thought. Not just stopped: Derailed it so badly that the statin got bankrupt, and they were forced to shut down and move into a more profitable business, like accounting, or hot dog eating competitors.
As Sara finished showing Faria the entrance to the school, Faria turned to Sara, now a little shy and reserved.
“Um… Sara?”, Faria started, cringing at the question she felt obligated to ask.
Sara looked at her new friend. “Yes?”
Faria twiddled her thumbs. Astaghfirallah, this was an awkward question!
“I know this is going to sound a little weird, but I need to know that this is all real.”, Faria started, serious expression now resting on her face.
Sara was all ears, wondering what the inquiry was about. “I’m listening.”
Faria spoke a little quieter, hoping no one overhears her. “…You weren’t asked to be nice to me, right?”
Sara was surprised at this question, as her confused face expressed. “I’m sorry?”
Faria frowned, since she hoped to finish the question quickly. She tried again.
“What I mean, is… No one from the school sent you to be nice to the new girl, right?”
Sara, now understanding, laughed, finding the whole ordeal a little silly. “Of course not! Why would I…”
But as Sara stopped laughing and opened her eyes, she saw a very small Faria, one who perhaps did not see social norms the way Sara did.
One who perhaps was fearing the potential answer to her question.
One who perhaps had never really had a Sara.
Sara’s face got serious and she nodded surely. “I promise: I only did it because I thought we could be friends.”
She then extended her hand. “And we are.”
Faria smiled brightly at this and shook back. “You have no idea what this means to me.”
Back in the tree, Kris stuck her tongue out in disgust, having not really understood the context, and only seeing half the picture. “You have got to be kidding me?! They’re friends now?! They’ve known each other for a few measly hours!”
She threw her arms up in the air in frustration. “What kind of second rate writer is coming up with this Grallax? No one bonds this quickly!”
Kris was about to let out some more criticisms, when she suddenly slipped, and she fell down from the tree.
Her fall was luckily softened by the many, many, MANY branches on the tree, but Kris saw it less as luck, and more as a cruel joke, the universe once again laughing at her expense.
She’d cry if it wasn’t so infuriating!
“Gee, I hope whoever is up there is having one good laugh.”, she muttered as she brushed the dirt off her pants.
“Because I sure ain’t.”
Kris sighed as she stared at Sara and Faria.
“…I can’t believe this. She really has left me. I guess there’s no hope, now. I better just leave.”
Kris turned, once again trying to hide the storm of emotions inside her, but she barely took 5 steps to the right when Sara suddenly called her.
“Kris, wait up!”
Kris refused to turn, her hands digging into her pockets, and her face frozen in a look of discontent. “Why, Sara? You seem busy.”
Sara seemed not to notice the comment, as she called out for her friend. “Kris, want to go to the Pulled Pork Vegan BBQ Hut?”
Kris couldn’t believe her ears. Were her suspicions wrong?
Did Sara really still love her?
Kris turned, with a huge grin, and she ran towards Sara, looking happier than she had been in a long time.
In fact, Kris absolutely hated public displays of affection, but she was so relieved and overjoyed that she actually hugged Sara for a moment, before immediately parting from the embrace.
Normally, Kris would have been embarrassed, but who cares? She wasn’t alone!
“Do I? Let’s go, amigo!”, Kris linked her left arm with Sara’s right arm, only for Faria to suddenly link her right arm with Sara’s left arm.
“Faria and Wally are also joining!”, Sara informed, still smiling.
Kris frowned, realizing that she had celebrated pre-maturely.
At first, Kris wanted to leave. This was too much for her!
She didn’t need to stew over all this in a public place!
She could go home, take a tub of ? ice cream, binge some classic Dr. Zone episodes, and angst over it all in the comfort of her basement.
In fact, that somehow sounded like a dream compared to this insult!
Kris sighed, frustrated with the life she led.
If she did that, she’d hurt Sara’s feelings.
And she’d alert Sara that she was jealou…
That is, concerned!
She was defientely not replapsing!
Not after all the hard work she had done!
She was good again, and if anyone said otherwise, she’d disintegrate them with her time bee-hicle!
Unfortunately, Kris would have to accompany this fool’s errand.
Who knows? Maybe Sara’s brain would return to her from whatever hole it had left to, and she’d remember that Kris had been her friend for more than a decade, and that she was clearly better than some skittle loving weirdo!
“Besides…”, Kris reasoned as she nodded at Sara, agreeing to come. “I might be able to find conclusive evidence that Faria is trying to steal Sara from me!”
Kris then felt her stomach rumble, and she licked her lips expectantly.
“Also… I could use a nice !”, she thought, smiling at the thought of some delicious food that would make her forget, if for a second, the slings and arrows of misfortune.
“Worst. Post School Pulled Pork Vegan BBQ Hut Lunch. Ever.”, Kris muttered under her breath as she chewed on the driest carrot stick in the world.
She stared around at the others, all clearly enjoying themselves more.
Wally was feasting on some pork grinds, his diet clearly over, which Kris noted was a bad idea.
Not that he looked bad, but her friend could use to lose a few pounds, she thought, a moment of sympathy crossing her mind before she reverted to her depression.
Sara was enjoying a sloppy joe sandwich, laughing once again from a joke of Faria’s, the girl enjoying a simple salad (she wasn’t heavy on meat, unlike her parents, who seemed to insist on one barbecue after another).
Kris bit down hard on the carrot stick with annoyance, before spitting it out because it tasted terrible.
She glared at the counter, giving the waiter a death stare.
“What kind of fast food joint runs out of burgers?!”, she thought, outraged.
She sighed wearily and looked down at the ketchup stained napkins and slightly reflective surface of the poorly manufactured tables.
Was she really only here to suffer?
It really felt like that sometimes.
I mean, only Kris, who was doing a great job improving on her flaws, would suddenly lose her best friend to some new girl who clearly didn’t deserves Sara as much as she did!
Kris moaned and groaned as she saw Sara and Faria laugh again!
Seriously, who was this funny?
“Some sort of OC insert, that’s what! A real bone fide mary sue!”, Kris muttered.
Wally looked at her, worried that his friend would make things worse.
“Ok, you’re using fanfiction terms, this can’t be good.”, he said, some pork grind juice still on his chin.
“Surely you’re not missing how she’s hogging Sara…”, Kris started, before noticing the dirt on his mouth.
“Hold up, let me help you with that.”, she said, and she took a ketchupy napkin, wiped her fingers on another one, disgusted, and then finally took a third clean napkin to wipe Wally’s mouth.
“I’m not a baby, Kris!”, Wally complained, hating being treated like a little kid.
Kris smiled for a second, jokingy scolding. “So don’t eat like one, silly!”
She wiped his mouth, sticking her tongue out as she focused.
She actually liked doing it, since she felt like it would make Wally feel better about himself.
He got many insults, and she felt that if she had received them, she’d want some help to avoid them.
Faria noticed this, though, and she foolishly opened her mouth.
“Oh, that’s so cute! Are you dating?”, she asked innocently, wishing she could have that.
Her parents were a little too traditional, and they seemed to be stuck with the whole arranged marriage concept.
Wally’s eyes widened, blushing.
Kris’ eyes narrowed, not liking the insinuation.
“I’m sorry, but who asked you to butt in?”, Kris remarked, quite rudely, but she didn’t care.
Bad enough that Faria was stealing her friend, now she was assuming things about her and Wally!
How ridiculous an assumption, too! She had no feelings for him!
Wally rubbed the back of his neck. “She really meant nothing wrong by that…”
Faria and Sara looked surprised.
“Kris, it was just a question!”, Sara said, a little annoyed at Kris’ behavior.
All she did was sit there and mope!
Faria was apologetic, not intending to hurt Kris. “I’m really sorry, I didn’t mean, it was just cute to see you do that…”
Kris got up and pointed at Faria accusingly. “Well, sorry doesn’t sweeten my tea!”
Everyone blinked at her in confusion.
She sat down, her arms crossed. “I’m not weird.”
She sunk into her seat, pouting.
Faria started to feel bad.
She hadn’t even gotten to know Kris, and somehow she had angered her.
Faria felt like she was in the right here, that she had done nothing wrong (except maybe assume too much), but perhaps she had ignored Kris, perhaps she should initiate some sort of contact to make things better.
Faria smiled, now determined to make things right!
She looked at Kris and extended a hand. “I’m sorry, I was out of line, and I haven’t even gotten to know you.”
Kris reluctantly accepted the handshake, not wanting to cause a scene.
Sure, she was infuriated, but a scene would only make things worse!
Besides, she didn’t need the attention.
She still gave Faria a death stare as Faria introduced herself. “I’m Faria Khan. What was your name again? Sara mentioned it once, but I can’t remember…”
Kris fumed as she thought of her family name.
Faria nodded, wisely choosing not to dig into that.
“So, what do you like? I understood that you like Dr. Zone, but I’m more of a Gala…”
Kris suddenly cut her off, slamming her hands on the table and staring at her intensely.
She wanted to know what Faria’s evil intentions were, and she wasn’t going to do that through small talk!
Like the good doctor himself, she’d get straight to the point!
“Hey, new girl!”
Ok, what did this Kris want with her?
“My name is Faria, I just told you before.”, Faria answered, a little insulted. This Kris was not very likable, she thought.
Kris brushed the answer away, wanting to start her investigation. “Okay, Faria, a few questions!”
She took out a magnifying glass and examined Faria through them, the Muslim girl very unamused by all this.
“Ok…”, Faria answered, not enthusiastic for what might be coming.
Kris sat down, and, her hands joined together under her chin, began to ask Faria some question.
“First Question: Are your intentions as good as you say they are?”
Faria raised her hand, objecting to the ridiculous accusation. “First off, asking me that doesn’t gurentee the right answer. If I was a bad guy (and I’m not), I might want to hide that.”, she said, prompting a small “Oh yeah” from Kris.
Sara face palmed at this while Faria continued. “Secondly, my only intention is to make some friends, since I’m new here! If you’d give me a chance, maybe we could be…”
But Kris cut in, not remotely interested in being friends with this friend stealer. “Ah ah! I’m not finished with my questions!”
She stood up and looked Faria straight in the eyes. “Second question: If you were brainwashed to be evil, would you tell us?”
Sara wanted to smash her head in. “Kris, how could she tell you that if she was? And she clearly isn’t! Why are you asking all these questions?!”
Kris could be annoying, but this was truly something else, Sara thought.
Faria shook her head. “Look, Kris, I’m not like that, I just want to…”
Kris then let out her final question: “Okay, Faria, are you a Furry? Because I have a strong disliking of Furries!”
All three kids were shocked by the accusation.
Faria could barely open her mouth. “Dude, what are you talking about? Of course not!
Sara, starting to get real ticked off, scolded Kris. “Kris, this is not ok! You’re being really rude!”
Kris snapped at Sara. “I am just asking a simple question, Sara! This is America, and I have the right to ask questions!”
“But maybe not these questions…”, Wally began, but Kris’ death look shut him up.
“I'm not a...”, Faria started, really exasperated with where the day was heading, but Kris ignored her and butt in with another thing to say.
“If you are lying and you are a furry, then you cannot have Sara! She's my friend and I don't want you turning her into a furry freak!”
That’s it. Sara had had enough.
Faria was a nice girl, a fun, sweet girl who did nothing to deserve this treatment, and Kris was going too far!
“Kris you're being rude, again! Stop acting like this!”
“Don't get me started on their f....”, Kris continued, ignoring the protests, when suddenly Wally quickly covered her mouth and escorted her to the counter.
“Okay! That's enough my silly little girl!”
He turned back apologetically to Sara and Faria. “You know how she is, a few carrot sticks, and she starts calling people Furries! Everyone does that, am I right?”
“No one does that. No one has ever done that.”, Faria commented, feeling bad about even coming to the restaurant.
Wally winced and he turned back to Kris, who was still moping and whining next to the counter.
“How can Sara be so blind? How can she do this to me?”, Kris complained.
Wally waved his arms in protest. “Kris, why are you doing this to Faria? Why are you acting so rudely?!”
He pinched the bridge of his nose, frustrated. “Look, I get it, you’re jealous, but this is unfair to Sara and Faria. You haven’t even given her a chance!”
Kris growled, her eyes mad with rage. “I don’t need to give her a chance! Things were fine the way they were, and Sara should come back to me!”
She pushed Wally away, getting angrier with every step.
“I’m gonna give them a piece of my mind!”
She began nearing the table, and Sara gave her a cold, angry stare.
“Kris, you’re not being fair! I thought you were better than this! Why are you being such a jerk?”, Sara shouted, angry at her friend.
Kris fumed in the spot, failing to believe Sara’s words.
How did she not know why she was angry? Sara had clearly abandoned her for this new girl, and now she was daring to ask why she was angry?
Kris wanted to lash out, to insult Sara for letting herself get charmed by this new girl, to tell her off for leaving her, to show her that she was in the right, that she was the better friend, that she needed her so much!
But before Kris could, she stared aside for a second, and the glass window panes of the restaurant reflected her face.
She was doing it again.
She was becoming him again.
The terrible man who had bullied her all those years ago!
Kris felt so angry she wanted to cry.
How could she let herself go down there again?
She had promised to be better, and here she was, about to act like a total jerk!
If she shouted at Sara, she’d be a bad friend again!
She’d be the villain again!
And Kris couldn’t do that.
But it surely wasn’t ok for Sara to just go and hang out with someone else!
What, was she such a monster, such a plague upon humanity, such a mistake that she deserved to lose her best friend for the first proper alternative?
Sure, Kris was about to act jerky…
But Sara had also hurt her feelings.
Did those not count?
Kris calmed down and made up her mind.
“Ok, Sara. I’m not going to make things worse. I don’t want to. I don’t want to be a jerk.”, she started, deathly serious.
Sara and Faria smiled, relieved that the conflict had disappeared.
“Oh, that’s good to hear!”, Sara exclaimed.
“Yeah, I was worried that she was going to blow up on me for no good reason.”, Faria seconded.
Kris stared at Sara, stared into her soul as she felt the intense pain inside.
“I need to go home. Have fun without me.”
She began to walk out, and she uttered a phrase aimed directly at Sara.
“I don’t need you, anyway. If it sucks being my friend this badly, I’ll just leave.”
Kris walked off, enraged and depressed, but slightly proud that her dramatic speech worked.
That is, until she slipped on a napkin and flew outside.
“Aaaggh!”, Kris screamed, and she crashed outside.
Wally covered his eyes, worried about his girl, and then he ran out to check on her.
Faria gave Sara a confused and concerned look.
“Should we do something? She was very angry, and I think we should talk to her, make sure she’s ok.”
Faria didn’t want to make anyone feel bad, even really rude weirdos.
Sara shook her head, sighing wearily. “No need. Trust me, I know Kris. She needs some time alone to calm down, and tomorrow we’ll talk to her.”
She smiled softly. “She’s way better than this. But like everyone, she makes mistakes. If she could only learn that you can’t immediately improve, she’d be fine.”
Faria nodded, feeling a pang of sympathy for Kris, despite all what she had said.
“Ok… We’ll make things better tomorrow.”
January in Danville was usually quite snowy and cold, but today was a little less.
It was more chilly, almost autumnal, rather than wintery.
The grey clouds and cold winds perfectly reflected the storm inside Kris, who crushed leaves with her boots, her face as sour as a lemon candy.
She refused to make eye contact with anyone, and she tightened her rain coat, the hood now nearly covering her entire face.
“Stupid Sara! Stupid Faria!”, she muttered under her breath, sounding partly angry, but also sounding…
“Stupid napkin!”, she thought as she caressed her hurting back.
Of course she smashed into a lamp post!
She sighed, her breath condensing into fog.
It floated away, forever disappearing.
Like everyone in her life, apparently.
She gritted her teeth, gripping her banana yellow rain coat even tighter now.
Her life was just one big joke, huh?
She acted like a total jerk, tried to fix it, only to lose her best friend!
What’s next? She gets kidnapped?
Kris chuckled darkly.
“As if. As if anyone would care enough to kidnap me.”
She stopped in front of a traffic light, and a car drove past, drenching her with a puddle that she only now noticed for obvious reasons.
“Sometimes, I wish I could disappear!”, she shouted out, looking up at the empty skies, skies that seemed to be as loving as fate.
“…It’s not like anyone would care.”
Kris again fought back tears. She hated feeling this vunorable!
Kris passed by a kindergarten, and her eyes couldn’t help but dart to the side, hoping to see something to distract her from her current problem.
Instead, she was viciously reminded of exactly that.
She spotted two little girls, one with flowy, wavy black hair, a purple shirt and black pants and one with blond hair that was sort of mousy, kind of all over the place, playing with Dr. Zone toys.
Kris held on to the bars of the kindergarten, on the outside looking in, as she saw two girls who looked way too much like her and Sara.
She remembered how lonely she was when she was young.
It wasn’t long after the convention incident.
She was still sitting on her own in class, talking to no one and doing her best to isolate herself.
“If I don’t talk to anyone, they won’t hurt me.”, the 6 year old Kris had thought back then.
And one day, Sara had offered to play with her.
Kris was hesitant, as she held on to her Dr. Zone action figure protectively.
Who was to say that this girl wouldn’t hurt her?
But Sara had promised.
She promised her that it will be ok.
“I won’t hurt you! I just want to be friends!”, Sara had said, a lovely smile greeting Kris.
“I promise: I won’t make you sad.”
Such a tantalizing promise…
Such a chance, one she had never had before…
It felt so genuine…
They had played for hours.
They would stay friends for years.
The promise was broken.
Kris was hurt.
She felt a tear threatening to come out again, and she tried to stop it.
She would not cry in public!
She would break down with her cat in her basement with a tub of ice cream, like normal people!
Kris continued her melancholic walk, thinking of how happy Sara was with Faria.
Happier than she ever was with her.
A cold north wind began to blow.
But Kris had no protection from it.
She felt a shiver in her spine, and she hugged herself.
She probably looked so pathetic.
It wasn’t fair.
Sara was her friend, her confidant.
Kris had told her things she had never told anyone.
She had read to her fanfictions she had put all her investment in.
She had told her about her Asexuality, something she was afraid of sharing with anyone else, something she thought would be considered wrong and shameful by others.
She had even told her about her mother…
About how terrible she was…
About how sometimes…
She wished that her mother was not her mother.
Was all that investment for nothing?
Surely it wasn’t just Kris!
Sara looked way happier with Faria.
Kris sighed again, and she sat on the sidewalk, feeling the bracing cold.
She was alone.
Sara really was gone, wasn’t she?
Her friend, the person she had loved so much…
Kris stood up, feeling her heart harden.
“Fine.”, she thought, closing her eyes.
“Clearly, Sara wants a different friend. Fine. I don’t need her.”
Kris approached her house, ignoring the tears that stung her eyes.
“I don’t care. I’ll get another friend. One who notices how I’ve changed. One who doesn’t just leave. One who won’t hurt me.”
It hurt too much to care.
It hurt too much to acknowledge the truth.
So Kris pretended to not care.
Maybe if she ignored them, the cracks in her heart would disappear.
Yet, despite this, Kris couldn’t help but feel terrible about one horrible fact:
“It’s as clear as day…”, Kris thought, as her shaky hand gripped the wooden door knob to her house, her face looking down in sadness.
“Sara doesn’t want to be my friend anymore.”
The sentence was all too terrifying and all too real for poor Kris as she took a step inside her oddly cold living room.
Tiny water droplets pitter pattered down onto the starkly clean red carpeting.
She was drenched, cold, miserable, lonely, depressed, lost, enraged and heartbroken.
Kris threw away her theasourus and sighed.
“This day couldn’t get much worse.”, she thought, hugging herself.
“Just what I needed”, Kris thought morosely as her mother, Lian Chang, burst into the room in a flourish.
Lian had shoulder length Black hair, tucked behind her ears and a small nose in a similar shape to Kris'. Her glasses were also similar to Kris' but only with thinner frames, she wore a short sleeved shirt with a collar, a dark blue skirt and a pair of flat slip-on shoes.
“Where have you been? I was worried sick! The weather is awful, and you said nothing about where you were!”, Lian shouted worriedly, showing concern Kris was not used to.
It almost felt… Nice.
Like that was how it was supposed to be.
Sadly, like the box office draw of those Madea movies, it didn’t last long.
Lian was about to do something drastic, like hug her daughter, when she caught the scent in the air.
“Tiān nǎ! What is that awful stench?!”, Lian complained, holding her nose as to not breath in the unpleasant odor.
Kris took a sniff and cringed too. The combination of her drenched clothes with some mud that had gotten on the raincoat did not create a soothing sensation for the nose.
Lian gave Kris a disapproving look. “This will not do, Kristina Chang.”
She then noticed how drenched the girl was, a small pool of water spreading on the carpet.
“And what’s this? You are drenched! How?!”, Lian declared, outraged.
“Mother, it’s raining. That’s kind of a given.”, Kris said, eyes rolling as they always did in these conversations.
“Well, this is most unsatisfying. A lady must be clean and presentable, Kristina Chang. Is this some kind of trend? Is this the hip thing to do nowadays?”, Lian asked as she moved Kris from the living room and began to clean the carpeting, hoping to disguise the stink.
Kris crossed her arms, annoyed. “Seriously, Mother? I just got a little dirty. I don’t have time for this…”
Lian laughed. “You teenagers, saying that you have no time! You have all the time in the world!”, she wagged her finger.
She smiled haughtily as she continued cleaning. “Why, just today I cleaned all the house, made a splendid dinner and I even made a new dress for your graduation ceremony.”
Kris prayed in her heart of hearts that this dress was a size five foot six.
“Now, off to the shower, young lady. Off, off!”, she instructed, pushing Kris to the bathroom.
Kris, now standing on the plain white tiles of the bathroom floor, waved her arms in protest. “Mother, I don’t need a shower! I need some alone time! And I’m a grown up, not a young lady!”
Lian stared Kris straight in the eyes, deadly serious. “Not until you mature, you’re not. Now get clean!”
She shut the door, a little too hard.
She then opened the door again.
“Sorry, that was way too hard.”, Lian apologized, sounding genuinely sorry.
She shut it slowly.
Kris moaned and took off her raincoat, which sprayed water all over the floor.
“It’s like she gets more annoying every day!”, Kris thought, tired of her daily fights with her mother.
“I can’t wait to tell Sara, she’ll understand me, unlike that…”, but Kris couldn’t finish the thought, as she remembered.
Sara was with someone else.
She didn’t need to put up with Kris anymore.
Kris felt her heart hurt again, and for a moment, she felt like crying her soul out, but she refused.
“Why am I sad?”, she thought as she sat on the toilet seat, looking at the fluorescent light bulb.
“I’m looking for a new friend. One who respects me, one who values me, one who would never trade me for another, and one who recognizes when I improve.”
She closed her eyes, showing a confident and smug smile.
“I don’t need Sara.”
“Right, Cardboard Sara?”
In her basement, freshly washed and back to her regular look, Kris sat on a bean bag chair with a tub of ridiculously large amounts of chocolate ice cream and her cat Galaxy perched on her lap, napping peacefully.
Oh, and there was also a large and badly drawn cardboard cutout of Sara standing on the other bean bag.
“Ah!”, Kris said, stretching her arms over to hug Cardboard Sara and Galaxy, who meowed sharply at the interruption of his beauty sleep. “Isn’t this great? Just two friends, a cat, and the personification of my conscious eating ice cream and watching Dr. Zone!”
On the screen of her basement TV, Dr. Zone and Time Ape were fighting the evil villain Shush, who had toilet paper rolled around his head for a mask.
“Stand down, Shush! This is not the “TIME” for this!”, Dr. Zone said, quipping and winking at the audience.
PUN! Went the screen with a large title card.
“Wa ha ha ha ha ha!”, Kris laughed and snorted, and she elbowed Cardboard Sara. “Classic, huh Cardboard Sara?”
Cardboard Sara did not respond, except for the goofy smile drawn on by Kris.
Kris slowly stopped laughing and cleared her throat, giving Cardboard Sara a sad look.
Meanwhile, Dr. Zone and Time Ape deduced that throwing water on Shush would dissolve his mask.
“Remember when you called it when the episode first aired? Even I was impressed!”, Kris reminded Cardboard Sara, who continued to not respond, because it was a cardboard cutout.
Kris’ smile turned into a small and sad frown as the mask dissolved and…
“TESTOSTERONE TRASHCANDROIDS!”, Dr. Zone cried, as the villain was revealed to be none other than…
“Elliot Thomas! My very best friend and closest confidante who was never mentioned before, and made his first appearance in this episode, at the same time as when Shush first appeared! I would never have guessed!”
“What. The. Fruitcake?! That twist still rocks, huh Sara?”, Kris asked, hoping for something, anything.
Cardboard Sara was silent.
An awkward silence rose as Kris looked down, the utter loneliness she was feeling now more apparent than ever.
Cardboard Sara suddenly fell down to the ground, making a small thud to break the terrible silence.
Kris didn’t even bother to pick it up, instead choosing to scoop up Galaxy (again awoken against his will).
“Hey, Galaxy: Why isn’t Cardboard Sara working?”, Kris asked, hoping that her feline friend could supply some wisdom.
Galaxy didn’t answer, but his “are you serious?” look said it all.
Kris turned her face, refusing to look him in the eyes.
“What? No! I don’t miss Sara. She’s the one missing. Missing out on me!”
Galaxy again cocked an eyebrow, really laying it thick on Kris that she was making a huge mistake.
“Come on, Galaxy! You’re supposed to be on my side! Sara betrayed me! And now I’m all alone!”, Kris protested, sounding truly sad by the end.
Galaxy let out a hurtful meow.
Kris regretted that last sentence.
“Sorry, Galaxy. I still have you, of course.”
She kissed his forehead, which he happily accepted, before leaping off her lap onto the floor.
There was a nice spot in the corner, next to the bookshelves, perfect for some light reading.
Kris sighed as she laid down next to Cardboard Sara, her hands behind her head.
“Well, I guess I shouldn’t deny it: Cardboard Sara was a mistake. I need someone else.”
“Why don’t we cut the middleman and talk to Sara instead?”, Dr. Zone asked out of nowhere, popping on Kris’ stomach.
He grinned. “It would save us a ton of episode time.”
Kris frowned as she slightly stood up, looking Zone in the eye.
“Doctor, you know I can’t! Sara has moved on! It’s time I did too!”, Kris said, annoyed.
She turned her back to Zone, not wanting to look at him.
“I need someone who appreciates me for me. Who acknowledges my improvements. Not someone who ditches me the second there’s an alternative.”
She crossed her arms, still angry at the events of the day.
Zone shook his head sadly, as he began to disappear.
“Well, when you change your mind, I’m here to talk. But just remember, Kris: Sometimes, the problem lies in you.”
And just like that, he vanished into thin air.
“You noticed?”, the air asked, blushing.
Of course I did! That diet you took was really slimming! I’m very proud!
“Aw, thanks!”, the air said, happy with the recognition.
“What’s he on about?”, Kris thought, as she crossed her arms. “I solved all my problems. I’m better! It’s Sara that isn’t! And I will find a replacement for her! You’ll see!”
She looked at Cardboard Sara, the melancholy returning.
She placed it back up, and she walked upstairs, not even bothering to say goodnight to her parents.
As she snuggled up in bed, feeling anything but warm, she looked at her computer, the screensaver of her, Sara and Wally shining bright, like a beacon to a world she could no longer visit.
She stared longingly at the picture, her heart beating slowly.
She closed her eyes, shivering.
“Why did you leave me?”
The next morning, Kris woke up, rushed downstairs (to the ever “melodious” sound of her mother telling her not to run) and settled down on a beanbag chair, trying to prepare for an emotionally taxing day.
Kris hated interacting with other people as it is (it was so hard and confusing!).
Now she actually had to go out there and… Talk to people?!
Kris visibly cringed at the prospect of walking up to someone and engaging in frivolous small talk.
“But unfortunately, there’s no choice.”, Kris said, to no one in particular, as she dangled one knee over another and lazily glanced at the roof of the basement.
There was an oddly interesting splinter in the wooden roof, one that almost looked like a star.
Kris smiled in wonder.
How she would have loved to visit one.
To meet some aliens, maybe befriend them.
Somehow, Kris felt that would go way easier than this whole going out and socializing with society crap.
Kris made some popping noises with her mouth, still wanting to delay the whole business.
But what choice did she have?
As if to answer her, Galaxy meowed from the other corner of the room.
“Galaxy, I really don’t have a choice!”, Kris explained, more to herself than to her beloved feline. “None of my Dr. Zone Wiki friends are from Danville, and none of the other Zonians who actually reside here are any fun! Bunch of snooty oldbies.”
A guinness world record for raised eyebrows was nearly broken by Galaxy a moment later.
Kris rolled her eyes. “How many times do I have to say this? I’m better now! Why, when someone has a different opinion to mine, I curse them for daring to internally! You know, like a normal person!”
Galaxy had to admit, it was a step forwards… Sort of.
Kris sighed again and stood up.
“There really is no choice: I am going to have to talk to “people” and “befriend” them so that I’ll have someone to talk to who isn’t Wally, my conscious or you.”
She then made googly eyes at her little kitty.
“Not that I don’t like talking to my adorable little babyboy!”, she cooed, only to notice that Galaxy was reading “The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy”.
“…Galaxy?”, Kris started, her eyes as wide as pie plates (though she preferred cake, honestly. Why pie? Cake is better. Get with the times, people!)
Galaxy, noticing his slip up, threw the book away, and it somehow flew really badly up the stairs and out an open window.
“Owch!”, Jim said. “That hurt!”
“Nobody cares, Jim.”, someone shouted out.
Jim sighed, when suddenly Marcus Underwood came up to him.
“Hey, man, don’t let them get to you. How’s about a drink? I could use one.”
Jim nodded, appreciating the gesture. “Thanks, Marcus. Problems with Zack?”
Marcus looked grim. “Very much so.”
The two left, and Kris gave the author a dirty look.
“Hey, this is an organic, living universe. Sometimes, an action affects another person.”, I defended myself.
“Sure, but we’re kind of in the middle of something, right?”, Kris pointed out truthfully.
I sighed. “Sorry, Kris.”
Kris pouted, not liking being left out. Again.
I smiled softly. “Don’t worry, you’re still one of my favorites.”
That made Kris feel a little better, and she smiled softly too. “Thanks. It’s nice to be wanted, even by an invisible, totally fictional author.”
I disappeared back to the background, and Kris returned to her life, having forgotten the whole “Did my cat just read a book?” thing.
“Well, can’t postpone it no more. Let’s… Ugh… Interact with others.”
Kris grumbled and flipped out her phone, its Dr. Zone case and cracked interior shining from the rising sun.
She went down the about 3 contacts she really had and pressed on Wally’s number.
In another house, playing video games and blaring out the electrifying sounds of “The Woodpeckers”, Wally noticed his phone was ringing.
He picked it up and stuck it to his ear with his elbow.
“Yello, Numero Uno Doctor Zone super fan speaking, who is this?”
Kris rolled her eyes affectionately and answered her good friend.
“Hey, Wally, it’s me. Mind coming over to my house? I need your…”
The doorbell rang, and Kris looked up from her phone in surprise.
She went up the stairs two at a time, passing her Father making breakfast, wearing a “Kiss the Cook, But Only On The Third Date” apron, and she arrived at the door.
She opened it and was pleasantly surprised to find Wally standing on her porch, panting heavily.
Despite it being winter, his sweater was all… Well, sweaty now.
Kris had to admit: She was impressed. “That was fast! If you keep doing that, you’d lose a pound or two!”
Wally was hurt by that (in his opinion) unnecessary comment, and he showed it with a frown. “You know, you don’t have to remind me of that. I know I caved on the diet, but I’ll get back on my feet!”
Kris turned back, genuine worry on her face. “Wally, dude, I love you for you (Cue Wally blushing intensely… FROM THE COLD, OF COURSE!), but you could use to lose some weight. I’m worried about you.”
She added a small “Really”, hoping he’d see that she meant it. She’d seen him get abuse before for his girth, and she wanted nothing more than to stop that for him.
Wally had to smile at that.
It was always great to be reminded of why he loved her so much.
“I’m sorry, Kris. I know I can be a little sensitive…”
“A little?”, Kris joked, raising an eyebrow.
Wally chuckled. “All right, a lot! But thanks. I’ll try.”
He smiled and she smiled back, a tender moment between the two usually sarcastic friends.
“Wally, get inside, you’ll get a cold!”, Lian ordered, busy knitting another dress in the living room on her emerald green sofa.
While Kris cringed at her mother’s comment, Gary looked up from the stove and waved at Wally with his spatula.
“Hey, Wallster! If you’re interested, I’ve got some Sweet and Sour Pork cookin’ here!”
Kris’ dad had short black hair, a large nose closely resembling Kris' nose, a green sweater, a pair of dark almost black Jeans and black Shoes with white lases.
Wally licked his lips at the offer, but refused. “Gonna have to rain check that, Mr. C! Kris needs my assistance!”
Gary nodded. “No prob!”
Kris took Wally downstairs and explained the whole situation to him as they neared the basement.
“Ok, Wally, here’s the deal: I need to look for a new best friend now that Sara is gone, so you and I are going to the mall to find one.”
They arrived downstairs, and Kris started to put on her striped hoodie and raincoat on, sticking her tongue out as she straightened it on.
Wally sighed, having hoped that all this “I’ve lost Sara business” was finished. “Seriously? We’re still dealing with this?”
He put a hand on her shoulder, comforting her. “Why don’t we just talk to her? Surely that’s simpler.”
Kris gave him a sour look, annoyed at this. “Wally, come on! I can’t do that! Sara has clearly moved on, now I have to move on!”
Wally shook his head. He hated when Kris got like this. “You are so much better than this kind of plot. You know that Sara didn’t mean to!”
Kris stood with her hands to her hips, frowning. “No I don’t!”
She sighed, trying to calm down.
She needed Wally to help her.
Also, she didn’t want to be mad at him.
He hadn’t done anything wrong, and here she was, being mean.
Darn it, she could be such a pain sometimes!
“…Look, I… I don’t want to be alone, ok? I…”
It was hard to choke this out, but Kris did, her back turned to him, a crimson blush adorning her cheeks.
“I… I need your help.”
She sighed, eyes closed.
“I need your help. I… I don’t want to be alone. Please…”
She turned back to him now, clearly distraught.
“Please… I need your help.”
Wally, now serious, nodded intently. “Anything for you, Kris.”
Kris smiled warmly. “Thanks”, she replied, almost a whisper, but a genuine one.
The two friends gazed at each other, and for a moment, a sort of electricity flowed between them, one that Kris was not used to.
It was like Wally meant more to her than she had ever known.
For the briefest of moments, Kris felt a fluttering in her heart, but it disappeared when her ears caught an all too familiar sound…
“Galaxy, no!”, she yelped, as she caught the naughty cat scratching Cardboard Sara, who now had a horrified expression on her “face”.
“Don’t scratch Cardboard Sara! Naughty kitty!”, she said, and she scolded Galaxy, who stormed off, frustrated.
How was he supposed to fend off Cerebroids and protect his Human if he wasn’t allowed to have battle ready claws?
“Lily livered flower generation…”, he thought as he left up the stairs.
Kris shook her head. “He can behave so oddly sometimes… I wonder where he gets it from.”
Suddenly, a fly flew into the room, and Kris slapped it with her hand instinctively, killing it immediately.
“Enemy… Terminated…”, she whispered intensely, eyes narrowing.
Wally crossed his arms. “Gee, I have no idea.”
“That’s what I said.”, Kris answered matter of factly, turning back to her friend.
She had clearly missed the point.
And I clearly shouldn’t have pointed that out.
Wally shook his head, moving the conversation along. “Doesn’t matter. Let’s get this show on the road!”
About half an hour of boots trudging through puddles later, Kris and Wally arrived at…
“The Danville Mall!”, Wally announced as he presented the mega collection of stores and attractions.
…Fine, I guess he wanted to do it more than I did! You know, I do this for a living! I went to COLLEGE!
Wally leaned on the mall directory and fell to the ground suddenly.
He quickly got back up, trying to save face.
Kris couldn’t help but giggle for a moment at the silliness of her friend. Wally couldn’t help but try to look cool. It was this pretense that led to many, many pratfalls and embarrassing moments, but Kris never got tired of laughing with him about them.
When he was in the mood for it, that is.
Wally pointed at the directory.
“So, where do we start? Where do you think we’ll find your ideal friend?”
Kris scratched her head in thought, as she studied the directory.
Gucci? Yeah, no way in Planet Ib-Tap-Do would she dare enter that pretentious hell hole of… CLOTHES!
She nearly gagged just from the thought of it all.
How could any girl stand waiting in line for hours and hours for some piece of fabric?
Not to mention that putting those things on made her very self conscious.
“Yeah”, she snorted. “As if I don’t suffer from that all the time.”
Her eyes darted to Slushy Dawg, but she doubted that that would help. What would she do, just sit down next to some girl who’s already eating? That would be so awkward, because if she didn’t have a proper conversation starter (correction, she didn’t have one, period), then how does she get up without being embarrassed?
And Kris quickly came up with excuses for the rest: The Knick Knack store was filled with weirdos, the electronics store was with techno nerds (not her crowd), the comic store was not in this mall, and she despised the book store ever since that… Confrontation with Pam, an employee at the store…
Cut to a book store that looks like a hurricane has passed through it.
Books, wrapping paper and bookmarks are thrown all over the place, torn in some areas, and outright destroyed in others.
Kris and Pam are being separated from each other by Wally and Sara, as a crowd of spectators continues to throw money at the fight, betting on who will emerge the victor.
Pam, her long ginger hair disheveled and one of her eye shadow carrying eyes shut tight, shakes a fist at Kris, who is similarly hurt, with an arm in a sling and a cut lip.
“SAY THAT AGAIN! I DARE YOU! I DOUBLE DARE YOU!”, Kris bellowed, a rage not quite seen before on her face.
“I JUST OFFERED YOU SOME BOOKMARKS!”, Pam screamed back, furious.
Kris shuddered. “I can remember where I left off in a book, thank you very much!”
She turned to Wally, who awaited an answer.
“Well?”, he asked, foot tapping in expectance.
“I have nothing.”, Kris answered, a little sheepish.
Wally groaned. “Kris, come on! This is pointless, but can we at least TRY to find you a new friend? You can’t possibly have a problem with every place…”
But Wally paused as he remembered who he was talking to. “…Never mind, that’s very possible.”, he replied dryly.
Kris sighed. “Great! Now what?”
Wally shrugged. “You talk to people you don’t usually talk to?”
Kris whined, not up for this at all. “But that means popular girls, and sporty girls, and weirdos and…”
She collapsed on a bench, crossing her arms in protest. “I want an actual replacement. Not some temporary arrangement.”
Wally sat down next to her, a little unsure of his next sentence.
“Well… If this is so hard for you, and you so desperately want a best friend, then… Why not me?”
He finished that sentence a little timidly, feeling that his position as a good friend of Kris’ had lost its importance thanks to all this.
Kris noticed this and she was quick to correct. “It’s not like that! You are my best friend!”
She was quick to add. “My best MALE friend. I’m looking for a best FEMALE friend.”
She then turned her back to him.
“Besides, there are differences to our friendship and my friendship with Sara’s.”
Kris got a little quiet now. “She was my first friend, you know. That means a lot.”
Wally grew quiet. “I… I’m sorry. I forgot how much Sara means to you and I made it about myself.”
Kris looked at him with confusion. “Well, that’s ok. You were hurt.”
Wally looked back. “Yeah, but this is about you, not about me. Sometimes, we need to remember that there are other sides to a story.”
Kris digested this thoughtfully as she and Wally got up.
“Look, I get that this is hard for you. I really do.”
Wally once again placed a comforting hand on her shoulder.
“But you don’t want to be alone, and you asked for my help. Go out there and find someone.”
He smiled encouragingly.
“Who knows? Maybe you’ll find a really good friend.”
Kris gulped again as she surveyed the terrifying prospect of finding a new friend.
“…I hope, Wally. I hope.”
She then frowned.
“Especially because I will have wasted a whole Sunday! I was really hoping to get some work done!”
Cut to Kris binge watching Dr. Zone, writing 3 fanfics at the same time, editing on the Dr. Zone wiki and reading a medical book, while also playing with her cat, texting with Wally, and practicing on her electric guitar.
“There’s nothing more rewarding that multitasking everything you need and want to do, and going to sleep at 4 AM feeling somehow unfulfilled!”, Kris said, her right eye twitching suddenly.
Wally approached tentatively. “How much do you sleep?”
Kris turned to him with a scary grin. “I don’t know the meaning of the word!”
So, for the next few hours, Kris scoured the mall, looking for potential friends, and finding… No success at all.
First, she tried a group of girly girls, decked out in pink clothing and designer jeans, who were giggling and tittering about some new hot actor or whatever.
“Like, isn’t he the DREAMIEST?”, one girl announced out loud, and the others all agreed, saying “Yeeeeaaaah!!”
A second girl piped up excitedly. “And isn’t he just SOOOOO deep? Like, he totally gets me!”
The other girls all nodded enthusiastically.
Kris slowly approached them.
“Yeah, isn’t what’s his name nice? Um… For the fun of it, tell me his name again?”, Kris asked, hoping that she could somehow sneak into the group.
The girls immediately viewed her with suspicion, and they all laughed at her lack of knowledge, looking down at her to an extent that made Kris feel even smaller than usual.
“Excuse me, little miss geek, but he’s only Teen Heartthrob, from the BEST MOVIE EVAH, “Passing Fad: Forgettable In An Instant”!”, they lectured.
Kris pretended to laugh. “Ha, ha, of course! Him! Yeah! He’s great!”
The fake smile hurt her almost as much as the judging looks.
“Say, um, perchance one of you fine ladies likes Dr. Zone? Because that last episode… Whew, what a masterpiece!”, Kris said, forgetting for a moment who she was talking to and getting washed away by the excellent recent episode of the show.
“I mean, seeing Dr. Zone lost in a pocket dimension of nothingness, looking for a way out in endless white space was absolute brilliance as it is, but the fact that it was all a thinly veiled exploration, a character study, if you will, of Dr. Zone’s need for Time Ape was perfectly executed! I must have cried or screamed 75 times! Which is great, because my average is usually 42.”, Kris said, her eyes sparkling from the positive memories of the episode.
But the blank, cold expressions staring back at her, judging, assuming, hating… They did not help.
Kris fidgeted nervously and started twiddling her thumbs, an odd shyness now about her.
“So… Yeah…”, she coughed into her hand, hoping the ground would be very considerate right about now and swallow her whole.
But it seems that the ground only found Barney tasty.
“Huh. Must be Saturday.”, Barney thought as he disappeared.
As Kris blinked in confusion, the girls left, laughing loudly about her.
“WHAT. A. WEIRDO!”, one girl went, causing the other girls to giggle.
“How can she live with herself? Must be such a drag being SOOO boring!”, went another one.
“Such a geekazoid!”, went the third one.
“Yeaaaahhhhhh!”, went the fourth one.
They all left, leaving a fuming Kris behind.
“Who even uses geekazoid anymore? What kind of insult is that?”
Kris crossed her arms, feeling even worse.
“This day has been a major bummer!”
Wally approached her.
“Ok, so that was…”
Kris stared at him.
“…A complete disaster. Egg on your face does not even begin to describe it.”
Wally then got distracted by the thought of some good fried eggs.
Kris whacked Wally on the head. “Wally, concentrate!”
“…Sorry.”, Wally went, and he pointed at another group of people. “Well, Kris, let’s go out there again. Sure, it was terrible the first time, but I’m sure it will work…”
Kris and Wally gulped.
So, Kris approached one possible friend after another.
And it went just as expected: Absolutely terribly!
“What are your thoughts on “Dr. Zone”?”, Kris asked Tara, a peppy cheerleader.
“I only belong in one fandom: Bank robberies.”, went Tara, and she put on a pink ski mask and broke in to the bank.
“ATTICA!”, she screamed inside.
Kris ran off.
“You in the market for a friend?”, Kris asked, pointing at herself with a bright, wide smile.
“No, but I am in the market for your soul…”, went Maddie, a tall brown skinned girl with auburn hair.
Kris gulped and scrambled off again.
“So I can protect it! That’s what I meant! Darn it. Why does that always happen?”, Maddie thought, confused.
“Hey Ryan! Long time no see! I love me some good monster sci fi comics! What about you?”, Kris asked Ryan, an old school mate of hers.
“Oh, I don’t need more monsters in my life. I already have one: My ex-wife.”, Ryan said, scrubbing the floor of the mall even more aggressively now.
“…Oh, I see. How did that happen… When your 20?”, Kris asked, confused.
“Well, you see, Monica didn’t destroy the city, but she sure destroyed my life when she ran off with that pile of muscles, Pasthuzo! But you know what, Monica? I have a muscle too! My heart! And you smashed it to pieces! SMASHED IT TO PIECES!”
Kris slowly edged off as Ryan droned on.
“And don’t get me started on the mutant gophers crashing in my house! Personal space, Pedro, YA HEARD OF IT?!”
“I prosper from others suffering, so I’m going to have to refuse your offer of friendship. Now, describe to me your pain, so that I can experience euphoria!”, went Megan.
“Friendship is overrated! I have something way better: This giant hamster cage!”, went Tyron.
“Alpha Centuri, here I come!”, he shouted as he rolled off.
“I personally find people with glasses to be disgusting.”, went Camilla.
“…But you have glasses too.”, Kris pointed out.
Camilla gasped. “All my life… Was a lie!”
She got taken away by an eagle.
“Goodbye, cruel world…”
Kris tapped Sal’s back.
“Hey, wanna hang out?”
Sal creepily turned around, showing off her doritos.
“Every time I eat one, someone dies…”, she said slowly, biting one.
“Wanna find your dorrito?”
Kris stared blankly at this and ran off.
“…Too bad. Too bad.”, Sal went.
A ton of odd and utterly bizarre weirdos later…
“Well, that sucked more than a 6 month “Dr. Zone” hiatus…”, Kris moaned as she slammed her head over and over on the table.
She had wasted hours, hours! Searching for some sort of friend, and coming back with nothing but increased disturbed feelings about all the other teens in the mall.
“What’s with all the freaks?!”, Kris complained, arms outstretched to the sky.
She sighed as she laid her head on her hands.
“Let’s face it: This day has been a total disaster! I couldn’t find a single friend, the few shreds of happiness I had left were somehow shattered even more, I’ve wasted nearly an entire day of my life, and I’m still only getting CARROT STICKS!”, she shouted out that last part, aggressively biting a carrot stick.
“I mean seriously! How many fast food joints are going to do that to me?!”
She sighed again, feeling nothing but disappointment and depression.
Utter loneliness filled her soul as she felt like crying again.
“If only Sara hadn’t abandoned me. If only Faria would have never come to town. If only…”
She felt so tired, so exhausted, like she couldn’t move or think.
She just wanted to wallow in her sadness, and hope that it passes… Someday.
But as she drifted in the ocean of melancholy, Kris had a terrible feeling that it would never end.
Her voyage of loneliness would go on forever.
And the worst part?
She probably deserved it.
A tear nearly trickled down, but it stopped the moment Wally put his hand on Kris’ shoulder.
“I’m sorry, Kris. I’m sorry you had to go through that. And I’m sorry I couldn’t help.”
Pan out to reveal Wally dressed up like Sara.
“I mean, even my Sara costume didn’t help!”
“It’s scarily accurate. We should probably have a conversation about that once I can muster human communication.”
“Like, sometimes it feels like it’s all one giant cosmic joke! Is this all supposed to teach me something?”, she complained, her arms wide with annoyance.
She crossed her arms again. “If it is, please hurry it up! I don’t know if I can take any more suffering!”
Kris then took a deep breath. “Then again, maybe I shouldn’t be so angry. Maybe things will brighten up! The Doctor always says to stay hopeful!”
Kris’ mood brightened as she thought of her hero. He would not give up! He would wage through the storm, and by the end, everything will be ok!
Kris smiled softly, as she decided that it will all be ok.
“That’s the spirit, Kris!”, Wally said, happy that his friend was happy.
“Exactly! I mean, I bet you that something good will happen right now!”, Kris said, a finger up in the air and a determined smile on her face.
“Kris!”, Sara called, she and Faria making their way to Kris’ table, clearly distraught and clearly tired from rushing about everywhere.
Kris sighed, her storm of anger, sadness and disappointment stronger than ever now. “Me and my big frickin’ mouth…”
“It’s not that big. I think it’s just the right size!”, Wally complimented.
“Not helping!”, Kris snapped as she kept her back turned to Sara.
She didn’t want to look at Sara!
Especially because she might just cry at the sight of her beloved friend…
Kris’ heart hurt as Sara began to talk. Did she really deserve this?
Was she really that bad?
She was starting to think that she was.
Why did she even exist?
Kris let out an inaudible sigh as Sara approached.
“Kris… I’ve been… Looking… All over for you…”, Sara panted as she and Faria finally arrived at Kris’ table.
While Wally managed a small wave and a frightened smile, Kris had her back turned, hunched up, almost like she was trying to close off the rest of the world.
Maybe now she’d be safe.
“Really? Doubtful…”, Kris muttered, resent and confusion quivering in her voice as she answered Sara.
Sara looked at Kris with sympathetic, apologetic eyes. “Kris… Faria didn’t do anything… And… I’m not sure what I did… But I’m sorry…”
Kris didn’t budge.
She tightened her eyes, hoping the nightmare would end.
Surely, that’s what it was.
Why else would she suffer so much?
Unless this was really what she was meant for.
In that case…
She didn’t know what to do.
Faria and Wally both looked concerned as Sara put a comforting arm around Kris’ shoulder.
“Kris, I… Please, tell me what’s wrong, and I’ll help… I’m your friend, after all…”
Kris knocked the arm away.
“Woah!”, Sara said, shocked at this gesture.
“Kris, don’t…”, Wally began, but it was too late.
“Friend? Yeah, you’re my friend.”, Kris glared at Sara.
She stood up, clearly furious. “If you were my friend, you wouldn’t just… Abandon me for another friend.”
Sara protested. “That’s not what I did…”
“Yeah… Right.”, Kris answered, eyes stinging.
She took a deep breath. “I’ve… I’ve really tried… To be better… And it wasn’t enough. You… You clearly want someone else.”
She began to leave. “And honestly… I don’t blame you. Clearly… Clearly I’m just…”
She sighed. “I’m just so bad… That I don’t deserve you.”
She turned her back to Sara, pain and anguish in her eyes.
“I need you. But… You don’t need me. I guess… I guess I should have realized that by now. I’m… I’m never going to be good enough.”
She began to leave, Sara not knowing what to say.
Kris couldn’t bare to look at Sara.
She could barely look at herself.
“Thanks… For putting up with me.”
And with that, Kris made her way, leaving a distraught Sara, Faria and Wally.
Kris’ resolve strengthened as she left. Clearly… Clearly this is what she deserved.
She had never deserved friendship. Or love. Or care.
She was doomed to suffer forever.
Kris’ legs moved, her mouth stayed silent, her eyes stayed dry, and her heart and soul cried as she trudged through the rain, alone forever.
“…So yeah. That’s… That’s what happened.”, Kris said, as the tears flowing down her cheek matched the rain drops streaking down the window pane of her Dad’s Chinese place down at Easy Street.
She looked down, the tears now dropping off her nose.
“I guess… I guess I deserve it. I mean… Who could ever love… Someone like me?”
The man in front of her looked confused as she handed him his Egg fried Rice.
“…I mean, that’s sad, but I have no idea who all these people are, and I don’t know how much I can help. Maybe a tip?”, he asked, his hand in his pocket.
Kris’ ears buzzed and she turned bright red.
“Oh, I’m sorry! I was only existing here! I’m not just here to serve you!”, she shouted, getting emotional.
The man began to back off. “I think I’ll just take my rice and… Go.”
Kris shook her fist at him as he threw a wad of cash and ran off. “Yeah, you better run!”
She crossed her arms. “What the fruitcake? I mean, the nerve of some people! You tell them a significant life event, and they can’t relate because they don’t know you!”
She huffed and pouted again, but it didn’t last long.
She turned to see her Dad’s head poke out of the kitchen door.
His ears may not have caught all of it, but his eyes radiated the comfort, warmth and safety that they always did.
Kris almost wanted to run into his arms, but she refused.
“What, Dad? I didn’t mean to scare him off, just…”
Kris couldn’t finish, her mouth felt like it had cement in it.
Gary walked up to her, flour and tariaki all over his apron.
Kris couldn’t help but smile. How did Mom fall for this goof?
Gary put his arm on her shoulder, and she melted a little bit.
“I couldn’t help but… Overhear.”
Kris got a little shy. “Was I so loud?”
Gary chuckled warmly, and somehow Kris almost felt like it would all be all right.
“Gumdrop, I think the Gutermans down the road heard! And without their hearing aids.”, he joked, but then he saw that Kris was truly sad.
“I’m sorry…”, she started, tearing up. “I… I didn’t mean…”
“Great…”, she muttered under her breath, but not quietly enough. “Another mistake…”
Gary smiled sympathetically.
“I need to take 5 anyway. No one else is coming.”
He took her inside to the kitchen and closed the door.
Gary’s cooking area was not too unique: White walls, white floors, a sink full of dirty dishes (Gary only disliked one thing: Washing them), a counter full of food, and pots, pans and bowls at his command.
Lian may rule the house, but Gary ruled the kitchen, and he was proud of his domain.
He was especially proud of one area…
“Gumdrop, can you help me?”, he asked, calmly, and softly, like a warm breeze that said “It’s going to be ok”.
“Sure…”, Kris said, though she didn’t really want to.
She could never say no to him.
Gary took out some of his oldest kitchen tools, which he kept in a special area in the room, one where they would never be used.
He spread them on the table, gently, delicately, so that they would not get hurt.
“How could anyone’s arms be so gentle?”, Kris thought.
They looked like tree trunks at times, yet…
How soft they were in their touch.
“Kris…”, Gary asked, looking at his daughter. “Do you mind dusting these while I… Ask you something?”
Kris sighed. She knew where this was going.
“Dad, I’m fine. Ok? Just… Stuff.”
Gary smiled. “Stuff? Sounds specific. Yet…”
He shook his head slightly. “I get the feeling… That something is wrong. You know you can tell me.”
Kris took a deep breath.
She was a grown woman.
“Don’t worry, Kris…”
Sara’s voice echoed, and Kris’ vision blurred.
“I’ll never hurt you…”
And just like that…
Kris burst into tears.
Gary said nothing.
He just held her.
“Shh…”, he said, silently, like a whisper.
Like a promise in the dark.
“It’s ok… Let it all out.”
Kris’ face got red, her eyes puffy, as the tears streamed down.
“I lost Sara…”
Gary rubbed her hair.
He didn’t doubt.
He just asked.
Kris breathed heavily.
Gary knelt down.
Wasn’t he usually so big?
She was still trying to measure up to him.
“Gumdrop… Count to ten…”
Counting to ten.
He always said that.
When she was sad.
It was worth a shot.
Kris took a deep breath…
And she counted.
She half hiccupped half coughed, as her body shook.
“Keep going…”, he encouraged, his smile a beacon for her heart.
He also whispered the numbers.
Kris didn’t know why but…
It always made it a little easier…
He was with her on this journey.
Kris sniffled, and tried again.
“…3… 4… 5…”
She almost sneezed.
Gary took his apron off and covered her.
Kris nodded, her head buried in his warm chest.
“…6… 7… 8… 9…”
She took a deep breath.
“…10…”, they said, together.
She smiled a small, sad smile.
Kris nodded, wordless.
Gary smiled softly.
“Now… How did you lose Sara?”
“Well, Stuart said that my friend would leave me, and I was sure he was wrong, but then… There’s this new girl… Faria… And… She’s nice, I guess?”
She felt his heartbeat.
It was a little irregular.
Hopefully he’ll be fine.
“And?”, he asked, listening attentively.
Could she ever be like him?
“…Well… Sara… Started hanging out with her… And they got off great…”
A little edge entered her voice.
It still hurt.
What had she done…
That was so bad?
She shook for a moment, as her hurt feelings resurfaced.
She took another deep breath.
“And… It’s like… She doesn’t want to be my friend. Just because…”
More tears streamed down, and Kris let out a small sob.
“Because Faria’s better than me.”
Could she deny it?
“It’s not fair.”
Gary nodded. “It isn’t… If that’s the case.”
Kris looked up, unsure.
“Dad, Sara doesn’t want to be my friend. It’s ok… I get it.”
Gary looked her in the eye.
“Kris… Gumdrop… Sara’s been there for you… Even more than me.”
Kris shook her head.
“I doubt anyone could do that.”, she said, grinning for a moment.
Gary chuckled. “Well, she’s giving me a good run for my money.”
His hand rubbed her shoulder.
“But Gumdrop… You and I know… That’s not what’s going on.”
Then what was it?
“Dad… Then why? Is it…”
She sobbed again.
He held her tight.
“Spit it out. I won’t judge.”
Went down his cheek.
“I’d never judge you… My treasure…”
Kris pulled away, surprising him.
“Don’t call me that… I haven’t earned it… Apparently!”
Gary looked hurt for a second, and then he tried again.
Kris tried not to…
But she began to bawl…
As all the pain let loose.
“I’ve tried… SO hard… For the last 3 weeks, I’ve tried.”
She turned to him…
Lost… And confused.
“I tried to be good… To be selfless… And nice… And not bossy.”
She went to her knees…
The tears not stopping for a moment.
“And yet… Apparently… That meant nothing.”
She sighed remorsely.
“I guess… I’m still a villain.”
Gary hugged her tightly, out of nowhere, surprising her.
“Gumdrop… You have improved.”
Hearing those words meant everything to Kris.
Maybe it wasn’t all so bad.
“But…”, Gary suddenly said. “There are still things to improve.”
Kris was dumfounded, and she stared up at him, shocked.
“Dad? But… I’ve tried so hard! How can that be?”
Gary wiped away her tears, softly and gently.
“Kris… No one’s perfect.”
She looked down, deciding…
To listen this time.
“You have improved. Really. And I’m proud.”, he said, smiling.
He then caressed her hair.
“But… That doesn’t mean… You don’t have more improvements to make. We all make mistakes. All of us.”
Kris’ voice got very small.
Like she was a little girl again.
Gary laughed heartily, and nodded.
Kris smiled softly.
Maybe he was right.
“But…”, she reverted. “I… I’ve tried so hard. Am I… Am I just going to… Make mistakes over and over?”
She uttered the scary question with a whimper.
“Will I… Will I ever succeed?”
“I know… It’s hard. You just… Want to be better.”
He stood up.
“And it will take time. But don’t be hard on yourself. You are already better. And one day…”
He stood her up.
“You’ll be… The hero of your own story.”
Kris wasn’t sure at first…
But she saw…
Maybe that’s how it was.
It took time…
Perhaps this was life.
She didn’t have to be perfect…
As long as she kept trying.
Kris chinned up.
She wanted to.
She wanted to be better.
She wanted to be…
The hero of her own story.
She smiled through her tears, her glasses fogged up.
“I… I see now. I promise Dad… I’ll keep trying.”
Gary kissed her forehead.
“That’s all I ask.”
Kris hugged him tightly.
“So… What do I do with Sara?”
Gary put his hand under her chin.
“Well… Do you understand now that you make mistakes?”
“So…”, Gary continued. “Sara is allowed to have more than one friend, right?”
Kris thought. “I guess.”
Gary raised an eyebrow.
Kris rolled her eyes humorously.
“Ok, ok. I guess…”
She sighed, feeling ashamed.
“Wow. I just… I just acted like a jerk. Sara never said that about me and Wally.”
She began to catch on.
“And Wally never said that about me and Sara.”
Kris felt really bad now.
“I can’t believe this! If I hadn’t… Faria did nothing wrong! And neither did Sara! I could easily still have her! And I…”
“I threw it all away.”
“Remember what we said?”
Kris looked up at her father.
He was right…
“It’s not too late! I made a mistake… But I can still fix it! I can still be the hero!”
Kris jumped up excitedly, happier than she had been in ages.
“I’ve got to go and apologize!”
She started towards the door.
“I’m getting my best friend back!”
But she suddenly stopped and turned around, spotting her father looking at the utensils.
Could she really just leave him after he asked for her help?
“Dad…”, Kris asked, a little sheepish. “What did you want me to do?”
Gary waved his arm.
“Go. I’m fine. Go back to your friend.”
He smiled that winning smile, and Kris smiled back.
“Thanks Dad… For everything.”, Kris said, showing a rare, but charming politeness.
She really was getting better.
Kris ran off, and Gary took the utensils back, carefully putting each one back in its place.
He approached a picture of Kris’ he had on one of the walls.
“Oh, my darling girl…”
He sighed fondly.
“You’ll reach the stars one day. I know you will.”
As Kris ran down the road to Sara’s house, hoping against hope that she was there, her heart beat thunderously.
Her boots splashed in the puddles, making her yellow raincoat dirty, but she didn’t mind.
A wide smile was on her face.
She would make things right.
She would keep trying.
Past shrubs and cars…
Past a familiar bar with an oddly familiar voice, tired and lonely…
Past lamp posts and graffiti…
Onto Druid Drive…
And in front of a familiar door…
“Please be there, please be there…”, Kris crossed her fingers as she reached for her key to the house.
She found it in her bag after discarding another bag of her mom’s “cooking”.
Unlocking the door, Kris slowly entered, the creak emitted by her arrival odd and loud.
She wondered at first if no one was home…
But as she looked at the couch…
Sara, Faria and Wally, all sitting on the couch, doing nothing and looking upset, looked up at the unexpected guest.
Kris almost wanted to look down, but she knew…
She had to forgive herself and apologize to Sara and Faria.
Before it was too late.
The moon began to rise as Kris tentatively entered the household, wiping her feet on the mat.
She gazed upon the couch, and for a moment, feared the result of her arrival.
“…Sara, Faria, I…”
Sara interrupted her.
“Wait, Kris… I’m sorry that I made you feel that way.”
Kris paused, surprised.
Sara got up, looking ashamed.
She held her right arm, filled with guilt.
“I don’t know what I did… But I… I always want to be your friend.”
She hugged Kris, who was still digesting this.
“I’m sorry… I didn’t mean to hurt you… To break my promise.”
Sara sniffled, but Kris pulled out.
Sara looked surprised, but Kris cut in in time.
“No. I’m sorry.”
Kris looked like she was about to break down again, but she buckled up and raised her courage.
“I’m sorry. I was… Selfish, and… Possessive.”
Kris sighed and looked at Sara with guilty eyes.
“I judged Faria before I got to know her… I didn’t let you have other friends… And…”
Kris’ lip trembled. “I’m sorry. I really am. It’s just…”
Kris fell onto Sara, who held her up.
“I just thought that you didn’t notice… How hard I was trying to improve… To not shout… Or be bossy… Or be mean…”
She sobbed, her tears making Sara’s shoulder wet.
“But… I was.”
Sara closed her eyes.
“Oh, Kris, it’s ok. I forgive you. I know you’re trying. Maybe I didn’t show it.”
Kris looked at her and smiled.
“I talked to my Dad… I get it now. I’m still going to make mistakes.”
She smiled determinedly now. “But I promise… I’ll keep trying. I’ll be a better friend.”
Sara smiled. “I know you will. I believe in you… Friend.”
Kris grinned, almost laughing from happiness. “Thanks… Friend.”
The two girls hugged, their love tight and warm.
They parted, and Faria slowly got up.
“For what it’s worth… I’m sorry too.”
Kris stopped smiling and she went over to Faria. “Oh, Faria, I almost forgot: I am so sorry. I judged you, just like others judge me. I shouldn’t have. I’m sorry.”
Faria nodded, understanding and patient. “Water under the bridge. We’re cool.”
Kris smiled. “Great.”
Kris then extended her hand. “How about… We try again? I’m Kris.”
Faria grinned and extended her hand.
They shook hands.
“So, you like what?”
Faria blinked in confusion.
“What fandom? You said you had one and I… I never found out.”
Faria laughed. “Ok! Um… I love Galactic Odyssey.”
“Never heard of it…”, Kris started, but then she said something she never really said…
“…But I can try.”
Sara and Wally looked at each other happily.
She really was improving.
Kris smiled to herself.
“…I’m not giving up… Doctor.”
She closed her eyes.
“I’ll keep trying.”
Post Credit Scene:
“So, you coming up?”, Kris asked as she went up the steps she had gone up a thousand times.
“Yep! I just need to choose: Orange Soda or Beast?”, Wally answered as he opened the fridge door he had opened a thousand times.
“If I know you, you’ll probably pick both.”, Kris joked, rolling her eyes as she neared his room for what must have been the thousandth time.
“You know what? I’ll take both!”, Wally chose that option for what must have been the thousandth time.
Kris laughed and opened the door.
With all the changes recently, it was nice to have something familiar, like Wally.
They had been friends since kindergarten, and they were practically inseparable.
They had gone to Dr. Zone conventions.
They had gone to slumber parties.
They had done absolutely nothing together.
And she wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.
“What a guy, that Wally!”, she thought as she surveyed the room.
A fun filled day of Dr. Zone binging and board games.
Kris was in paradise.
“Everything’s coming up Kris!”, she cheered, a cute smile on her face.
“Now, to get the board games!”, she decided, and she opened the closet door.
By now, Kris had done it a thousand times, so she felt comfortable closing her eyes.
Nothing could surprise her, after all!
She had done this so many times, there was no way she’d…
Open the wrong closet.
“Now, where to begi…”, Kris began, but she stopped.
Her eyes saw it.
But she couldn’t believe it.
No. Frickin’. Way.
In front of her…
Was a giant shrine in her name.
There were pictures of all her happy moments…
Pictures of her smiling, pictures of her in cosplay, pictures of her playing guitar.
There were inscriptions of her name, a Kris mask, and most of all, a giant, towering statue of her, perfectly carved in marble.
The main picture was of her laughing, and it was surrounded by a heart.
And in the heart, it said…
“Kris x Wally?”, she mouthed, but she didn’t even begin to comprehend it.
Wally entered the room, not noticing the event.
“So, what do you want to do first?”
Kris couldn’t even look at him.
After what felt like an eternity of confusion, Kris, who had apparently not seen it all, could only say one thing.
“What… The… Fruitcake?”
Coming Soon (but in a long time):
Kris 3: Love At Late Sight!