Riley Meets the New Farkle - Part I

The JC Penny bag crinkled with every step Riley made. As she walked the sidewalks of New York she saw her reflection in the store window panes. In the window panes she saw a happy-go-lucky girl donning her plucky suspenders with long brown hair trailing behind her. Pasted on her face was a dorky smile, only a smile that Riley Matthews could wear and she wore it well. It felt good to be herself again, thought Riley. After going through a short-lived goth phase, she knew that being her goofy self was better than her dark made up façade.

Next to her was her best friend Maya, fair and blond-haired with a glint of determination in her eye with every step. Together they stepped into Topanga's café where she saw her other friends Lucas and Farkle. They were sitting comfortably in their spot drinking milkshakes. Lucas' broad shoulders stood upright while Farkle was slouched on the couch ribbed beanie still plastered to his head, but Riley could still spot his usual vanilla milkshake with the rainbow sprinkles. At this sight, she couldn't help but smile wider.

Riley marched up to Farkle and stretched out the bag. Farkle's eyes scanned the bag up and down.

"What's this?" He asked curiously.

"This is you. And you will be Farkle again when you put on this turtle neck again." She waited expectantly for Farkle to grab the bag, but he just stared at her.

"Farkle, why won't you take it? Don't you see? I'm back to normal." For extra measure, she did a mini swirl and snapped her suspenders.

He shrugged, "I know."

Maya's eyes were alight with slight annoyance. "Take the bag Farkle. Ms. Wednesday Addams over here already came back from the dark side and this shirt wasn't cheap"

Farkle just stared at them. Riley sat down next to him. "I know who I am now. I know I'm not the cool, brooding goth but I know that I'm not just a goofy dork. I decided that I'm not going to let a silly yearbook photo dictate who I am and you shouldn't either. Not many people can say that they're their own person and being Farkle is the best thing you could ever be."

"Riley's right. I know for a fact that I couldn't do quantum physics". Lucas added. "So come back so we can stop scaring Mr. Matthews".

"Yea! No one can wear a turtleneck everyday and get away with it." Maya chimed in.

"What we're trying to say, Farkle, is that we love you for who you are." Riley said pointedly.

Farkle looked at each of us. "Guys, I appreciate your concern, but I like who I am. People change. I may have done it to change my image at first but this beanie has really grown on me and I like this new Farkle. So deal with it."

With that he took a deep slurp of his milkshake and went back to the counter. Maya and Lucas's mouths hung open in awe. I realized I had been sitting there clutching the bag with the turtleneck in it. So this was the new Farkle. Like everyone else, she was surprised too.

"Well looks like Donnie Barnes is here to stay." Maya surmised.

I took a peek at Farkle's back. It was one thing to accept yourself but it was another to accept that you aren't the kid that you once were. And now that she thought of it, she couldn't help but notice that as Farkle leaned over the counter, his shoulders seemed to stretch out his hoodie and he was becoming as tall as Maya's mom. The beanie pulled back his boyish fringe and she observed his electric blue eyes. He has changed, but oddly enough Riley didn't feel that concerned. Was Farkle always that tall? When did he grow up? She wondered.

It wasn't until Farkle came back to offer a sip of his drink did Riley finally unclench the handles of the bag which softly thumped to the floor. A quick glance later, she caught herself in the reflection of one of the decorative mirrors and saw a smile, but this one wasn't her usual dorky one. This smile - she didn't know how to categorize it, nor could she pinpoint her exact feelings. She felt unbearably happy for someone who may have lost her friend to Donnie Barnes, but then again, she did see a smattering of rainbow sprinkles on his milkshake and that was enough to reassure her that everything was going to be alright. Maybe even better.