“Where were you guys?” Momma asked when we walked into the apartment.
“The funniest thing happened,” I said. “I had to deliver some homework to a friend and it turns out that my friend, Noel, is the sister of Yule the guy that put in our cable.”
“Ow!” Momma cried as she dropped a pan on her foot.
“Are you ok?” Mr. Steve said rushing to Momma’s aide.
“I’m all right,” Momma said rubbing her foot. “Steve, did you have a chance to go down to the hardware store?”
“Um, no,” Mr. Steve said. “Why do I need to go to the hardware store?”
“We need a durable lock on the door,” Momma said taking the glasses out. “Natalie got out of the house once. I’ll suspect she’ll do it again.”
“Um, ok,” Mr. Steve said walking towards his bedroom.
“Honey, don’t forget that your first dance class starts tomorrow,” Momma said as we took out the plates. I nodded and walked towards my room.
“Oh my goodness,” I said looking at the pieces of paper on the walls. No, they weren’t pieces of paper. They were work of art.
“Save me, O God! For my sleepless nights measure to my neck. I sink deep in sleepiness. Am tired and weary with my crying out. My throat is parched. My eyes are heavy with waiting for my God. More in number than the hairs of my head are those who make fun of me without cause. Mighty are those who want to destroy me. Those who attack me with insults. What I did not steal, must I now restore. O God, you know my stupidity. The wrongs I have done are not hidden from you. Let not those who hope in you be put to shame through me. O Lord God of hosts let not those who seek you be brought to dishonor through me. O God of Israel for it has to be for your sake that I have borne reproach that shame has covered my face. I have become a stranger to my sisters. I have become an alien to my mother. But as for me, my prayer is to you O Lord. At an acceptable time, O God in the abundance of your steadfast love answer me in your saving faithfulness. Deliver me from sink in sleep let me be delivered from my bullies. Let not the flood sweep over me, or the sleep swallow me up, or the pit close its mouth over me. Answer me, o Lord, for your steadfast love is good according to your abundant mercury turn to me. For I am in distress; make haste to answer me. Draw near to my soul, redeem me; ransom me because of my bullies. I am afflicted and in pain. Let your salvation, O God, set me on high! But I will praise God with song. I will magnify him with thanksgiving. Let heaven and earth praise him. The seas and everything that moves in them. For God will save me,” I read from each little picture.
“Do you like it?” Jaci asked from the doorway. “I was reading from Psalms 69 this morning and it reminded me of you.”
I gave her a smile and started to cry.
“Jaci,” I said hugging her, “you are the beset big sister a girl could ever ask for.”
“Things aren’t going to be easy in the coming months,” Jaci said. “But remember God will save you. It just might not be in the way that you think or want him to.”
“Right now I don’t care how he saves me,” I sniffed. “As long as he just saves me.”
“Come on,” Jaci said taking my hand. “Let’s help Mom with dinner.”
When we got home from dance class, we found Mr.Steve had the paper laid out on the floor and a red marker in his hands.
“Steve, honey, what are you doing?” Momma asked walking into the apartment and putting her purse down.
“I’m reading the paper,” Mr. Steve said circling something.
“What are you circling?” I asked already knowing the answer.
“Piano teachers,” Mr. Steve said. “How was dance?”
“Interesting,” Momma said. “But it was nice to talk to another insomnia mother.”
“Hey, Natalie, what is that guy you like name?” Mr. Steve said looking at an ad.
“Darcy Chadwick Edwards?” I asked really confused.
“No, here in New York,” Mr. Steve said still looking at the ad.
“Um, no one,” I said walking towards my room.
“I’m just teasing you,” Mr. Steve laughed. “That guy Yule Stewart? Your friend’s brother. He teaches skateboarding. I just thought you might be interested.”
“Skateboarding?” I asked. “I just learned how to ride a bike this summer.”
“Just a suggestion,” Mr. Steve shrugged.
“When?” I asked. Mr. Steve winked at me.
“Never mind,” I said walking into my room. I reread my pictures and went to wash up for dinner.
“Now the first thing is to get comfortable with your board,” Yule coached.
I couldn’t believe I was doing this. I had no desire to learn how to ride a skateboard, but here I was taking skateboarding lessons.
I put my foot on the skateboard and fell down on my bottom.
“Are you ok?” Yule laughed helping me up.
“No broken bones,” I said. Yule smiled.
“Don’t let the skateboard go out from under you,” Yule instructed. “Now I want you to get on the board and find a position you’re comfortable in. There is no wrong way to stand on a skateboard.”
I got on the skateboard and fell off four times before I found a comfortable and balanced place to stand.
“Good,” Yule smiled. “You’ve now completed the first step in learning how to skateboard. Now I want you to see which foot you push off with. Push off with which ever foot feels the most comfortable.”
Neither foot came natural to me so I pushed off with my left foot. I fell down on my bottom and hit my head.
“Ok, so you push off with your left foot,” Yule said helping me up. “You shouldn’t push off too fast or you’ll fall down.”
“I think I just learned that,” I said pushing my hair down. Yule smiled.
“Don’t give up, kid,” Yule said ruffling my hair. “Nobody learns how to ride a skateboard on their lesson first lesson and very rarely on their second lesson. Learning how to ride a skateboard takes time and commitment.”
I sighed. I didn’t know if I had the commitment in me. I don’t even know why I decided to take lessons.
“Look when I started to learn how to ride a skateboard I fell down a lot. It took be three years before I could even think about half pikes and fancy tricks,” Yule said.
“Three years?” I asked. Yule smiled.
“You’re probably a faster learner than me,” Yule said. “Enough talking. Get back on that board and learn what your speed is.”
“Here,” Jaci said handing me some ice.
“Everything hurts,” I said putting the ice on my head.
“What did you accomplish today?” Jaci asked sitting down on the couch next to me.
“I learned how to balance on the skateboard,” I sighed.
“That’s good right?” Jaci asked. “I mean it was just one one hour lesson.”
“I don’t know if I want to continue,” I blurted out. Jaci looked at me.
“Oh, you’re going to your next lesson,” Jaci said. “You can’t give up. Just because you crashed doesn’t mean you have to burn.”
“Did Mr. Steve tell you to say that?” I asked. Jaci shook her head no.
“Why do you call Dad Mr. Steve?” Jaci asked.
“I don’t know,” I shrugged.
“I mean I call your mom Mom, but you call Daddy Mr. Steve,” Jaci said.
“I don’t really feel like talking about it,” I said getting up.
“I’m sorry. I was just wondering,” Jaci said.
“Well, next time why don’t you just stick with being tactful Jaci and don’t ask questions,” I snapped venomously.
“Natalie…,” Jaci started but stopped.
I walked into my room and looked at the pictures of Darcy and me.
“God, I don’t understand. I don’t understand why my mother had to get married. I don’t understand why we had to move here. I really don’t understand anything anymore, but You worked things out with Florida. You wouldn’t have us move here without a purpose so I’m going to try to find heaven in this. What do you want me to do? What do you want me to learn? Who do you want me to help?” I cried. I was angry. I was at the end of my rope. I was more tired than I had ever been in my life. I was more confused than I had ever been in my life. All I wanted was to go back to Florida, but that wasn’t likely to happen anytime soon.
“Natalie…,” Mr. Steve started walking into my room.
“Where you listening to me?” I asked outraged.
“Jaci asked me to talk to you,” Mr. Steve said. “I just happened to hear.”
“Or were you snooping again?” I asked mad.
“No,” Mr. Steve said. “I wasn’t trying to listen to your personal talk with God. I just happened to hear.”
“Get out of my room,” I said angrily.
“Natalie, can we talk?” Mr. Steve asked.
“What if I’m not ready to talk?” I asked. “What if I’m not done talking to God yet?”
“Look, I just want to explain why I married your mom and why we moved here,” Mr. Steve said.
“Just in case you didn’t understand, I was asking God,” I said slamming my door in his face.
I flopped on my bed. What had happened to me? A year ago, I had been happily living in Miami, Florida. I was counting down the days until we could hang the wreath up again. It was just Momma and me, and I had never heard of a little town in Massachusetts named after my state. Wow, a lot can change in a year.