Something just didn’t feel right when we arrived at the hospital. I saw Yule sitting on a bench and smoking.
“Drop me off,” I said. Momma pulled up to the curb and I got out of the car.
“Hey, Natalie, I wasn’t expecting you,” Yule said trying to hide his cigarette from Momma’s view.
I contemplated what to say. I didn’t want to get Noel in trouble.
“Grandma’s sick,” Yule said not waiting for me to answer. “The doctors are in there working on her now. They…they don’t know if she’ll make it.”
I could tell by Yule’s voice that he was trying not to cry. Yule squinted like he was trying not to cry. I sighed. I had a feeling he’d never let a tear fall from his eye in his life.
“What good is that going to do?” I asked pointing at the cigarette. “I thought you were quitting.”
Yule sighed and put the cigarette out.
“Does this hospital have a chapel?” I asked. I was surprised at my words. Where did that come from?
“Yeah, but I’ve never been,” Yule said almost laughing.
“I think going to chapel would work a lot better than sitting out in the cold October wind smoking,” I huffed. I shivered for effect.
“Look, kid, God and I aren’t exactly on speaking terms,” Yule said not looking at me in the eye.
“Why not?” I asked sitting down next to him.
“Look, kid, He doesn’t look out for people like me. Grandma had the absolute most faith in and look where it got her,” Yule said. “Noel just doesn’t get it. She’s the chapel right now praying. I don’t want to shatter her by telling her that God doesn’t listen to her. She doesn’t understand that He just causes disasters and leaves. Her faith in Him is so amazing. I wish I could be so naïve.”
“I know how you feel,” I said. Yule looked at me.
“Why would God do this to me? Why do I have to have so much trouble going to sleep? Why do I sleep walk? What I do?” I asked sighing and wishing I had put on a better coat.
“You’re lucky, kid. The hardest thing you’ve had to deal with is sleep problems,” Yule said looking at me.
“My dad was murdered,” I blurted. Yule pulled him into a hug.
“So was mine,” Yule whispered. “He got involved in a fight. He told me to stay in the car, but when I heard gunshots I jumped into action. I saw right away that my father had been shot. I ran out to to try and save him, but before I could reach him I was shot in the hip. That’s why I have a limp.”
“I was five when he died,” I said letting tears slip from my eyes.
“I was fourteen,” Yule said rocking me a little. “I’m sorry. I just assumed your parents were divorced.”
“It’s ok,” I shrugged. “Is it all right if I ask what happened to your mother?”
“Sure,” Yule shrugged. “She died of a drug overdose. I found her on our kitchen floor. I tried to do CPR on her, but it was too late.”
“I’m sorry, Yule,” I said hugging him back.
“Why would God not let me save my parents? Why would he take them away from me? Ok, so they weren’t the best parts in the world. They didn’t even seem to notice Noel and me, but you know what. I cared about them. I loved them. I watched both of my parents die. Why would God do that to me? Why? I trusted that Guy with my life and this is what He gives me in return?” Yule said. He was angry, but he was speaking from the heart.
“I don’t know why, Yule,” I said. “But I do know that all things work together for the good of those who love the Lord. I don’t know why God let my foot break? I don’t know why I struggle with insomnia. But I do know why I had to move here to New York.”
“Why?” Yule asked.
“To meet you and Noel,” I smiled.
“You’re something else, kid,” Yule said.
I smiled and hugged him tighter.
“I’ve learned that you just gotta trust God. God will save you. It just might not be in the way that you expected,” I said. “And I never expected this.”
Yule smiled at me.
“So you’re asking me to trust Him?” Yule asked.
“Only if you want to,” I shrugged.
“Good. Cause I want to,” Yule said. “I want to believe in Him more than I never imagined I would; it’s just when bad things happens it’s hard to really believe. I’ve spent the past two years searching for something that was right in my backyard.”
Momma walked out of the hospital door with tears in her eyes. Noel followed looking equally as sad.
“Yule, I’m…so sorry,” Momma cried. “Your Grandmother’s gone.”
Yule held back a cry. Momma walked over and hugged him.
“Cry out to Jesus,” I whispered repeating Jaci’s advice. “Lay it down. Trust Him.”
Tears fell out of Yule’s eyes.
“I’ve never cried before,” Yule cried. “It feels…so good.”
“Keep crying to Jesus,” Momma smiled. “It does a world of good.”
“I don’t know what’s gonna happen next,” Yule said as Noel hugged him. “But I’m just going to have to trust Him.”
“Trust,” Noel said. And Yule nodded.
Trust I repeated to myself over and over again.
“Now,” Mrs. Betty Stewart’s lawyer, Lester Chadwick, said adjusting his glasses, “Mrs. Stewarts will leaves all the money in her bank account, a total of ten thousand dollars, to her two grandchildren, Yule and Noel Stewart. Her will also states who she wishes to be the legal guardian of her grandchildren.”
“Are Noel and I staying together?” Yule asked nervously.
“Yes,” Mr. Chadwick said looking at my mother. “Shall I read from the will.”
Yule nodded, while Noel looked at the floor.
“’In my bones I know death is upon me. I have recently been given custody of my grandchildren after their mother’s tragic death. When I die and Fowler is going to hate me for this, I want all legal custody to go to their mother, Riley Anne Walters of Pittsfield, Massachusetts, no custody will be given to their father Fowler Stewart. And if Ms. Walters is married partial custody will go to their new stepfather. Well I guess since she is their mother and she was forced to give up any custody…they really are in her custody and not mine. Riley’s a good woman and it ain’t her fault that that no good Fowler Stewart took a liking to her and got angry, twice, when he couldn’t have her,’” Mr. Chadwick read.
Everyone looked at Momma. Momma looked like she wanted to run. Yule looked at her. His eyes were wondering if this was real.
Momma got out of her chair and ran. We all got out of ours chairs (expect for Mr. Chadwick. He was packing up) and ran out after her.
“Mrs. Matthews…oh…!” Yule shouted grabbing Momma’s arm.
“He won’t hurt you if he finds out that I didn’t tell,” Momma said. “Fowler might do something to me, but he won’t hurt anybody if he finds not I’m not the one who told. Steve, take care of them.”
“Wait, so you’re leaving?” I asked angry. No wonder she acted so weird when Yule and Noel were mentioned.
“What else is there to do?” Momma asked. “One person has already died because of this. If I don’t leave somebody else is gonna get hurt or worse.”
“One person has died, but many have suffered,” Jaci said. Her voice was different. Her voice had none of her usual politeness. Her voice was tough, scolding, and rude. New York City was really changing her.
“Excuse me?” Momma asked surprised.
“I used to think that Mrs. Walters was just some mean woman who was rude beyond understanding, but now I know why she’s so nasty. Her daughter left. Her daughter left her. She tried to convince herself that you were kidnapped or something, but you left on your own free will just because you were scared of some man! And you’re going to leave your husband and your children just because someone found out? That’s really low and pathetic,” Jaci said.
I nearly cried. And not just because of the thought of my mother leaving. Jaci sounded so different. It was strange and foreign. But what wasn’t now a days?
Momma didn’t say anything. All the desire to run away drained out of her eyes. She didn’t look mad. She looked regretful. She looked guilty. She let tears fall from her eyes.
I looked at everyone else. Mr. Steve looked angry. Jaci looked sorry for ever speaking to Momma that way. Yule’s face was unreadable. He looked upset, but there was something else in it. I had no idea how I looked, but I felt sorry for Momma. Noel lingered close to Momma, and looked down at the ground. She didn’t look like she understood, but she did. She was just showing it in her own way.
“Who’s hungry?” Momma asked drying her eyes.
“So what do I call you?” Yule asked Momma at dinner. Mr. Steve chose some Chinese restaurant. Everything looked weird and smelled funny.
“Anything but Riley,” Momma said with her mouth full. “Mom, Momma, Mommy, Mum, Mother, Ma, Mrs. Matthews, Ms. Riley, whichever one is fine.”
Yule nodded and went back to looking at the weird thing rolled up on his plate.
“Look,” Momma said putting down her fork. “I don’t want this to be awkward. I want you and Noel to know that I love you. I always have, I do know, and always will.”
“I know,” Yule nodded. “I’m just still in shock.”
“That makes the two of us,” I said as I sipped my strange looking drink mixture. “Now I know why you didn’t name me Noel.”
Momma gave a sad smile. I looked over at Mr. Steve. He looked mad.
“What do I call you, sir?” Yule asked Mr. Steve. Mr. Steve looked shocked.
“Um, Mr. Steve, Mr. Matthews, Dad, Father, I don’t know,” Mr. Steve shrugged. Yule nodded.
“Sir, if Noel and I are going to be a problem…,” Yule started but Mr. Steve put his hand up.
“You’re not going to be a problem. I’m just surprised, mad, shocked. There’s a lot going through my mind right now,” Mr. Steve said. He looked over at me.
“I’m not hungry,” I huffed. Momma smiled at me.
“I guess if everyone’s finished we can leave,” Momma said. Everyone got up and walked towards the car.
“I don’t understand,” Megan whispered in my ear when I picked her up.
“What don’t you understand? Yule and Noel are you’re older brother and older sister,” I said.
“Oh,” Megan said. “They’re nice.”
I nodded and gave her a kiss.
I put her in her car seat and sat down in my seat. I tried to think about how I was feeling. I looked over at Yule.
“Hey, kid,” Yule said. “You ok?”
“I’m trying to figure that out,” I said. I stared at his eyes.
“I wish I had Momma’s eyes,” I blurted. “You’ve got them.” Yule smiled.
“I guess that makes sense,” Yule said. He started to tickle me and I l started to laugh hysterically.
“My sister is ticklish,” Yule laughed. I tried to catch my breath.
“I’m ok,” I smiled. “Everything is going to be fine.”
I looked over at Mr. Steve. His eyes were focused on the road but he was clearly upset. He hated me. He hated Yule. He hated Noel.
Everything’s going to be fine…in time I thought. I put my head on the headrest and closed my eyes.
I woke up to find myself in Yule’s arms.
“I’m sorry. Did I wake up?” Yule asked.
“What am I supposed to stop?” I asked.
“Your legs were moving,” Yule said. “You were trying to sleepwalking. You were kicking me.”
I smiled sheepishly.
“I don’t know. Maybe they aren’t home,” A familiar voice said.
“Abby!” I cried leaping from Yule’s arms.
“Natalie!” Abby cried hugging me. “Have you grown in two months?”
“Don’t forget about me,” Zach said. I gave Zach a hug.
“What are you guys doing here?” Mr. Steve asked opening the apartment door.
“I couldn’t wait until Thanksgiving,” Abby said. “We thought we’d surprise you. Timmy wanted to come, but school called. Oh, well I have news that just can’t be told over the phone.”
Abby looked at Yule and Noel.
“Now who are you?” Abby asked Yule.
“Abby,” Mr. Steve sighed. “Meet your brother.”