Helga's Homecoming By Shadow D. X

Caution All characters are property of Mr. Bartlett and possibly Nickelodeon but that's a little in the gray right now for me. I'm using them simply for entertainment, not profit. Don't sue me - I'm just a misguided fan with a keyboard.

The young lady stepped off the bus as it stopped its last stop from the airport. She looked at the clash of gray skies and grimy rooftops, taking a deep breath of the stale air of Seattle. The woman, dressed in a zipped up tan leather jacket, black flat-heel shoes, and black slacks, smiled to herself behind a pair of brown tinted sunglasses as she adjusted the hair clip that kept her blonde ponytail in place. "Good to be home."

It had been almost 14 years since the day Helga left her childhood home to study in a magnet school in Vermont while living with her aunt Vera. There wasn't much keeping her here when she made the decision; she wasn't really well liked in school, Big Bob and Miriam couldn't win parents of the year if they had until the skies freeze, not to mention surprise visits from 'Olga'. But there were a few things holding her here, Phoebe, of course, being her best friend and all, and Arnold. Arnold.if it was just her new life of artistic freedom against her old one with Arnold, she would stay in this hell just to see his smile. But Arnold wasn't a factor for her leaving; in fact, there was no Arnold. Before Helga even knew about this new opportunity to develop her artistic talent in Vermont, Arnold left. He was so confident of himself that day he got on the plane; certain everything was going to go his way. After graduation, he said goodbye to all of us at PS 118 that he finally saved enough money to fly to South America and follow the map on the back of his father's journal. Helga, still hesitant to show her true feelings, asked why he would do such a bonehead thing. Arnold just smiled and said it was fate. So he left, not knowing that Helga was watching him board the small charter plane to Rio, where he said he would meet up with his father's old friend, Eduardo. After the plane took off, Helga just stopped. She stopped writing her poems, she stopped musing about a life with Arnold, and she even covered her Arnold shaped gum shrine with an old winter coat so she wouldn't be able to look at it again. Soon a recruiter from a writing magnet school in Vermont offered her a guaranteed position in the freshman class with all expenses paid. With Arnold gone, she agreed to go with little regret.

Now, 25 years old, Helga has come home to where her fire of creativity was first lit by a boy with a football shaped head. In a way, Arnold was responsible for Helga's success as a professional author and poet. She wasn't sure why she came now; maybe she was hoping to see Arnold one last time. With a bulky travel bag tight in her hand, she walked down the streets she had once walked down by so many years ago. So many changes, so many timeless spots gone, Green's meats was now a Starbucks, the Circle Theater converted to a multiplex. "Childhood memories, where at thou?" Helga mused. As she continued down the street, something familiar caught her eye. "I can't believe it's still here," she said, looking at a group of 4th graders playing baseball in the old vacant lot, Gerald's Field. She silently stood there as she watched them, the new generation, play the game she once loved playing when she was their age. It was one of the few precious moments in her life, even though she took it for granted back then. She wondered, how many of those kids were the sons and daughters of old PS 118's graduates? She kept walking on with a laugh after realizing they were too old for that to be true.

Helga began to feel hungry so she ducked into a near by café to grab a bite to eat. Sitting down at the counter, she was surprised by a slightly familiar face attached to the waitress behind the counter. "Helga Pataki? Is that you?" asked the waitress with a green shirt. Helga lowered her sunglass to see a tall, lanky woman with shoulder length almond hair. "Sheena?" asked Helga. Once it sank in that Sheena has not changed in any way, Helga folded her sunglasses on the counter, laughing. "You're still tall I see." "Wow Helga, no one ever though you would come back here. But here you are, in my café!" said Sheena. "When did you buy a café?" asked Helga. "After I pooled all my savings with Eugene and bought the area to make one," She replied. Helga's eyes shot open in shook. "Wait a minute, you wasted your whole life savings to partner with Eugene? Crimany Sheena, when are those insurance premiums going to drive you two bankrupt?" "Oh Helga, don't be silly. Eugene isn't that clumsy, he's a great cook. Besides we're getting married in just five months once we fill out our taxes for this year." Helga's jaw then dropped like a lead weight. "Married? You and Eugene?" "Of course Helga. Eugene and I have been going steady since high school; this is just the next step for us." "Well that's all I wanted to know. How about a cup-of-joe, I've had a long flight and I need the caffeine."

Sheen smiled and went to get Helga's coffee while Helga just sat there, laughing at the thought of Eugene and Sheena marrying. Sheena slid a cup of hot coffee toward Helga with a quite smile, going off to serve the other customers. Helga looked down at the dark, steaming coffee, remembering how much it reminded her of the mud that caked her dressed her first day of preschool. It was a sign of things to come for her; her parents ignoring her, life doing all it can to bring her down. Then came her ray of sunshine, her baby Romeo with an umbrella, Arnold. How sweet, even back then, always thinking of others. But those times are gone and dead now, thinking of them would only open old scars that took so long to heal. She took a long sip of her coffee, looking around the café for any other familiar face other than Sheena behind the counter or Eugene, with the same green shirt uniform as Sheena with combed back red hair, serving the customers in the booths. In the corner she saw brunette woman, not very tall, dressed in a powder blue skirt suit and green-rimmed glasses eating a slice of toast. This woman tugged at Helga's curiosity so she stood and walked towards her as to get a better look at her face. When she was only a few feet away, she knew it was her old friend Phoebe. "Phoebe?" she asked. Helga thought just then how embarrassing this would be if she were wrong. The powder blue dressed woman looked up and gasped.

"Helga! It's you!" she said, shooting out of her seat. "This is so exciting, I never thought I'd see you again. I've read all your published works, I see Vermont has really inspired you." Helga smiled. "Phebes, the last thing I want to talk about now is my professional career so just drop it," said Helga. Phoebe smiled. "Dropping. Oh Helga, it's really great to see you after all these years," she said. The two reunited shared a quick hug before sitting down at the corner booth. "So what brings you back to Seattle? Ice cream?" "Huh?" "You know what I mean." "Oh," Helga sighed, looking down at the table. "He's in South America, remember?" "Actually Arnold was only gone for 6 years before coming back home, with his parents no less. He seemed so happy to finally be with them," Phoebe said. Helga looked up, her eyes with hope. "He came back? Is he still here? Has he changed much?" Helga asked frantically. Phoebe giggled. "Yes he came back, he still lives in the boarding house, and the only thing about him that's changed is his.well all I can say is that he grew up," Phoebe said, stammering lightly near the end. Helga raised her eyebrow slightly. "Phoebe, is there something you're not telling me?" she asked. Phoebe soon became nervous, a look of guilt on her face. "Well.to be honest, when Arnold came back he had traveled the world with his family. He had become this handsome.romantic man, not the boy we remember. And we.sort of.dated." Helga almost fell right off her seat; the shock left her speechless for a few moments. "You what?!" Helga shrieked. "Helga, this was a long time ago. We were seniors, he took me out for dinner after a study session and we.started kissing. And then kissing lead to making out and later we were fooling around. I'm not your servant girl anymore Helga, I was my own woman ever since you left and Arnold was already dating a lot of girls then," Phoebe stated. "Fooling around?" "Don't blow a gasket, all we did was soft stuff, no penetration. In fact I think he's still a virgin, he's too honest to do that and not get married or at least get serious with a girl."

Helga slowly began to calm down and gave out a heavy sigh. "I guess I have no right to be mad since I did leave," Helga said, looking down at the table. Phoebe stayed quite for a moment. "You're eye brows are separated," she pointed out. "Huh?" asked Helga, looking up towards her. "Oh that, electrolysis for 5 months. Tell me Phebes, what are you doing now?" "Well, I graduated with honors from Harvard Law and I'm now a lawyer for the greater metropolitan area," replied Phoebe. "A lawyer?" "Things change Helga, people change, I changed." "But some things never change huh?" "You want to see him don't you?" "I'm not sure if I have the nerve anymore. I've been married once but ever since junior high I've been dead inside." "Maybe you need to return to your roots, find your lost passion for.well.passion." Helga smiled. "You mean back to my room." "Well your parents still live there and I've never seen them touch anything in your room." "Thanks Phebes. How about later we grab a bite to eat?" Phoebe smiled and stood to her feet. "Meet you here at 9?" she asked. "Nah, swing by my parent's instead," Helga responded. She stood up and the two reunited friends shared a warm hug. Phoebe left and Helga went back to her half empty cup of coffee. "Hey Sheena, I'm done with this, just give me the bill." Sheena turned to Helga from the register and smiled. "No charge Helga," she said. "Thanks Sheena." Helga slid her sunglass back on her face and left the café. She now was going to deal with the darkest skeleton in her closet - Miriam and Bob.