I tried to breathe as the car drove away. This wasn’t it. This wasn’t goodbye. We weren’t actually leaving Florida. There was still time for this nightmare to end.
I had only one week to try to stop this horrible move. Maybe if I prayed real hard Momma and Mr. Steve wouldn’t like the noisy city and decide to stay in quite Florida.
“So there are five boroughs of New York City correct?” Jaci asked. There were tears in her voice. She was mad about this too. But she had nothing to worry about. Timmy had proposed. They were getting married. They had Mr. Steve’s blessing. She would be moving back here within a year. I was still a minor and would still be living under Mr. Steve’s roof for six more years.
“Yes. The Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, and Staten Island,” Mr. Steve said.
“Which part will be living in?” Jaci asked.
“Well my job is in Manhattan so probably Manhattan,” Mr. Steve said. Jaci nodded.
“Does a man make hattan there?” Megan asked. I looked at her.
“No, baby,” Mr. Steve laughed. “What makes you think that?”
“It’s called Man hattan,” Megan said. “I’m happy though. I don’t like hattan. Yucky!”
I stared at her. What in the world was hattan?
“What’s hattan, honey?” Momma said almost reading my thoughts.
“It’s a secret,” Megan said. “Every time you ask they never tell you.”
“Who are they?” Momma asked.
“I don’t know,” Megan shrugged. “They are they.”
Momma looked at Mr. Steve. The look on their faces said, “That’s weird.”
It took us almost four hours to get to New York City. Four hours between Florida and New York City. That was a long ways away.
Mr. Steve showed us the building he would be working in. It was a skyscraper of course.
There were several apartment buildings in the area, and we visited just about every one.
“What do you think about this one?” Mr. Steve asked. “It’s big enough for everyone to have their own room. And there still would be a guest room.”
This place could never become home. The B&B was home and always would be.
“Free!” Megan shouted running around the empty apartment. Mr. Steve smiled.
“It’s very nice,” Jaci said politely.
“Natalie?” Momma asked.
She didn’t want me to say anything, trust me.
“Natalie, this is a family decision. If you don’t like the apartment…,” Mr. Steve started.
“It’s not that I don’t like the apartment. The apartment in general is fine, but it never will be home. Florida is home. The B&B is home. This apartment is never going to become home. New York City will never take Florida’s place. Not ever,” I said as calmly as I could.
Mr. Steve seemed relieved I hadn’t started yelling and annoyed our possible new neighbors.
“Well if anyone likes the place,” Mr. Steve said. Thankfully, he didn’t dare look at me.
No, this couldn’t be happening. I couldn’t be leaving Florida like this. Not this quickly. No, not like this.
This was it. I couldn’t believe that I was actually leaving Florida.
After all I’ve been through this year. Last Christmas when we got here I would have never imagined that I’d fall in love with this place, but I was in love with it bad. I knew everyone, and everyone knew me. It would take a thousand lifetimes to get to know everyone in New York City.
I had friends here. I didn’t really have friends back in Florida. I usually ate lunch with the people who liked art and books. We had something in common to talk about, but as far as having a real good friend who you knew you could count on no matter what I never had one until I came here.
I could count on Regina, Darcy, Virginia, Jessie-Maria, and even Emily to have my back. They were my best friends (well Emily might not be a bestie but she was a closeie). My heart broke to leave them, especially Darcy.
I had tried everything. I pleaded to stay and live with Abby. I tried to get them to let me stay here during the week and be in New York on the weekends. Nothing worked. Mr. Steve was determined to ‘keep the family together’. This wasn’t a family. This was a mess. What Mr. Steve saw as a ‘family’. I saw as a horrible attempt to act like we were happy. We weren’t happy. We were on the edge of our seat just waiting for the ‘fight’ to happen. The fight that would end this all. Or maybe it was just me who was waiting for this to happen. Sooner or later Mr. Steve had to get sick of me, and just wanna leave. I mean how much can one person take?
Jaci was just as upset as I was about leaving Florida, but she was too polite to even frown. Megan was no help. She wanted to go to the big Toys R Us in NYC. Some little sister. Abby had been in shock for about a week. She kept saying that Mr. Steve should do what was best for the family. Well leaving Florida wasn’t best for me, and wasn’t I part of his idea of a family?
It seemed like the entire town was there to watch us leave. Everybody looked sad, but nobody was sadder than me well maybe Virginia was. She kept complaining that she would resort to hanging out with Emily and have to hear her talk about how wonderful Nelson was.
Darcy had barely uttered a word to me all week. It kinda hurt me. Weren’t we supposed to be gushing over each other and trying to spend every possible second together?
“I’m going to miss you!” Virginia cried hugging me so tight I thought I was going to die.
“I’m going to miss you too,” Regina said hugging me not as tight.
“Me too,” Jessie-Maria said hugging me. “The twins are going to too.”
I smiled and let tears fall from my eyes.
“Natalie, we got off to a bad start. I’m not exactly the friendliest person in all of Massachusetts, but I like to think of you as a friend. And trust me. I don’t have too many friends,” Emily said to me. She gave me very light hug. I smiled and shook my head on the inside.
“You will be missed,” Nelson said. I smiled at him.
“Bye, Natalie,” Timmy said. “See you this summer…for the wedding I mean.”
I tried to punch him in the side, but since Timmy was so tall I had to settle for the stomach. Timmy laughed at my pathetic attempt.
I walked towards the car. Darcy wasn’t even there. So what? I was leaving, and if Darcy didn’t care why should that bother me?
I turned around the find Darcy standing there.
“What?” I asked.
“I.I.I.,” Darcy tried. He soon gave up on his attempt at words and gave me the quickest kiss on the lips ever.
I stood there for a second staring into Darcy’s eyes. I climbed into the car.
“Bye!” I cried sticking my head out the window. Virginia, Jessie-Maria, Regina, and surprisingly Emily gave me tearfully goodbyes. Darcy said goodbye with tears in his eyes.
I blew kisses and then put my head in the car because I could feel Mr. Steve’s eyes on me.
I broke down hysterically crying in the backseat. And did Mr. Steve turn back? No, Mr. Steve did not.
I fell asleep after I cried for like forty minutes nonstop. I know that’s being childish, but I truly couldn’t stop. I tried after the first five but the tears kept pouring out. I hadn’t felt this kind of emotional attachment to Miami, but I had it bad with Florida. Florida was home now. It was where my friends where. It had people I loved and cared about. And most important: Darcy.
When I woke up I felt kinda stupid for crying over a boy, but Darcy wasn’t just any boy at least not me. He was special to me. He was the first guy I ever really really liked. His kiss was short but sweet.
“Whoa,” Megan said. I looked out the window, and skyscrapers met my eyes. We were in New York City already?
“Welcome to the Big Apple, girls!” Mr. Steve smiled. I scowled. We were almost four hours away from Florida.
“There are a lot of people,” Jaci said craning her neck to look out the window.
“There are over a million people in Manahan, and over eight million people in New York City. Jaci, honey, you’re gonna see a lot of people,” Mr. Steve said.
“What’s that?” Megan asked pointing to the newly finished One World Trade Center.
“It’s called the One World Trade Center or 1 WTC,” Mr. Steve said. “It’s the tallest building in New York City.”
“It’s pretty,” Megan said.
“Yes,” Mr. Steve said smiling a sad smile, “it’s pretty.”
I closed my eyes not wanting to think about the 9/11 attacks. A disadvantage to living in New York City: not feeling safe.
I sighed. I lived here now. I couldn’t believe I was one of eight million and no longer one of seven hundred.