Nick's Very Bad First Day at School
In which Nick Walnut tries to adapt to Fells living and finds some bad luck... or is it?

Nick Walnut was readily adapting to life at the Fells in the short time that he and his best friend, Alphonse Sandeia the sandy cat, had been there from the western shore. He was the best at foraging and gathering, and he'd always done this with Alphonse. The cat was like a brother to the orphaned chipmunk.

The Fells was so full of new and exciting things- plants and fruits he'd never seen before, especially gourds, vegetables and other tasty things to try. The Babblebrook family had just built their general store- ice cream quickly became Nick's favorite.

But there were so many other Sylvanians in the Fells! And school was starting!

I'm not alone, Nick reminded himself as he scampered up into the loft in the great mountain's communal mountain. I know the Thistlethorns, Chestnuts, Babblebrooks and Corntops, the Marlowes, I sort of know the foxes' kids, the otters are sweet, there's the red panda girl, the skunks, the deer, the goat girl, Mina who's nice... But try as he did, Nick couldn't really remember which students did what. He'd learned beforehand from his teacher Mrs. Rose Timbertop that there were a few student-run groups he could join- the Warrior's Club, focusing on bravery and helping others, the Trickster's Club- Nick wasn't sure what to make of that- and art, theater and music, sports, and creative writing. The variety had been astounding, though there weren't that many students in each group. Nick had stammered and politely declined in making a decision. Thankfully, Mrs. Rose had understood. Despite the fact her head nearly hit the roof of their classroom, Nick liked her a lot. She was warm and friendly, but sometimes seemed to forget things. I bet it's 'cause she knows so much about so much, Nick thought.

Oh, he realized as he moved towards a desk where the Chestnut raccoons were sitting, the trickster's club kids. Myrtle seems nice but I don't know about Grover. Nick bit his lip as he sat down.

"Hey Nick," said Grover.

"Hey Grover," said Nick, trying to be brave. His tail twitched nervously.

Mr. Marlowe arrived and began to go over some things with Rose; the bear nodded. Nick tried to listen in but was distracted by Prissy Thistlethorn.

"Hi Nick!" she said cheerily after giving Grover an apprehensive eye. "How are you?"

"I'm okay," Nick said.

Class began, but Nick couldn't focus. Being a chipmunk, he had a lot of natural energy and found his mind drifting back to the woods.

I miss Alphonse. I haven't seen him much since he got us approved by the Zan pandas to be here. He's studying to be a teacher now. That means I'm not gonna see him very much...

Feeling lonely despite the possibility of new friends his age, Nick tried to listen to the lesson, making half-hearted doodles in his papers.

His pencil snapped its lead. "Uh?" he uttered in surprise, then looked around for a pencil sharpener. He thought he'd just seen it with Prissy. He looked to Prissy. Prissy shook her head. Did Grover or Myrtle take it? Nick wondered.

"Nick, could you tell me the answer to this question?" asked Mrs. Rose kindly. Nick's attention snapped back to her; his throat went dry. The room felt too small.

"I- I-" he began. Rose's eyes narrowed slightly in concern. The Chestnuts snickered softly.

"Someone wasn't paying attention. I know the answer, Mrs. Rose," piped up Grover.

"I'm sorry, could you repeat it?" asked Nick, bushy tail slouching.

"Nick, you are welcome to study with me after class if you need to. I was saying..."

Oh, there was the pencil sharpener. It had rolled onto the floor by the balcony. But Mrs. Rose wanted him to pay attention. He tried, but he missed Alphonse. Why couldn't he listen to Mrs. Rose with the other kids?

Nick was frustrated. He listened as best he could. "The answer is eighty-one," he said.

"Very good, Nick! But... that was for nine times nine. I asked for nine times eight. You jumped ahead a little."

Nick hopped out of his chair to retrieve the pencil sharpener, so he could write the answer down in his notebook. He knelt down, but his big bushy tail couldn't keep balance in the small classroom.

He gripped the balcony rail, but wasn't expecting it to give.

Nick fell to the communal living room below with a thud. Everything ached; his world spun. Above him, everyone gasped. Around him, he thought he heard other Sylvanians.

"Nick! Nick!"

The voice was familiar. It was his best friend, Alphonse! Nick groaned and couldn't help himself; his eyes watered.

"Is he alright?" inquired Mrs. Thistlethorn, her family witnessing the event.

"Let me see. Nick-" the cat asked, helping his friend sit up and inspecting the chipmunk's face.

Nick couldn't stop crying. He was so upset and embarrassed!

"I- I- I-" he stammered between huge tears rolling down his fur. Alphonse's paws kneaded his face carefully in concern.

"Nothing broken, thankfully," Alphonse breathed. "C'mon lad, you're going to be okay."

"No I'm not!" protested the chipmunk, still crying between words. "I hate school! I can't focus! I liked it better outside, with you! You taught me lots of things, and now you're a teacher and.. and..."

"Nick-"

Mrs. Thistlethorn lifted her tail in surprise as Nick raced out of the living room, hurting and mortified that everyone had seen him fall. As he left he realized that some furniture had broken too. And it was all his fault!

"I'm going to keep an eye on him," she murmured, then left the living room. Bernise Outback entered the room.

"Did you see that little chipmunk just now?" she asked.

"Yes," said Rose Timbertop; "He couldn't focus on the class I was teaching. It seems his pencil had snapped and he was distracted, and then stumbled and fell off the balcony. The rails need to be improved. I'm going to speak to Mr. Waters immediately for improvements and have the Zan pandas approve the changes."

Alphonse picked up some of the debris on the ground. "Poor lad..." he muttered, crestfallen. "He loves life here, but not school. I wonder why?"

The bear shook her head. "Go see what you can do. You're closest to the little guy."

The feline nodded. "Yeah. Thanks, Rose."

The bear nodded. "I'll help clean up."

Outside, Nick had bolted all the way to the main lane in the western side of the mountainside. He didn't watch where he was going; something hefty was in his way. Once again, Nick fell. Insulted, he started crying again.

"There, there, it's okay, young one," came a soothing voice. "What's going on?"

Nick rubbed his sore face, convinced he'd have bruises under his fur by now. His ears slouched. "I..." But he couldn't figure out what to say. The woman was a guinea pig with a kindly face- and she wore a giant pumpkin costume! "What?" Nick asked.

"Oh, this?" the Sylvanian asked, smilling broadly. "I just made it for this autumn festival coming up!" She twirled; nearly toppled over. After another twirl, she fell over with an "ooph!" and laughed, picking up her hat and dusting it off. It resembled a leaf.

Nick didn't know what to make of anything, but the costume's smiling face and the guinea pig's demeanor was contagious. She had tumbled over like he did, but laughed about it! How? Didn't it hurt?

"Plumparella Prettyfur, at your service!" Plumparella beamed. "I'm very new here too, and just opened a fabric imports shop! Mosswood Fells sure could use it. Here, let me show you around."

The chipmunk wasn't really interested but nodded and stepped into her shop anyways. It was wonderful- all sorts of colors and fabric types. Quickly he began to forget his problems- but they lingered in the back of his mind, even as his new acquaintance offered him a cookie. "Thank you," he said.

"Nothing of it," Plumparella replied. "But should you be in school right now?"

Nick nodded his agreement.

"You're always welcome here, but it's important! So please get back to your class. Just keep trying, okay?" she smiled.

"O- okay," he answered, wiping his muzzle with a paw.

Nibbling on it and sent along his way shortly thereafter, Nick found himself too embarrassed. I just want to go back to the shore, but it's so far out. I could just leave and go back to fishing and gathering. But... But Alphonse.

He didn't want to be alone.

Maybe I'll just walk for a while then go back. The idea seemed appealing.
It was a pair of kittens! Nick was surprised to see the two clever little felines putting some wood and leaves together, playing in the stream and having a grand adventure!

"Hi, I'm Nick!" said Nick to the kittens. They began purring; Nick understood this from his friend Alphonse purring now and then to mean that they were content. "What are you doing out in the woods alone?" he wondered.

"Oh there they are!" exclaimed a chipper voice. From the bushes emerged a tawny young feline in a beachside dress! She waved, and began setting up a campfire. From her pockets came various berries and fruits she'd collected!

Soon enough, the stunned Nick Walnut was eating sweet, warm jam with the girl. "Hi, I'm Nick. So you watch over these kittens?" he asked.

"Yes! I'm Sabrina Sandeia," said Sabrina the cat, "and I'm looking for my older brother."

A mental image of Alphonse flashed through the chipmunk's mind. "You don't mean my best friend, Alphonse?" he asked incredulously.


"What?! Why yes! What good fortune it is to meet you then, Nick! I haven't met him before, so I only know him in name," explained Sabrina. "Can you take us to him? The kittens are Lily and Merle Sandeia; they're my little siblings." Then Sabrina blinked. "Hey, where's my friend?..." she wondered, looking around.

"I can't miss out on the smell of fruit jam, you know?!" exclaimed a higher voice indignantly.

From the woods popped a face surprisingly similar to Nick's, though the fur was brighter. "Oh-" exclaimed Nick, shocked.

In unison, they spoke- "You look like me!"

"I'm Peach Beechwood!" exclaimed the girl chipmunk, brushing leaves off her dress. Nick startled. "I'm Nick Walnut," Nick replied, wide-eyed.

"So, what brings you out here to the woods?" Peach asked as Sabrina began cleaning up the campfire.

"I.. had a bad day at school," Nick admitted. It felt lame.

"Ohhh," Peach exclaimed. "I like school."

"What? Why?"

"I get to learn all sorts of new things!" Peach responded, curious. "Don't you?"

"I was learning all sorts of cool things from Alphonse, but he became a teacher in Mosswood Fells in the mountain, and now..." Nick trailed off, sulking, "I feel like he doesn't care anymore 'cause other Sylvanians are smarter or quicker than me. I miss when it was just us out in Sylvanian country, you know?"

"Ohh, so you two traveled together! That's so cool!" exclaimed Peach.

"Peach and I are doing the same thing with my kid siblings, Lily and Merle. I grew up with Peach and found some old family tree information. So I hoped I'd find Alphonse someday!" expressed Sabrina.

It was a lot at once for young Nick. "But if I go back, then..."

"You can't do that to Alphonse," protested Sabrina quietly.

"Why not?" Nick fired back, upset. He didn't want to go back to school.

"Nick, you just said Alphonse is your best friend. So you had one bad day at school, and you feel bad. How long are you going to stay upset about it?"

"Until it doesn't hurt anymore," Nick answered after a moment's thought.

"How long will that be?" pressed the sandy-colored cat. "How long will you worry your friend in your absence?"

"I- that's not my problem how others feel about me!" Nick countered, tears of anger rising in his eyes.

Peach shook her head. "I heard in my family tree we are related to some Walnuts, but this is a little nuts. Sylvanians care, it's what we do and how we live," Peach told the upset chipmunk. "Let go of being upset and get back to living life well. Living on your own is rough. You never did it before because Alphonse was always there for you, right?"

Nick fell quiet. She was right. He thought of all the fun times they'd had together.

"Yeah," he said after some quiet. "Alphonse is amazing. I just wanted to spend less time being awful at school, and more time with him."

"We are going to Mosswood Fells to apply for residency," Sabrina interjected, "and you're coming with us because we care too."

"But you just met me?" blurted Nick, flabbergasted.

"Right, we did. We're helping you survive by giving you your life back, rather than let you struggle out here and worry my brother," Sabrina decided. The kittens looked at Nick and giggled, purring and rolling on the ground.

"I... guess so," Nick conceded. He didn't feel good about this. "I'd rather keep running..."

Sabrina shook her head. "Surely Alphonse must have taught you not to be afraid of your own shadow?"

"Huh?" asked Nick, confused. "When I was a kid, yeah.."

"Well, you can't outrun your own shadow. In this case, that shadow is your fear. So just look at it for what it is, and then realize you can get back to school, find ways to enjoy it, and that you have Sylvanians who care, okay? Feel better."

Peach nodded next to her friend. A few minutes later, the group decided to travel to towards Mosswood Fells.

Nick was scared.

Upon returning, Sabrina and Peach had introduced themselves to the townsfolk. Everyone was relieved to see Nick returning with new friends, the parents immediately brought Lily and Merle to Ms. McBurrows, and Sabrina and Peach immediately enrolled in classes once the Zan pandas had approved their paperwork for residency.

Alphonse hugged his younger friend tight. "I fretted you were gone for good!" he exclaimed at the entry of the classroom. "I'm sorry, I would have gone looking for you but I was teaching-"

Nick looked up at his friend. "I found your little sisters and little brother!" he beamed. "Or, they found me. I don't know which."

Alphonse blinked. "What-"

Sabrina curtseyed. "Pleased to meet you, older brother Alphonse! There's a lot to talk about once your class is done. Nick had a bad day at school I hear, but he's ready to go back to class." She smiled at Peach and Nick. Nick nodded.

Alphonse brushed his whiskers and let go of hugging Nick. "We have a new teacher as well, Miss Dulcinea Tussah," he said, "and she's inside preparing books for everyone."

Everyone entered the classroom, and Nick tried to follow along as other students entered too.

"Hi everyone, I'm Miss Dulcinea Tussah!" Dulcinea introduced herself. "Today's lesson is on the value of friendships, then we'll do a little bit of gardening before settling in with literature!"

Nick smiled and began to appreciate friendship and caring. He resolved to make sure that he would do better in school from then on!

(Thank you, Santie, for these lovely kittens!)