“I swear I didn’t push her!”
“I saw you!”
“I saw you too!”
“I’m telling you. Mrs. Baldwin was running away from the house looking upset about something. I tried to talk to her but she just backed away from me. She tripped and fell into the road!”
Aunt Clarisse looked at Mr. Stewart with cold eyes. It was less than an hour after my mother had been hit by the car. Thankfully, she wasn’t injured badly. She’s got bruises and broke one of her ribs and has made everyone promise not to change the wedding date.
Aunt Clarisse and I were at the police station telling the Chief what had happened. He looked nervous about something and a second later I knew why.
“Look, ladies,” The Chief said sighing. “You weren’t exactly close enough to really see what Mr. Stewart was doing.
“What are you trying to say?” Aunt Clarisse asked with anger lurking in her voice.
“I’m not going to charge Mr. Stewart with anything,” The Chief said. Aunt Clarisse blew (well almost).
“One day you’re going to be sorry about this,” Aunt Clarisse said in the calmest tone she could manage to get out (wasn’t very calm). “One day somebody is going to end up seriously hurt and you’re going to look back on this moment and cry.”
Aunt Clarisse walked out the door but not before tears ran down her eyes. I stood in the room not sure what to say.
“See you at the wedding,” I said stupidly. Then I added, “Or not.”
I walked out the office to find Mr. Steve and Darcy outside by Mr. Steve’s car. Aunt Clarisse was talking to Mr. Steve. She was telling him with such passion about how the Chief was so stupid to realize that Mr. Stewart was clearly crazy and that the Chief was blinded by his belief that a Florida native wouldn’t just push someone for no reason.
Mr. Steve didn’t seem surprised or shocked by the fact that Mr. Stewart hadn’t even been charged with anything. Aunt Clarisse screamed at him asking him how he could be so calm. She also ordered him in not so nice words to get his butt in there and talk to the Chief.
“The law doesn’t affect a Stewart,” Mr. Steve said finally. “For such a minor offense as this it doesn’t surprise me that Mr. Stewart was able to get away with. If Mr. Stewart had pushed Riley and killed her that would be a different story. The Chief is afraid of Mr. Stewart’s power in the Berkshire County area and his money but the Chief’s got a conscience and heart. He arrested Gavin all those years ago and, he would do it again even though he and his family had to go into hiding when they got threats from both Stewart sides.”
“But he has no reason to push her,” Aunt Clarisse yelled.
“Well, um, I don’t know about that Clarisse. You remember the ‘stuff’ that happened. I’m not saying his reason is good but a Stewart doesn’t try to hurt somebody without at least the filmiest of a reason,” Mr. Steve said.
Aunt Clarisse didn’t talk out of shock. There was something I didn’t know, and to tell you the truth. I really didn’t WANT to know.
“How’s my girl?” Grandpa Jack asked Momma.
“A nervous wreck,” Momma sighed.
“And this must be your daughter,” Grandpa Jack said looking at me.
“Yes,” I smiled.
“Let me see,” Grandpa Jack said picking me up. “You’re about hundred and some pounds.”
“Jack, put her down! You could hurt yourself!” Grandma Shirley snapped. Grandpa Jack put me down.
Mrs. Stewart walked through the restaurant door with Momma’s dress in a black bag.
“I was able to fix the dress,” Mrs. Stewart said. “It took me all night but I fixed it.”
When Momma was run over by the car, her dress was torn a little bit. Jaci stayed at the Stewarts’ all night so that she could help Mrs. Stewart fix it.
“Papa Jack, I think we better leave,” Mr. Steve said walking up.
“DON’T LOOK AT THE BAG!” Mrs. Stewart screamed. Mr. Steve was taken aback.
“Get out of here boys,” Mrs. Rivers said walking through the door with Sean. “It’s the big night before the wedding and we girls are having a sleepover bridal shower. My house is just down the road. Get!”
“See you in the morning,” Mr. Steve sighed. He gave Momma a kiss and for once it didn’t make me want to puke.
“I can’t believe tomorrow is the wedding,” Abby squealed as the men walked out the house.
“Move it, Darcy!” Mrs. Rivers hollered.
“Why do I have to leave?” Darcy asked standing in the doorway.
“GET!” Ms. Donna, Mrs. Rivers, Aunt Jane, and Momma shouted.
“All right. All right,” Darcy said putting his hands up. “See you in the morning, Natalie.”
“There,” Mrs. Rivers said closing the restaurant door. “Let’s get this party started!”
“No. No way,” I said crossing my arms.
“It’s perfectly sterilize,” Sean said with her mouse like voice.
“No, I am not getting my ears pierced,” I said.
“Come on, Natalie,” Regina said. “You’re the only one doesn’t have your ears pierced.”
“No,” I said shaking my head. I glanced over at my mother who was sitting in the ‘Guest of Honor’ chair. She looked like she wanted to laugh.
“I have an idea,” Virginia said in a sneaky voice. “Let’s see what Darcy thinks.”
“WHAT!” I screamed as Virginia picked up the phone. She put it on speaker.
“Hello?” Mr. Rivers’ voice asked.
“Can we please speak to Darcy?” Virginia asked sweetly.
“Hello?” Darcy’s voice asked.
“Darcy, do you think Natalie would look nice with earrings?” Virginia asked.
“NO!” I shouted. That proved to be a mistake, because I could hear him laughing.
“Sure, why not?” Darcy said.
“You traitor!” I screamed. “You’re going to pay for this!”
Abby picked me up and put me in a chair. She put her hands on my shoulders. Darcy walked through the front door and burst out laughing.
I grinded my teeth at him.
“Ow, you’re braces are hurting my eyes,” Darcy said walking closer to me.
“If you don’t tell them not to poke holes in my ears, that’s not all that’s going to be hurting,” I said. Everybody laughed.
Darcy offered his hand and I squeezed it with everything that I had in me.
“There,” Sean said after she was done.
I frowned in the mirror. My earrings were the same color blue that my braces were. I was really starting to hate this color blue.
“You look very nice,” Darcy said tugging my ear.
“Ow!” I shouted. I slapped him.
The room howled.
“This reminds me so much of how you and Steve acted when you were younger,” Aunt Clarisse said to Momma. “Steve was always doing something to make you mad and you’d slap him. But he kept trying to get your attention and it worked. You went with him to Homecoming.”
“Those were the days,” Momma said looking into space.
I noticed then that Darcy had walked out the door. I’d have a talk with him later.
“Now that that’s out of the way,” Grandma Baldwin said smiling. “Let’s open presents.”
Grandma Baldwin handed Momma an envelope. Momma opened it.
“I thought since Spring Break starts on Monday and since you and Steve weren’t having a Honeymoon. Mr. Baldwin and I thought that it would be perfect,” Grandma Baldwin said.
“What is it?” I asked looking over her shoulders.
“It’s a weeklong stay in England,” Momma said showing the postcard to the ladies. They oooed and awed.
Soon wrapping paper (Christmas of course) and boxes were all over the floor. Aunt Clarisse was telling stories about Momma and Mr. Steve, and Momma was ‘correcting’ her. Grandma Shirley for once said nice things instead of well whatever she says.
I was sitting on the couch laughing with, Regina, Jaci, Virginia, Emily, and Sean. Everybody was smiling around me. I felt like I’d known these women all my life instead of five months.
For some reason I thought about a prayer I had prayed plenty of times since I got here.
God, all I want is for my life to go back to being sweet.
That’s changed now.
God, all I want is for my life to stay being sweet.