Jenara jogged across her lawn toward the street. There were always neighbors out and about. Someone would share her veggie burgers. She was certain.
Sure enough as she rounded the house, she spotted Don Lothario running along the sidewalk.
“Don!” she called out. “Hey Don!”
The man was in his own little world, listening to whatever melodies and harmonies streamed through his headphones. Jenara tried waving, but by that point, he was already past her view.
“Oh well,” she sighed.
Jenara started down the street, whistling a happy little tune, something she heard on the television program she watched yesterday. The sun hadn’t fully risen yet, a sort-of fuzzy unripe peach in the morning sky, but cast a lovely rosy-orange glow all around. She spotted Sandra Roth crossing the street, and started to call after her, but the girl kept her head slumped and ignored Jenara.
I wonder what her deal is. She seems pretty goth and depressed all the time, Jenara observed.
“Oh, Vito!” she exclaimed, seeing the green-skinned man continue down the sidewalk behind her. “How have you been, my friend?”
“We’re not friends,” he replied, gruffly.
“Oh but I thought we could be,” she said cheerily. “It’s such a beautiful morning. I made some veggie bur…”
“Butt out, pep squad,” he growled. “And stay away from my wife. She’s already happy enough without your influence.”
With that, Vito Terrano turned and stomped down the road, leaving a confused, and somewhat sad Jenara. Why don’t people like me? she wondered, with dismay. Was she too bubbly and bright and cheery? But wasn’t that the way to make friends?
Jenara remembered a word of advice from her aunt, Ana Nova. Once Jenara came home from school with skinned knees and a bruised ego. Her “friends” had made fun of her in front of the boy she liked, and Jenara had been so crushed she wasn’t paying attention and rode her bicycle into a bush. The girls from school laughed and didn’t help her. They called her stupid and said only a loser would crash into a bush on their bike. She had been so humiliated. She cried and said she never wanted to go to school again, and it was the end of the world. Her auntie had set her on the counter, and gave her a spoonful of her favorite dark cherry ice cream.
“Did you know that if you cut a tulip, it will continue to grow up to an inch in a vase?” Ana Nova had said.
Jenara recalled giving her aunt a puzzled look.
“Sometimes people will say things that are cruel and they cut you to your core,” Ana Nova continued. “But like the cut on a tulip stem, it doesn’t mean the end of life. You can grow stronger and taller from adversity. You know this word, right?”
Jenara bobbed her head, the spoon dangling from her mouth.
“There are people in the world who do cruel things, but don’t ever stop being the lovely red tulip, my sweet sun blossom,” Ana Nova kissed Jenara’s hair. “You will find growth in the healing.”
With newfound purpose, Jenara decided to walk further down the road and visit the park. Perhaps she would find friends there, and someone to share her veggie burgers.
Sure enough she met Gar. He wasn’t in his PlantSim form, and she thought he looked handsome in his jean jacket, neatly pressed khakis, and baseball cap. He was even wearing her favorite color shirt.
“What do you say about professional cows?” he asked.
“Um?” she frowned, thinking hard.
“They are outstanding in their field!” he joked.
Jenara covered her stomach as she laughed. “Oh that’s cheesy. Wait… I have one… why do cows have hooves instead of feet?” She grinned broadly. “Because they lactose.”
Gar doubled over, laughing hysterically. “You’re funny, Jenara Yearling.”
“Do you like veggie burgers?” she blurted out, and then blushed, feeling uncomfortable about her over-enthusiasm. “I mean… I made some… back at my house… they’re just sitting there… all alone…and I could some help eating them. I know they’re not exactly a traditional breakfast…”
“Oh I like veggie burgers,” Gar bobbed his head.
“Good,” Jenara grinned. “You wanna come?” she nodded in the direction of her house, and Gar fell into step. “Say, Gar?”
“Would you like to be my friend?”
Gar took off his cap and placed his arm over his chest. “It would be my honor, Jenara.”
It is my goal to start updating this story on Wednesdays around midnight MST.
Previous Chapter: 1.11 Veggie Burgers