Thank You, Ben
May looked up at her teacher innocently. Her teacher scowled with a glare for an extra feature on her face.
"I do not encourage misbehavior in my classroom," she said sternly. Her angry stare at May didn't make May uncomfortable one bit. She just smiled. "I will have to send you out of my room if you don't start behaving, young lady."
May sighed. "Then I guess I'll go into the hallway," she replied sourly. She scurried out of her seat, her teacher opening her mouth to say something, but didn't. May walked sluggishly out of the door of her classroom into the hallway, her classmates staring at her on her way out as if she was an animal on display at the zoo.
May was a young blue Usul, who, if you hadn't already noticed, got into mischief and havoc a lot. At home, at school, or simply anywhere, May seemed to favour destruction made by her pretty well.
May slumped onto the dirty ground of the school's hallway angrily. This was the fifth time she had gotten sent into the hallway this week. And it was Wednesday. Her friends would've said that it was a new record in Neoschool. Except that May had lost her friends by pulling too many pranks on them, teasing them, or taking her anger that she often had out on them. One by one, her friends disappeared and faded away from her life until she had none left.
May didn't want to admit it but she missed her friends dearly. Her anger started building up in great amounts after she had lost them until finally she was considered the worst misbehaving student in her Neoschool. It wasn't that she was a bad Neopet or anything; she used to be a good-natured Usul who loved picking flowers and tucking them behind her furry, golden ears.
But that was a long time ago. One day she was a kind, loving Usul who didn't want to hurt anyone, but unexpectantly, the next day, she was an ill-tempered Usul who liked to cause destruction and liked to put Neopians in harm's way.
Her mother wasn't pleased when this had happened. She kept May home from school for many days thinking it was just a bad illness. But day after day, May hadn't returned to her good ways, and her mother had to accept the new May even if she didn't want to.
Yes, that was about three years ago. She was seven when she was a good little Neopet. And she was almost eight when she turned into an angry blue Usul. May had tried desperatetly to become good again, she really did, but that simply was not good enough. She became more vicious and angrier with each coming day. She couldn't help it or control it; it was just who she came to be.
She didn't have a reason to be angry or harmful. May was just that way. In her classroom that she had just came out of May could hear her teacher talking about math equations to the other students in there. May sighed. The floor she was on was dusty and cold. May could feel the dirt clinging onto her blue and yellow fur, and the coldness on her skin, but she still didn't get up.
May knew Usuls were supposed to be good and nice and loving, but she was not. Instead she was naughty, unkind, and hateful. And she couldn't help but be who she really was inside of her heart.
May looked up from her knees when she heard footsteps echoing near her. It was Mr. Greenback, the principal of the school. The green Tonu's harsh gaze at May made May feel guilty, but she didn't know why.
"Hello, May," he greeted her gruffly. "Get off of the floor; you're going to get all dirty and such."
"What if I don't care?" responded May huffily. "My mother won't care about it either."
"Well," Mr. Greenback said angrily, "I do. Stop with all this nonsense, May. Get up now!" His eyes were wild and blood-shot.
Is he all worked up because of me? May wondered. She didn't like that thought one bit so she jumped up onto her small feet after about three seconds. Mr. Greenback nodded in approval.
"I hear you had to be removed from Ms. Letherstein's room," Mr. Greenback grumbled. "Is this true, May?"
May nodded and pushed a clump of loose fur out of her violet eyes. "Yes it is, Mr. Greenback," May answered monotonously.
"And why is that?" Mr. Greenback said in a bored tone. He probably had better things to do to stand in an almost empty hallway talking to a mischief-maker.
"I spit a spitball at Mary Jane Walker, a brown Uni, who's in the front row, second seat of Ms. Letherstein's classroom, my classroom, because I had nothing better to do," May replied.
"What a nice, long explanation," Mr. Greenback said approvingly. "You remembered our last chat we had last time we saw each other, I assume?" he asked. May nodded, and Mr. Greenback suddenly rose an eyebrow and said, "Why did you feel the need to spit little papers full of saliva at Mary Jane and not to learn and listen to your teacher instead of doing that?"
May shrugged. Mr. Greenback shook his head.
"You will never learn to be a nice little blue Usul like you're supposed to be, will you, May?" he questioned. May looked up at her principal's solemn, wrinkled face. His horn was white and spotless. May looked down at her knees again.
"I try, Mr. Greenback, sir," she said wistfully. "I try."
"Do you try your best?" Mr. Greenback peered down at May from his half-moon spectacles he had on that were covering his golden-yellow eyes.
"Yes, sir," May replied. "I try my hardest."
"Looks like your hardest isn't enough." Mr. Greenback sighed. "I would normally bring you back to my office right now, but I think it wiser to leave you here to think about what you should do to improve your ill-tempered behavier." And he walked away from May and down the hallway toward his office, his footsteps thump, thump, thumping along the way.
May sighed. She had been doing that a lot lately.
"Am I really a bad Neopet," May said to herself, "if I don't try to be but still am? Why won't anyone answer my questions?" She said her last sentence aloud for anyone who was near to hear her.
"What kind of questions do you have?" a gentle voice asked her. May looked up to see a red Gelert hanging over her like he was her shadow.
"Who are you?" inquired May a little too rudely.
The Gelert just chuckled as if May was the most charming Neopet he had met in ages. "I'm the school's janitor," he answered. "But, please, if you may, call me Ben."
"Okay then, Ben." May had said Ben a little too forcefully in her sentence, but she didn't care all that much if she was harsh to the school's janitor. "Why are you so eager to learn about my questions?"
"You're May, am I right?" Ben asked, ignoring May's last comment.
"How do you know that?" questioned May suspiciously. Why is this nut-job old fool interviewing me? she wondered to herself.
"Everyone knows the most misbehaving student in their own school." Ben chuckled. May didn't trust this guy; not one little bit.
"Don't call me that," whispered May angrily. "I am not a bad student!"
"When did I say that?" Ben looked at May and laughed. "You don't need to be so angry, May. You know, when I was about your age, I was just like you."
May looked at Ben, cocking her head to her left. "You were?" she asked eagerly. "I mean..." May was never that excited about a stranger in her life after she turned into a 'bad Usul'.
"I was." Ben nodded and smiled. "I was a bad red Gelert, at least that's what Neopians said about me, in my youth. I spit spitballs--" here May blushed-- "and played pranks, tricks; I teased younger Neopets and my friends, I took my anger out on everyone..." May couldn't believe what she was hearing. It sounded like her!
"What was really peculiar," Ben went on, "was that I used to be the best Gelert my mother had ever seen and raised her entire life until I turned seven."
May's eyes lit up excitedly. "That sounds like me," she breathed. Ben nodded.
"So I've heard," he said. "I've been trying to meet you my whole time at Neoschool as a janitor when I heard about you. You sounded just like me! I wanted to help you. So," he said with a toothy grin, "here I am."
"How," May said, "will you help me? There's no helping me. I've already got all the help I could ever want, but I never turned into a nice, kind Usul ever again."
"I can help you," Ben said softly, "and I will help you." He fished out a small red keychain out of his baggy jean's pocket and handed it to her. "This is what cured me." He nodded. "I want you to have it."
"But that's just a toy," complained May. "That old thing will never help me!" Her usual anger filled up inside of her. It bubbled over in her insides and she felt like screaming at the red Gelert.
"It's not just a toy," Ben said kindly. May felt her anger dissolving inside of her. "It helps. Take it," he urged.
May sighed and took the toy out of Ben's paws. She trusted him a little now. She turned it over in her hand. On the other side of it, it said, 'TRY.'
"Try," she murmured to herself. "Try." She felt herself calming down. It felt extraordinary to be calm. The ice around her heart melted. She smiled widely. "Try!"
She held the keychain tight. "Ben," she said, "thank you so much! I'm not angry anymore! I feel great!" She looked up but Ben wasn't there. She looked around. "Ben?" Se felt upset that Ben had just left her, but she then smiled.
"Thank you, Ben," she whispered.
She walked inside of her classroom with a wide smile. Her classmates were already lining up for lunch. When she came in everything went quiet. Mary Jane Walker, who was in the middle of the line of students, stuck out her tongue at May. May's teacher walked over to her and looked at her cautiously as if she was a dangerous chemical that could kill her.
"Are you done misbehaving?" she asked after a while's worth of silence.
"Yes," May said, smiling, "I am."
And from outside of the classroom a Gelert heard this, and he grinned, a mop held gently in his red paws.