I hate the week before Valentine’s Day.
I don’t hate Valentine’s Day. I really like the holiday even thou I’ve never had anyone that I really like like.
It’s just that my father’s car accident happened exactly a week before Valentine’s Day. February 7th.
And this February 7th is even more painful. My mother is engaged to Mr. Steve. I like him a little bit better but still. And now that I know that my father’s accident wasn’t an accident it just hurts all the more.
It’s been seven years since he died. That day is still fresh in my memory.
The last time I ever saw my father alive was when he came home for lunch. He always came home for lunch. When he got his job, he wasn’t around as much and he always said that there was nothing better than spending time with his girls.
“I’ve got a surprise for you,” Daddy said to me that day. His hands were behind his back.
“What! What!” I screamed excited.
“When I was driving past the pharmacy I saw a sign that said ‘90% off Christmas Things’ and with my two Christmas loving girls I just had to go in,” Daddy said.
“What is it?!” I asked impatiently.
“They had some bags, a Christmas bear, and one fudge tin,” Daddy said with a grin on his face.
“Will you take me to get the fudge tin?” I asked forgetting about the surprise. “I love fudge!”
“It’s not there anymore,” Daddy said. I pouted.
“Who took it! I want them thrown in jail!” I shouted. What? I was five.
“Take it! I don’t want to go to jail!” Daddy shouted showing his hands. In his hands was a tin of fudge.
“Thank you, Daddy! I love you!” I screamed taking the fudge tin. I ran to the couch and started to devour the fudge.
My dad gave one of his British laughs. My mother started laughing too. A Christmas song had just started to play and the two of them started to dance.
My mother was laughing. My daddy was smiling. I was eating fudge. It was like this a lot. My parents would just start dancing no matter the song. I would just sit on the couch and laugh and smile. My dad was always doing something to make me smile.
He left an hour later. It wasn’t until that evening that the officers showed up at our front door.
“Is that the door, Natalie?” Momma asked.
“I don’t know,” I groaned. I had eaten the entire tin and was feeling sick.
Momma walked towards the door and opened it.
“Officers,” Momma said in a shaky voice. “Come in.”
“Are you Mrs. Alexander Baldwin?” One of the officers asked. Momma slowly shook her head yes.
“Your husband got into a car accident at two o’clock this afternoon. He was rushed to the hospital but died on the way,” The other officer said.
My momma burst out crying. I felt a stream of tears rush down my face. The stream then turned into an ocean. My daddy was gone. I ran to my room and locked the door. I didn’t want to know anymore.
I looked around and realized that I was in Ms. O’Donnell’s class. Darcy looked at me. His blue eyes were filled with confusion. His hand was on my arm.
Darcy had been released from the hospital on Monday. Ms. O’Donnell had a fit when he didn’t come to school on Tuesday. And when he didn’t come on Wednesday, she went down to the B&B and demanded that Darcy be in class on Thursday. So here he was. He looked sick and weak, and he already fell asleep once in class.
My stomach fluttered as our eyes met. My heart started to beat like crazy. I closed my eyes and tears came out.
“Ms. Natalie Baldwin! Is the Algebra lesson too hard for you? Why don’t you come up here and tell the class why you just burst out crying?” Ms. O’Donnell said. I know that getting up in front of the class is not optional. I stood up a little embarrassed that I burst out crying. What am I supposed to say?
“Um, seven years ago,” I started. “My dad died on this day.” I felt more tears fall from my eyes
“Oh, Natalie…..,” Ms. O’Donnell starts but the bell rings before she can say anything else. I grabbed my lunch bag and ran out the room.
“Natalie!” Virginia called. I stopped and she caught up with me.
“Are you ok?” Virginia asked.
“No,” I cry letting some tears escape.
“Let’s step into my office,” Virginia said. We walk into the cafeteria and Virginia walks to the back of the cafeteria. There’s a small table back there. She pulled back a curtain that was attached to the wall.
“Wow,” I said. The curtain covered the entire table. I could only hear the noise from the cafeteria.
“Cool, I know,” Virginia said. “Do you want to talk about your dad?”
“He was from England,” I started.
“My dad was born and raised in Virginia,” Virginia said. She had a sad looking smile on her face.
“My dad was killed in a car accident,” I sighed.
“My parents took a bus to Richmond,” Virginia said. “They had to pick up a part for our tractor. The bus driver fell asleep and crashed.”
“I’m sorry,” I said trying not to cry.
“I guess we know how each other feels,” Virginia said. “What did your dad smell like?”
“Pine Needles,” I laughed. “It was his favorite body wash.”
“My dad always smelled like goat, sweat, and manure,” Virginia laughed.
“Manure?” I asked. Virginia nodded. We started to laugh.
“Were you thinking about him when you started to cry?” Virginia asked after we stopped laughing. I nodded.
“I was remembering the last time I saw him,” I said.
“I can’t really remember the last time I saw my parents. I try so hard to but I just can’t remember,” Virginia said looking sad. I sighed.
“But it was so weird,” I said without thinking. “When I stopped thinking about it, I looked at Darcy and my stomach seemed to flutter and my heart started to beat like crazy.”
Virginia gave me a sly smile.
“What?” I asked.
“Admit it Natalie,” Virginia said. “You like him.”
“I do not!” I almost shouted.
“Just stop it, Natalie,” Virginia said. “Everybody in Florida knows it. Your own mother knows it.”
“She doesn’t think I like Darcy,” I said.
“Sure,” Virginia said rolling her eyes. “Talk to me when you’re ready to send him a Valentine.”
“I do no……”
My voice trailed off. Could Virginia possibly be right? Did I have a crush on Darcy?
“Oh! I don’t know!” I shouted throwing my hands up. “When I first got here Darcy wasn’t the nicest person to me but lately he’s been…..”
“He’s been what?” Virginia asked. She was squirming in her seat.
“He’s been kind,” I said. “He’s not mad at me anymore for breaking his knee. He’s just….UGH!”
“I think he likes you,” Virginia said. I snorted.
“Emily Stewart sticks to him like glue,” I snorted.
“Sometimes glue falls off,” Virginia joked. I cracked a smile.
“I have the perfect Valentine,” Virginia said pulling her box from under the table. “Have you ever read Pride and Prejudice?”
“I’ve seen the movie,” I said. Virginia sighed.
“You’re lucky,” Virginia said pulling out a Valentine.
“In what way?” I asked as Virginia pushed the Valentine over to my side.
“Darcy!!! You know as in Mr. Darcy? From Pride and Prejudice!” Virginia almost shouted. I sighed.
“Give him this Valentine, Elizabeth,” Virginia urged.
“How much?” I finally asked. Virginia clapped her hands and squealed.
“I charge a dollar just like that other Valentine seller,” Virginia said adding disgust to the word ‘other’.
“You like him,” I joked pulling out a dollar from my backpack. Virginia’s mouth fell open. I laughed. Her mouth was still open as I handed her the dollar and put my Valentine in my backpack.
I turn around the find my mother standing there. She looks like she’s been crying. She had a picnic basket in her hand.
“Ms. O’Donnell called me about what happened,” Momma said. Her voice was shaky.
“I didn’t mean to burst out crying,” I tried to explain but my mother put her hand up.
“Come on,” Momma said taking my good hand. “Ms. O’Donnell has given you the rest of the day off.”
“But Darcy…,” I start before I can stop the words from tumbling out of my mouth. Darcy was in a car accident. I just cried in class.
“You can see Darcy at home,” Momma said. There was a look on her face that I never noticed before. Maybe she really did think I liked Darcy……..which wasn’t entirely untrue.
“Where are we going?” I asked as we got into the car.
“You’ll see,” Momma said. She turns on our Christmas CD and Let it Snow blares out. Then I remember. That was the song Momma and Daddy had been dancing to. Tears roll down Momma’s face and I try my hardest not to cry but tears start to rapidly fall down from my face.
Momma gets on the highway and gets off at one of the best places on the Mohawk Trail.
“Can you hold on to the picnic basket?” Momma asked. I nodded. Momma got out of the car and opened the trunk. She took out a rather large box.
“You ready to have a picnic?” Momma asked. I slowly nod. We walk a little bit till we find a spot that’s just plain beautiful.
The snow right here is nice and white. Momma laid down a blanket. I find it kinda crazy that we’re going to have a picnic in the snow but I sit down and Momma pulls out two thermals cups.
“Beef Carrot Stew,” Momma smiles. She pulls out an orange and hands it to me.
“I know moving from Miami to Florida has been hard for you,” Momma started. “There are places in Miami that your father used to take you to and you can remember those places. In our apartment every corner had a memory of him. I think you’re old enough now to…well let me show you.”
Momma opened the large box. Inside there were twenty journals.
“These were your father’s,” Momma said as tears fell down her face. “Ten years of history are recorded here. From when he first came to Miami to the day before his death. Your father knew that he might die soon so the last entries focus mostly on us and how much he loved us and life and how he was ready to see if Jesus if necessary.”
“Daddy knew he was going to die?” I asked looking at the journals.
“Yes,” Momma sighed. “I’m not ready to tell anyone anytime soon about the accident or why your father thought he might die. Reading his journals is the second best.”
Momma’s eyes were red and her face drenched.
“Honey, I miss your father now more than ever,” Momma said. “I had to come back home because he died. I had to come back because he never met my parents. I had to come back because he never met my siblings. I had to come back because he never got to see the Mohawk Trail and marvel about its beauty. You’re his child and you deserve a chance to see what he died before doing.”
Momma started to have some of her stew and I did the same.
“He left you letters,” Momma said when we were finished without picnic.
“He did?” I asked in disbelief.
“And I think it’s almost time for the first one,” Momma said getting into the car.
It’s been nearly a week since I took holiday and came to Miami. It’s hot here all the time. It felt so good to get out of the rainy and cold British air and to feel the hot and steamy Florida weather. I still can’t believe that some people call this time ‘winter’.
Today while trying to learn how to surf I knocked down a woman. Her name is Riley Walters. Her hair is the perfect mix between dirty blonde and ash blonde. Her eyes are the most beautiful amber eyes I have ever seen. I apologized repeatedly and she kept forgiving me. I didn’t want to go back to my surfing lesson. I stupidly suggested to take her out to dinner to show how sorry I was for knocking her down. She surprisingly agreed. She looks no older than twenty. Would she have turned me down if she knew I was twenty-seven?
I took her to a little Mexican restaurant near the apartment building I’m staying in. It turns out Riley just got here too. She’s come from some place in New England. I have a feeling she didn’t have a very good childhood. She didn’t speak much about her parents.
I told her just about everything. I told her my life back in England. I told her where exactly in England I had been born (including the hospital and exact second I entered the world). I told her about my parents. I caught myself before I told her about my father’s invention. Who knows if it will even work?
I got her phone number before the night ended. Is there such a thing as love at first sight? Cause if there is. I’m in love
I locked myself in the bathroom along with my father’s first journal. The journal started off with his journey from England to Miami, Florida. Then finally I got to the one where he met my mother. I tried my hardest not to get the pages wet but a few tears spilled on the page.
I was about to read August 8th when a horrible sound blasted through the air and the house shook. I heard screaming. I unlocked the bathroom and hid my father’s journal under my pillow before I walked into the restaurant.
“Oh my goodness!” Momma screamed.
“This is crazy!” Jaci screamed.
“MOMMY!” Megan shouted.
“My restrurant!” Ms. Donna shouted.
Mr. Stewart’s car was in the restaurant.