Posted in Natalie

Natalie: Part 6-Christmas Hope Installment Two

I don’t know how long my face was on fire for, but I do know it was one of the worst pains I had ever had in my life. I screamed in unison with several other students. Darcy quickly batted out the flames on my face. The blast had thrown me from my wheelchair and Darcy on top of me.

“Natalie?” His voice was strained. Deep pain swept across his face.

I didn’t know how to answer him so I just said, “Yeah?”

Darcy opened his mouth, and the sound of an explosion came out. I screamed, but one gut wrenching shriek drowned it out.

“Help me up,” I whimpered. Darcy just looked at me as if he didn’t know how to do.

Faint yelps from outside of the cafeteria caused my heart to stop beating for a moment.

“What do we do?” I asked as I listened to the sounds of gunshots and screeches.

“Pray.”

It didn’t occur to me until then that I was in a great amount of pain. My face still felt like it was on fire and my torso heaved achingly.

“Dear, God…”

No words flowed from my mouth. What does one pray when they don’t know what’s going on? What does one do when they are utterly helpless? What does one pray when all words fail and emotions plummet the soul?

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” I wept recalling the few moments before they sedated me for my surgery.

“Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning?” Darcy continued.

“O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer!”

“And by night, but I find no rest.”

“Yet you are holy…In you our fathers trusted; they trusted, and you delivered them.”

“To you they cried and were rescued; in you they trusted and were not put to shame.”

“Be not far from me, for trouble is near, and there is none to help,” I skipped.

“I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint; my heart is like wax; it is melted within my breast.”

“But you, O LORD, do not be far off! O you my help, come quickly to my aid! Deliver my soul from the sword, my precious life from the power of the dog!”

“Save me from the mouth of the lion! You have rescued me from the horns of the wild oxen!”

“For he has not despised or abhorred the affliction of the afflicted, and he has not hidden his face from him, but has heard, when he cried to him.”

“The afflicted shall eat and be satisfied; those who seek him shall praise the LORD! May your hearts live forever!”

“All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the LORD, and all the families of the nations shall worship before you.”

“For kingship belongs to the LORD, and he rules over the nations. All the prosperous of the earth eat and worship; before him shall bow all who go down to the dust, even the one who could not keep himself alive.”

“Posterity shall serve him; it shall be told of the Lord to the coming generation.”

“They shall come and proclaim his righteousness to a people yet unborn, that he has done it,” Darcy and I said together. Darcy gave me a light kiss on the forehead and somehow I mustered a smile.

So much peace abounded between us that I couldn’t even hear the cries.

**

I did, however, hear the sirens several minutes later.

Some girls started to yell for help when the sirens drew so near that they nearly deafened you. I chose to stay calm and close my eyes. Not long after I had done the relaxing action, I heard a puff like noise. I opened my eyes to find Darcy passed out on my chest.

I slowly felt my composure leave me. I vainly grabbed at it, but a small, barely audible scream left my throat. I struggled to get Darcy off of me. I gave up after I started to drawn in sweat.

“PLEASE HELP ME!” The same shrieking voice as before cried. I didn’t need to look to know that the paramedics had finally arrived.

“He needs help,” I whimpered when I heard gurney wheels near my head. Darcy was quickly lifted off of me. One of the female paramedics gasped, and her male partner looked sick.

I tried to sit up, but one of the paramedics laid my head down. I was swiftly put on a gurney and rushed out of the cafeteria.

What I saw outside of the cafeteria, I can never get out of my head.

Blood was everywhere. Pills of stray bullets were scattered across the red shrieked floor. Teenagers laid in the pools of their and others blood with anguish written over their faces. Everywhere I looked paramedics were trying desperately to save lives. It made me physically sick.

“Darling,” The paramedic said as I vomited over myself. “Hang on, dear. We’re almost to the door.”

I could tell the door was near because I was shivering. A group of teens cut in front of the gurney to get through the door. The paramedic let out a yelp as she hit one of them. The others got out the way as she pushed me out into the frigid air.

Dozens of unharmed students sat on the front lawn crying and shaking. A group of parents stood in the parking lot watching the door with bated breath.

“MY BABY!”

My sees looked to see who had cried out. My mother was on the ground pounded her fists and screaming.

I lost it after that.

Posted in Natalie

Natalie: Part 6- Christmas Hope Installment One

How can a person not be excited about Christmas when their name is Natalie?

My name means “born on Christmas day” but I was really born on November 25. Both my mother and my father loved Christmas just as much as I do and most of my siblings have Christmas themed names. We keep up our decorations and a gold, fake Christmas tree all year long. In my house, it’s basically Christmas every day minus the presents.

Some of you may have already read a story that I previously wrote. In that story, I chronicled a year and a half of my life. In that year and a half, I moved from Miami, Florida to Florida, Massachusetts, I discovered that my father was basically murdered, my mom got remarried and I got two older sisters, my older sister, Abby, got married, we moved to New York City, my mother faced her past and I got two more older siblings–this time a brother and a sister,I became a paraplegic, we moved back to Florida, Massachusetts, my mother had triplets, and my older sister, Jaci, got married.

It was a rather busy year and a half, and life didn’t stop moving fast just because I felt like I needed a break.

The summer I wrote that story, I met the girl who asked me to write it. Her name is Charlotte Lily King, but almost everyone calls her Charlly. She just happened to be the stepdaughter of one of Mr. Stewart’s nephews. She also just happened to be moving to Florida, Massachusetts and be a paraplegic. Charlly moved in with me and my family since there is really no other wheelchair friendly house in Florida. While I would like to write about Charlly’s move to Florida and all the craziness her life brought, that’s Charlly’s story to tell. All you need to know is that her stepdad’s name is Laz, Charlly’s biological father’s name is ‘Lou’, Charlly has a younger sister named Becca Lou, a half brother named Jacob or ‘Mini-Lou’ as she likes to call him, and a stepbrother named Matt.

Life did start to slow down a little only to get more crazy. Then the craziest of all seasons arrived. Christmas.

As you can probably guess, Christmas is a big deal in my family and this Christmas would be particularly special. It would be the first we would spend at our new home, Drury Hall, and it would also be the triplet’s first Christmas. My mother invited every one in our family to come even my grandparents, who live in England. She was determined to make this Christmas special.

But this Christmas would be special and would be remembered for different reasons than what everyone had in mind. This Christmas would prove that there was still good in the world and that miracles really do happen.

And that hope helps bind us all together.

**

“Natalie?” My mother asked walking into my bedroom. “Do you know where I placed the ‘Baby’s First Christmas’ ornaments?I bought three for the triplets in September and now I can’t find them.”

“I haven’t seen them,” I said without taking my eyes off the sky. The weathermen had said there was a good chance that we would get a fresh snow this weekend and I desperately wanted to go sledding.

“Did you hear a word I said?” Momma asked.

“You asked if I had seen the triplets Christmas ornaments,” I said pulling my eyes away from the window and onto my mother. “I’ve never seen them in my life.”

My mother gave a mixture between a snort and a laugh and walked towards the door.

“Steve! Have you seen Avery, Love, and Emanuel’s ornaments?”

“It feels like snow!” Charlly squealed as she rolled into my–our bedroom. Charlly had opted to room with Noel and I. The experience was…interesting. Life left like one big sleepover with Charlly living in the house.

“You’re becoming a true Floridian,” I smiled. Charlly laughed.

“I can’t believe that Christmas is less than two weeks away,” Charlly said more to the window than to me.

“Why not? It surely feels like Christmas in this household,” I said.

“It feels like Christmas, but it just isn’t,” Charlly answered.

“How is that possible?” I asked.

“I just have this feeling,” Charlly trailed off.

“What kind of feeling?” I asked.

“It’s probably nothing,” Charlly said shaking her head. “Forget I ever said anything.”

“Charlly, if something is bothering you…,” I started.

“Charlly,” Momma said interupting me, “have you seen three ‘Baby’s First Christmas’ ornaments?”

“I thought I saw the new ones on the tree this morning,” Charlly said. Momma leaned against the door post and put her hand to her head.

“Forgive me, girls,” Momma said. “Christmas always gets me out of sorts. But I still love the season!”

“Let’s go to the B&B,” Charlly said before I can bring our previous subject back up. “The boys are about to return with the Christmas tree any moment now.”

**

“What happened in here?” I asked as Charlly and I rolled into the restaurant. The entire room was covered with tinsel.

“This is what you get when you give a four year old a box of tinsel,” Lou said as he started to clean up the mess.

“Why does that not surprise me?” Charlly asked as she pulled some tinsel through her wheel.

“I got this mess here. Why don’t you help Donna get ready for the tree?” Lou said taking the tinsel from Charlly.

“How come you didn’t go on the tree chopping trip?” I asked Lou.

“Don’t really my kind of thing,” Lou shrugged.

“Translation: Lou is lousy with a saw,” Charlly said.

“What can I say?” Lou asked. “Give me a saw and lose your eye.”

“Ok…,” I said. I quickly rolled into the family room.

“Where’s all the tinsel?” Ms. Donna asked as she rummaged through her box of Christmas decorations.

“Strewn all over your restaurant,” Charlly answered. She sent Jacob a look.

“Here!” Lou shouted. He threw some tinsel from the restaurant into the foyer.

“Oh my goodness,” Ms. Donna said as she walked towards the restaurant.

“We’re BACK!” Mr. Drew shouted as he and the rest carried the tree into the restaurant!

“We saw some flurries on our way back,” Darcy said as he helped up the tree in the holder.

Charlly squealed and rolled to the window.

“It’s snowing!” Charlly shouted.

“Someone’s excited,” Leo laughed. Charlly smacked him and Leo smirked.

I guess I should tell you this now in the story rather than later. Leo and Virginia ‘broke’ up this summer after Charlly came to town. Leo started liking Charlly and ever since their relationship has been…complicated. Also, Virginia refuses to speak to Charlly. Virginia hasn’t spoken a word to her since August.

“You guys can go play in the snow after we finish putting up the tree,” Charlly’s mom, Mrs. Jennifer Gray-Stewart, said as she hung the first ornament on the tree.

Soon everyone was busy hanging ornaments and stringing tinsel around the tree. By the time we’re finished, the ground was covered in snow, but sadly not enough to have impromptu sledding day.

“We’ll just have to have a Marshmallow Day tomorrow,” Darcy said as Charlly and I prepared to go home.

“Tomorrow,” I promised. “We’ll go to The Hill straight after school.”

Darcy nodded and gave me a quick kiss on the cheek.

“We might come for dinner,” I said. “Momma’s been a little frazzled lately.”

“Understandable with the triplets and you to take care of,” Darcy said. I shoved him just as Charlly rolled up.

“I’m not even going to ask,” Charlly said as she rolled out the door.

“Bye,” I waved as I too rolled out the door.

“I really hope it keeps snowing,” Charlly said. “I really want to sled on the legendary Hill.”

“From the looks of it, tomorrow is going to be an awesome snow day,” I said looking at the clouds.

We would never get to go to sledding on The Hill the entire winter season.

**

The day started off wrong.

The triplets woke up around five A.M. screaming their lungs off and waking everybody up, snow had turned into rain, I woke up with an upset stomach, Noel had slept in the panic room and refused to come out, and Charlly didn’t speak a word the entire morning.

I could tell that she could feel it too.

Something terrible was going to happen.

By the time lunch came around, I was just about a nervous wreck. I kept telling myself that nothing that bad could possibly happen, but my emotions wouldn’t listen.

I was just about ready to snap when I saw Darcy leaning against a red trashcan, waiting for me and other friends to show up for lunch. I don’t know why it bothered me so much that Darcy leaned up against that silly trashcan. All I know is on that rainy December day, it infuriated me.

“Why do you lean up against the trash?” Those were the first words out of my mouth when I rolled up to him.

“I don’t know…,” Darcy stared at me. I could tell that he was caught off guard by the question.

“It’s disgusting!” I shouted.

“What?” Darcy asked. “Natalie, where is all of this coming from? You’ve been on edge all morning.”

“I just think that its a little disgusting that you’re leaning up against a trashcan!”

“It’s not like people barfed in it!”

“You don’t know that!”

“Fine!” Darcy shouted throwing his hands up in the air. “I’ll move!”

Just seconds after Darcy stepped away from the trashcan, the trashcan exploded, sending fire and something hard onto my face.

Posted in My Crazy Life

My Crazy Life: Episode II-From Home Schooled to High School Installment II

Chapter II

9th Grade, Girls, Grace…or Jordan

“I’m coming!” I called back as I hit the save button. I grabbed my backpack and rolled out the door.

“Charlly,” Megan said as I scarfed down some bacon.

“Yeah?” I asked with my mouth full.

“Is today pajama day at school?” Megan asked.

“Why you ask?” I said as I stuff pancakes into my mouth.

“Because you’re still wearing your pjs,” Megan said.

I looked down and realized I was still in my  asteroid pajamas.

“AGH!” I screamed. I had forgotten to change out of my pajamas.

“Charlly, honey,” Mrs. Matthews said as she picked up my plate, “I love you dearly, but I refuse to let you go to school in pjs.”

I rolled down the hall at a dangerous speed and pulled some jeans and a shirt out of the closet. I groaned as I tried to lift my leg up to put my jeans on. I’ve always been terrible at dressing in my wheelchair. I usually dress on my bed, but I have no time for transfers today.

“I’m ready!” I called as I rolled out of my room.

“Why are you wearing my SHIRT!?” Noel screamed.

“And why are you wearing my jeans?” Natalie said almost in a laugh.

I stared down at myself. Instead of pajamas, I was wearing one of Noel’s maternity shirts and a pair of Natalie’s jeans. The shirt is huge on me and considering, I’m almost six feet tall, Natalie’s jeans look like shorts on me.

“Just change your shirt,” Natalie said as she rolled out the door. “You don’t have time to do your pants.”

Noel stared at me. She looked like she wanted to freak out.

“Noel, honey, I’m sure Charlly didn’t mean to put on your shirt,” Mrs. Matthews said.

“I’m really sorry, Noel,” I hollered as I raced down the hall. I changed into one of my own shirts and rolled out the door.

“What happened to you?” Regina laughed.

I looked at myself and realized I was wearing one of my huge Christmas sweaters.

“At least I’m not the only one who’s going to have a new look this year,” Regina laughed. I took a good look at her. Her hair was now rather short and all blonde.

“You cut your hair!” I shouted.

“Correction, I went to a saloon and a professional cut my hair,” Regina squealed.

“I hadn’t realized your hair had grown out that much,” Natalie said.

“I’m glad it finally did,” Regina said. “Auburn is not my color.”

“And neither is blonde,” Nelson said. “You should try black.”

Regina hit him.

“Oh! I almost forgot! You won’t believe who I saw walking into the saloon as I was leaving,” Regina said.

Natalie looked around. Everyone but Leo and Virginia were at the B&B bus stop.

“Virginia?”  Natalie asked.

“Nope,” Regina said.

“Jaci?” Natalie guessed.

“Nope,” Regina said. “You got one more guess.”

“Um, Jessie-Maria?” Natalie asked.

“Good guess, but no,” Regina said. “It was Leo!”

“Maybe he’s finally getting those bangs he grew out cut,” Darcy said. “He was starting was to look like a girl.”

“Maybe he wants to look nice for a special someone,” Regina said. She pointed at me. “But she obviously doesn’t want to look good for him.”

I rolled my eyes as the bus pulled up.

For some reason my heart started beating real fast. Whether it was because I was wearing a sweater and short like jeans or because I was afraid of going on the bus looking this ridiculous I don’t remember.

“Come on, girly. We’re burning daylight,” The bus driver said at the top of the ramp. I quickly rolled up the ramp.

“Charlly?” Leo asked looking at me.

“LEO?” I asked. “What happened to your head.”

“Sit down!” The bus driver shouted at Leo. Leo sat down next to me.

“How do you like my new look?” Leo asked. I just stared at him with my mouth open. His hair was cut in a totally different way oh and it was also BLONDE!

“Don’t let a fly fly in,” Leo said closing my mouth. He looked nervous.

“Hey ya’ll…,” Virginia said as she bored the bus. Her mouth fell open when she saw Leo.

“What did I tell you about dying your hair?” Virginia asked Leo as she sat next to Natalie.

“You told me it was an incredibly stupid idea,” Leo said running his hands through his hair. “I beg to differ.”

“You better go down to the store and beg for another box of hair dye,” Virginia said.

“I went to the saloon and got my hair cut and dyed,” Leo said.

“Your mom let you do that?” Virginia asked.

“Um, no,” Leo said. His face clouded at the mention of his mom. “But my dad was cool with it.”

“Because he’s bald!” Virginia said.

“By choice,” Leo said quickly. “He shaved his head for cancer awareness.”

“That’s sweet,” I said. Virginia looked at me. She opened her mouth but then she remembered her vow.

“Leo, we both know its all her fault that you’ve just made the stupidest decision of your life,” Virginia said. “Look at Regina! She cut her hair so that it could be back to her original color.”

“No, actually, I think the stupidest decision of my life was sending you to that mushy Valentine,” Leo said. “And Regina looked silly as a red head. I look awesome as a blonde.”

The look on Virginia’s face said it all. She was boiling.

“That was a little harsh,” I whispered in his ear. He took my hand and squeezed it.

I wanted to scream for some reason. From the looks of it, Virginia did too.

The bus pulled up to Drury High School and my heart dropped to the pit of my stomach. It wasn’t until that moment did I realize I had just gone from home schooled to high school. To me it felt like the most scary thing in the world.

Natalie and I were the last ones off the bus. Darcy and Leo were waiting for us at the door.

“Can you believe it?” Darcy asked as he opened the door for us. “We’re in high school!”

Natalie let out a squeal. I gave a nervous smile.

“I hope we have some of the same classes,” Natalie said as we got in line to get our schedules.

“Me too,” was all I could manage to get out.

“You nervous?” Natalie asked.

“Yup,” I nodded. Natalie laughed.

“Me too,” Natalie said. “I feel like having a panic attack.”

“Well, you’re doing an excellent job of hiding it,” I said.

Natalie smiled and laughed.

“Ok, lets see,” Natalie said as she opened up her schedule. “My period A is foreign langue with Mr. Ethan Peterson.”

“So is mine,” Virginia squealed as she looked at her schedule.

“My period A is science with Mrs. Kathy Davis,” I sighed.

“I have science with Mrs. Kathy Davis,” Leo said. “We could be lab partners.”

“Well at least we all have to same homeroom,” Natalie said.

I nodded.

“My period B is English with Mrs. Molly MacDonald ,” Darcy said.

“Me too,” Natalie smiled.

“My period B is Math with Ms. Jamie Cole,” I said.

Virginia looked like she wanted to scream.

“You too?” I asked her.

“I can’t believe I have Math with Mrs. Jamie Cole!” Virginia shouted at Natalie. Natalie tried not to roll her eyes, but she failed.

“I have Math with Mrs. Jamie Cole too,” Leo spoke up.

“My period C is Music and Fine Arts with Mrs. Lee Robin,” Natalie said.

“Lee Robin isn’t a teachers name,” Leo said. Natalie chuckled.

“I have Mrs. Lee Robin too!” Virginia squealed.

“My period C is Social Studies with Mr. Christian Piper,” I said. “Now how’s that for not a teachers name?” Leo smiled.

“I have Mr. Piper too,” Darcy said.

“I’ve got first lunch,” Leo said. “Anybody else got that?”

“I’ve got second lunch,” Natalie said.

“So do I,” I shrugged.

“I do also,” Darcy said.

“Virginia?” Leo asked.

“I’ve got first lunch too,” Virginia said. “But if you think I’m going to sit next to you then you do only use ten percent of your brain.”

Leo laughed.

“While ya’ll have lunch, I have Period D Science with Mr. Bob Landon,” Natalie said.

“So do I,” Darcy smiled.

“I have Period D English with Ms. Marianne Solari,” I sighed.

“I have Period E English with Mrs. Kathrin Benson,” Leo said. “Please tell me someone is taking that class.”

“I’m not,” Virginia said. “My Period E is Social Studies with Mr. Patrick Jude.”

“Charlly?” Leo asked.

“I just said I have English with Ms. Marianne Solari!” I shouted.

“So what’s your Period F?” Leo asked.

“Foreign langue with Ms. Lauren Star,” I said.

“I have her class too,” Leo smiled.

“I can’t believe we don’t have any classes together,” I said to Natalie as I read her schedule.

“We’re all in the same homeroom,” Natalie said.

“From 8:45 to 8:53,” I said. “That’s not even ten minutes!”

“Well we have lunch together,” Natalie said.

“I forgot about–” I started.

I wasn’t given a chance to finish. The bell gave its warning rang.

“Wait! Does anybody have Period A Music and Fine Arts with Mrs. Alyssa Capricorn?” Darcy asked.

“Nope!” Natalie said as she rolled to her foreign language class. “See you in homeroom, English, Science, and Lunch!”

“Leo?” Darcy asked hopefully.

“Nope,” Leo said as he took the handle bars of my wheelchair. “I’ve got science with Charlly.”

“Great,” Darcy grumbled as he walked towards his class. “I’ve got my least favorite class with nobody.”

“Maybe there will be some cute girls,” I winked,

“Not on his life!” Natalie sorta kinda shouted.

I giggled.

“So what does the rest of your day look like?” Leo asked. “I wasn’t really listening. I was freaking out that I’m being forced to take music.”

I smiled.

“I’ve got Period A Science with Mrs. Kathy Davis, Homeroom, Period B Math with Ms. Jamie Cole, Period C Social Studies with Mr. Christian Piper, Period D English with Ms. Marianne Solari, 2nd Lunch, Period E Music and Fine Arts with Mr. Chad Rain, and Period F Foreign Language with Ms. Lauren Star,” I said.

“So I get to start my day with you and end it. I also get Math and Social Studies,” Leo said. “Not a bad day line-up.”

I wanted to smack him on the back, but I settled for the hands.

“Hey!” Leo laughed. “It was a complement!”

Leo finished rolling me into science.

“So where would you like to sit?” Leo asked. “I usually sit in the back.”

“Then I’ll sit in the front,” I said.

“Then I’ll sit in the front with you,” Leo said. He removed one of the chairs from the desk and rolled me into it.

“Perfect fit,” Leo said as he plopped down next to me.

“You better not pass any notes to me,” I said.

“That’s a promise I can’t keep,” Leo winked.

“Then don’t get me in trouble during the process,” I said. Leo smiled.

“I won’t. I promise,” Leo smiled.

Then one of the strangest sights I have ever seen came into the classroom.

A girl, with black hair, came into the classroom riding on a boy’s back.

“Period A Science with Mrs. Kathy Davis,” The boy said, letting the girl off. The girl got off with a squeal and stood next to Piggy-Back Boy. She was very pale and at least a good three inches taller than him.

“Thanks, Chris,” The girl smiled.

“Your welcome, Grace,” The boy, who I guessed was Chris, said.

I was able to get a better look at the boy now that he wasn’t hunched over. He was a little bit below average male height. He had brown hair and brown eyes. He was wearing a plaid shirt and jeans.

“Hi!” The girl said. She held out her hand to me.

“Hi,” I said shaking it.

“I’m Jordan Miller,” The girl said. “Welcome to Drury High and the Berkshires!”

I stared at the girl. Hadn’t Chris just called her Grace like two seconds ago?

“And you are?” Jordan asked.

“I’m Charlotte Lily King, but you can just call me Charlly,” I said.

“Oooo! I like that!” Jordan shouted. “Now, do you spell that like C-H-A-R-L-I-E or C-H-A-R-L-E-E or C-H-A-R-L-L-E, or C-H-A-R-L-L-I-E-L-Y?”

“Um, actually none of the above,” I said. “Its spelled C-H-A-R-L-L-Y.”

“Now that just doesn’t make any sense,” Jordan huffed. “Oh, hi, Leo.”

“Hey, um…, Maggie?”

“I feel like being a Jordan today,” Jordan said.

“Ok, then, hi, Jordan,” Leo said.

“It was nice to meet you, Charlly spelled C-H-A-R-L-L-Y,” Jordan said. “Do you have One or Two Lunch?”

“Huh?” I asked.

“Do you have One or Two Lunch?” Jordan repeated.

“I have Second Lunch,” I said confused.

“So do I!” Jordan shouted. “I’ll seek you out then! Godspeed!”

Jordan sat right next to me. Chris sat next to Jordan. I looked at him. He burst out laughing.

“What is so funny, Chris?” Jordan asked.

“If you had the slightest clue,” Chris smiled. Jordan just stared at him confused.

Mrs. Kathy Davis walked into the room and slammed the door.

“Good morning, class,” Mrs. Davis said. “I’m Mrs. Kathy Davis and I am stuck with you for the rest of the school year.” Mrs. Davis hastily wrote her name on the dry erase board.

“To make my–and your life easier. Please remember where you have sat down and sit there tomorrow and the rest of the school year,” Mrs. Davis said. “I will make a chart sheet and anyone who does not sit where they are sitting today, tomorrow or any other time in the school year I will give them detention.”

Everyone spoke to each other with their eyes. This was going to be a long year.

Posted in My Crazy Life

My Crazy Life: Episode I-The Summer Everything Changed Installment VII

Chapter VII

Invitations & Inventions & Laser Tag &…….Little Brothers? 

I was awoken the next morning by the sound of the doorbell being repeatedly pushed.

“What time is it?” Natalie groaned as she made a sleepy transfer to her wheelchair.

“Six-thirty,” I said as I glanced at the clock.

“Make it stop!” Noel screamed. She put her hands over her ears and started to shout random things.

Chaos erupted in the Matthews house. The sound of babies wailing made me become fully awake. I heard the sound of four little feet and two big feet racing down the steps.

I heard Mr. Steve grumble as he passed the room.

“I’M COMING!” Mr. Steve shouted as the ringing started to get faster and louder.

“Charlly, its for you!” Mr. Steve shouted seconds later.

“Me?” I mumbled as I transferred from bed and into my wheelchair.

“Good Morning, Charlly,” Megan said as I passed her in the hallway. Bella gave me a smile and waved.

“Morning,” I mumbled because so far it wasn’t very good.

The roll to the door was slow. I almost fell asleep a couple of times on the minute roll to the door.

“What took you so long!” Becca Lou shotued when I got to the front door.

“Why are you ringing the doorbell at six in the morning?” I retorted.

“The-police-showed-up-at-the-B&B-and-I-overheard-them-say-they-wanted-to-speak-to-a-Robert-King,” Becca Lou said. She spoke so fast she said it all like it was one word.

“WHAT!” I screamed.

“Then-I-asked-who-Robert-King-was-and-Lou-stood-up-and-said-that-he-was-Robert-King!” Becca Lou screamed.

I was down the wheelchair ramp and on the road within seconds.

A bazillion things ran through my mind. Was Lou being arrested? Why else would the police want to speak with him? Maybe one of my grandparents had died? I remember Lou saying something about having a much younger sister. Was she in trouble?

“Charlly, have you heard a word I’ve said?” Becca Lou screamed as we past the Rivers’ cabin.

“No, sorry,” I said. “Say it again will you please?”

“Why does Lou call himself Lou if his name is Robert?” Becca Lou asked.

“You’ll have to ask Lou about that one,” I said.

When we reached the B&B, Lou’s motorcycle was still parked in the driveway. No police cars were around. I noticed that Cece Elizabeth was sitting on the porch swing.

Cece Elizabeth turned towards us when she heard Becca Lou’s frantic feet stomp up the steps.

“Girls,” Cece Elizabeth sighed, “Lou’s gone.”

**

“I’m sorry, Charlly,” Mom said after I asked her what happened for the millionth time. “Lou asked me not to tell you. All I can say is that he did not get arrested.”

I gave a frustrated sigh. It was now the afternoon and no one would say anything about what had happened that morning. All I knew was that the police came to speak to Lou, Lou grabbed his jacket, and left with them.

“I’m sure he’s coming back,” Natalie said as we rolled into the restaurant to hunt out a snack.

“You don’t know Lou,” I sighed.

“He left his motorcycle and his stuff,” Natalie said. “He has to come back for that at least.”

“Lou never cared about stuff. If he was out of there, he was out of there,” I grumbled.

“If you ask me Lou looked all most happy to go along with the cops,” Darcy said not looking up from what he was doing.

“Did you use the words happy, go along, and cops in the same sentence?” Natalie asked.

“Yup,” Darcy said as he handed Natalie an envelope.

“What’s this?” Natalie asked opening it.

“Invitations to my birthday par….celebration,” Darcy said as he handed me mine.

“You’re never to old to have a birthday party,” Natalie laughed as she took out the card.

“How old are you turning? Twenty-One?” I joked as I took my card out.

“Fifteen,” Darcy said.

“My baby is growing up so fast,” Ms. Donna said as she brought out some fruit.

“Mom!” Darcy shouted.

“What? It’s true?” Ms. Donna said.

At the same time Natalie said, “You have got to be kidding me.”

“Don’t tell me you don’t like laser tag,” Darcy said in a surprised voice.

” You’re having a laser tag party!” I shouted as I read my invitation. “I’m in.”

“I’ve never played,” Natalie started, “but that’s not…”

“It’s real simple, Nat,” Darcy said. “You….”

“I know how laser tag works,” Natalie snapped. “If you don’t want me to come to your party, next time just say so.”

“Huh?” Darcy asked clearly confused.

“Don’t play dumb with me,” Natalie said dropping the invitation on the ground. She started to roll towards the family room.

Darcy and I stared at each other for a second.

“Do you have any idea what that was about?” Darcy asked me.

“Nope,” I answered.

“I better go after her and find out what’s wrong,” Darcy said getting up. He turned to me. “I might need some backup.”

I nodded and rolled after the direction he went in.

“Natalie! Wait!” Darcy called as he ran down the driveway.

Natalie stopped, turned around, and folded her arms.

“I’m waiting,” Natalie said when we reached her.

“Look, Natalie, I don’t know what I did wrong, but….sorry?” Darcy said.

I let a snicker escape. Natalie looked at me.

“I don’t know how you find this funny when it affects you too,” Natalie said.

“How does it affect me?” I asked.

“You do realize that we can’t play laser tag right,” Natalie said.

“Why not?” I asked.

“Why do we never use water guns in our fights?” Natalie asked.

“Huh?” I asked.

“Why do we have water balloon fights and not water gun fights?” Natalie asked.

I shrugged, but Darcy’s mouth fell open.

“Oopps,” Darcy said. “I didn’t think about that.”

“Now, I’m confused,” I said.

“Charlly, in order to fire a laser gun you need both hands free. One to pull the trigger and the other to push a button to make it fire. We are also slower than everybody else. We would be the easiest targets,” Natalie said. “We would probably never get to fire because we’d be waiting to be risen from the dead so many times.”

“Oh….,” I said understanding.

“We could play as teams!” Darcy shouted. “You guys could be on a team together and….”

“Nice idea, Darcy, but…,” Natalie started but her eyes landed on a taxi that was coming down the street.

I nearly fainted as Lou and a little mini-Lou got out of the taxi.

**

“I can’t believe you never told me you had another kid!” I shouted.

Lou cringed a little. He was searching for the words to say.

“I thought it’d be a nice surprise,” Lou said.

“You thought finding out that I have a for year old half-brother would be a nice surprise?” I asked.

“Yes….,” Lou said as if he was unsure of what to say.

I grunted and folded my arms. My eyes caught sight of Becca Lou and Mini-Lou, who’s real name was Jacob, playing with chalk on the B&B driveway.

Becca Lou didn’t even bat an eye when she found out that Mini-Lou was our half brother. She just took his hand and asked if he wanted to play with chalk or a ball.

“Look, Lottie, I didn’t know he existed until six months ago,” Lou said. “Trying to get full custody is why I didn’t come to see you right after I got out of rehab. When your Mom found out about him….”

“Wait! Mom knew that you had another kid with another woman?” I asked.

Lou nodded tentatively.

“Your Mom and Laz put in a good word for me,” Lou said. “The police came by this morning and told me that Jacob’s mother was arrested for DWI last night.”

“DWI?” I asked.

“Driving will intoxicated,” Lou said. “The blood work showed she was three times over the legal alcohol limit and was rather high.”

“Wasn’t that what you were arrested for?” I asked. Lou nodded.

“But I’m trying to change my life around. I hope some day she does,” Lou said.

I started to roll away. I was so mad at Lou at that moment. A nice surprise? Who in there right mind would think that suddenly finding out you have a new sibling would be a nice surprise?

“Love ya, Lou Pa,” I said just so we didn’t leave on too awful of terms.

“Love ya, Charlly Lottie,” Lou called.

I slammed the door way harder than I meant too. The sound of the door got Becca Lou and Mini-Lou’s attention.

“Come over here” Mini-Lou hollered. I rolled over to where they were drawing partly amused.

“Do you like to play?” Mini-Lou asked me.

“Sure,” I shrugged.

“Do you like to draw?” Mini-Lou asked.

“Sure,” I shrugged.

“Then this is the PERFECT game for you!” Mini-Lou shouted. He threw up his hands causing the piece of chalk in his hands to land on the ground and break.

I couldn’t hold it in any longer. I gave him a smile.

“Charlly feels like she’s too old to do chalk and play games,” Becca Lou said.

“Oh,” Mini-Lou said.

“It doesn’t look like there’s going to be a water balloon fight today,” I said transferring from my wheelchair to the ground. “I guess I can do some driveway coloring.”

“We’re drawing this town!” Mini-Lou shouted. “I saw a sign with a snowman on the way here and Mr. Lou says that there’s a statue of an elk here too!”

I spent the rest of the afternoon drawing buildings, clouds, and elks.

**

“Tada!”

I stared at the invention that Darcy was so proudly displaying to Natalie and I. If you asked me the thing looked like a double pair of underwear.

“Please tell me that is not underwear,” Natalie said.

“It is not underwear,” Darcy said. “I made it out of some strong fabric that Jaci gave me.”

“You sewed that?” I asked.

“With some help from Jaci,” Darcy blushed. “Ok a lot of help.”

“Put your underwear back on! You’re in a public place where people eat!” Mini-Lou shouted as he walked into the restaurant with Lou not that far behind.

Darcy burst into titters and Natalie and I started to giggle.

“Not wearing your underwear is no laughing matter,” Mini-Lou said as Lou ordered for them.

That only made us laugh more.

“Ok, if its not a strange looking pair of underwear what is it?” Natalie asked as she tried to stop laughing.

“Let me demonstrate,” Darcy said. He put his legs through two of the legs slots.

“You look ridiculous,” Natalie giggled.

“Your about to look ridiculous too,” Darcy said. “Lou can you help me with something?”

“Sure,” Lou shrugged. He walked up to where we were standing. “What do you need me to do?”

“Can you pick up Natalie and put her in the back of this thingamajig?” Darcy asked.

Lou gave a slow nod.

“One, two, three!” Lou shouted as he picked Natalie. He put her in the sling.

“This is fun!” Natalie laughed as Darcy walked around the room with er attached to him.

“I made another one for you too,” Darcy said to me as he helped Natalie back into her wheelchair.

“So how does this slow our problem?” I asked.

“Some one on your team will carry you on their back. They’ll be your legs,” Darcy said.

“Oh,” I said nodding. “That’s actually a pretty good idea.”

“So are we good?” Darcy asked Natalie.

“More than good.” Natalie smiled.

**

I tried to hold my breath. The enemy was approaching. Clueless that I and my partner were hiding behind a barrier.

“Ready?” Leo whispered.

“Ready.”

We aimed our laser beams on our target and fired.

“Not again!” Virginia screamed.

“Ha!” Leo shouted. We ran from our hiding place.

“Gotca!” Natalie shouted as she pointed her beam at my shoulder.

“I’ve been hit!” I said all dramatically.

“Hey!” Natalie shouted as Leo shot her and Darcy.

“Let’s get outa here!” I shouted. Leo ran up the ramp.

“A ha!” Yule shouted. He took out Leo.

“Cover me while I recover!” Leo shouted as he ran in zigzags.

“Stop!” I whispered. I could see Matt trying to hide behind a barrier. I aimed and fired.

“Who did that!” Matt shouted.

I silently giggled.

“Not so fast!”

Leo turned, which was a bad move because Bennet took him out.

“Seriously, man! I just recovered!” Leo shouted. Bennet smiled, but his smile turned upside down when I took him out.

“It’s no fair! You guys get attached backup!” Benent shouted. “Well, I’m a paraplegic! I should be on somebody’s back!”

Leo ran away before Bennet could take another aim at him.

“Capow!” Mini-Lou shouted as he waved his gun in the air like a maniac.

“AH!” Leo shouted. He ran right into Lou.

“Sorry, son,” Lou said. He took the both of us out.

“Dad!” I shouted.

“Sorry, Lottie,” Lou said. “Hey! Who got me!”

Becca Lou gave a mysterious laugh.

“Thirty seconds!” Someone called out.

We all ran off in different directions.

As we ran, I managed to get Noel and Emily.

“Say bye-bye.”

I groaned as Noel got her revenge.

“Time’s up!”

The lights in the room turned back on. What seemed like hundreds of people emerged from behind barriers and out of nowhere.

“That was awesome!” Jessie-Maria shouted.

“I can’t believe I actually hit somebody,” Jaci said as we pilled out of the room.

“I wonder who won,” Darcy said as he put Natalie back in her wheelchair.

“Me of course,” Leo said helping me into the wheelchair.

“Let’s see,” Regina said looking at the score board. “That’s not fair!”

“What’s not fair?” I asked.

“Charlly, got the most hits!” Regina shouted. “And Natalie got second. Darcy third and Leo fourth.”

“All right!” Leo said as he high-fived Darcy.

“You guys had backup!” Regina shouted. “It should be illegal!”

“Illegal?” Lou laughed as he tried to get the laser gun from Mini-Lou’s hands.

“Well at least against the rules,” Regina said crossing her arms.

“There are different rules for paraplegics,” Natalie said as she got her sheet.

“Not all paraplegics,” Bennet joked.

“I don’t care!” Nelson shouted. “I just want to do it again!”

“Again!” Everyone shouted excitedly.

 

Posted in My Crazy Life

My Crazy Life: Episode I-The Summer Everything Changed Installment IV

Chapter IV

Cherry Popsicles & Chatting

Before I even had a chance to cry or scream over my murdered laptop or before Mrs. Matthews had a chance to apologize for her granddaughter, what seemed like hundreds of dripping wet people burst into the house.

“Wet kids!” Mrs. Matthews screamed. “Get out of my kitchen! Go out on the porch and I’ll bring you guys towels…and popsicles.”

With the promise of popsicles everyone but Darcy raced out of the kitchen.

“What happened here?” He asked pointing at my laptop. Natalia giggled as if she was happily confessing to the dirty deed.

“Baby laptop murder,” I spit out. Darcy laughed.

“Would you mind if I took a look at it?” Darcy asked as he walked towards the door.

“If you can fix that thing, I’ll love you forever,” I said almost in a grumble.

“Don’t let Natalie hear you say that,” Darcy laughed. The door slammed as he ran around the house to the porch.

“Please deliver these for me,” Mrs. Matthews said as she dispensed about ten towels in my lap. “Can you also take the popsicles out?”

“Sure,” I said.

“I’m really sorry about your computer, Charlly. I thought it would be safe on the table. I had no idea Natalie knew how to climb…or was strong enough to lift the laptop,” Mrs. Matthews apologized as she rummaged through the freezer. “You can have my old one if you want. The internet’s fuzzy, but the Word works perfectly.”

“Thanks, I’d appreciate that,” I sighed. “Darcy’s going to take a look at it, but I doubt he can do anything with it.”

“I didn’t know Darcy was into computers. Doesn’t surprise me,” Mrs. Matthews said as she dropped the popsicles on top of the towels. “But in the meantime, this computer needs to get picked up off my kitchen floor.”

Mrs. Matthews picked up Natalie and walked off towards the family room where Mr. Steve was watching the triplets.

My trip to the front door was slow since I couldn’t see over the Leaning Tower of Towels and Popsicles, but I managed to make it to the front door without dropping anything.

“And when Nelson came around and splattered Jessie-Maria with that whooper of a water balloon!” A girl with very wet red hair laughed as I opened the front door of the Matthews’ house.

“Hey!” A girl with wet brown hair shouted. “He hit me in the face with that glob of water!”

“You’ve gotta admit Jessie-Maria that it was pretty funny,” A girl with wet blonde/auburn hair snickered.

“To bad Timmy got married,” A boy with almost dry dirty blonde hair said.

“Why?” Natalie asked.

“Because Timmy is the best water ballooner in all of Berkshire County!” The boy shouted. “First he turns down a fun day just hanging out to spend with his wife, the next thing we’ll know Timmy’s going to be a dad.”

“What’s wrong that?” Natalie asked. “I’ll get to be an aunt again.”

“Natalie, think,” The girl with red hair said. “Can you imagine? Timmy…my brother…a father?! Jaci was born to be a mommy, but Timmy…” The girl broke out in giggles.

“When you put it that way,” Natalie said. She started to titter.

“Hey, Noel has a daughter and she played with us this afternoon,” The red haired blondie said.

“Man,” The dirty blonde boy said shaking his head. “Noel was the only one that got me.”

“Not true!” A black haired boy, who was standing on the steps shouted. “I got you from the behind. So did Bennet.”

“Guys,” The girl with red hair said. Everyone turned to look at me.

“Everyone, this is Charlly King. She’s staying with us while her parents build their house,” Natalie said. “Charlly, this is Emily Stewart, Regina Drew, Nelson Drew, Leo Logan, and Jessie Maria Sean.”

She pointed to everyone as she said their names.

“Man, Natalie, I thought your parents had some sense!” Nelson shouted. “Her parents could be like murders!”

“That is getting so old!” Regina shouted.

“What is?” Nelson asked. His eyes told me he knew what Regina was going to say.

“You’re latest obsession with the word ‘Man’,” Regina said. “You sound like some delinquent!”

Nelson snickered.

“Man, older twin sisters are so annoying,” Nelson said. Regina gave him a gentle shove.

“I think the popsicles might be melting,” I said as I felt something wet drip onto me. Everyone crowded around me as they got a popsicle and a towel.

“What kind of popsicles do you like?” Leo asked as he pulled out the last two popsicles. One was grape, and the other was cherry.

“I like cherry,” I stuttered.

“Good, because I hate cherry,” Leo smiled as he threw the cherry one at me and opened his grape.

“Why did you ask then?” I asked as I caught the popsicle with one hand.

“Virginia’s always trying to get me to be more ‘gentlemanlike’. Whatever that means,” Leo said as he sucked on his popsicle very ungentlemanlike.

“Wait…you’re that Leo!” I guffawed. I almost slapped myself for not making the connection.

“Yup, what of it?” Leo asked.

“Let’s just say Virginia had quite the outburst earlier,” I said trying to stop from laughing.

Leo smirked. He actually smirked. The smirk squished any hope for me to stop laughing.

“Virginia had an outburst!” Emily shouted, “and I missed it!” Emily looked almost upset.

“If you hurry, you might be able to get her to have another one. I think she’s still fuming,” Natalie said. “If you mention the words ‘Leo’ and ‘smirk’ and you’re sure to get an earful.”

Emily, Jessie-Maria, and Regina dropped their towels and ran off in the direction I guessed was Virginia’s house.

“Girls,” Nelson muttered. “Can’t live with them. People wouldn’t be around without them.”

Leo kept on smirking. Darcy let a snicker escape.

“Thanks for the popsicles,” Leo said. He handed me his trash.

“What do I look like?” I asked.

Leo’s smirked expanded.

“You look like a girl,” Leo said.

“And you look like a boy who thinks girls are God’s Natural Trash Cans,” I said with a straight face.

Natalie nearly fell out of wheelchair with laughter. Darcy tried not to laugh, but he eventually gave in.

“Dude, you have to admit, she got you good,” Darcy laughed.

“Lord help me,” Leo said as he headed down the steps. “Every girl I’m attracted to is like Virginia!”

My cheeks went bright red at that. Leo turned around and winked at me. Darcy looked just as stunned as me.

“What’s gotten into HIM!?” Darcy shouted in disbelief. “Leo, wait up!” Darcy bolted from the Matthews porch and to the end of the driveway where Leo was waiting for Darcy.

“I thought you were going to take a look at my computer!” I called out but Darcy was already too far away to hear me.

“We’ll probably go to the B&B for dinner tonight so you can give it him then,” Natalie said. “If its something simple, my dad can probably fix it.”

“Trust me, unless your dad-or Darcy- is a secret computer genius my computer’s not coming back from the dead,” I said as I rolled into the house.

“Wha…?” Natalie asked as she followed.

**

I didn’t know whether to sigh or secretly swoon as I plopped myself down on the airbed and opened up Mrs. Matthews–my laptop.

My mom had been a little upset to hear that my laptop had been broken, but she told me it reminded her of something I had done when I was a baby. My mom claims that when I was eight months old I threw a computer mouse and the keyboard out our Denver apartment window. Laz just laughed and said that murdering (I kid you not he actually used the word MURDER) a computer and it’s accessories before even knowing the fury they give is something only a Stewart would do.

Dinner at the B&B was amazing. My mom’s a pretty good cook, but there’s something about Ms. Donna’s food that just melts into your mouth. I had her fried chicken since I practically lived on fried chicken and sweet tea when we lived in the South. I know all ya’ll from the South aren’t going to believe me when I say this but Ms. Donna’s fried chicken is better than any fried chicken I’ve ever ate in the South.

The delicious chicken and tea that was sweeten to perfection were overshadowed by the murderous looks Virginia kept giving me while I ate and was given the 411 on the town.

The first person to notice that I had shown up was Leo, the first person in my entire life who almost ran down an overly anxious three year old for the end of the row I had chosen to sit on was Leo, the first person to ask me questions about my life was Leo, and the person who couldn’t stop staring at me besides Virginia was Leo.

Ok, so I admit I was a little flattered at all the attention Leo was giving me. I mean who wouldn’t be? But let’s be real! I’m not trying or going to steal her boyfriend! Personally, the thought of Leo or any boy liking me was a little embarrassing and made my cheeks go red at that very moment.

For a couple of minutes I explored the computer that was now mine. The computer had the basic functions on it and all the major web browsers were already downloaded. The internet was a little slow, but most of my time would be spent on word writing my Sci-Fi stories.

Then reality slapped in my face. All my stories, my Star Wars fan fiction, my fictional diary, and my high score on Checkers was gone. Destroyed, when Natalia gave the laptop that one fatal blow. I would have to start over. The idea of having to restart all my stories brought tears to my eyes. I’ve had that laptop since the very first Christmas with Laz and Matt. Mom and Laz had pulled their money together to get both Matt and me a laptop. I remembered I was so excited that I started writing a story before I even finished opening my other presents.

A startling ding jolted me out of my one happy memory with Laz.

InMyOwnWorld: Just so you know, I don’t like the fact that you’ve moved into my room, but if you can tolerate Natalia I guess I can tolerate you. Sorry bout her. The naughty girl.

I looked over to Noel, whose eyes were plastered to her computer screen.

MatthewsMommy: Noel?

I HAD to change that username. While I tried to find the username settings, I found a long list of approved username people. TheQueen I guessed was Regina. I had no clue who Farm Girl or MusicalGal were. MyTwinSisIsCraz I guessed was Nelson. ToughGuy had to be Yule. ChristmasLovinGirl was obviously Natalie. MrBennet and MrDarcy must have been Bennet and Darcy’s idea of a joke. Something inside of me told me that CookingMomma was Ms. Donna. CrazyAuntJane was probably Virginia’s aunt who really was slightly crazy. MrsZachDavis had to be Natalie’s oldest sister Abby. ZachDAVIS was probably Abby’s husband, Zach Davis. I had a sneaking suspicion that Proverbs164 was Natalie’s other older sister Jaci. I made a note-to-self to look up Proverbs 16:4. TStew was probably Timmy Stewart (and Nelson was right. I couldn’t picture him as a father). MatthewsDaddy had to be Mr. Steve. And the last person on this list of people was someone named Sk8erLion. I clicked on the name. No profile picture showed up just a green light letting me know they were on. I decided that once I changed this name I would message that person.

Finally I found the setting to change the name. I tapped my fingers around the keyboard. IWannaGoHome was way to direct. Sci-FiGirl made me sound like a dork. SpaceGirl gave me the same dorky feeling. A thought popped into my head and I quickly typed it down. MyHeadsUpInSpace was PERFECT.

I switched back to messages to find that I had four new ones from Noel.

InMyOwnWorld: This is her

InMyOwnWorld: You might want to change your name. Each name is registered to the computer. I keep chatting with the wrong computer when I talk to Mommy.

InMyOwnWorld: Look, you seem like a nice person, but I think it would be best if we decided to be Virtual Friends. I do best here on this chat thingamajig. On here you have to spell everything out (well most of the times. I keep dropping hints to Regina that the mysterious face annoys me so much that I’ve had thoughts about throwing the computer out the window). In person its hard to detect the unspoken stuff. I feel rather awkward around other people, but on this l can still be in my world and interact with yours.

InMyOwnWorld: Ok, so here are some things about me. I hate action movies because they give me motion sickness. I was diagnosed with autism when I was four years old. I had a REALLY bad speech delay, but other that I’m pretty ‘high functioning’. I LOVE to play chase! Sometimes I purposely get caught so I can be pushed to the ground and tackled (Virginia thinks that crazy). Please try not to drop stuff while you’re here because I hate loud noises. I have a boyfriend 🙂 . Bennet is awesome! He makes a lot of mistakes (who gives someone dead flowers on Valentine’s Day? Why is there even a Valentine’s Day?), but he’s learning (sometimes Natalie jokes that he has to apologize for things as much as Darcy does *giggle*. It must run in the Edward men). Gotta go! Bennet FINALLY got on! Chat lats!

Something about that made me laugh. If Noel wanted to start our friendship on the messenger, I was perfectly ok with that.

As I clicked on Sk8erLion, my heart started to race. Mrs. Matthews wouldn’t have someone she didn’t know on this messenger would she?

MyHeadsInSpace: Hello……….?

Sk8erLion: Hey Charlly! This is Leo just in cause you didn’t know

MyHeadsInSpace: How did you know it was me!? And no I didn’t know

Sk8erLion: I knew it was you because everyone who’s ever met you knows your somewhere off in space 😉 😛

MyHeadsInSpace: You’re crazy 😛

Sk8erLion: For

Sk8erLion: Delete that

Sk8erLion: So I’ve been told…

For a second, I wondered what Leo was crazy for and then a selfish thought hit me.

He was crazy for ME.

I signed off after that.

Posted in My Crazy Life

My Crazy Life: Episode I- The Summer Everything Changed Installment III

Chapter IV

An Outburst & A Laptop Murder

As we pulled up into the Sunshine B&B driveway, I groaned as I hit the save button. Why had I started writing when I knew our destination wasn’t that far away? I shook my head. I guess I wasn’t thinking right after the accident.

After Mom and Laz explained to Matt what was going on, the adults tried to figure out a plan. After a lot of discussing they decided that we would drop off our stuff at the B&B and go from there.

“Just the way I remember it,” I heard Laz say as he walked up the steps.

I rolled out of the van and groaned as I looked at the steps. I heard someone snickering behind me.

“Attempt that if you want, but I’m going up the ramp,” Natalie said as she rolled around to the side of the house.

I nearly hit myself in the head. The ramp was RIGHT in front of me and I didn’t NOTICE it. What was up with me?

“Car accidents make you delusional,” Natalie said trying to comfort me. “I was sure delusional after mine.”

Apparently, everyone at the accident was delusional because they forgot one very important fact.

The Sunshine Bed & Breakfast wasn’t exactly wheelchair friendly.

I stared up at the thirty mocking steps while Laz and Mom tried to figure out what to do. Unless someone wanted to carry me up and down for the next six to eight months, we were going to have to find somewhere else to live.

“Natalie!”

“In the family room!”

“Natalie! You won’t believe what Leo did today!” A girl with red hair shouted as she walked up to me. I turned my wheelchair completely around and the look of shock that appeared on the girl’s face was worth a thousand words.

“You’re not Natalie,” The girl said like I was some Natalie imposter. “You look like her from behind, but your hair is a lighter shade of blonde. I’m Virginia Powers by the way.”

“I had a feeling,” I said. “Natalie summed you up perfectly when she called you bossy bubbly.”

“Are you a friend of Natalie’s?” Virginia asked.

“Not exactly. I’m more of follower. I crashed into her today though,” I said just to see a look of confusion on Virginia’s face.

And she did not disappoint.

“Wha…?” Virginia asked. Her shoulders slumped to a place shoulders have never been. She squinted her eyes so much that it looked as if they were closed. Her hands were swinging around until they found a place on her hips.

“Who are you?” Virginia asked. Her look turned accusing.

“I’m Charlotte Lily,” I said, “but everyone calls me Charlly.”

“Charlotte Lily… Why does that name sound familiar?” Virginia asked. Her confusion face returned.

“Virginia…,” Natalie said as she rolled into the hallway that was between the arch that took you to the restaurant and the rest of the house. “I see you’ve met Charlly.”

“This is just too confusing!” Virginia shouted. Her face turned into a weird mix between anger and confusion. “You said you didn’t know her!”

That retort was aimed at me. I tried not to smirk.

“But I also said I crashed into her today,” I said. Natalie laughed.

“Yup,” Natalie giggled. “It wasn’t a bad car crash, but it jolted me in my wheelchair.”

“My head is so congested and my heart is so angry that I can’t even make sense of this right now,” Virginia sighed.

“Why are you angry?” Natalie asked.

“Leo is the most self-center jerk in all of Berkshire County!” Virginia screamed.

“Whoa!” Natalie shouted with laughter. “What did Leo do this time?”

“So you’ve heard how Nelson asked Emily to be his girlfriend right?” Virginia said in sort of a whiney voice.

“Yeah, what of it?” Natalie asked.

“Well, today I kind of playfully asked Leo when he was going to make our relationship official,” Virginia said. She had to stop so she could catch her breath.

“And what happened next?” Natalie sighed. The look on her face told me that she already knew the answer. I kinda had a feeling what the answer was too.

“And looked at me and smirked! Smirked I say!” Virginia screamed.

“And?” Natalie and I asked at the same time.

“What do you mean and? He smirked at me when I asked him a serious question!” Virginia screamed at the top of her lungs.

“That’s it?” Natalie and I shouted.

“What is going on in here?” Darcy asked walking down the steps. “It sounds like bombs are going off.”

“You,” Virginia said as she hoped around me to get onto the steps. “You, Mr. Darcy Chadwick Edwards, will go down to Leo’s house and have a little talk with him.”

Darcy stood perfectly still on the tenth step.

“Um,” He stuttered.

“You will tell him that the next time his…potential girlfriend ask him a make or break relationship question he will answer with words and not smirks!” Virginia shouted.

“Huh?” Darcy asked.

“Long story,” Natalie said rolling her eyes.

“Look, Virginia, I can’t tell Leo what to do. If you’re so mad at him why don’t you just go tell him yourself,” Darcy said regaining his voice.

“Tell him myself? I’ve just about ruined any hopes of us ever living happily ever after…unlike some people!” Virginia shouted. She took a quick look at Natalie.

“You can’t be blaming me for your relationship woes!” Natalie snorted.

“Girls,” Darcy muttered as he tried to walk past Virginia, but Virginia grabbed his shirt.

“I don’t want to have to hurt you,” Darcy said with playfulness in his eyes.

“Neither do I,” Virginia said in a very dangerous voice.

“What do you want me to do? Yell at Leo just because he didn’t answer your question the way you wanted him to?” Darcy asked.

“Yes, as simple as that,” Virginia said.

“Um, no, not as simple as that,” Darcy said. “Maybe Leo doesn’t want whatever you wanted him to answer.”

“Are you saying I’m not good enough for him?” Virginia shouted. She let go of Darcy’s shirt and threw her hands up.

Darcy made a run for it. He ran down the steps and grabbed the handle bars of Natalie’s wheelchair.

“What are you doing?” Natalie laughed as Darcy pulled her towards the door.

“She won’t hurt me if I have you hostage!” Darcy shouted as he opened the door. He closed the door with a slam and I could hear Natalie giggling and screaming as he pushed her down the driveway.

“There goes the perfect couple!” Virginia screamed. If we were in a cartoon smoke would have been blowing out her ears and nose. “All happy and giggly. Well newsflash to world! All romances aren’t like that!”

Is she just figuring that out?

“What is going on in here?” Mr. Steve asked. “Has World War III erupted in here?”

Virginia gave him a look that made Mr. Steve grin.

“Where’d Natalie go?” Mr. Steve asked. The anger returned to Virginia’s face.

“She rolled off into the sunset with her knight in shinning armor while I’m drowning in the sea and my knight is riding away with a smirk on his face!” Virginia screamed. She stormed out the house and slammed the door harder than Darcy.

“I have no words,” Mr. Steve laughed. I smiled. I had a feeling my life was about to get more crazy with Virginia as an acquaintance.

“We’ve worked out a solution,” Mr. Steve said walking towards the restaurant. “Welcome to the Matthews family.”

“What?” I asked.

**

“We can either put the blowup bed in the N room or you can sleep in one of the other many other rooms,” Mr. Steve said as he brought my bags into Drury Hall.

“The N room?” I asked.

“That’s what Steve calls Natalie and Noel’s room because its shorter than saying Noel and Natalie’s room,” Mrs. Matthews said with a teasing voice.

“Love you too,” Mr. Steve said kissing Mrs. Matthews.

I made a mental note to ask Natalie if her parents kissed often, but since I was now living here I would be finding out sooner or later. My parents decided that I and I alone would be moving into the Matthews house during the six to eight months it would take to build our house. That might as well translate into a year with the threat of a long weather ahead.

I still can’t believe my mom would go along with this. This plan had to be one of Laz’s genius ideas and he must have sweat talked my mom into it because that’s the only logical answer I can think of.

“Do you think the girls would mine?” I asked.

“I can’t speak for Noel, but Natalie won’t mind,” Mrs. Matthews said. “Fourth door on the left.”

I rolled down the hall and was in for a total shock when I opened the door. The purple walls shined from the walls. Inspirational posters and ridiculous photos were hung on the walls. The picture right above Natalie and Noel’s bed was a picture of Natalie holding a cat. Megan holding a poor puppy. Yule and Bella were smiling and Noel was standing off in the corner looking like she wanted to freak out. If I had to be in that photo, I would have freaked out…and I don’t even have autism!

Yule came into the room a minute later with the blowup bed.

“I love that photo,” Yule snickered as he set the bed up.

“You do?” I asked. “It’s…it’s…it’s…”

“Hilarious,” Yule snorted.

“I was going to say creepy,” I blurted.

“That too,” Yule said. “The triplets would have been in that photo but they were still crying from the last one.”

“That would have been a disaster!” I laughed.

“Then you’ve got to see the picture the Kids picture in Mom and Dad’s room. Abby and Jaci are in that one too,” Yule said.

“Good Lord,” I said shaking my head.

“Yule,” I asked as he started to walk out the room, “do you like it here?”

“All I can is this ain’t New York City for sure,” Yule said. “It also ain’t Chicago.”

“How did you know…,” I said but he was gone.

I took one look at the picture and shook my head. Inspiration hit me. Where was the laptop?

“Natalia! No!”

That was an adult voice. This can’t be good.

I rolled out the room and found the remains of my laptop on the kitchen floor.

Posted in My Crazy Life

My Crazy Life: Episode I-The Summer Everything Changed Installment II

Chapter III
Surprises & Space

For a moment nobody did anything. Mom stared at the red van in shock. Laz scratched his head and surveyed the damage from the safety of the car. Becca Lou didn’t seem to notice and kept singing along with the song. Matt looked like he wanted to laugh but he was clearly annoyed.

A man cautiously opened his door. His head turned to survey the damage before I saw his face. Laz decided that now was a good time to get out of the car.

“Hello,” Laz said with his thick drawl. even to this day I don’t know how Laz got his thick Southern accent. I know his mother was from Mississippi, but come on! The guy sounds like a true Texasan!

The man turned around. He had hazel eyes and dirty blonde hair with a hint of grey. He was wearing a faded pair of jeans and a tee-shirt about making places wheelchair friendly. For I second my brain scrapped to figure out who he was, but then it all came to me like a flood. He was Steve Matthews. The stepfather of Natalie Matthews.

“Oh my gosh!” I screamed.

“What!” Mom shouted startled.

I quickly rolled to the van door and opened it.

“Stay in the car!” Mom shouted.

At the same time I heard a woman shout, “Natalie, stay in the car!”

“Oh my gosh!” I shouted as I pointed to the girl who had just rolled out of the red van. She had long dirty blonde hair and blue eyes. She had on a pair of jean shorts and the same shirt as Mr. Steve had on. If I hadn’t known better I would have thought they were biological father and daughter.

“Do I know you?” Natalie asked perplexed at my sudden outburst.

“Yes…well no…you don’t know me but I know you,” I said really really fast.

A woman walked out of the van. She was wearing sweats and a Fourth of July Tee-shirt. Her hair was pulled back into a pony-tail and her amber eyes screamed that she was very tired. She started to get into the back seat and only then did I hear the whimpers of babies.

“You’re Riley Matthews,” I blurted.

“Yup,” Mrs. Matthews said not even looking at me.

A tall young man walked out of the van with Down Syndrome girl on his tall and a little blonde girl was on her tail.

“You’re Yule!” I squealed. “And that’s Bella and Megan. Where’s Noel?”

“At the B&B with Bennet,” Yule said. “Wait who are you?”

“I’m Charolette Lily King,” I said.

“You’re Charlly?” Natalie asked.

“Yup,” I nodded. “I love your blog.”

“Thanks,” Natalie blushed.

Matt finally walked out the van. His eyes landed on Natalie and he smiled.

“Hi,” Matt said offering his hand.

“Hi,” Natalie said shaking it. “I’m assuming your the stepbrother that wasn’t mentioned. You know Charlly I could have helped you out with annoying brothers. Yule’s not my stepbrother but he’s pretty annoying.”

“Hey!” Yule shouted in a playful voice.

A strange looking Mustang pulled up and a man with a cane got out.

“Noel changed her mind,” The man said as he opened the back seat door. “She wants to go to the triplets doctor’s appointment now.”

“We’re not going anywhere, Bennet,” Mr. Steve said. Bennet looked at the damage and whistled.

“How did that happen?” Bennet asked. “Darcy, you’ve got to see this!”

A tall black haired guy walked out the car. His blue eyes filled with shock when he saw the side.

“What happened here?” Darcy asked.

“You’re Darcy Edwards!” I squealed. “You’re cuter in person!”

“Thank you…I think,” Darcy said. His voice trailed off at the last.

“Can someone please tell me what’s going on?” Matt asked.

*

“Watch out!” I screamed as our space shuttle nearly coliaded with another space shuttle.

Laz stopped the rocket just in time. The nose of our shuttle was just inches away from the nose of the other shuttle.

Laz put on the headphones and started to chat with the people in the other shuttle. The next thing I know we’re following the shuttle and we’re at the Space Shuttle Station.

“Sorry about that,” Laz said as he shook hands with the flyer of the other rocket. “I haven’t flown in years.”

“Its all right, Larry,” The man smiled. “Its just good to have you back.”

“I’m happy to be back, Levi,” Larry smiled. “Is the Asteroid Inn still open?”

“Yup,” Mr. Levi said. “My wife, daughters, and sons are there helping out Dana. Her husband died right after you left.”

“I heard,” Laz said with a sad face. “I tried to come but-“

“We all understood,” Mr. Levi said. “We all knew you had joined the army and couldn’t make it.”

“Well, I’m out of the army now so let the space adventures begin!” Laz shouted.

He could say that again.

Posted in Natalie

Natalie: Part 4- Joy to the World! Installment Ten

**

“Jaci, are you ready yet?” Abby asked impatiently. “The wedding was supposed to start ten minutes ago!”

“Almost!” Jaci cried.

“Cut her some slack,” I said as Noel put on my shoes.

“Jaci should have done what Zach and I did,” Abby said. “Everybody show up before ten thirty, and the wedding starts when we’re ready.”

“Ready!” Jaci said opening the door of the bridal chambers.

“You look beautiful,” Momma smiled.

“I think my mother would be proud,” Jaci said with a sad smile.

“Is my girl ready?” Daddy asked knocking on the door.

“You can come in,” Jaci said as she grabbed her flowers.

Daddy walked in and smiled.

“You look lovely,” Daddy said.

“Thank you,” Jaci smiled. Daddy offered her his arm and Jaci took it.

We bridesmaids filled out of the bridal chambers and found our groomsmen.

“You look pretty,” Darcy whispered in my ear as the couples started walking down the aisle.

I smiled at him.

“You nervous?” Darcy asked.

“About what?” I asked confused.

“About dancing,” Darcy said.

I don’t have time to answer him. Darcy started to push me down the aisle. I managed to plaster a smile on my face. My stomach was in knots. I forgot all about wheelchair dancing.

Darcy and I missed three weeks of practice while I was away in Pittsfield. Last night, Ms. Etta said that we were ready for the wedding. I wasn’t so sure.

The music switched from The Wedding Song to Here Comes the Bride. Everybody stood but me.

Jaci beamed as she and Daddy walked down the aisle. She looked absolutely beautiful in her handmade dress. Timmy’s smiled wide at her. In that moment then and there I knew that he loved her.

“Dearly beloved, we are gathered here in the sight of God, and in the presence of this company, to unite Timothy- Caleb Stewart and Jaci Matthews. Marriage was instituted by God. It is therefore, not to be entered into unadvisedly or lightly; but reverently, soberly and in the fear of God. If anyone questions this marriage between Timothy-Caleb Jeffery Stewart and Jaci Ireland Matthews, speak now or forever hold your peace,” The pastor said.

I don’t even think Mr. Stewart would have objected. Not a sound was to be heard. Even the triplets were quiet.

“Who gives this woman to this man?” The preacher asked.

“We do,” Daddy and Momma said with tears in their eyes.

“Let us pray,” The pastor said. He prayed.

“Now the best man will read a Scripture passage,” The pastor said.

“‘And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul…And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it…And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him…And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man. And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.'” Darcy quoted.

“Now the maid of honor will read a Scripture passage,” The pastor said.

“‘Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.'” I quoted.

“You may say your vows now,” The preacher said to Timmy and Jaci.

“I, Timothy-Caleb Stewart, take you Jaci Matthews, to be my wedded wife, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do us part, or the Lord comes for His own, and hereto I pledge you my faithfulness,” Timmy promised.

“I, Jaci Matthews, love you, Timothy-Caleb Stewart. I am confident that God has chosen you to be my husband. I will love, honor, cherish and obey you always in sickness as in health, in poverty as in wealth, in sorrow as in joy, and will be true to you so long as we both shall live,” Jaci vowed.

“The rings please,” The pastor said. Little Austin ran from his mother’s arms. He handed Timmy the pillow with a smile.

“Thanks,” Timmy said. “Now go back to Mommy.”

Mr. Rivers stood up and picked up his son.

“With this ring, I thee wed,” Timmy smiled putting the ring on Jaci’s finger.

“With this ring, I thee wed,” Jaci smiled as she put the ring on Timmy’s finger.

“I know pronounce you husband and wife,” The pastor said closing his Bible. “The couple will now seal their marriage with a kiss.”

Timmy leaned down and gave Jaci a quick kiss on the lips. Jaci smiled and hugged him.

As they walked down the aisle, rice and rose petals were thrown at them. I couldn’t help but smile.

But then fear crept up into me because it was time for the reception. Which meant it was time to dance.

**

I tried not to shake too much as I watched the First Dance and the Father-Daughter Dance. Jaci wanted my first wheelchair dance to be special. She had me down as one of the dances. I was absolutely scared to death.

“How are you feeling?” Darcy whispered in my ear.

“I can’t do this,” I said shaking my head. “I want to puke.”

“Don’t do that,” Darcy said with seriousness in his voice. “We did great last night at practice. You’ll do fine.”

“Ladies and Gentlemen can I please have your attention?” Jaci asked taking a mike from the DJ. “In the past several months my younger sister, Natalie, has been practicing to dance at my wedding. As most of you know, last year Natalie was hit by a car and broke her back. She hasn’t let her paraplegia stop her. I’m so proud of her. She’s gotten so much of her life back and so soon after the accident. This was something Natalie wanted to do, and we all knew she could do it. So please give it up for my sister Natalie and her dancing partner and boyfriend Darcy Edwards!”

I felt my breakfast come up. Darcy pushed me towards the middle of the floor. I smiled at me; I couldn’t smile back.

The music blared through the speakers. Darcy took my arms and spun me.

It’s a Marshmallow World in the Winter

When the snow comes to cover the ground

Its the time for play

Its a whipped cream day

I wait for it the whole year round

Darcy and I soon got lost in the song. He glided me, he spun me, he even shimmied me. And surprisingly we even back stepped. By the end of the song, all the butterflies had left my stomach and I realized that I had actually had fun dancing. People were cheering for us so loudly that I was a little embarrassed.

I looked over to where Momma, Daddy, Ms. Donna, and Ms. Etta were sitting. They all looked like they wanted to cry. Darcy pushed me over towards them.

“My baby!” Momma cried hugging me.

“Mum!” I groaned. Momma stopped hugging me and sat back down.

“You two were wonderful,” Ms. Etta said. “You two also survived the dancing test. Would you be embarrassed if I said in a couple years that could be you.”

“Well you just said it,” Darcy said with red cheeks. I laughed and smiled.

Darcy helped me to my spot. I looked around. Everybody was goofy dancing. Momma and Daddy were cooing over the triplets. And Darcy was smiling at me.

“I’ve decided something,” I said.

“What?” Darcy shrugged.

“I’m staying,” I stated.

Darcy stared at me.

“It wasn’t because of anything I said was it?” Darcy asked. “Because I want you to know that I want you to go if you want to. I’ll wait for you.”

I gave him a smile. Darcy is so sweet.

“Nope, I’ve just realized how much I love this place and how much I love all the people in this town,” I said. “I can’t leave. Not now. I mean I just got back!”

Darcy laughed.

“Natalie’s staying!”

Everyone clapped. My parents looked at me and smiled. I smiled back.

An hour later, Jaci called for all the unmarried ladies to come out to the dance floor. Every girl but Noel and I obeyed.

“You’re not going out there?” Darcy asked.

“It’s the bouquet toss,” I said. Darcy went back to his dinner.

“I don’t see the point in doing this but my sister tells me I have to so here I go!” Jaci shouted turning around. “You ladies ready?”

“Yes!” They cheered.

Now Jaci may be petite, but she has a really good arm. She threw the bouquet with so much force that it went straight over all the ladies heads and landed in Noel’s lap.

Bennet, who was sitting next to Noel, laughed.

Noel, who clearly did not want the bouquet, violently threw the bouquet into my lap.

I couldn’t help but laugh. Everybody else laughed too.

“Does this mean we’re having double weddings?” Darcy joked.

Everybody howled at that.

“Noel, you want the bouquet!” Virginia tried to explain. “Its believed whoever catches the bouquet gets married next.”

Noel just looked at Virginia’s feet and went back to her dinner.

I then got an idea.

“Virginia, catch!” I shouted. Virginia caught the bouquet. Virginia got my idea.

“Emily, catch!” Virginia shouted throwing the bouquet the Emily.

“Regina!” Emily said.

“Oh no you don’t!” Regina shouted. Regina ducked and Jessie-Maria leaped to catch it.

The bouquet toss wasn’t over until every unmarried girl in the room caught the bouquet.

“Ok,” Timmy said taking his tie off. “Since my wife doesn’t like the whole garter thing, I’ll be throwing my tie!”

All the unmarried man except Bennet got up and stood on the dance floor.

Timmy threw his tie, and it landed in Bennet’s lap.

“God, are you speaking?” Bennet asked.

Everybody laughed. Regina, who had been forced to catch the bouquet, handed the bouquet to Noel. She surprisingly took it.

“Oh, I hope the whole bouquet thing is wrong,” Virginia whispered in my ear.

“Why?” I asked.

“Because I can’t wait four years for another wedding!” Virginia joked. I laughed.

Another Christmas song played and Darcy pulled me out to the dance floor.

And we danced the night away.

**

Dear Natalie,

I discovered your blog when I was searching for pictures for a report on Paris. I have to admit, at first I hated your blog. You seemed to have a perfect life. You had a large family. You’re mom was excepting triplets. You had a father and more sister than brothers. You and your family looked so happy in Paris.

My life’s not all that great. I, too, am a paraplegic. Complete T12. One of my mom’s ex-boyfriends shot me in the back. It’s a long story. Well anyway, My mom recently got remarried to this man I totally hate, and we’ve just moved again. I longed to have your life, but then I found a picture of you and your stepdad.

I was first of all shocked to find out that you had a stepdad. I was also shocked to see that you were in a wheelchair. I started to read more and more of your blog and was able to find out that you had been hit by a car last October. I was amazed at how quickly you bounced back. I would really like to hear your story. I want to know how you’ve done it. How you ended up to have this amazing relationship with your stepdad. How you’ve got through being in a wheelchair. My accident happened two years ago and I’m still bitter about it. I understand if you’re too busy and all, but I think all your readers would like to know your full story.

Keep Calm & Write On!

Charlotte Lily

I stared at my blog box. I had received this email over a week ago and I still hadn’t written anything. Summer was in full swing now. I could hear Megan and Bella out in the backyard chasing our brand new Welsh Corgi, Mistletoe.

Our brand new cat, Charlie Brown (Noel named him), strutted into my room and plopped himself on my bed.

I shook my head and went back to worrying.

“Whatca doing?” Daddy said walking into the room with Noel’s and my laundry. Momma and Daddy had put a group of things to do in a hat and whatever you pulled was your chore. Unfortunately for us, Daddy picked laundry.

“Remember that email I told you about?” I asked.

“The one for Lily Charlotte?” Daddy asked.

“Charlotte Lily,” I corrected. “I really want to post about my story and all that but I just don’t know where to begin.”

Daddy picked up a piece of paper and handed me a pin.

“Let’s say I told you to divide your life up into parts,” Daddy said. “But you can only explain your life in five parts. Where would you start? Where does it make the most sense to start?”

“Well when I came to Florida,” I said.

“So that’s Part 1,” Daddy said writing it down. “Now name it.”

“Christmas Dreams,” I said.

“Christmas Dreams?” Daddy asked as he wrote it down. “Why that?”

“I don’t know. It just seems to fit,” I said.

Soon I had my five parts down. Christmas Dreams, Marshmallow World, Heaven Everywhere, I’ll Be Home for Christmas, and Joy to the World!

“The rest is up to you,” Daddy said ruffling my hair.

I turned back towards the computer. I put my fingers on the keyboard.

“Please show me,” I prayed.

I closed my eyes and let my fingers fly.

And these words started back at me: How can a person not love Christmas when their name is Natalie?

Posted in Natalie

Natalie: Part 5- Joy to the World! Installment Seven

**

When I got home, I lost it. I messed up my bed, threw pillows at the door, and cried my eyes out. Why had I agreed to do this wheelchair dancing thing? Why hadn’t I walked away after Ms. Etta warned us?

“Hey, baby,” Momma said walking into my room. “Jaci told me about what happened.”

“He just walked out,” I cried. “Just like that. Game over.”

Momma smiled.

“I remember this time when I was a sophomore in high school. I was so mad that Steve Matthews took out some girl named Karen. We weren’t officially together, but he took me to all the important dances and all that. We got into this huge fight, and we broke up. He started taking this Karen girl out more, and I was so jealous that I actually sabotaged one of there dates,” Momma said.

“You did what?” I asked.

“I got a job at this diner that he took her too and poured her soda all over her head,” Momma said. “And then I kissed Steve.”

“You did what?” I howled.

“Not one of my proudest moments,” Momma said. “But hey, I got my guy back even if it was only for two years.”

“I just wish I never agreed to wheelchair dance,” I said. “Darcy and I were a whole lot happier before this whole mess.”

“Baby, you’re only thirteen,” Momma said. “You’ve got a little bit longer to find your husband.”

I smiled.

“Thanks for trying to make me feel better,” I said. “But its way more than that.”

“Just because you and Darcy broke up doesn’t mean you have to stop wheelchair dancing. I’m sure Yule would be happy to do it with you,” Momma said.

“No way. I like the relationship I have with my older brother,” I said. Momma smiled.

“It’s just…I’ve this feeling,” I said. “I just kinda felt like Darcy didn’t want to ‘be’ with me anymore. I mean who truly wants a girlfriend in a wheelchair.”

“Now, I don’t know why you’d think that,” Momma said.

“Wasn’t it obvious?” I asked.

“Nope,” Momma said. “If anything I would say that he liked you more.”

There was a knock on the door.

“Come in,” I said drying my eyes a little.

“Someone’s here to see you, Natalie,” Jaci said opening the door.

“I don’t really feel seeing anyone right now,” I said.

“Well he’s waiting on the front porch,” Jaci said. “And he looks pretty sorry.”

“He?”

“He.”

I rolled out of my room and looked in the mirror in the hallway. I looked a mess, but there was no time to do anything to my eyes or hair.

I opened the front door and there stood a humble looking Darcy.

“Hiya,” Darcy said looking at the ground.

“Hey,” I said rolling out of the house and closing the door.

“I’ve been a jerk,” Darcy said.

“Well I was a little bit jerkish too,” I said.

“Look, I’m really sorry for walking out today,” Darcy said. “I was just really mad and angry. I’m trying really hard to not pull you and send you crashing, and you calling me a rat is not making it easier.”

I laughed.

“And I admit that I was a little hard on you,” Darcy said.

“And I was a little hard on you,” I said.

“And I know that your front porch is not the best place to practice, but you have to admit it’s pretty big,” Darcy said pulling his IPod out of his pocket.

The song that Ms. Etta had us dancing through filled the twilight air.

Darcy took my hand and spun me. I smiled and we started to Glide.

“You know I missed you a lot more than I ever thought I would,” Darcy whispered.

“Well, I’m not going anywhere anytime soon,” I smiled as Darcy spun me again.

“Special delivery for Natalie Matthews,” Our mailman Stanley interrupted.

“Special delivery?” I asked taking the large envelope.

“From London, England,” Stanley said.

It was probably from my grandparents.

Dear Miss Natalie Zoey Baldwin-Matthews

Congratulations! You’ve been accepted into Wesley Harland School for Paraplegics & Quadriplegics on full scholarship!

Or maybe not.

After reading the first two sentences, I fainted for a second. This could not be happening.

“Natalie, are you all right?” Daddy asked when I came to. I handed him the envelope with shaking fingers.

“Dear Miss Natalie Zoey Baldwin-Matthews. Congratulations! You’ve been accepted into Wesley Harland School for Paraplegics and Quadriplegics on full scholarship! Thank you for your application. Our executives loved it and your blog was riveting. We hope that you will be joining us as soon as this summer, but if not we would love for you to come in the fall,” Daddy read. He started to mumble a whole lot of other stuff.

Darcy looked at me and started to walk away.

“Darcy, wait!” I shouted rolling after me.

“What?” Darcy snapped.

“I promise you that I have never heard for Wesley Harland before today and that I never sent an application in,” I said.

“Yeah, right,” Darcy snapped. “You know what? What do I care? Do what you want. It’s your life after all. I thought you were different, but you’re just another girl.”

“Darcy, please!” I pleaded as Darcy walked down the driveway.

“Bye, Natalie.”

I sat there at the top of my driveway and watched Darcy disappear.

I rolled around and saw that Stanley had left and everybody else had gone inside.

I looked towards the sky and just screamed. What I would have done for some rain right about then….

**

The next day I did not want to go to church. I was tired, angry, and upset. And today was Meet & Greet today. There would be no way for me to avoid Darcy at brunch since the Youth Group had their own special brunch. I let the sun go down on my anger and I was really paying for it now.

“Phone,” Noel said handing it to me.

“Hello?” I asked.

“Natalie?” Grandma Baldwin asked.

“Yes, ma’am,” I said putting butter on my toast.

“Did you receive something very special in the mail yesterday?” Grandma Baldwin asked.

“You sent in an application for me?” I cried.

“Yes, love, we did!” Grandma Baldwin shouted excitedly. “I know its totally unreasonable for your family to just uproot their lives and move to England, but, love, you can. The school’s not that far from our house.”

“How could you send in an application without even asking me?” I cried.

“Well, love, we thought you’d love it,” Grandma Baldwin said with doubt creeping into her voice.

“Well I don’t love it!” I cried. “You’ve ruined my life!” I hung up the phone and slammed it own hard on the receiver.

“Natalie!” Momma shouted rushing into the kitchen. She picked up the phone and recalled Grandma Baldwin. My mother than began to apologize for me, but I wasn’t sorry. Not one little bit.

**

“You and Darcy’s breakup is all over school,” Virginia said as she and Emily helped me plant flowers in my backyard.

“He asked Anna Hardy to Spring Formal,” Emily said. “I mean we’d heard that you broke up, but we didn’t know you guys were officially finished!”

Virginia looked at Emily. Emily gave her a look and Virginia nodded.

I looked at them with watery eyes. Why were they telling me this? I had already spent to weekend crying. My mother even let me stay home from church!

“Don’t worry, Natalie,” Virginia said, “I have the perfect Spring Formal date for you. His name is Luke and he goes to Drury High School. He’s in the ninth grade. He’s on the same hockey team as Darcy also. He wants to take a date to Spring Formal, but he can’t dance. You two would be perfect together…”

“Are you serious?” I asked interrupting Virginia.

“Yeah, I’m serious. I think you and Luke would have an awesome time together,” Virginia said.

“Darcy broke up with me on Saturday! It’s Monday! At least give me a week to grieve before you start pairing me up with some guy I don’t even know!” I yelled.

“Sorry,” Virginia said. “I just thought since Darcy’s already moved on that you’d be over him too.”

“It’s just…Darcy’s the first guy I’ve ever…loved,” I admitted.

“Whoah! I didn’t realize you two were THAT serious!” Virginia shouted. She gave me a hug. “You poor baby.”

“Well that fact that Darcy went and asked Anna Hardy just two days after our breakup proves my suspicion,” I said.

“What suspicion?” Emily asked.

“That Darcy didn’t really like me. But who could blame him? Who wants to date a paraplegic?” I asked. “And we weren’t actually dating. He never asked me to be his girlfriend.”

“I’ll never forget that cold October day,” Emily blurted. “We were walking home from school. The boys were blabbing about hockey, and we girls were talking about Homecoming. We knew something was wrong when we saw a bunch of cars parked around the B&B. We went through the restaurant door and the first thing I saw was Mr. Rivers holding a weeping Jessie-Maria. Mrs. Rivers, my grandma, and Ms. Donna were drying their eyes, and Pastor was there. I blurted out, ‘Oh my goodness someone’s dead!’ and Darcy said, ‘What happened to Natalie?’ Mrs. Rivers told us that early that morning you’d sleepwalked out into the street and that a car hit you. For a couple of seconds I thought that you were dead, but then Mrs. Rivers told us that you broke your lower back and that we needed to pray because you were still in surgery. Darcy ran out of the restaurant and I followed him. I kept calling out to him but he kept running. I almost went back but I remembered how Darcy had always been their for me. He was the only one who was ever nice to me except Nelson. He didn’t quite get why not being invited to a sleepover was important, but he listened. Anyway Darcy finally stopped running. When he turned around, I say that his eyes were red and his face was wet. I couldn’t believe that Darcy Chadwick Edwards was actually crying! The only time I’d ever seen him some close to crying was when Bennet enlisted in the army. I said to him, ‘Natalie will be all right. You know her. Nothing stops her.’ He started to blubber about how your accident was all his fault and how he had seen you sleepwalking before but he never said anything because he’d never seen you do anything dangerous. I told him that it wasn’t his fault. He said, ‘Emily, people get paralyzed from breaking their backs.’ I didn’t know what to say to him. He told me that he never got to tell you how much he really liked you. And I told him that you probably knew how much he really did like you. We walked back to the B&B in silence. Natalie, Darcy really likes you, and he thinks that you’re leaving again.”

“You aren’t going to accept are you?” Virginia asked.

“Well…,” I started.

“You can’t seriously be thinking about leaving! We just got you back!” Virginia shouted.

“Look, I don’t want to go but putting an ocean between Darcy and I right now is probably what’s in my best interest,” I said. “I stayed home from church and didn’t go to the restaurant last night, which was when Ms. Donna was unveiling her new pizza, just to avoid having to see Darcy!”

“Well then we’re going to have to put you back together,” Virginia and Emily said at the same time.

I gave them a smile.

“I’m serious,” Virginia said. “You just leave it all to me. I’ll have Darcy begging on his knees for you.”

I knew I should have said no to Virginia’s offer, but a person is very vulnerable after a breakup.

**

“I don’t want to go!” I whined. “Why can’t the Babies Shower be here?”

“Because that’s where the baby’s showers are held. Natalie, I don’t make the rules!” Momma cried as she got into the car. “You know you can’t avoid Darcy forever.”

“It was a week ago,” Megan said as she buckled herself in. “Get over it.”

“Now, Megan that wasn’t very nice,” Momma said.

“But she’s right,” Abby said. “Darcy’s over Natalie. He’s taking Anna Hardy to Spring Formal last week.”

Abby started to smirk.

Momma looked at Abby like “Did you really have to bring that up?”

“Well, he was the one that broke up Natalie,” Jaci said. She then put her hand over her mouth in shock.

“I don’t blame him,” Abby said. “You can’t really have any kind of future with someone who thinks Santa, Santalle, and Rudolf are good names.”

“Ouch,” Megan said.

“Sorry,” Jaci mouthed to me.

I nodded and tried not to cry. By the time we got to the B&B tears were slowly dripping out of my eyes.

“Do you have the board?” Regina asked when we walked through the door.

“Yup,” Momma said. “Steve and I were up all last night fighting over the names but we finally agreed.”

Baby A Baby B Baby C

Merry Gabriel Christian

Natasha Natalio Natal

Love Emmanuel Avery

Eve Nicholas Joseph

“Steve went with Natal?” Mrs. Rivers asked.

“Not exactly,” Momma said putting the board up.

“Natasha is cute. Love is adorable. Eve is not very Christmas like,” Aunt Jane said.

Noel looked at Aunt Jane but she didn’t say anything.

BANG!

Everyone turned around to find the Baby Shower Rocker on the floor and Darcy looked rather ashamed.

“Sorry,” He said. Darcy put the rocking chair in the family room and hastily walked out.

“I just wish someone would have backed me up for Mistletoe,” Momma said trying to cease the awkward silence.

“You could name a dog Mistletoe,” Megan said sweetly.

I laughed. The Matthews family was having quite the pet dilemma. Yule, Megan, and Bella wanted a dog while Noel, Jaci, and I thought that a cat would be better. For the time being Momma and Daddy let us all either get a fish or a hamster. Megan got two goldfish and named them Twinkle and Jingle. Bella got a hamster and named him Picasso. Yule got a Spotted African Leaf Fish and named him Ukulele (don’t ask me why he named him that.). Noel and I got a goldfish and named him Swish but he died after a week.

“Or you could name a cat Mistletoe,” I suggested. Momma laughed.

“Why don’t you just get both?” Mrs. Rivers spoke up.

“Joan!” Momma laughed.

“What? I had a dog and a cat growing up. And I still believe Mr. Meow died of a broke heart,” Mrs. Rivers said. “He died only a week after Mrs. Sugar Bear.”

“Mrs. Sugar Bear?” I giggled.

“Mr. Meow?” Jessie-Maria howled.

“What? I was five and my younger brother Ted was three,” Mrs. Rivers said. “And Marisa hadn’t been born yet.”

“Can we pwlese get a doggie and a cat?” Megan asked hugging Momma’s legs.

“I’ll talk to your father,” Momma said giving up. Megan clapped her hands.

“Natalie, can you please get the baby shower cookies?” Ms. Donna asked sneakily.

“Sure,” I said pretty sure where this was going.

Sure enough Darcy was in the kitchen stirring lemonade.

“Hiya,” I said grabbing the plate with the cookies.

“Ms. Etta stopped by,” Darcy said. “She was wondering if we wanted to still do lessons.”

“And what did you say?” I asked as I stuffed a cookie into my mouth.

“I told her about your scholarship,” Darcy said.

“And then what?” I asked as I rolled towards the kitchen door.

“She told me, ‘Darcy Chadwick Edwards, you are the worst boyfriend in all of Berkshire County,'” Darcy said.

I didn’t turn around to look at him because I was grinning.

“And then I told her that you’d been purposely avoiding me for an entire week, and I that I hadn’t even tried to talk to you. And she said, ‘You’re the worst boyfriend in all of Massachusetts!'” Darcy said.

I let a laugh escape. Darcy turned my chair around.

“And all week Virginia’s been trying to get me to go to your house,” Darcy said. “And yesterday Virginia yelled to me at lunch. She said, ‘Do you know what you’re doing to Natalie? What you’re doing to Natalie is ripping her heart out and eating it! And you know what else? She’s defiantly going off to some school on England because she needs to put an ocean between you, the heart eater!'”

I snorted.

“Did you put her up to that?” Darcy asked.

“No,” I said, “but I didn’t stop her. She told me since none of her other matchmaking things were working that she was going to try something different. If I had known she was going to yell at you…I wouldn’t have stopped her.”

Darcy laughed and shook his head.

“So are you really going to off to school?” Darcy asked.

“I don’t know,” I said. “I only said that because I was still pretty upset about the breakup. It was that Monday and Virginia was already trying to pair me with some Luke guy. Oh and my grandparents were the one’s that sent in an application for that school.”

“Did you call me a heart eater?” Darcy asked.

“Not that I recall,” I said. “But I called you a bunch of things…especially after I found out you asked some other girl to Spring Formal…two days after we broke up.”

“What?” Darcy asked. “What girl?”

“Emily told me that you asked Anna Hardy to Spring Formal,” I said.

Darcy started to giggle.

“I don’t find it very funny,” I said crossing my arms.

“Natalie, Anna Hardy is three,” Darcy said. “I never asked her to go to Spring Formal. I wasn’t even planning on going to Spring Formal.”

“Virginia, Abby, and Emily are in so much trouble!” I shouted. Darcy laughed.

“Look, I’m sorry,” Darcy said. “I thought taking wheelchair dancing lessons would make you happy. It was easy to tell that you really wanted to learn how to dance.”

“You are forgiven,” I said.

“I have a feeling I’m going to be saying sorry a lot in this relationship,” Darcy laughed.

“What are you saying?” I asked.

“Natalie Zoey Baldwin-Matthews, would you be my girlfriend?” Darcy asked.

“I do-I mean yes,” I said.

“Whoah! I’m not asking you to marry me,” Darcy joked.

“Natalie!” Jaci shouted sticking her head into the kitchen. “Abby’s gone into labor!”

Posted in Natalie

Natalie: Part 5- Joy to the World! Installment Six

**

After about three weeks after I started to stay in my room and a week before Aunt Jane’s wedding, Noel had had enough of my mourning.

She marched into our bedroom and looked me straight in the eye.

That’s when I knew Noel meant business.

She looked at me for a second. I could tell that she struggling to say something to me. She then said the most words I believe I’d ever heard her say up until that time.

“Nobody say you find heaven in accident away. You may no know till deathbed. But you loved. You family. You purpose,” Noel said.

I was shocked. I had no idea how Noel knew about me finding heaven everywhere. I didn’t think that Noel understood that I felt like I had no purpose. But somehow she understood and what she said changed my life.

It started to ran just then. To some people that wouldn’t seem like something to be happy about, but to Noel it was the best miracle ever.

“Come!” Noel shouted. She pointed to my wheelchair. I transferred from the bed to the wheelchair.

Noel pushed me out the door and down the hall.

“Slow down!” Yule shouted as Noel zipped past him.

Noel burst the front door open and pushed me out into the rain.

“Feel!” Noel shouted running around in the rain. She was laughing and dancing. It was amazing how happy she was about such a simple thing as rain.

“Pray!” Noel screamed.

I screamed. It wasn’t really a prayer, but I screamed. I screamed with everything inside of me. I let all my anger go out of me with one big, long scream.

“Are you girls crazy?” Yule asked running out of the house. “You’re going to get yourselves sick!”

I held out my hand and let the rain dribble into it. One of life’s greatest pleasures is to just sit and let the rain fall into your hand. To just sit and forget about all your worries and just think about how awesome the rain feels.

“Kids, what are you doing?”

I turned my head around to confirm my suspicion. Daddy stood there was an umbrella in his left hand and two under his left arm.

“I love you,” I said rolling up to him and hugging his abdomen.

“I love you too, honey bear,” Daddy smiled patting my head.

“Rain!” Noel shouted. She took an umbrella from under Daddy’s arm causing the second one to fall. Yule picked up the other one and handed it to me.

“Yule! Noel! Natalie! And Steve! Please be the parent!” Momma cried in disgust from the doorway. “You’re gonna get sick!”

Noel ran to Momma pulled her hand out in the rain. Momma smiled at her and Noel gave Momma’s belly a hug.

I rolled slowly back towards the house. I didn’t want to get out of the refreshing rain, but Yule was holding the door open waiting for me.

I’ll never forget the day I discovered rain’s mental medicinal purposes.

**

I did get a slight cold from playing in the rain, but I was right as rain by Aunt Jane’s wedding.

But at the reception, I had yet another blow.

I watched everybody (except my parents) dance on the floor. It was hard not to think about how almost a year ago I had been on that exact dance floor swaying in Darcy’s arms.

“You all right?” Darcy asked looking up from his third piece of cake.

“Why wouldn’t I be?” I asked.

“You look really mad about something,” Darcy said stuffing cake in his mouth.

“It’s just hard to watch all these people dance,” I shrugged. “It’s like thirty people eating peanut butter sandwiches in your face.”

Darcy laughed at my allergy joke. He picked me up out of my wheelchair.

“Put me down!” I giggled as Darcy carried me to the dance floor.

“You’ve gotten heavier,” Darcy said.

“Its never polite to talk about a woman’s weight,” I joked. Darcy blushed.

“You know there’s a wheelchair dance instructor in North Adams,” Darcy said. “Her name is Ms. Etta. She used to teach youth group at church before Ms. Erin took over. She was hit by a car when she was in college, but she never stopped dancing. She and her husband were really good. They won the Pittsfield Dancing Globe five years ago before her husband, Bill, died.”

“How do you know all of this?” I asked as I slowly slipped out of Darcy’s arms.

“Ms. Etta’s my grandmother,” Darcy sheepishly. I dropped to the ground and Darcy picked me up.

“You call your grandmother Ms. Etta?” I asked. Darcy shrugged.

“I’m sure she would teach you how to dance,” Darcy said. “She’s dying to meet you but she’s been in and out of the hospital lately. Nothing major really. She just keeps getting sick. Flus and that kind of stuff.”

“I don’t know,” I started, “who’s going to drive us? Your mother is busy. My mother gave up driving weeks ago. My dad can’t drive with his arm in his sling…”

“I’ll drive,” Jaci butted in. “Problem solved.”

“I don’t know…,” I started.

“How hard can it be?” Darcy asked.

Famous last words.

**

“You must be Natalie,” Ms. Etta said rolling up to Darcy and I. I nodded.

“You look even prettier in real life,” Ms. Etta said. “Did Darcy tell you I’m his grandmother?”

“Yes, Mrs. Chadwick,” I said. Ms. Etta waved her hand.

“Nobody calls me Mrs. Chadwick,” Ms. Etta said. “I’ve never liked the sound of married name nor did I like to sound of my maiden name so everybody has always called me, Ms. Etta, even my own children! People have been referring to me as Ms. Etta ever since I was seven years old. Nobodies hardly ever called me Mrs.”

I nodded.

“Now, I have to know what kind of paraplegic you are, Natalie,” Ms. Etta said. “That way I know what moves you can do and can’t do.”

“I’m a considered a complete L1 paraplegic, but I have a slight break in T12. I have feeling in my waist and a little bit of movement in it too,” I said.

“Ok,” Ms. Etta said. “You have a good range of mobility. You’re entire upper body is free and moving. I’m an incomplete T12 paraplegic. I used to be able to take tiny steps but in my old age I don’t even try anymore. I’ve gained a lot of sensory feeling though and I’m thankfully for that.”

There was a little bit of awkward silence. Sometimes its hard for an incomplete paraplegic and a complete paraplegic to talk about their injuries. For the incomplete there’s great hope for them to walk again. For complete there’s almost absolutely no hope. but strangely my family hasn’t given up hope that I will one day walk again. And if there is one thing I’ve learned, it’s to always have hope.

“So your sister’s wedding is the first Saturday in June?” Ms. Etta asked after a couple of awkward seconds. I nodded.

“Let’s see, it’s the third week in March so that gives us about thirteen weeks,” Ms. Etta said. “Its cutting it real close, but I think we’ll have you dancing by then.”

“So before you love struck teens start, I would like to warn you,” Ms. Etta said. “I have been teaching dance for about thirty years now and have been competing for almost fifty years and most of those fifty years I’ve spent in a wheelchair. And in my lifetime, I have seen hundreds of couples break up because of dance! I’ve taught over five hundred engaged couples and have broken up over one hundred of them. Dancing is about getting to know your partner in ways you’ve never thought possible. In freestyle dancing, which is what I teach the most, it’s all about talking to your partner without talking. I know that may seem impossible but if you stick with this, you’ll soon get to know your partners body language in ways you probably wouldn’t have considered! But just about everyone of my students, including the ones I have broken up, have seen me some time or another and have thanked me. Whether it was because I saved them from a horrible marriage or because they feel like their marriage works better because they know each other so well. Now that I have warned the two of you are you ready to start wheelchair dancing?”

Nope, and I didn’t think I’d ever be, but Darcy and I said yes not knowing how much these lessons would change us.

**

Every single thing Ms. Etta said came true.

After the first lesson, there was a whole lot of tension between us. By the third lesson, we official hated each other. By the fifth lesson, I was wondering how in the world we had made it this far.

Ms. Etta clearly sensed the new found hatred Darcy and I had for each other. She was pretty tense during the lessons too. She kept calling us love struck teens though, but we felt more hate struck if you ask me.

Our real problem was trying to learn one of the easiest moves Ms. Etta was trying to teach us. She called it the Back Step. It was really simple. Darcy would walk backwards while I rolled towards him. We got that part down on the first lesson, but the Double Back Step…now that was a challenge. Darcy would walk back and I would rolled towards him, but then he was supposed to walk towards me and I was supposed to roll backwards. Now that was hard. I never knew when Darcy was going to start walking forward and just about every time I ran over his foot.

Now I know you’re probably like “That’s all? You hate each other because you keep rolling over his foot?” No, that was not all. Darcy had his dancing faults too.

We were trying to do the Glide and Spin. That was were Darcy would take one of my hands and glide me across the room and then spin me. Well the gliding was easy, but the spinning was not. Either he spun me way too fast or he let go of me too soon and I crashed into the wall. “You’re a rat!” soon became one of my favorite new phrases. You should see the look on his face when I call him a rat!

The Shimmy was pretty hard too. That was were Darcy would take both of my hands and pull me with enough force to zigzag me and the wheelchair across the room, but Darcy was pulling me with so much force that I was pulled out of my wheelchair, even though I had a protective strap on me that was supposed to keep me from falling. Obviously it wasn’t working.

I was tired, frustrated, and really angry from being pulled out of my wheelchair for the fifth time in less than a week. And when I was pulled out of my wheelchair for the sixth time, I had had enough.

“Ok, my little love struck teenagers,” Ms. Etta started, “let’s just take a break…”

“No! I can’t do this anymore!” I cried.

“Sure, you can, Natalie, I’ll tell you what let’s be finished for the day and we can finish our lesson on Monday,” Ms. Etta suggested.

“Natalie’s right, I don’t even know why I agreed to do this stupid thing,” Darcy mumbled.

“Now, Darcy,” Ms. Etta started.

“Excuse me! But I remember your the one that suggested this stupid thing!” I shouted.

“Well, sorry if I was just trying to help you,” Darcy said.

“Trying to help me? I have a bruise on my leg from it being hit so hard on the hardwood floor!” I shouted. “Wheelchair dancing isn’t the problem. You’re the problem!”

“I’m the problem?” Darcy yelled. “No, you’re the problem! You can’t control your wheelchair!”

“How am I supposed to control my wheelchair if I don’t know what you’re supposed to do?” I screamed.

“Love struck…,” Ms. Etta started.

“Well how am I supposed to know how hard to pull you?” Darcy shouted.

“Well you’re not supposed to pull me with all your might!” I screamed.

“I quit!” Darcy shouted storming out of the room.

“What just happened?” I asked after about a minute.

“Sweetie pie, I think he just broke up with you,” Ms. Etta said gravely.

Well that sent me into a fit of tears.

Posted in Natalie

Natalie: Part 4- I’ll Be Home for Christmas Installment Four

**

This morning I woke up to a pleasant surprise, it had snowed. And it was one of those good snows. It was still snowing now and I was determined to make a Marshmallow World Day out of it.

I was about to ask the very important question of going to The Hill when Virginia walked up to take our orders.

Momma insisted that everyone order before her because she didn’t know what she wanted. Virginia gave me a look that only I understood.

“I’ll have one order of pancakes, one order of waffles, one order of French toast. two biscuits, three…no four servings of bacon, and I’m craving some blueberries. Do you have any?” Momma asked. Virginia didn’t answer at first. She had a huge smirk on her face.

“No, but we do have blueberry jam,” Virginia said.

“That will have to do,” Momma said handing Virginia her menu. Virginia winked at me and walked towards the kitchen.

Daddy looked at Momma but he didn’t say anything.

“Can I go to The Hill?” I asked.

“Sure, I don’t see why not,” Daddy said before Momma could say no.

“Really?” I asked. I gave Daddy a hug.

“I don’t know, Steve,” Momma said with worry on her face.

“We’ll be there,” Daddy said.

“But we’ll be watching Megan and Bella,” Momma said.

“Yule and Darcy will look after her,” Daddy said. “She’ll be fine. She can go.”

Daddy said the last part with authority. Momma gave up her fight and started to complain about how long it was taking the food. And when the food came, she complained that she was only given three servings of bacon not four.

I wonder…

**

“You’re getting heavy,” Darcy said as he carried me back up The Hill. I smiled. Today has been a perfect day. I sledded with just about everybody but mostly with Darcy. The plan was that Darcy would carry me up The Hill on his back while I carried the sled in my hand. It was awkward but I wasn’t complaining.

“The only thing that could make this day better is if it was Christmas,” I said when we got back to the top of The Hill.

“It’s been that perfect, huh?” Darcy asked. “Then I guess carrying you up The Hill a hundred times was worth it.”

I smiled at him and the sled started to go down The Hill. Then we crashed, and Darcy landed on top of me. I started to laugh. This was our first crash of the day.

Then I felt Darcy’s cold nose against my nose. Darcy leaned towards me and this time I was sure I wasn’t imagining it. Then a scream filled the air. It sounded like Noel.

Darcy jerked his head up, and I couldn’t help but let a small frown cross my lips.

“It’s time!”

That sounded like Bennet. Noel was in labor.

Darcy picked me up and put me on his back. He ran up The Hill as fast as he could.

As we got closer to the top, I could hear Noel screaming like crazy. I felt sorry for her. No thirteen year old should experience that kind of pain.

“I’ll take her from here,” Yule said picking me up off Darcy’s back. Yule put me in the car.

“You ok?” I asked Noel who was sitting in the car screaming her head off. Noel looked at me. Ok, I know that was a stupid question.

“Do look ok!?” Noel shouted. Noel started to calm down. I guess the contraction stopped.

“I can’t find Bella!” Momma screamed. Bella ran up The Hill with Rachel by her side.

“Hey! I want to go too!” Grandma Shirley whined.

Soon everyone was in the car and we were off.

By the way Daddy was acting you would have thought Momma was the one having the baby. First he drove off in the wrong direction. When Momma corrected him, he got on the highway and passed the hospital exit. We had to turn around and then Daddy went to the cancer center instead of the hospital. A trip to the hospital that should have been no more than twenty minutes took thirty. Then he nearly blacked out when we walked into the hospital.

Thankfully, we didn’t have to wait long. Noel had the baby two hours later.

“That’s the prettiest little baby girl I’ve ever delivered,” Dr. Walters smiled. “And I’m not just saying that because she’s family.”

“I’m way too young to be a great-grandmother,” Grandma Shirley said, “but she’s so cute I don’t mind.”

Noel couldn’t stop smiling. My little niece started to cry, and Noel didn’t seem to care.

“What are you going to name her?” Momma asked taking to baby out of Noel’s arms and trying to calm her down.

“Can’t be two Natalie’s so… Natalia!” Noel shouted. I felt honored.

“You wanna hold her?” Momma asked. I nodded.

“Hi, Natalia, I’m your auntie,” I cooed.

I was wrong. There really was something besides Christmas that could make this day better.

**

Since Natalia was born on the Eve of Christmas Eve, the hospital let Noel and Natalia come home on Christmas Eve.

Daddy, Darcy, Nelson, and Yule went to go get a tree from an actual forest. While the rest of us got out the many Christmas decorations.

“Hey, this isn’t ours,” Regina said pulling out an old looking wreath.

“Our wreath!” I cried. Regina handed the wreath to me.

The wreath had been here in Florida the entire time. I hadn’t even thought about it when we moved to New York City, but now it all made sense. New York City wasn’t home. Florida was and would always be.

Momma looked thoughtfully at the wreath. She unconsciously let her hand slip to her belly. I think I was the only one who noticed this since everybody was cooing over Natalia, who was just waking up.

“We’re back!” Daddy shouted. Yule and Darcy dragged the tree into the house.

“Oh! You’re getting pine needles everywhere, Yule!” Grandma Shirley complained.

Yule rolled his eyes. Grandma Shirley looked shocked.

“Humph!” Grandma Shirley said. She took one look at Natalia and started cooing over her.

Grandma Shirley held her tongue until it was time to put decorations on the tree.

“No, that doesn’t belong there,” Grandma Shirley said to Mrs. Stewart.

“What’s wrong with putting Natalia’s first Christmas ornament up there?” Mrs. Stewart asked pointing to the spot she was going to put the ornament.

“It should be on the bottom of the tree closer to where Natalia can see it,” Grandma Shirley said.

“Natalia won’t remember where the ornament was, but we will!” Mrs. Stewart shouted.

“Who is Natalia’s great-grandmother?” Grandma Shirley screamed.

“Stop!” Noel shouted.

“I’m her stepgrandmother!” Mrs. Stewart screamed.

“Stop!” Noel shouted but neither Grandma Shirley nor Mrs. Stewart paid her any attention.

“Please stop. You’re upsetting Noel!” Yule shouted.

“Shut up, you!” Grandma Shirley shouted at Yule.

“Don’t you talk to my son that way!” Momma shouted. Grandma Shirley burst out crying.

“You didn’t have to leave!” Grandma Shirley cried. “If you would have just told me what happened…I admit I might not have seem as loving but…I had high expectations of you. You had something special. You had this drive. You seemed to just be able to handle anything. I didn’t think that you needed all that extra loving and hugs and kisses. And I’m sorry. I’m sorry, Yule and Noel too. I’ve been resenting you. I felt like you took my daughter away from me but that’s not true.”

“It’s all right, Grandma,” Yule shrugged. Grandma Shirley started to weep and hugged Noel.

“Ah!” Noel screamed. She pushed Grandma Shirley away. She put Natalia in Grandma Shirley’s arms and all was forgiven.

The doorbell rang.

“Who is that?” Momma asked walking towards the door.

“Surprise!”

Grandpa Baldwin, Grandma Baldwin, Aunt Cerys, and Aunt Louise walked into the family room.

“Natalie!” Aunt Cerys shouted. She ran and gave me a hug.

“And this must be Natalia,” Grandma Baldwin cooed looking at Grandma Shirley. Grandma Shirley put Natalia in Grandma Baldwin’s arms.

“What are you guys doing here?” Momma asked walking into the family room.

“We came to surprise you,” Grandpa Baldwin said. “We couldn’t think of a better Christmas gift for our granddaughter.”

I smiled. Grandpa and Grandma Baldwin came and gave me a hug.

Soon everyone was talking and decorating the tree. I couldn’t help but smile. This was turning out to be a great Christmas.

**

I yawned. It was close to eleven o’clock and It’s a Wonderful Life had just gone off. Everyone else had already gone to bed, and Momma was the first to go. Daddy was the only one who stayed up with me.

“Daddy,” I said as Daddy turned off the TV and lights, “who’s in your family?”

After Grandma Shirley’s breakdown, I started to seriously ponder that question. What does the word family mean? Who’s in my family?

“You, Yule, Noel, Megan, Bella, Jaci, Abby, your mother,” Daddy started. “Grandma Shirley” He wiggled his eye brows and I laughed. “Grandpa Jack, your aunts and your uncles, Mrs. Rivers, Mr. Rivers, the twins, Jessie-Maria, Aunt Jane, Virginia, Rachel, Andrew, Caroline, Zach, Timmy, Bennet, Ms. Donna, Cece Elizabeth, Darcy, Mrs. Stewart, Emily, and just about everybody else in Florida!”

“That’s a mighty big family,” I said as Daddy carried me up the steps.

“Natalie, family isn’t just someone you’re related to by blood,” Daddy said. “Family is a person you deeply care about and love.”

“And what does home mean to you?” I asked. Daddy stopped walking and paused on the steps.

“Home is wherever my family is,” Daddy said. Then realization sunk in.

“I guess our family is spilt up, huh?” Daddy asked. I gave him a sad nod.

“So where would you like to sleep tonight?” Daddy asked. “With your mother and I or with Noel and Natalia.”

Natalia cried out.

“With your mom and me,” Daddy stated. I nodded.

As Daddy carried me into the room, I saw out of the corner of my eye Bennet stumble into Noel’s room. I couldn’t help but smile.

**

I woke up at eight A.M. on Christmas morning. I could hear Megan screaming for somebody to wake me up. I heard what sounded like two little feet and one set of huge feet walk up the steps. Then Megan, Bella, and Yule walked through the door.

“You’re up!” Megan screamed. Bella smiled at me and handed me a flower.

“Thank you,” I smiled as Yule carried me downstairs.

Everyone sat around the Christmas tree. Bennet was cradling Natalia, and Noel was smiling at him. Momma and Daddy were sitting on the couch. I noticed at Momma’s stomach looked a little bit bigger, but I could have been imagining it.

“Wait,” Daddy said as Megan started to open one of her gifts. “I think Natalie should open the first gift.”

“I agree,” Grandma Shirley said. She picked up a box and handed it to me.

“It’s from the entire Walters’ family,” Grandpa Jack said. I smiled and opened the present.

“It’s a camera,” I smiled. Momma laughed as she took a picture of the camera.

“Look inside the box,” Aunt Clarisse said mysteriously.

I opened the box and inside was a broacher for Paris, France and inside the broacher there was a voucher.

“Redeemable for one week in France!” I shouted reading the voucher.

“I’m taking the entire Matthews’ family on my yearly trip to France!” Grandma Shirley shouted. Abby started to scream.

“Here,” Daddy said handing a card to Yule. Megan pouted.

“You want to adopt Noel and me?” Yule asked.

“Only if you want me to,” Daddy said. “I mean we’ve started the process but if you don’t want me to…”

“No, it’s ok,” Yule smiled. “I’d like that.”

Soon all the presents where open or so we thought.

“There’s one card and nine gifts hidden way behind the tree,” Daddy said pulling them out. He handed the gifts to Yule, Noel, Abby, Bella, Jaci, Megan, Grandpa and Grandma Baldwin, Grandpa and Grandma Walters, and me. He kept the card for himself.

Momma stood in front of all of us with the camera. I could tell that she was taking a video because the red light was on.

I opened my presents and found three pacifiers. Huh?

Then all of a sudden Noel started to scream and jump up in down. She was waving a piece of paper in her hand. Momma was laughing her head off.

I started to look around. Yule looked very confused as he held up three bibs. Abby and Zach were pondering over three baby bottles. Grandma Shirley was having trouble opening her gift. Grandma and Grandpa Baldwin looked at the book that was there present with pride and joy. Jaci sat there with three spools of yarn and three pairs knitting needles. Daddy sat there smiling. I didn’t get the connection until I saw Megan’s gift.

“I didn’t ask for any clothes,” Megan pouted. She held up a shirt that said BIG SISTER!

Abby, Jaci, and I started to scream. Noel handed me the piece of paper in her hand, but before I could read it Grandma Shirley started to scream.

“My baby girl is having a baby!” Grandma Shirley screamed. She held up a photo album with an ultrasound photo on it.

“So Virginia was right,” I said out loud.

“Riley, I don’t get this card,” Daddy said.

He passed the card around. It said “We’re going to need a bigger car!” and the ultrasound photo was underneath it.

“We can fit one more in our car,” Daddy said.

Momma smiled a sly smile.

“Gather round,” Momma said. Everyone but Grandma and Grandpa Baldwin gathered around.

“There’s the head,” Momma pointed out on the ultrasound photo. “Then there’s his…or hers shoulders. There’s the head. Then there’s his…or hers shoulders. Then there’s another head and another set of shoulders.”

“Wait…you just said head and shoulders three times,” Daddy said.

“EEEE!” Grandma Baldwin shouted. She held up a book called How to Be the Godparents of Triplets.

I laughed as Daddy sat there lifeless looking. It turns out that Momma was thirteen weeks along and had been hiding her humongous baby bump by wearing body shapers and layering up.

“I just found out it was triplets this week,” Momma said. “I knew I was pregnant back in November but I had a feeling there might be more than one in there after stepping on the scale!”

What could make this Christmas better?

**

Virginia’s reaction.

It took us three minutes to decide to tell them by taking a picture with my new camera and asking everybody to say: Riley’s having triplets!

So when the Rivers’ and Powers’ came for dinner we were ready.

“Say: Riley’s having triplets!” Daddy shouted after he set up the timer.

Jessie-Maria screamed and hugged Yule. Aunt Jane dropped Caroline, but Andrew caught Caroline. Mr. and Mrs. Rivers smiled and laughed and then started to give multiple tips like computers. When Rachel found out that triplets meant three babies, she started to scream. But Virginia’s reaction was priceless.

First Virginia started to scream, then she started to cry, and finally she fainted.  Her face in the picture is a cross between happy and sad. She is also tumbling towards the floor.

“I didn’t know!” I shouted when Virginia came too. She was giving me accusing looks.

“Sure,” Virginia said rolling her eyes as Mr. Hank helped her towards the kitchen. I think to this day Virginia doesn’t believe me.

But dinner was even better than Virginia’s reaction.

“We have announcement to make,” Daddy said when everyone had finished eating. Virginia looked at me and I shrugged.

“We’re moving back to Florida!” Momma shouted.

“Joy to the world!” Virginia shouted standing up. “The Matthews’ are moving back!” She soon sat down looking embarrassed.

“We have something to say!” Grandma Shirley shouted. “Jack’s retiring!”

Everyone started to congratulate Grandpa Jack.

“And we’re moving to North Adams!” Grandma Shirley shouted.

“You are…,” I said.

“Speaking of announcements,” Mr. Hank said standing up and thankfully changing the subject. He got down on one knee.

“This really isn’t an announcement. It’s more of a question, but um will you Jane Powers marry me Hank Moore?” Mr. Hank asked Aunt Jane.

Aunt Jane screamed and then very tearfully said yes.

“I’m so full,” Darcy said as he pushed me towards the family room. Everyone else was cleaning up dishes in the kitchen.

I looked up and saw that we were under the mistletoe.

Darcy leaned in and gave me a kiss…on the lips…and it wasn’t a peck. 🙂

Best. Christmas. Ever.

THE END

Posted in Natalie

Natalie: Part 4- I’ll Be Home for Christmas Installment Two

**

 “Goodnight, girls,” Daddy said closing Abby’s bedroom door. When we heard my parent’s old bedroom door closed, we broke out in giggles.

“Do you girls need anything?”  Yule asked walking into the room without knocking.

“Knock!” Noel shouted throwing a pillow at Yule. Yule looked at her surprised.

“Yeah, knock!” Jessie-Maria shouted throwing some popcorn at him. I joined her.

“All right, all right, I know where I’m not wanted,” Yule said. He closed the door.

“Go away!” I screamed. We heard Yule break out laughing through the door. He walked away and slammed his bedroom door shut.

“So tell us about New York!” Regina said.

“How was rehab?” Emily asked.

“How was rehab?” I repeated trying to not to laugh.

“Dr. Walters wants me to go to rehab next month. He doesn’t like how my spine healed,” Emily said. “I’ve been having a hard time walking lately. My back hurts really badly all the time. I just got my halo ring off last week.”

“Rehab was actually kinda fun,” I said. “But that’s probably because I wasn’t trying to learn how to re-walk and all that jazz. I learned how to feed myself, dress myself, move from my wheelchair to my bed all on my one, and um… bladder control. The fun stuff was learning how to knit, sew, crochet, type, play basketball, kinda sorta swim, and piano lessons.”

“Rehab sounds like the Y,” Virginia said. I laughed.

Crash!

“What was that noise?” I asked.

“I don’t know,” Jessie-Maria said. “Regina?”

“I’ve never heard that noise before,” Regina said. “It’s probably just the wind.”

“So…Jessie-Maria, tell us more about your long lost love,” Virginia said in a mushy voice.

“Um, it’s only been about two to three years,” Jessie-Maria said.

Bang!

“That was a different noise,” Emily said with fear in her voice.

“It’s probably just Yule playing a joke on us,” Jessie-Maria shrugged.

Emily seemed to accept that answer.

“So tell me more about Ms. O’Donnell’s boyfriend,” I said.

“He is so cute!” Regina squealed. “What? He is.”

“He’s forty-five too,” Virginia said. “He’s a carpenter. He’s got two kids. A daughter who’s fifteen and an eight year old son. His wife died mysteriously after giving birth. He lives on a farm right next to Ms. O’Donnell’s orchid.”

“Wait, Ms. O’Donnell has a orchid?” I asked.

“There’s a lot about Ms. O’Donnell you don’t know,” Virginia said. “Did you know that Ms. Erin is her daughter?”

“Her what!” I shouted. The room erupted into giggles.

“After you moved Emily and I got involved in A Father’s Presence. During harvest we helped collect the fruit. Ms. O’Donnell can be fun and laid back…when’s she’s not in school,” Virginia said. “She was raised by a single mother. Her father lives in Italy with her stepmom. She has a brother who lives in California with his wife and three kids. She has a half-brother in Italy who is twenty-something. She married Ms. Erin’s dad…not for love. When he died in a tragic accident, she got to orchid and has been running it ever since.”

“Wow,” I said. “You’ve been spending  lot of time with Ms. O’Donnell.”

“Like I said she’s fun when she’s not in school,” Virginia said.

CRASH! BANG!

“It’s a ghost!” Emily screamed.

“Come on, Emily,” Jessie-Maria said, “there is no such thing as ghost.”

“You…you don’t know that,” Emily said.

“I’ll prove it to you,” Jessie-Maria said. “Let’s go check the attic.”

“Have you lost your mind or has love made you blind?” Emily asked. Emily looked at me. “Anyway, Natalie can’t go up all those steps.”

“We’ll get Yule to carry her up the steps,” Jessie-Maria said. “Will having a man come along make you feel better?”

“You’re crazy!” Emily shouted. “What if it’s some robber or murderer?”

“In the B&B’s attic?” Virginia asked. “How in the world would he get food?”

“He sneaks out at night,” Emily said. “What if he’s trying to get out of the window?”

“Come on, Emily,” Virginia said grabbing onto Emily’s wrist. “Regina, can you give me my handcuffs out of my bag.”

Regina handed Virginia the handcuffs, and Virginia put them on Emily’s wrist.

“There,” Virginia said. “Let’s go get Yule.”

Jessie-Maria and Virginia walked out the room and came back minutes later with a sleepy eyed Yule.

“Emily, there’s no ghost in the attic,” Yule yawned. “I’m going back to sleep.”

“No!” Virginia shouted. “You have to proof it to her!”

Bang!

“That was odd,” Yule said. He picked me up, and everyone followed him to the attic door.

“AHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!” Emily screamed when a red haired girl fell out.

By the way she was crawling on the floor; I could tell that she was blind.

“What in the world is going on?” Daddy asked walking out of his bedroom door. He stopped when he saw the blind girl sprawling on the floor.

“Darcy!? Who are you? Have you come to feed me? What is this stuff on the floor?” The blind girl asked.

“Honey, what’s your name?” Daddy asked helping the blind girl up.

“Cece Elizabeth,” The girl said bluntly. “You got anything to eat? Darcy must have forgotten to feed me with all the excitement. He said something about a girl coming home after being in rehab.”

“Come on, honey,” Daddy said helping Cece Elizabeth walk a little. “Somebody go wake Donna.”

Regina started to pound on Ms. Donna’s door.

“What…,” Ms. Donna started when she walked out of her bedroom.

“I’m hungry,” Cece Elizabeth said.

“I have some leftover fried chicken in the refrigerator,” Ms. Donna offered.

“You’re the lady that cooks the delicious food Darcy brings me?” Cece Elizabeth asked. “You’re the best cook in the world…but you are the only cook I’ve ever eaten from…I’ve told you all this before…I forgot your name. Dana? Are you Donna or that other lady. Your voices are so similar.”

Ms. Donna didn’t say anything. She walked down the steps, and Daddy helped Cece Elizabeth down.

“I can walk,” Cece Elizabeth said. She tripped over the couch.

“Are you all right?” Daddy asked helping her up.

“What I can’t figure out is why we put things in certain places. We’re bound to trip over them, but we put them there anyway. I guess since you know where it is it’s all right for you, but you should really warn visitors,” Cece Elizabeth said.

“Didn’t you see the couch?” Daddy asked helping her into the restaurant.

“See?” Cece Elizabeth asked. “What does that mean?”

The realization came to everybody else. Cece Elizabeth was blind, and she thought the entire world was blind also.

“Honey, sit down,” Daddy said helping Cece Elizabeth sit down.

“Thank you,” Cece Elizabeth said as Ms. Donna handed her a plate. She started to eat the chicken ferociously.

“Honey, how long have you been in the attic?” Daddy asked.

“The attic? Is that where my room is located?” Cece Elizabeth asked. “I’ve lived there ever since I can remember. Darcy usually comes and feeds me. But today when he forgot I decided to sneak out and get my own food. I haven’t eaten in twenty-four hours!”

“Donna, did you know anything about this?” Daddy asked. Ms. Donna didn’t answer. She had to have known about this. I mean how do you not know about a child living in your attic?!

The clock rang twelve A.M. and that’s when the real craziness started.

We heard fire trucks, and the phone rang.

“Hello?” Ms. Donna asked picking up the room.

“THE STEWART’S HOUSE IS ON FIRE!” I heard Aunt Jane scream.

“What?” Ms. Donna asked, but Aunt Jane had hung up.

“The Stewart’s house is on fire,” Ms. Donna said putting the phone down.

I had a strange feeling that Mr. Stewart had set his own house on fire.

**

When we got to the Stewart’s house, the fire had already been put out, and Mrs. Stewart and Timmy were being loaded into ambulances. Jaci managed to get into Timmy’s ambulance, and Emily managed to get into her grandma’s ambulance. There was police tape everywhere. I kinda wanted to explore, but Daddy had to carry me because no one thought to bring my wheelchair.

The police were there. They were reading Mr. Stewart his rights,

“Are you Riley Walters-Baldwin-Matthews?” One of the officers asked.

“Yes,” Momma said shaking her head and looking sick.

“Ma’am, Fowler Stewart is being arrested for arson, two counts of attempted murder, three counts of fraud, several counts of harassment, and three counts of involuntary manslaughter,” The officer said. “If you come down the station and tell us your story, we can charge Fowler with any wrong doing he’s done against you.”

“I forgave Fowler Stewart a long time ago,” Momma said. “Why should he go to jail for what’s already been forgiven?”

“Excuse me, ma’am?” The officer asked.

“With all those charges Fowler’s probably going to be in jail for the rest of his life,” Momma said. “And anyway everyone deserves a second chance.”

“Um, ok,” The officer said walking away.

“I’m tired,” Momma said walking towards the car.

“Your mother is one good woman, children,” Daddy said walking towards the car.

He could say that again.

**

DING-DONG-DING-DONG-DING-DONG!!!!!!!!!!!!!

“Ugh,” Virginia said groggily. “Doorbell, please shut up!”

The doorbell stopped, and we broke out laughing.

“Can you make my brothers disappear?” Regina joked.

YOU’RE HER WHAT!

“Oh, no,” I said recognizing the voice.

“What’s wrong?” Jessie-Maria asked.

“Don’t you recognize that voice?” I asked.

YOU LIAR!

“Grandma Shirley!” Jessie-Maria, Virginia, Regina, and I screamed. Noel stared at us like we were crazy. The girls made a desperate attempt to lift me. We went fumbling out the door and down the steps; we crashed on the family room floor. Noel waltzed down the steps and stared at us.

Daddy and Yule rushed to help us up. Grandma Shirley kept yelling at Momma for not uttering a word about Yule and Noel. Grandpa Jack and Uncle Cael were bringing luggage into the B&B. Aunt Clarisse was trying to control her kids while Uncle John was trying to control Grandma Shirley.

I instantly knew why they were there. Christmas. They came for Christmas and to see me. Don’t get me wrong I’m happy they came and all but…

“Who is shouting!” Cece Elizabeth screamed. She tumbled down the steps and started to fumble around.

“Are you all right, Miss?” Uncle Cael asked helping her to the couch.

“No, I’m not ok,” Cece Elizabeth snapped. “Somebody woke me up! Somebody was screaming louder than a fighter jet.”

Everybody but Grandma Shirley chuckled.

“I don’t mind the joke very funny,” Grandma Shirley snapped.

“Ah ha! You’re the loudest woman on this planet,” Cece Elizabeth said getting up from the couch.

“Excuse me?” Grandma Shirley asked.

“Next time could you please refrain from screaming at six o’clock in the morning?” Cece Elizabeth asked. “I do believe this is a place of rest not an anger management session.”

I was beginning to like this girl.

“Well I never!” Grandma Shirley huffed. She stomped off.

“In all my days I have never seen anybody talk to my mother like that!” Uncle Cael laughed. “Did you see the way she was scowling at you?”

“No, I didn’t,” Cece Elizabeth barked. She stomped back up the steps and slammed the attic door.

“What did I say?” Uncle Cael asked.

“She’s blind,” Ms. Donna said looking sadly up the steps.

“Whoops,” Uncle Cael said. He went running up the steps.

“The girl who insulted me so rudely is a blind girl?” Grandma Shirley shouted outraged. “I’m never telling her if a train is coming, and she’s standing in the middle of the tracks.”

Grandma Shirley stormed up the steps.

“Mean,” Noel said pointing in the direction Grandma Shirley stalked off in.

“She’s a smart girl,” Grandpa Jack laughed.

“Yes, she is,” Momma said hugging Noel.

**

“He tried to kill us!” Mrs. Stewart cried for the millionth time.

It was dinner time, and just about every woman in Florida was surrounding her trying to hear her ‘survival’ story. Grandma Shirley made a big show of being bored by the story and frequently interrupted to give her opinion.

“He locked Timmy and me in the bedroom and set the house on fire!” Mrs. Stewart cried. “I thought I was going to die!”

“Why didn’t you just command the fire to stop?” Grandma Shirley asked. “You were able to command people in high school.”

Mrs. Stewart rolled her eyes.

“Anyway lucky for us the phone still worked, and I was able to call 911. It doesn’t surprise too much that he tried to kill me but trying to burn your grandson? His own flesh and blood?”

“Fowler Stewart has made it very apparent that he doesn’t care too much for his flesh and blood,” Grandma Shirley said. She took a quick glance at Yule and Noel, and everybody got the message.

“Well he can’t hurt you anymore,” Ms. O’Donnell said changing the subject back. “He’s in jail without bail.”

“Is your house still livable?” Mrs. Rivers asked.

“Our house burned to the ground,” Mrs. Stewart said with tears streaming down her face. “The police said that Fowler was trying to burn the evidence against him. Like the baby pictures and birth certificates.”

Mrs. Stewart pulled two crumpled pieces of paper out of her pocket.

“Here,” Mrs. Stewart said handing them to Yule. “There your birth certificates. I managed to save them. I thought you’d might like to have them.”

“Thank you,” Yule smiled. He handed the birth certificates to Momma.

“Where are you, Emily, and Timmy going to live?” Mrs. Hardy asked.

“Um, I’m sure somebody in the Stewart family will take us in,” Mrs. Stewart said.

“Why don’t the three of you stay here until further arrangements can be made?” Ms. Donna asked. “I’ve got plenty of extra rooms.”

“Well you are part of the Stewart family,” Mrs. Stewart said. “Sure.”

Momma looked like she was about to puke.

And then I felt my food come back up too.

Grandma Shirley and Mrs. Stewart in the same house equaled trouble.

The doorbell rang.

“Now who is that?” Ms. Donna asked looking around. “Just about everyone is here.”

“I’ll answer it,” Darcy said walking towards the door. He came back seconds later with a large wooden box in his hands.

“Delivery for Mr. and Mrs. Steve Matthews! Boy, this box is heavy!” Darcy said dropping the box on the floor.

“Darcy! You don’t know what’s in that box!” Ms. Donna shouted.

This seemed very familiar.

“Ow,” The box said.

Daddy looked at Momma, and Momma took the lid off the box.

“Oh my!” Momma shouted.

“Not again!” I shouted.

“I have got to find out if that’s legal or not,” Darcy said shaking his head.

“It’s not,” Daddy said looking at the box.

“The poor thing,” Ms. Donna said.

This time instead of a two year old blonde girl staring back at me, a four year old brunette little girl stared back at me. The poor little girl had Down Syndrome. She was smiling at us.

“What’s your name, honey?” Momma asked her.

“Bella,” The girl answered. “You Mommy?”

“Um, yes,” Momma said.

“Here,” The little girl said handing Momma a note.

  Dear Mr. and Mrs. Steve Matthews,

 Hello! It’s me, Fowler Stewart. I’ve asked one of my workers to send you an early Christmas gift. Now you know how Yule and Noel got to their home.

P.S. Sorry Yule, there weren’t any boys in the warehouse and we just can’t seem to find a home for this girl.

Merry Christmas,

Fowler Stewart

Mr. Stewart might be in jail without bail, but he was still the head of the Stewart family, and that’s what scared me the most.

Posted in Natalie

Natalie: Part 4- I’ll Be Home for Christmas Installment One

How can a person not want to go home for Christmas?

I knew it was a nearly impossible dream. When I first got to rehab, the thought of Florida at Christmastime was the only thing that kept me going.

Well it was December 16, and not a word about being released from rehab had been uttered. I guess I’d be spending another holiday in rehab. First my birthday, then Thanksgiving, and now Christmas.

“Why the long face?” Daddy asked when he, Momma, and Yule walked into my room. They were trying their hardest to hide their smiles and smirks. Something was up.

“Was I wearing a long face?” I asked knowing I was.

“You were looking nostalgic,” Momma said.

“Well with Christmas coming up and all,” I said.

“You want to go home,” Daddy stated.

“Yeah,” I said.

“Well, I’m sorry,” Momma said, “but December 20th was the best we could get.”

“That’s ok,” I said turning around. “Wait…what!”

“You’re being released!” Momma, Daddy, and Yule shouted. Noel walked into the room with a noisemaker in her mouth.

“Natalie’s going home for Christmas!” Noel shouted.

“I’ll be home for Christmas?” I asked. This just seemed so unreal.

“Yup,” Momma said. She pulled a suitcase from behind her back.

The next four days were torture.

I had a bunch of doctor’s visits just make sure that I was breathing ok and my spine wasn’t swelling. Momma and Jaci had to pack for me since couldn’t leave rehab. I had to do a test on December 19th to make sure that I really knew everything I needed to know. Then at ten A.M. December 20th I was free.

“How does it fell to be in a car again, kid?” Yule asked me as we got on the highway.

“Nauseating,” I said. I hadn’t been in a car since early October.

Momma seemed to agree with me. She looked sick. She had her head in her hands.

“Stop the car,” Momma groaned.

“Riley, are you all right?” Daddy asked.

“Stop the car!” Momma shouted. Daddy pulled over on the side of the road, and Momma ran out the door. She started to vomit on the side of the road.

“Yuck!” Megan screamed. I couldn’t help but chuckle a little bit.

Momma got back in the car without saying anything. She fell asleep right away, and ten minutes later she woke up and started yelling about how she had to use the bathroom.

And that’s how our trip went. Momma would fall and asleep and less than thirty minutes later she would have to pee.

At one o’clock, the time we were supposed to be arriving in Florida, we still had another hour to go, and everyone was starving.

“I want Wendy’s!” Megan screamed at the top of her lungs when Daddy asked what did we want to eat.

“No, McDonald’s!” Noel screamed. She started to scream “I’m lovin’ it®” over and over again.

“Please stop, honey,” Momma said. She sounded like she was dizzy, and she looked like she could vomit again.

Noel stopped and then started pointing at a sign that had a picture of McDonald’s one it. She kept pointing in the direction of the sign even when it was out of sight. After about two minutes though she stopped and started staring at her hand.

“Natalie, honey bear, what do you want to eat?” Daddy asked.

“I want some greasy fries,” I said in a desirous voice. Rehab food is not much better than hospital food. It’s all healthy too, which isn’t a bad thing but eating that food for two months makes you want some McDonald’s fries real bad.

McDonald’s it is,” Daddy said.

“Good,” Momma said. “I have got to use the restroom.”

We got off, used the bathroom, and ate lunch. We got stuck in traffic once we hit Berkshire County, and didn’t arrive in Florida until three P.M.

“The sign with the snowman!” Megan screamed when the sign appeared. Momma and Daddy let out a well held sign. Yule, who had been here before, started to amaze me by telling me what was coming up next and the names of trees. Noel didn’t really seem to care and just sucked her finger. Jaci looked excited, and I just couldn’t stop smiling.

“I’m home. I’m finally home,” I said as we pulled up into the B&B driveway.

I saw that someone had put up a wheelchair ramp. Virginia, Emily, and Regina ran out of the house and to the car.

“You’re here!” Virginia cried as I got out of the car. “There’s so much to tell. First I think I should tell you that Darcy didn’t take anyone to Homecoming in October. Second, Ms. O’Donnell has a BOYFRIEND! He’s her next door neighbor, and yours truly got the two of them together! Mrs. Stewart became a Christian. Jessie-Maria is on her way. Ms. Donna is calling her now. We thought you’d guys never show up. Oh, um, who’s this dude?”

“Slow down,” I laughed. “This is my big brother Yule.”

“You have a brother?” Emily, Regina, and Virginia said at the same time.

“Long story,” I said. “Where’s Darcy?”

“Who knows,” Virginia said running up the B&B steps.

“Nice of ya to mention me,” Yule joked as I rolled up the wheelchair ramp.

“You know I love you,” I said. Yule laughed.

Nothing about the B&B had changed. It was the same was when we left. Darcy was standing in the arch looking unsure of what to do.

“Darcy!” I shouted. I rolled as fast as I could and gave Darcy a huge hug.

“Can’t…breathe…,” Darcy said.

“Sorry,” I said letting go.

“Somebody’s excited,” Darcy said. He looked the same except he was taller. His voice had changed.

“Put me down!” I shouted as Darcy picked me up out of my wheelchair.

Darcy laughed.

“You’re strong,” I said. “Put me down.”

“You’re heavy,” Darcy laughed. “Nope.” I smiled. Darcy looked at Yule.

“Darcy, this is my big brother, Yule,” I said. Darcy’s face was priceless. He almost dropped me.

“Haven’t I seen you before?” Darcy asked.

“Um, yeah, I’m a relative of Fowler Stewart,” Yule said. He hurried towards the restaurant.

Darcy put me back into my wheelchair and pushed me into the resturant.

Jessie-Maria came running into the restaurant and fainted.

“Sean? Sean, are you all right?” Yule asked walking up to Jessie-Maria’s limp body. He ran his fingers through her newly highlighted hair. He gave one of those memorable laughs. He picked Jessie-Maria’s body up and set her down in a booth.

Jessie-Maria came too soon after that. She looked at Yule in disbelief.

“Hey, Blondie,” Yule laughed.

“My hair is not blonde!” Jessie-Maria argued. “I got it highlighted. My dad wouldn’t in a million years let me dye my hair.”

“I bet he fainted when he saw your hair,” Yule smiled. Jessie-Maria shook her head and laughed.

“Wait, you two know each other?” I asked. A sweet smile came to Jessie-Maria’s face. She took a necklace off of her neck. On it instead of a pendant there was a class ring on the chain.

“You actually wear it? I thought you would just stash it away in your underwear drawer,” Yule said.

“Actually,” Jessie-Maria said with embarrassment in her voice, “This was the first time I’ve taken it off in two years.”

Yule put the necklace back on Jessie-Maria’s neck; Jessie-Maria’s face lit up more than the New York City night skyline.

“I’m lost,” Virginia said. She was pouting, and I laughed.

“Let’s see,” Jessie-Maria said. “I met Yule two years ago. I was volunteering at a hospital/rehabilitation center. Yule had been shot in the hip and was acting like a snake” Yule laughed. “Nobody who was paid to work there wanted to work with him so they had me, a ten to eleven year old girl, take care of him. I had to do everything for him, even feed and dress him which made no sense because he had a hip injury. For some reason I was the only person he didn’t shun. After a while I started to love this grump, and it turns out the feeling was mutual. I convinced the Johnson’s to let me stay long enough to help Yule out. When he got better, the Johnson’s called Mr. Bill, and I was gone. But before I left Yule gave me his freshman class ring. It was way too big for my fingers so I put it on a chain and wore it around my neck…everywhere.”

“How romantic!” Virginia squealed.

“I’m outta here,” Yule said getting up and walking up the steps. Jessie-Maria laughed and smiled.

“Yule never said anything about a girl,” I said shaking my head.

“How did you meet him anyway?” Virginia asked. “And how in the world is he your brother? Are your parents adopting him or something?”

“It’s a long story,” I said shaking my head.

“Well promise us that you’ll tell us all these long stories at the sleepover we’ve planned for you,” Emily blurted.

“Emily!” Jessie-Maria, Virginia, and Regina cried. “It was supposed to be a surprise!”

“Ooops…,” Emily said blushing.

“Come here!” I cried opening my arm. The girls gave me a hug that hurt my ribs so badly, but the hug was worth it.

**

For dinner just about everyone in Florida crammed into the restaurant to come see me. I received lots more flowers and candy…and a lot of hugs.

Mr. Stewart and Timmy came late. When Timmy showed up, Jaci practically flew into Timmy’s arms. Timmy carried Jaci to the least crowded part of the restaurant, and they started talking about a mile a minute.

I noticed Momma made herself absent when Mr. Stewart showed up. When he spotted Yule and Noel, I thought he was going to drop down dead.

“Grandpa! You won’t believe it! Cousin Yule and Cousin Noel are Natalie’s brother and sister!” Emily shouted when Mr. Stewart walked towards the table she was sitting at with Jessie-Maria, Yule, Noel, Virginia, Darcy, and me on the end.

Oh, he better believe it.

“Hello, sir,” Yule said offering his hand. There was sadness and pain in his eyes. Mr. Stewart’s eyes were as cold as stone.

“Hello, son,” Mr. Stewart said shaking his hand. The words seemed to stab Yule’s heart. It was like Mr. Stewart was talking of code. He was recognizing Yule as his son, but nobody would give a second thought about it.

“And hello, Noel,” Mr. Stewart said to Noel sweetly. She looked at Mr. Stewart’s forehead for a second and then went back to stealing food off of Yule’s and my plate.

“I wonder what’s up with him,” Emily mumbled as Mr. Stewart walked away. “He’s never changed moods like that.”

Yule just put a big mouth full of macaroni and cheese in his mouth.

“So how do you like the new menu?” Ms. Donna asked walking up to the table.

“I really like the mac and cheese,” I said rubbing my belly. Ms. Donna smiled.

“I decided that two choices were just too plain,” Ms. Donna said. “So I added macaroni and cheese, baked and fried chicken, grilled cheese sandwiches for the kids, and hamburgers. I’m thinking about adding pizza!”

“That would be so good,” Virginia said. “Pizza is the one thing I haven’t master yet.”

Ms. Donna laughed and walked away.

“FOWLER STEWART!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

Everyone looked to the door where Mrs. Stewart was standing. She was mad and looked ready to throw the book in her hand at Mr. Stewart.

“Lori,” Mr. Stewart said looking at the book in Mrs. Stewart’s hand and not her eyes, “not here.”

“Yes, here!” Mrs. Stewart screamed. “The whole world deserves to know the snake of a husband I have!”

“Lori,” Mr. Stewart said with a shaky voice. “What are you talking about?”

“This!” Mrs. Stewart yelled opening the book. “Explain yourself!”

Even from afar I could see that the book was a photo album. I couldn’t really see the pictures but I was sure they were baby pictures of some sort.

“And this!” Mrs. Stewart screamed flipping the page. The entire room gasped.

Mrs. Stewart started to walk around the room showing just about everyone the picture. It was a picture of my mom. She was holding either Yule or Noel in her arms. She looked young and scared; she had several scares on face. Mr. Stewart was in the corner looking at the baby in Momma’s arms. His expression was downright scary.

“And this!” Mrs. Stewart screamed. She looked around for Momma, and when she didn’t see her, she handed Daddy two pieces of paper.

“Read it! Read them both!” Mrs. Stewart cried. Daddy hesitated for a second, but he didn’t dare deify Mrs. Stewart in this mood.

“Name: Yule Nicholas Walters-Stewart. Date of birth: August 1st. Place of birth: Berkshire Pittsfield Hospital. Parents: Fowler Stewart and Riley Anne Walters,” Daddy read.

“That’s enough of that one,” Mrs. Stewart said. “Read the other one.”

“Name: Noel Joy Baldwin-Stewart. Date of birth: December 25th. Place of birth: The Hospital of Tampa, Florida. Parents: Fowler Stewart and Riley Anne Baldwin,” Daddy read.

“That’s quite enough,” Mrs. Stewart said.

Everyone was staring at Mr. Stewart. Mr. Stewart was looking around for Momma, but she still hadn’t come back. Mr. Stewart looked mad.

“Lori, I can explain everything,” Mr. Stewart said.

“Then explain!” Mrs. Stewart screamed.

“Not here,” Mr. Stewart said. “Let’s go home and talk about it.”

Mrs. Stewart looked reluctant.

“Fine,” Mrs. Stewart said gritting her teeth. She marched out of the restaurant, and Mr. Stewart followed.

Momma walked into the restaurant looking sick. Everyone stared at her with sad and companionate looks.

“What did I miss?” Momma asked.

Posted in Natalie

Natalie: Part 3- Heaven Everywhere Installment Thirteen

**

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?

“Natalie, wait!”

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.

Posted in Natalie

Natalie: Part 3- Heaven Everywhere Installment Twelve

**

The bus from North Adams to Virginia took about ten hours. I tried to take a nap, but all I could think about was that I was moving to New York in less than a month. Mr. Steve kept his distance even though I knew Momma was trying her hardest for him to get closer to me. I personally thought some distance between us was a good thing.

Ms. O’Donnell had gone down to Virginia a week early so she could get everything put together. I wondered how the people down there were putting up with her.

Once word got out that the ‘world’ famous Jessie-Maria Sean would be performing at the Christmas in July show tickets were sold faster than you could count to ten.

“Jessie-Maria, you are an angel!” Is what Aunt Jane said when she found out how much money we had already made.

“Natalie?” Virginia asked as we got closer to her hometown.

“Yeah?” I asked.

“You’re the best friend a girl could ever ask for. Thank you for everything. You’ve done a lot to help out my family and neighbors. I’m going to miss you more than you could ever imagine,” Virginia said with tears in her eyes.

“You’re an awesome friend too,” I said trying not to cry. I had done a lot of crying lately.

“When are you leaving?” Virginia asked.

“Mr. Steve hasn’t gotten the exact date from his job yet,” I said.

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose,” Virginia said quoting Romans 8:28. “Pretty hard to believe, huh?”

She could say that again.

**

It was almost nine-thirty P.M. The day had been hectic. The show had just finished, and thankfully nothing major had gone wrong. I hadn’t been able to go on the rides or spend any time with Darcy, but it was ok. I was helping the victims of the fire and that’s what I came here to do.

“You look tired,” Darcy said to me.

He had no idea how tired.

“You were great,” Darcy said.

“Thanks,” I said. “It was tiring and hard, but we’ve made a lot of money and its really going to help the victims.”

“I used most of my coins,” Darcy said sheepishly.

“Oh and you want mine?” I asked digging into my pocket. “Here, I haven’t used a single one.”

“Keep your coins,” Darcy said. “I was wondering if you’d take me on one of the rides or something since we didn’t get to spend the day together.”

“Sure,” I said. “But I want to go in the photo both first.”

“Sure,” Darcy shrugged.

There wasn’t a line at the photo both and I didn’t expect there to be. I just wanted one last picture. One final memory.

“Say ‘Christmas’!” I shouted.

“Christmas!” Darcy and I shouted.

The pictures we took were totally goofy, but they were special (at least to me. I have no clue to this day what Darcy did with our pictures). Every time I looked at those photos I couldn’t help but smile. For three minutes I forgot about not being able to go to sleep at night, I forgot about waking up in strange places, I forgot about Mr. Steve, I even forgot about moving to New York! For three minutes it was just about Darcy, me, and making silly faces.

**

“Call 911!”

It was thirty minutes later and after going on the Ferris wheel, bumper cars, and watching Darcy win me a bear I was more tired than I ever thought I’d been. The time I had found myself outside was the only time I had gone to sleep in two weeks.

“What’s wrong?” Darcy asked. I shrugged.

We walked towards to the scream, and found Mr. Rivers running around like an idiot and Mrs. Rivers screaming for someone to call 911.

“Calm down, Joan,” Momma coaxed. “The pain is natural.”

Mrs. Rivers breathed.

“I..I..I..can’t find my car keys,” Mr. Rivers said with his car keys behind his ears.

“Um, Dad,” Jessie-Maria said. “They’re behind your ears.”

Mr. Rivers looked at Jessie-Maria with pure amazement.

“Behind your ears!” Jessie-Maria shouted just in case he couldn’t hear her.

“Oh, yeah,” Mr. Rivers said taking the keys from behind his ears. “Where’s the bag?”

“Forget the bag! Get me to a hospital!” Mrs. Rivers cried.

“Here,” Jessie-Maria said handing me a box. “Can you, Virginia, and Darcy count the names and see which one is the winner? I have a feeling we’re gonna need the names real soon!”

It took us two hours to count up all the names. When we were finished I could barely keep my eyes open but sleep just wasn’t coming.

“Let’s see,” Virginia said looking at the sheet of paper. “Addison and Austin won for a boy and a girl, James and John won for two boys, and Faith and Hope if it’s two girls.”

“I wonder if Mrs. Rivers has had the twins yet,” I wondered out loud.

“I remember when my mom went into labor with Caroline. It took eighteen hours,” Virginia groaned.

“Have you figured out the names yet?” Momma asked walking where we were sitting.

“Yeah,” I said rubbing my eyes.

“Good, because Mr. Rivers just called and asked what names he should put on the birth certificates,” Momma smiled.

**

“Addison and Austin,” Jessie-Maria cooed. We were back in Florida and this was our first real chance to see the twins.

“I guess it’s good to have a boy and a girl,” Virginia said. “Even though I think it would be cool to have an identical twin.”

“I think it would be cool to have any kind of twin,” I said. Virginia nodded.

“Get ready for nonstop crying,” Virginia said to Jessie-Maria.

“I’m going to help Mom and Dad out,” Jessie-Maria said. “Dad already owns me three diaper changes.”

We burst out laughing.

“Can..I..,” Emily started. “Hold a baby?”

“Sure,” Mrs. Rivers smiled. She showed Emily how to hold a baby and then put Austin in her arms.

“I’ve always wanted to be a big sister,” Emily said with tears in her voice. “Maybe it’s because I’m good at bossing people around.”

Mrs. Rivers gave Emily a sad smile.

I never thought that Emily would want to be an older sister. She was more of the baby type if you asked me.

“You can have Megan if you want,” I joked.

That put a smile on her face, and Megan gave me a dirty look. She was smart for two.