Pickle Panda Find Love in the Time of Robot Bees: Part 1, Ch. 5

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Part 1, Chapter 5

Pickle and Kelsi navigated her Tuesday morning classes more or less without incident. With the initial shock of the first day over, they were having an easier time navigating the college campus. “I’m glad I signed up for morning

classes,” said Kelsi. “We can totes make it to the meeting later.”

“Are we really going to-”

“We’re going!” she said, sternly. “Besides, it’ll be good for you.” Kelsi was anxious to see Ramses again, but she sincerely believed the experience would be good for Pickle, as well. “People will ask him questions,” she thought. “They’ll want to know what he thinks about this or that,” she figured, “and maybe he’ll make some friends.”

“I hate new people,” mumbled Pickle.

“Just give it a chance,” she said with a sigh.

It wasn’t an obvious plea, but Pickle picked up on her frustration. It wasn’t easy for her, he knew, to be saddled with him all the time.

Kelsi’s father, however, had insisted that she take Pickle with her to school so that he’d be able to get an education. “It’s the right thing to do,” he’d often said. “He deserves to be able to have a normal life.”

“Normal”, it seemed to Kelsi, was a pretty vague concept. “Besides,” she thought, “how ‘normal’ is it to have a service animal, anyway?” She was certain that other kids thought she was autistic or something – she could feel it! – and that didn’t seem very “normal” at all. Still, she knew it wasn’t any easier for Pickle. “If you really, really hate it,” she said, as they walked up to the designated courtyard “we can leave early.”

“I am glad you came,” said Ramses, in his deep baritone as they approached. He nodded to Pickle.

“Thanks!” said Kelsi, nervously, her voice a tick higher and quicker than usual.

“Kelsi, this is Amy,” said Ramses, introducing her to one of the eight or ten other students in the group. “This is Caleb, and this is …”

Pickle zoned out as the introductions went on. It was a weird scene, and Pickle wasn’t sure how Ramses was pulling it off. Did Amy (or- Angie? What was her name …?) not realize Ramses was a gorilla? Did that Carl- No, that Korey kid (he was sure it was Korey). Did he not see it?

While Pickle was absorbed in his observation of the group, he noticed Ramses put his hand on the small of Kelsi’s back as he motioned her towards another student. It was a respectful, classy move, but it was still a move, and Pickle wasn’t having it. “I can’t believe that monkey is making a move on my-”

“It’s Pickle, right?”

Pickle turned.

I’m really sorry about yesterday. I thought those videos- I mean, you! I thought you were a YouTube hoax or something.”

“Meghan!” said Pickle, looking up at her.

“Hi,” said Meghan, smiling awkwardly. “I’m glad I got to see you again. Is Kelsi here? I should probably apologize to her, too.”

“She’s over there with the gorilla.”

“The gorilla?” she asked. “Oh! You mean Ramses! Yeah, he’s a big boy. Gorilla – you’re so funny!”

Pickle didn’t feel funny. He wasn’t sure what he was feeling at that moment, but “funny” definitely didn’t cover it. “So – I didn’t think I’d get to see you again. Are you in Ramses’s animal rights club, too?”

“Club? No. This is the math and science building, behind you. I’m finishing my doctoral thesis this semester, so I’m pretty much always walking between the math building and the library,” explained Meghan. “Oh, there’s Kelsi. I’m just going to go say ‘Hi’.”

Pickle watched as Meghan strode away, stepping over a few backpacks and one club member lazily laying on the grass. He watched as Meghan walked up to Kelsi and the two began chatting together with light, easy smiles on their faces.

“So, you’re like, that talking Panda?” asked … one of them.

“Pretty much,” replied Pickle, still looking towards the two girls and the massive Ramses – who was, he noticed grumpily, still touching on Kelsi.

“That’s cool. Are you in this club, now?”

“Looks like it.”

“Cool, cool,” said the boy. “I think you’ll like it. It’ll be cool to hear what an animal thinks about, like, animal issues. You know?”

“Cool,” said Pickle. Even though he didn’t think that sounded very “cool” at all.


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