The next day, at the LOFAO gathering room, the members were sat in a circle for something Johnny called "Group Therapy". It was basically where the members, who all have mental or emotional problems, express their negative feelings in the group. Mumble did not see the need for this, as he was quite talented at repressing his emotions (after all, he had been doing so for about five penguin years). As they began their session, Barry rubbed his eyes and said "Okay, good morning everybody. Now, who wants to go first."
Johnny, who was in the seat next to Mumble, was quick to raise his flipper.
"Yes, Johnny. What's your story."
"Yes, hi. Well, I seem to have made a breakthrough with myself. See, last week, I received a D in my fish catching lesson, and A+ student Andrew Moriarty laughed at me, which provoked my anger and led me to punch him in the face, causing his beak to bleed. It was then that I realised that, I wasn't mad at him. I was mad at all those kids who used to tease me in elementary school. I mean,(sniffle) it's not my fault I liked to go to drug houses in third grade! (clears throat) so, yes, thank you for listening."
"Okay. Thank you for sharing. Also, we have a new member today, Mr Mumble Happy Feet. So then, Mumble, do you have anything to share."
Mumble looked up at the group and said "Oh, um, no thanks, I have nothing to say."
"Really, Mumble" Johnny said. "You sure that nothing is bothering you."
"Yes, I assure you, I'm fine. Nothing is wrong with me". Mumble was beginning to get nervous with everyone watching him. He hoped Johnny would stop his pressuring and leave him alone. But no, old Jonathan Pitt had to rub some more salt in the wound.
"Mumble, I know there's something you're hiding. And that's what this group is about; expressing your feelings without any negative consequences."
"I have nothing to share. I am perfectly fine. Now, can we please find someone else to say something."
"No, I've heard about you, Mumble, the singing, the dancing. You have a problem and you don't even kno-
"DON'T YOU DARE TELL ME THAT I HAVE A PROBLEM!" Mumble snapped loudly. "YOU REALLY THINK THAT I DON'T KNOW THAT ALREADY! OH, GOOD GUIN, MY PROBLEM IS THAT I CAN'T SING. NO MATTER HOW HARD I TRY. I'VE TRIED LESSONS, I'VE TRIED PRACTISING IN PRIVATE. I'VE TRIED EVERYTHING TO STOP MY FEET FROM DOING THIS! he yelled before briefly tapping his feet to show everyone what he was talking about. "I'VE TRIED HOLDING THEM TO STOP THEIR MOVING AND TYING HEAVY WEIGHTS AROUND THEM. YOU KNOW, I'VE EVEN TRIED STABBING MYSELF IN THE FOOT WITH AN ICICLE. I WAS IN PAIN FOR WEEKS AND I DIDN'T TELL ANYONE. NOT GLORIA, NOT MY DAD, DAMN IT, NOT EVEN MY MOM! SO, YEAH, JOHNNY, I KNOW I HAVE A PROBLEM, AND I DON'T NEED YOU TO TELL ME!"
Johnny was surprised by this, but he was happy that Mumble was beginning to make a breakthrough. Until suddenly, Mumble just took a deep breath, instantly calming down and saying "I-I-I'm s-s-sorry about t-t-h-h-at, everyone. I may have just lost my temper there. It won't happen again, I promise" before sitting back down.
Johnny was the first to notice this spontaneous change in Mumble's behaviour. When their session was over, and Mumble had left the room, Johnny stayed and talked to Barry and their friend Fantine, who was a female chinstrap penguin with deep brown eyes, about the same age and size as Barry, in private about what had happened.
"Well, I just don't know if you've noticed, but that's not normal behaviour" Johnny said with a hint of concern.
"Look. I don't really see any need for that kind of concern" Barry said gently. "Remember, Mumble told us that he never had friends growing up."
"Not to mention that negligent father he's always on about" Johnny added quickly. "Treated the poor lad like he didn't even exist. I mean, come on. Triumph starts with a try and ends with an umph. Ha, some philosopher, eh?"
"Yeah, poor Mumble" Fantine said sadly. "I've never seen someone all shy and quiet one minute, then suddenly lash out with fury, then suddenly go back to shy and quiet again. It's like he has no self-respect."
"You know what?" Johnny said as an idea flowed into his head. "Mumble needs an intervention."
"You're kidding, right?" Barry said doubtfully. "How are you going to talk to him? We've already seen what that does to him."
"Not me" Johnny said. "Us. All three of us. Look, one-on-one interventions can sometimes seem a little tense, forced and in some cases, mildlyconfrontational. That's why group interventions are better cause they're a more... civilised approach."
Fantine was the first to object to this. "But even group interventions get a little hostile from time to time, Johnny. I mean, what if Mumble doesn't agree to it."
"My very next stop, Fantine" Johnny said confidently. "We'll surprise the kid at the BigSchool Sing-off's tonight. He'll be in our seating area and we'll take it from there. And remember, even if it does get slightly hostile, we must remember. This is all about Mumble getting better."
When Mumble raced back to his room, he opened the unlocked door but found no one there.
"Chrysta" he called, to no reply. Mumble turned around to see his room mate walking out of the bathroom. Or at least he thought it was Chrysta, for she looked, well, a little different. He just couldn't figure out why.
"Mumble" Chrysta said, trying to get her friend's attention, who was staring blankly into space, lost in his imaginings. And then it hit him. He realised what the difference was. Chrysta wasn't wearing her spectacles. In their place she was wearing a dark indigo Antarctic substitute for eye-liner. And her hair wasn't in it's usual plait. She had just completely let it go and had a ponytail down to her waistline. So yeah, she did look different. It was a good different.
"Earth to Mumble. Hello, anybody in there" Chrysta said sarcastically, finally knocking Mumble out of his trance of thought.
"Oh, sorry, Chrysta" Mumble said. "I was just thinking about how different you look. You're beautiful."
"Oh, thank you" she responded. "So, are you going to the show."
"You know, the BigSchool Sing-off's. Hosted by Tony Lazarus, the king of cool."
"Oh yeah, right. Forgot about that."
"So are you coming."
"Well it's a Saturday so yeah, why not."
"Okay, let's go. We can get some good seats if we go now."
"Not that it matters" Mumble said proudly. "I think my friends from LOFAO have a special seating box, I think all sororities do."
"Oh, okay" Chrysta said. "I guess you lead the way, Mr Happy Feet."
"Whatever you say, Ms Wolfsworth" Mumble said as they set off to the show, with little knowledge of what was going to follow...
Next chapter: Chrysta vs Gloria