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The Grouchiest Friendship/Part 4

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Near the middle of the third day, Papa Smurf was busy surveying the tasks being done in the village, pleased to see every Smurf lending a hand in keeping it well-ordered and functioning after 20 years of trying to get all 97 of his adopted Smurflings to work together. He was also pleased to see Empath beginning to make himself at home with his fellow Smurfs, even though he still acted like a Psyche around them, and sometimes made comments about his fellow Smurfs acting like savages. It was during this surveying that he thought he heard Empath suddenly cry out in anguish.

"Oh, my smurfness!" Papa Smurf gasped. He found himself running until he saw Empath all alone at the outskirts of the village, crying. He went over to see what was wrong with him

"Papa, please don't leave me!" Empath called out, his eyes wet with tears.

"Empath, I'm right here!" Papa Smurf answered.

But Empath acted as if he couldn't hear Papa Smurf. "Please, Papa, I don't want to be smurfed here by myself!" he wailed.

When Papa Smurf knelt down and turned him around, Empath somehow couldn't see him, either. He kept on crying, staring forward into space, unaware of anything except what was going on in his mind.

"Empath? EMPATH?" Papa Smurf called out, waving his hand in front of Empath's face and seeing no sign of recognition from his son. Great Smurfness, he thought, now feeling really worried, what has the Psyche Master smurfed to him in Psychelia all those years apart?

"Papa, please don't go away!" Empath bawled, still not in control of his emotions.

Papa Smurf couldn't do anything to break him out of the crying trance, so he just held Empath close to him, allowing him to cry on his father's shoulder. "There, there, my little Empath," he said soothingly. "Papa is right here beside you now. Everything will be all right. Just smurf it all out now."

As Papa Smurf held Empath close to him to settle him down, Grouchy came walking by and saw the two of them together. His jaw dropped at the private scene he witnessed. He had never seen another Smurf other than himself just simply break down in tears all alone like that. But seeing that Papa Smurf was with Empath trying to comfort him, Grouchy didn't feel ready to share anything of himself with him yet.

He quickly walked away.


A short while later, when Empath was back to his normal emotionless state, Papa Smurf asked him what had happened.

"This smurf doesn't remember exactly what happened, Papa Smurf, but this smurf suddenly had an urge to cry," Empath answered, feeling very uncertain. "This smurf shouldn't be able to show that side of himself. Psyches are not trained to show our feelings to anyone."

"Feelings are a natural thing that every Smurf has to show," Papa Smurf told him. "We can learn how to control our emotions, but we as Smurfs cannot hide all of what we feel all the time."

"But this smurf has no knowledge of all these emotions your people show, Papa Smurf," Empath pointed out. "This smurf has learned much in the past few days of being here, and yet this smurf still does not feel like part of your people. If being a Smurf means experiencing emotions, then this smurf must know about every emotion that a Smurf feels."

Papa Smurf inhaled deeply, trying to think. How could he go about teaching Empath the full range of emotions that the Smurfs express? Then he thought of a way.

"Come with me, Empath, and I will smurf you," Papa Smurf invited. Empath took the village leader's hand as they walked around the village together. They stopped when they saw Weaver busy working on a blanket with an intricate design, deftly weaving the shuttle in and out through the loom. As they quietly watched from a distance, Empath noticed that Weaver was wearing a big smile on his face, seeming quite content on what he was doing. So did Papa Smurf.

"That emotion is called happiness, Empath," Papa Smurf described. "Weaver is happy because he is doing something that he likes to do very much by himself, although there are times he would be happy doing something with somebody else."

Their next stop in the village was where Papa Smurf and Empath found Weepy, sitting all by his lonesome, crying and looking up at the sky, wearing a woeful expression.

"That emotion is what we call sadness," Papa Smurf explained as they kept their distance from Weepy. "Some Smurfs express sadness through tears, as Weepy is doing right here. It is usually caused by something that hurts you so badly, whether you're hurting from the outside or from within."

"Sadness," Empath murmured, thinking about that incident he had a short while ago. "This smurf did feel something that made this smurf feel hurt inside, Papa Smurf, but this smurf doesn't remember what it was or where it came from. It is very disturbing."

Papa Smurf nodded somberly. "Perhaps someday when you can remember what it was that made you cry, Empath, you'll be ready to tell me about it."

"Perhaps someday, Papa Smurf," Empath agreed, though he did feel uncertain about it. Just then they noticed another Smurf coming up to Weepy -- the Smurf that Empath had recognized as Tapper -- and talked to him. Neither he nor Papa Smurf could hear in detail what either Weepy or Tapper were saying, but as he watched, he then saw Tapper giving Weepy a hug right then and there.

"That is the feeling of empathy," Papa Smurf explained. "Right now, Weepy is sharing his feelings to Tapper, and Tapper is letting Weepy know that he feels the same way himself because he has smurfed there himself."

"But why must they embrace, Papa Smurf?" Empath asked. "Is Tapper able to share how he feels with Weepy without such need for physical contact?"

"I'm sure he does, Empath," Papa Smurf answered. "But sometimes emotions cannot be expressed by words alone, nor can our faces express them just by themselves. Sometimes the slightest touch can smurf a lot more about how we feel toward others."

"That form of display seems a bit grotesque to this smurf, Papa Smurf," Empath confided, looking a bit scandalized but curious by the sight of it.

"When a hug comes from a friend, you do not need to feel afraid of him or what he means by the hug," Papa Smurf replied.


As Empath learned more and more about emotions, the one thing that he kept thinking about was Grouchy. He was the only Smurf he had seen in the village who would rather keep to himself than be a part of anything that was going on with his fellow Smurfs. And sometimes when he was asked to do something, or even ordered around like Hefty, who was at the time Papa Smurf's assistant leader, was fond of doing, Grouchy would just do nothing or storm away very angrily.

Eventually he had to ask Papa Smurf about Grouchy and his behavior.

"Grouchy can be a very stubborn Smurf most of the time, Empath," Papa Smurf answered. "Not all Smurfs feel comfortable about sharing their emotions with any other Smurf, let alone want to smurf anything with other Smurfs. But that doesn't necessarily mean that he doesn't care for his fellow Smurf. He just may have a hard time showing it."

"For a Smurf who's lived in your village most of his life, Papa Smurf, he seems somewhat Psychelian, for we also do not tend to share what we feel toward others," Empath suggested. "Maybe this smurf can try communicating with Grouchy just to let him know that he is not alone when it comes to wishing to keep his emotions to himself."

"I wouldn't stop you from trying, Empath," Papa Smurf warned him, "but you must know that Grouchy is still a Smurf and may not even appreciate what you are trying to do at first, if ever. Just be careful not to smurf your hopes of making a friend out of him too high or you may be in for a big disappointment."

"This smurf will keep those thoughts in mind, Papa Smurf," Empath affirmed.


Over the next few days, Empath found it difficult to get near Grouchy long enough to even say anything to him. Sometimes when he and Empath get put together to perform a daily task, Grouchy would just do what he's told and not say anything at all. And when the task was completed, Grouchy would quickly disappear from sight without so much as a pardon. At parties or watching other Smurfs playing sports, Empath would see Grouchy off in one place away from everybody else, watching what was going on with his arms folded and face scowling. He tried to go over to where Grouchy was, only to find him gone or moved elsewhere by the time he reached that place.

Empath just couldn't understand how this one Smurf could be so evasive, not wanting to be near any Smurf, and always never speaking unless to say what he hated. He talked to his fellow Smurfs about Grouchy to see what it was about Grouchy that made him stay away like that, and heard many bad things they said about him:

"He's just a Smurf with a very bad temper, Empath! It takes only the slightest thing to smurf him off!"

"He's so mean, he won't even share anything with any Smurf!"

"He always smurfs those ugly faces whenever he's around!"

"He won't listen when you ask him to smurf anything for you!"

"So foul-mouthed! I think Grouchy could smurf a good bar of soap!"

"He's a real spoilsmurf, all right! He blows his smurf because he can't even play a good game of smurfball"

"He doesn't even say excuse me when he smurfs by anyone!"

"He's always late smurfing back to work or for meals. He's worse than Lazy!"

"He acts like he's got a bad case of smurfarrhea or something! Just don't smurf too close to him or he might smurf you what he has!"

"You can't even smurf any fun with him, he's so sensitive."

"Why would you even want to bother with Grouchy? He'd rather be all by himsmurf than be a true Smurf!"

"It's like nothing in this world is ever smurfy enough for him!"

From the various comments of his fellow Smurfs, Empath had a sense that they thought Grouchy was perhaps the worst Smurf that ever lived in the village. But somehow Empath didn't feel convinced about that. There was just something about Grouchy that he wished he could see for himself -- something that he felt was the exact opposite of what nearly every Smurf told him about Grouchy.

One time after Empath had completed his morning tasks, he saw Grouchy sneak off into the forest without telling any Smurf. Rather than reporting this to Papa Smurf, Empath decided to follow Grouchy and see where it is that he was going. Soon enough, he found Grouchy out in the woods, feeding some bread crumbs and seeds to a small flock of birds that happened to land down by where he was. Even more surprising to Empath was seeing Grouchy smiling as he fed the birds with what he had. Apparently, he was able to make some animal friends by himself but was unable to make any with his own fellow Smurfs.

As Empath got closer to watch, he accidentally stepped on a twig, causing a loud enough snap that startled the birds and made them fly away. Grouchy realized that somebody from the village had found him out here by himself. He turned around and saw Empath standing behind some bushes.

"Why have you been following me around?" Grouchy demanded, sounding upset.

"This smurf did not wish to invade your privacy, Grouchy," Empath answered with some heartfelt honesty. "It is only this smurf's wish to find out why you would want to avoid this smurf as well as every other Smurf in the village."

"I hate Smurfs that invade my privacy, and I hate Smurfs that follow me around, not smurfing their own business," Grouchy shouted as he quickly walked away.

Empath felt as if he had just hurt Grouchy's feelings by accident.


Over the day's lunch, Papa Smurf noticed that Empath seemed to be brooding over something, though his face showed no sign of any emotion being expressed.

"What seems to be the problem, Empath?" he asked concernedly.

"It seems that this smurf's attempts to communicate with Grouchy have been constant failures, Papa Smurf," Empath answered, sounding somewhat frustrated. "Judging from what the other Smurfs have told this smurf about him, it would seem that the best course of action is to refrain from making any further attempts."

"Well, at the very least, you are doing your best to try smurfing out to him, Empath," Papa Smurf said. "However, I don't think giving up on Grouchy will make things any easier on him or yoursmurf. Trying to make friends takes a lot of time and a lot of patience. But as long as you smurf Grouchy that you won't give up caring for him, he will see for himsmurf how much alike you two really are."


Empath sought to make amends with Grouchy for invading his privacy, when he encountered Hefty and some other Smurfs gathered around Grouchy for no apparent reason. Empath watched what was going on from a distance.

"So you like to weasel out of your daily tasks to smurf your time with the birds, eh?" Hefty demanded, pushing Grouchy around with his hand. "You left some of your fellow Smurfs to smurf the bag for you while you go smurfing off with those bread crumbs. And now I'm going to make you smurf up the mess you left behind."

"Smurf me alone," Grouchy protested, trying to leave. "I'm not smurfing your dirty work for you!"

"You're not smurfing out of this one so easily, Grouchy," Hefty insisted, preventing Grouchy from leaving. "The next time you go smurfing from your tasks like that, I'm going to make sure you get smurfed in the bag as well! Right now, I want you to smurf the bowls of the outhouses until they shine with your tongue!"

"Smurf the bowls up yoursmurf, Hefty," Grouchy shot back. "I won't smurf that for you!"

"You'll smurf whatever it is I feel like having you smurf and you are going to like it, even if it smurfs you!" Hefty hollered, looking ready to fight.

That was when Empath stepped in, separating Hefty from Grouchy. "This smurf agrees with Grouchy…this smurf will not let him smurf your dirty work for you, Hefty!"

"Smurf out of this, star boy!" Hefty snarled. "This is between me and Grouchy."

"Not with this smurf and three other Smurfs as witnesses to your actions," Empath countered. "Leave Grouchy alone right now or this smurf will let Papa Smurf know what's been going on here."

The other three Smurfs watching this scene instantly backed away and left. Hefty stayed where he was, but now he directed his anger at Empath.

"You just picked the wrong Smurf to smurf around with, freak," Hefty hissed. "For now I will smurf you and Grouchy a break, but smurf between me and anyone else again, you'd better smurf like a tree and smurf out of here…because I will smurf you down!"

Empath watched unruffled as Hefty finally walked away from the both of them. Then Empath looked at Grouchy, who seemed like he didn't know whether to be angry at Empath or grateful for him standing up to Hefty like that. The glare from his eyes didn't vanish at all.

"Thanks," was all Grouchy could say before he too left the scene.

Empath exhaled, sounding like he should feel relieved but now he was uncertain of what he did for anybody. Hefty was pushing Grouchy around for some reason that he couldn't figure out, and now he hated Empath for standing up to him like that, defending a Smurf who would rather be by himself than even acknowledge Empath's presence.

This seemed even more puzzling to Empath than trying to figure out why he was actually born a Smurf when he had known all his life that he was a Psyche.

Smurf to Part 5...

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