“Prudence!” Humour hollered across the room, her purple-streaked red hair a wild cloud around her face. “Hey girl, come over here and get something yummy to drink!” She waved vigorously at the neat, brown-haired girl standing by herself. Prudence looked up, smiled, and navigated her way around groups of guests to join Humour at one of the refreshment tables.
“Humour, nice to see you again,” Prudence murmured, straightening her simple jean jacket over the modest summer dress. “I haven’t seen you in ages; I guess we don’t move in the same circles much anymore.”
“Oh, pfft,” scoffed Humour, handing Prudence a cup of punch, “I’m the star; I’m included in nearly every circle!”
“And I in fewer and fewer,” Prudence sighed, worry lines momentarily creasing her forehead as she took a sip from her cup.
“Hey, y’know you’re always welcome here at Joy’s parties,” Humour reassured
Prudence, adding, “Personally, this is where I’m at my brightest.”
“You look, umm, nice tonight,” agreed Prudence, eyeing Humour’s ripped jeans and bare feet skeptically. “No clown costume this time, though I’m not sure what to say about the purple hair…” She self-consciously tucked a strand of her own straight brown hair behind her ear.
“Yes, I am cute today,” Humour grinned, her bright green tank top clashing alarmingly with her red hair and purple highlights. “But seriously girl, I rarely dress as a clown. I know it bugs you, but I mostly try to, ahem, humour you.”
Prudence chuckled, and Humour, looking pleased with herself, led the way to one of the small round tables at the side of the room.
“Look here, Humour,” said Prudence, serious again, “I wanted to ask you – you being so popular and all – how do you get invited to so many parties and things?”
“Well, you were invited last night. Where were you?” Humour demanded.
“Last night?” queried Prudence, and Humour made a face.
“Yes, I said last night; you’re not a parrot! Extravagance had this grand dinner and dance thing—he sent invitations to everyone, including you.” With a toss of her head
Humour added, “and I got two!”
“Oh, I never go to any of Extravagance’s parties,” Prudence said disdainfully.
“Knowledge and I went to Hospitality’s house for supper. But,” she raised a scandalized eyebrow, “Did you know Hospitality had six kinds of chips, and four kinds of ice-cream sandwiches? The indulgence!”
“Well, you know the saying,” comforted Humour, with a twinkle in her eye, “’If there is too much of a good thing to be had, you had better have it’.”
“That is not how it goes,” Prudence protested, her cheeks bright in outrage.
“Are you sure?” teased Humour, “Don’t tell me you’re still hanging onto ‘everything in moderation.’ That’s so last century. ”
“Humour, you are incorrigible!” exclaimed Prudence, her drink sloshing over the rim of the cup as she banged it on the table.
“Oooo, listen to you talk. Been hanging out with Eloquence lately?” Humour snickered, and Prudence had the good sense to blush.
“Now, girl,” admonished Humour, mopping up the spilled drink with a napkin. “That’s probs why you aren’t included much. You’re way too judgemental.”
“Oh, well…” Prudence faltered, twisting the napkin between her fingers.
“Come hang with me this weekend at Idiocy’s party!” Humour urged. “He’s cool with whoever shows up, and I’m always invited… though I participate less than they think.” Her bright eyes cloud over for a moment, but she shook off the gloom, saying, “Well, everything’s better when you laugh, even those parties. Come with me?”
“No, thank you,” Prudence said decidedly.
“You sure?” asked Humour, the impressive number of bangles on her arm jingling together as she tossed her empty cup into the air and caught it again.
Prudence shook her head and stood up, dropping the damp napkin beside the cups. “I don’t think I can change who I am, so I guess I will continue being excluded. But I wish you Fortune for the party, though I hear he is at Wit’s house this weekend. Let’s go congratulate Mercy and Justice on their engagement.”
Humour laughed again, giving Prudence a friendly punch. “You’re so sensible. Seriously girl, don’t stress about being included; there’ll always be those who think you’re a looser, and others who think you’re totes fab. Come on!” She jumped up and, with a grin, dragged Prudence towards Justice and Mercy