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Skyla screamed as quiet as she could as she raced down the stairs so she could text her friends that she was allowed to go to a Jonas Brothers concert at Madison Square Garden next Friday night, without her parents.
Mali, Skyla’s favorite stuffed animal, stood in the doorway, as she shut the door of her parents’ bedroom, but Skyla was too excited to notice Mali. Mali walked back into Skyla’s room, amazed that Skyla’s way-too-strict parents would let 11-year-old Skyla go to the concert. Of course, Mali agreed with them, she should go to the concert, but still, she was just shocked.
The door slammed and Mali fell back onto her place on Skyla’s bed. “Isn’t this the best thing ever Mali?! I’ve wanted to go to this concert forever! Kayla, Lyla, and Maddy were so excited when I told them.” Skyla ranted. She pushed her brown hair out of her blue eyes and smiled.
She hadn’t wanted to go to the concert forever. She had only heard about it a few weeks ago. Skyla picked up Mali’s monkey arms and waved them around, and then kissed Mali’s nose.
Skyla’s dad, Ty, came in, and on their way out of the room, she asked him, “Do you remember why I named Mali Mali? I don’t remember.” Even though Skyla didn’t remember, Mali did. She remembered everything, especially about the day Skyla’s Grandma Jolie got her for Skyla.
Skyla’s grandma, Jolie, decided that her granddaughter’s first toy had to be from her. So…she went to West Side Kids and bought Mali for her. Later, when she was around two, after never leaving Mali basically since she was born, Skyla started calling her mom Mali, because she couldn’t say Mommy. She started calling everyone Mali, but the name didn’t stick for anyone besides Mali.
Mali heard the front door of the apartment shut, because Ty took Skyla to swim, and Rachel took Skyla’s eight-almost-nine-year-old brother, Lucas, to a playdate.
Mali got up from her spot on Skyla’s bed and paced around the room. Mali knew all of Skyla’s thoughts, not because she could read Skyla’s mind, but because Skyla used to tell Mali everything, and even though she doesn’t anymore, Mali reads Skyla’s diary. It’s not invading Skyla’s privacy, because Mali knows she needs to look out for Skyla, and since in Skyla’s opinion, 11 is too old for telling her favorite stuffed animal everything, Mali reads her diary to know what is going on in Skyla’s life.
Mali paused her pacing and decided to read another passage from Skyla’s diary. She pulled the blue, sparkly diary from under Skyla’s dresser. She turned to the last full page.
What’s up. I miss camp, and I miss Sammy.
Every day, Skyla named her diary after Anne Frank’s diary. Sammy is Skyla’s best friend from camp. Skyla goes to a sleepaway camp in Massachusetts, called Camp Amethyst. She loves it there.
Emily is still annoying, but she is less mean as she was last semester. I guess winter break did her good.
Emily is Skyla’s enemy. Mali thought they still hated each other. It wasn’t that Mali wished that they still hated each other, it was that she wished nothing had changed, but Mali knew she couldn’t stop the two from liking each other.
Kayla and Maddy are not talking to each other because Maddy invited me and Lyla to go get ice cream but not Kayla because Kayla said that Maddy was a jerk to Shaan, Maddy’s crush, because Maddy, told Kayla’s crush Max, that she had a crush on him, and then Max told a ton of people, so they are both very mad at each other. Lyla’s parents are getting divorced, and she only told me, not Maddy or Kayla because she thinks Kayla is mean and that Maddy is not trustworthy. I am 100% in the middle of my friends’ problems, and I don’t know what to do.
Wow. Mali thought. Skyla really needed help. Kayla’s problems Mali couldn’t help with, but maybe she could help Maddy and Lyla. Mali was friends with Maddy and Lyla’s favorite stuffed animals, Benji the bunny (Lyla’s), and Lucy the leopard (Maddy’s). When the three girls were little, the six of them (Lyla, Maddy, Lucy, Benji, Skyla, and Mali) would have playdates and sleepovers. Kayla only moved to the upper west side of Manhattan two years ago, and Mali knew that she was very much against stuffed animals of any kind.
Mali ran as fast as her monkey legs could carry her across the apartment and into the hallway. Mali crept into the elevator and pressed the button for 22 first. That is where Lyla and Benji live, but Lyla went swimming with Skyla, so she would not be home. It was possible that her older brother Justin would be home, but he would just stay in his room. Lyla’s parents would be at work. It was also possible that Lyla’s babysitter Louise would be home with her younger sister Sophie, but maybe not.
Mali climbed up to the door of Lyla’s apartment and pushed the door open with all of Mali’s strength. Mali tiptoed to Lyla’s bedroom. The walls were light pink, with pictures of Lyla, Skyla, and Maddy, pictures of Lyla, Justin, Sophie, and their parents, and pictures of Lyla with her cousins on the walls. She had a twin bed with flower print sheets and matching comforter. She had a white desk with papers in neat piles on both sides of a computer in the middle. All of her stuffed animals were on the foot of her bed.
“Benji! Hey! It’s me, Mali,” Mali whispered so no one would hear if someone was home.
“Mali! It’s okay. Justin’s out with friends, the ‘rents are at work, and Ly is wit Sky yo! Louise and Sophie are at da park!” Benji exclaimed excitedly.
“Great. Benji. Do you read Lyla’s diary?” Mali got straight to the point, so she could leave before someone got home.
“No. I don’t know if she even got a diary,” Benji said.
“Well, let’s look, because she doesn’t talk to you anymore, so to look out for her, you need to know about her life!!!!!” Mali said, frustrated and exasperated with Benji.
“Okay. Cool, cool. I’ll look, and you go get Lucy and bring her here,” Benji compromised.
So Mali ran back to the elevator and pressed the penthouse that Maddy lived in. Then, Mali grabbed Lucy, who grabbed Maddy’s diary, and they ran back to Lyla’s apartment.
“Did you find it?” Mali asked the second they found Benji.
“Yup.” He answered.
“So? Did you read it?”
“No, man, I was waiting for you man,” Benji said, and Lucy rolled her eyes.
“I’ve read all of Maddy’s entries except her last one. Let’s read it together,” Lucy said honestly. The three opened Maddy’s diary to the last entry and Lucy read it aloud.
Kayla is the worst friend I’ve ever had.
At this, Benji and Mali looked at Lucy, and she tilted the paper to show Benji and Mali she wasn’t lying. Maddy seemed a lot angrier than in Skyla’s diary.
She told Shaan, the love of my life, that I was a jerk! She is a jerk if you ask me. To get back at her, I told her crush, Max Rustle, that she had a crush on him and to tell all his friends. She isn’t speaking to me, and I’m not speaking to her either. That idiot. To think she could get away with it. Also, I AM GOING TO A JONAS BROTHERS CONCERT SOON! I am so excited, obviously. I hope Skyla can come, Lyla said she could come, which is good, but she is kind of a cry baby and a little annoying.
At this last part, Benji said, “Hey man,” and Lucy shrugged.
After reading Maddy’s, Mali read Skyla’s aloud, and both of Mali’s friends said that Skyla was pretty innocent in this. When Lyla’s diary was the last to read, Benji said he wanted Mali to read it out loud, so she did. They just read the last entry. Her words were colored pink.
Moo is Lyla’s dead cat.
Kayla and Maddy are fighting! It’s all because of crushes, and boys. Speaking of crushes, I think I might have a crush, but there is a problem about it. It’s on Emily, Skyla’s enemy. And I know, she’s a girl, but that’s okay with you, right? ‘Cause it’s okay with me.
Now, the three animals stared at each other. “This is not going to go over well with Skyla. The fact that it’s Emily. Not that she’s a girl.” Benji said. Mali nodded in agreement.
“Yeah, but what about her parents. They are not exactly open-minded people,” Lucy fidgeted with her fur. Mali and Benji shrugged, and Mali kept reading.
I’M GOING TO A CONCERT AT MADISON SQUARE GARDEN!!! I am so excited. It’s going to be great. Unfortunately, Mom and Dad are getting divorced. But I only told Skyla, because Kayla is mean, and Maddy is definitely not trustworthy. When I told her that Mom was pregnant with Sophie, and not to tell anyone, she told a ton of people! I know, that was two years ago, and people can change, but still. That’s it for now. Poor Sophie. She’s only two, and Mom and Dad are already getting divorced.
“Her ‘rents do fight a ton,” Benji admitted.
“I’m sorry, buddy,” Lucy patted the bunny’s back.
“Yeah, me too. Whatever we can do…” Mali trailed off.
“Thanks, guys, but I think we should first solve the ‘friends’ problem,” Benji said earnestly.
“Great. So what should we do? I don’t think we should do the sleep thing.” The sleep thing is where the animals whisper into their ears at night, and so their words are connected to the girls’ dreams, and they usually do what Mali, Benji, and Lucy ask them too.
“You are right Lucy, maybe we should try telling them we can talk and then really give them advice, or you could ask us for help!” Jay and Emilio, two of Lyla’s other favorite stuffed animals they usually include walked over and interrupted.
“Sorry we didn’t ask you, but I was in such a hurry…” Mali trailed off.
“It’s okay, honestly, we don’t have any ideas either.” Jay confessed.
“Thanks for not being mad,” Lucy said, relieved. Lucy was very sensitive.
“Anyways!! I don’t know what we should do!” Mali said, pacing around the room.
“Maybe we should try and get them stuck in a room together. Then they’ll have to make up,” Emilio suggested.
“That’s a great idea. But how?” Lucy wondered, as Mali heard a door slam and voices.
“Oh no! Everyone hide!” Mali said. She scrambled under a pile of dirty clothes. Jay and Emilio found their places on Lyla’s bed. Lucy hid in the closet, and Benji stayed where he was, where Lyla left him.
“Sophie, do you want to draw now? I think Mommy got you new markers,” Mali heard Louise ask.
“Yay! Let’s go,” Mali figured that they weren’t going to be in Lyla’s room anytime soon, so it was safe for them to huddle up again. They planned for thirty minutes before it was time for Mali and Lucy to head back to their apartments. Louise and Sophie had gone out for ice cream, so there wasn’t anyone home.
Later, when Mali got home, she started scribbling out a note addressed to Lyla, coping Skyla’s exact handwriting:
I’m so sorry about your parents, but don’t you think that Maddy and Kayla should be speaking to each other?? Remember when the four of us were best friends? I miss that, don’t you? I think we should try to get the group back together.
The stuffed animals had decided what to write together, and then Benji was also going to write the same thing in a letter to Skyla, but in Lyla’s handwriting. Hopefully, the two of them would be able to get the friends back together.
Mali watched from Skyla’s bed, smooshed between an elephant that was honestly very annoying, and a lion, that was sweet, but cowardly. Mali stared at Skyla and Lyla, who were yelling at each other in the middle of the room. The girls were home alone, but the door was still closed.
“So you’d rather hang out with Kayla and Maddy than me??” Lyla yelled.
“What? Of course not? Why would you think that? I thought you wanted us to all be friends again too!” Skyla asked in an indoor-voice.
“No. I don’t. Maybe Maddy, but not Kayla. She’s so mean.” Lyla snapped, crossing her arms.
“She’s not that bad.”
“She told Shaan that Maddy was a jerk!” Lyla screamed.
“But that’s just cause Kay felt left out. That was Maddy’s fault.”
“So you blame Maddy?”
“That’s not what I said! Okay. Can we start over?” Skyla asked, trying to stay patient. “Don’t you want it to be like how it used to be?”
“What do you mean?” Lyla wasn’t yelling anymore.
“Like, when the four of us were friends, and told each other everything?” Skyla took advantage of Lyla calming down. Lyla sighed. Mali looked at the lion sitting next to me. He gave me a look. I gave him a small smile.
“I don’t know. I’ve never really liked Kayla,” Lyla said, sitting down on one of Skyla’s beanbags.
“I don’t know. Maybe because I feel like she doesn’t really care about the rest of us. Just herself. Plus, I don’t think she would approve of Mali and Benji!” Lyla picked Mali up, and handed Mali to Sky like a peace offering. Sky took Mali.
“I’m sorry. Maybe we should cut her out. But first we have to talk to Maddy,” Sky said, and they left the room. As they left to reconcile with the friend Mali actually liked, Mali smiled. She and her friends had done their job.
Mali Benji Lucy
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