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 Eleven

**

I woke up feeling cold and to the sound of birds. I was not in my room. I opened my eyes and saw that I was outside of the B&B. What time was it? The sun wasn’t up yet. I had to get back to the B&B, or I would get into a lot of trouble.

Maybe I shouldn’t go back. Who knows what Mr. Steve is going to do to me? So, what if I was good at the piano. That’s not what I wanted to do. I didn’t want to pursue that part of me. That part of me had come from my father, and it would be too painful to rip off the bandages that had been there ever since I was five.

But what about Momma? If I ran away she would be heartbroken. I sighed. I didn’t want to run away. All I wanted to do was get under my nice warm sheets, snuggle up, and have pleasant dreams.

I knew where I was at so it wasn’t hard for me to get back to the B&B. I looked at the clock on my way in. Ugh, it was six A.M. I sneaked back into my room and got under the covers. I stayed in there until ten A.M. and not once did I go to sleep.

**

“Here,” Momma said handing me a note.

“Somebody left me a note?” I asked taking it. “Who?”

“Your father,” Momma said walking away.

I thought maybe it was another letter from my father but instead it turned out to be from Mr. Steve.

  Dear Natalie,

  Something has come up and I had to go to New York City this morning. I would rather do this person to person, but you weren’t up yet. Maybe it’s for the best. I’ll probably be gone two or three days. When I get back, we WILL talk about last night and we WILL start looking for a piano teacher.

Sincerely,

Your father

“He doesn’t have the decency to sign ‘love’,” I whispered. I tore the note and threw it in the trash.

“Natalie?” Momma asked as I walked towards the steps.

“Natalie, what did the note say, honey?” Momma asked. “What’s wrong?”

Everything I thought as I closed my bedroom door.

**

“Your father sure sounded excited over the phone,” Momma said. I sighed as I put her salad on the table. I really wished Mr. Steve would be staying that extra day in New York City. I didn’t feel like talking to him. I really didn’t feel like talking to anyone. But as a waitress I gotta put on a nice face for everyone. Expect my face was tired and worn. It had a pretty smile on it, and all you would think was that I was growing and needed more sleep. You wouldn’t imagine that sweet little Natalie was battling with insomnia and sleepwalking. You would never know that she had such a dislike for her stepfather that when she found herself outside of the B&B that she thought of never going back. Yup, that was the Natalie nobody but I knew.

“He didn’t even tell us why he was going to New York City,” Abby said.

“New York City,” Jaci said. “I wouldn’t want to live there, but it’s probably a very nice place to visit.”

“I’ve been,” Momma said. “It’s loud and noisy, but the shopping is amazing and Central Park is fabulous.”

Mr. Steve burst through the restaurant door with the biggest grin on his face. He looked like he hadn’t gotten any sleep last night, but my eyes still had more circles around them than his.

“Mr. Stewart,” Mr. Steve said walking up to him. “thank you.”

“You’re welcome,” Mr. Stewart said. “I meant everything that I said, and you deserve everything that’s coming.”

“What’s going on?” Momma asked with fear in her voice.

“I got the job!” Mr. Steve smiled. He hugged Momma.

“What job?” Momma asked. She stole a glance at Mr. Stewart. Mr. Stewart was smirking. Oh, no. If Mr. Stewart was involved in this it couldn’t be good.

“I went to New York to apply for an accounting job for one of the business,” Mr. Steve said. “They were looking for a new accountant and Mr. Stewart recommended me, a math teacher, for the job. I was interviewed yesterday and they hired me today.”

“Wait…so if you got a job in New York City,” Abby started. “That means you’re moving!”

“WHAT!” I shouted. Jaci didn’t say anything. She got up from her seat and ran out the door. Timmy ran after her.

“Moving? What no!” I shouted. I couldn’t leave Florida. No. Never. Florida was HOME. It was MY home.

“Well, um,” Mr. Steve said looking down. He had to know that this wasn’t good for our ‘relationship’.

“Moving?” Momma asked. “Couldn’t we have talked about this first?”

Momma walked away, and I looked at Mr. Steve.

“You are unbelievable!” I screamed. “Do you have to destroy everything?!”

Everyone in the restaurant was looking at me, but I didn’t care. This was the Natalie I had become now. They were shocked by this new Natalie. Most of them looked shocked to see me talking to Mr. Steve like this. To them Mr. Steve was my father. To me he was a destroyer of my life.

“Natalie, I..I..I thought if anything you’d be happy about moving to such an exciting place as New York City,” Mr. Steve clearly shocked.

How could he think that? Did this guy even know me? I loved Florida. This was my home.

“Do you even know me?!” I screamed. “Happy? Happy!? I will have you know that I hate the idea! I hate it! I don’t want to move to the city! I want to stay here! How could you think for one second about moving us to the city?!”

“Natalie!” Aunt Jane scolded. I ran up the stairs but not before tears started to flow. When I got to my room and slammed the door and locked it.

An image of Mr. Steve’s hurt face came into my mind and I cried some more. Move? No way? Mr. Steve would come to his senses soon enough. If there was one place that was an exception to the heaven everywhere rule, it was New York City.

**

“Natalie, you had no right to talk to your father that way,” Momma said to me. I tried not to start crying again. I was sitting on Mr. Steve and Momma’s bed. Ms. Donna had given Mr. Steve the key to my room and he carried me in here.

“He’s not my father,” I mumbled. Momma ignored that. Mr. Steve winced.

“I know the idea of moving came as a shock to you,” Momma started, “but you don’t yell at your father. Do you understand me?”

“Yes, ma’am,” I said trying not to cry. Momma hugged me.

“The thought of leaving scares me too,” Momma whispered. “We don’t particularly need the money but…”

I sighed. Of course this was about money. God, why couldn’t teachers make more?

There was a knock on the door.

“Come in,” Mr. Steve said. His voice was flat and shaky. He was probably still recovering from my screaming.

Jaci walked into the room and looked at me.

“Oh, I’m sorry,” Jaci said. “Am interrupted anything?”

“Not if you’re here to talk about New York,” Mr. Steve said flopping on the bed. “I think I just became public enemy number one in this town.”

“Well, what I’m about to say has something to do with New York,” Jaci said closing the door and walking towards the bed.

“Let her rip!” Mr. Steve shouted tiredly. “Tell me I’m a monster! Tell me I’m a destroyer! Tell me that you hate me! Get it all off your chest.”

Jaci looked at me. Her look said, “What did you do?”

“Um, I think you should have asked us first. I mean with modern technology you could have at least called,” Jaci said calmly.

“That’s it?” Mr. Steve asked sounding surprised. “Natalie called me a destroyer. Abby called me the killer of all things good and said that I bring out the worst in people especially my family members. Your mother gave me a long talk about marriage and the importance of communication. And all you say is you should have called?”

“Yes,” Jaci said. “Now back to what I came back in here to say. Timmy asked me to marry him, and I said yes. And you can’t stop me.”

Jaci didn’t say, “And you can’t stop me” angrily or anything. She said it sweetly like she always said things.

“Why would I stop you? You have my blessing,” Mr. Steve shrugged. “You’re eighteen. You’ll be nineteen before the years over. You can do whatever you want. You can stay here in Florida. I’m sure somebody would be willing to let you stay with them.”

“No,” Jaci said. “I’m going with you. You haven’t given me away yet.”

Mr. Steve looked at me. The look on his face said, “Why couldn’t you be more like Jaci?”

“You just don’t stop do you?” I asked getting up. Mr. Steve stared blankly at me.

“I’m sorry if I’m not tactful like Jaci. I’m sorry if I’m not as smart and as ambitious as Abby. And I’m sorry if I’m not as sweet, innocent, and Steve worshiping as Megan. I’m me Natalie. The girl who doesn’t seem to have a place in your family. The girl who’s feelings you never think of!” I cried. I walked out the door.

“Steve, you are a fool,” I heard Momma said.

“What did I say?” Mr. Steve’s voice asked.

“Even I know what you did wrong,” Jaci’s voice said. She wasn’t critically. She was sweet and polite.

I wasn’t sweet or polite. I didn’t want to pursue my musical talent and that’s something Abby would totally do. I defiantly wasn’t like Megan. If there ever was an example of childlike faith she was one. She ‘respected’ people older than her (well most of the time). What was I then? Oh, yeah. The middle child.

Posted in Natalie

Natalie: Part 3- Heaven Everywhere Installment Nine

**

“Let me get a picture,” Momma said.

It was the night of the dreaded Father-Daughter Dance. I was wearing a dress that matched Abby, Jaci, and Megan’s. Momma had come up with the idea. Jaci had been working nonstop for the past week (with a little help from Mrs. Stewart) making the dresses. The dresses were pretty, but I felt miserable in them. Not because my psoriasis was showing but because I was going to this dance. I ached to be with my father. I had just come from crying. I tried to make myself look happy but my eyes were still puffy.

“Smile,” Momma said. “Stinky feet!”

“Stinky feet!” Mr. Steve, Jaci, Abby, and Megan laughed. I just smiled.

“Are my girls ready?” Mr. Steve asked. We nodded and walked out the door.

My heart was beating so fast as we drove to the dance hall. When we arrived I almost threw up. I wished I had. I would have just told Mr. Steve that my strep throat was still lingering and he would have taken me home.

I saw that mostly everybody was already there. Emily was dancing with Zach, and Virginia and Mr. Hank were eating and laughing. Mr. Rivers and Sean were eating and making conversation.

Dinner was awful. The rest of the group talked and I of course said something every now and then but I couldn’t hide that there were tears in my voice.

After dinner Jaci and Mr. Steve started to dance. I knew tears were about to spill out of my eyes so I rushed off to the bathroom. I walked into a stall and started to cry my eyes out.

How dare my father ask me to make Mr. Steve my ‘father’. He would never be that to me. Virginia was dead wrong about him loving me. He was just doing this to make suffer. He didn’t care about me. He only cared about hurting me. He knew how much my heart was breaking at this moment and he did nothing to stop it.

I started to cry harder and stopped when I heard the bathroom door open.

“Natalie,” Abby’s voice said. “I know you’re in here.”

“Go away,” I cried. “I don’t want to talk to anyone.”

“What’s wrong?” Abby asked.

I might as well just tell her.

“My father was going to take me to a Father-Daughter Dance, but he died the day before,” I cried.

“Oh, Natalie,” Abby said. “I’m so sorry.”

I just cried.

“Does Dad know?” Abby asked.

“I don’t know,” I cried.

“Do you want me to tell him?” Abby asked.

“No!” I cried walking out of the stall. “What does he care?”

“Natalie, Dad loves you,” Abby said. “He knew that when he proposed to your mother that you were part of the deal. Mixing families is hard but love conquers all.”

“He doesn’t love me!” I cried. “He doesn’t care about me! If he really cared about me he wouldn’t have taken me to this dance!”

“Natalie,” Abby said getting angry. “Dad is not a mind reader. You just said that you don’t he knew about your father dying before the dance. How is he supposed to know what’s bothering you if you don’t tell him?”

I stared at her and cried.

“You don’t understand!” I cried.

“I understand perfectly!” Abby cried.

“No you don’t!” I cried.

“Yes, I do! You’re lying to yourself! You’re lying to yourself so you can keep one hurting Dad! Well, I thought you were more than that, Natalie!” Abby shouted. She walked out of the bathroom.

I looked in the mirror. I was a wreck. I just couldn’t believe Mr. Steve wasn’t trying to hurt me. Tears followed down. Why did my mom have to marry him?

“Natalie,” Mr. Steve said walking into the bathroom.

“What do you want?” I barked.

“Abby just told me…I’m sorry,” Mr. Steve said.

“No, you’re not!” I cried. Mr. Steve was taken aback.

“Natalie, I..I really am sorry,” Mr. Steve said.

“No, you aren’t!” I cried

“I know you’re upset right now,” Mr. Steve said. “But there is no doubt in my mind that you’re my daughter and that I’m your father.”

“You are not my father! And just because a piece of paper says that I am your daughter doesn’t make it so!” I cried. I walked into a stall and slammed the door.

“Natalie,” Mr. Steve said with tears in his voice.

“Go away,” I interrupted.

“Fine,” Mr. Steve said walking out of the bathroom.

I stayed in there for the rest of the night and just cried.

**

“Natalie,” Momma said the next day. She was helping me into my bridesmaids dress.

“I don’t want to talk about it,” I said knowing that she was going to say something about last night.

“We have to talk about it,” Momma said. “I know that this is been hard on you, but you can’t talk to your father like that.”

“Oh, what does he care?” I asked.

“A lot more than you could ever imagine,” Momma said. I shook my head.

“We have to do something about this,” Momma said.

“Can we talk about this some other day?” I asked. “It’s Abby’s wedding day.”

Momma sighed.

“Fine,” Momma said zipping up my dress.

I walked out of the room and down the steps.

“What happened to you last night?” Virginia asked.

“I don’t want to talk about it,” I said picking up a banana.

“Well if you ever want to talk about,” Virginia said. “You know that I’m here for you. Regina, Sean, and even Emily are here for you. If you ever want to talk to us, we’re here for you.”

I nodded and smiled. I had the best friends in the world. I gave Virginia a hug.

“Pretty!” Megan cried. I walked into the family room to find Abby in her wedding dress.

“Am I silly for getting married in the backyard?” Abby asked. I shook my head no.

“I’m so nervous,” Abby said. “What if I flub the vows?”

“Then it will be something funny to show your kids,” Ms. Donna said. Abby smiled.

“I’m ready,” Abby said.

“But Zach is not,” Mr. Steve said walking into the room. “He’s a mess. He sweated his shirt out!”

Abby laughed. Mr. Steve looked at me and then looked away.

“All the guest are here,” Jaci said walking into the house. “And Zach has changed his shirt.”

Jaci handed Abby her bouquet and Abby smiled.

“Here goes nothing,” Abby smiled.

The wedding party walked down the aisle and then Abby and Mr. Steve walked down the aisle. Zach beamed. Abby really did look pretty in the dress. Jaci smiled even though she was still just a tiny bit upset about not being able to make the dress.

I looked up and saw that Mr. Stewart was there. He wasn’t looking at Zach, but at Momma. I felt a little uneasy. Why in the world would he be looking at Momma?

“We are gathered here today to witness the union of Zach Stewart Davis and Abby Abigail Matthews. This town has watched the two of them grow up and this town is extremely proud of them both,” Pastor David said. “The couple has forgone the usually ‘I Do’s’ and they each have created a mash-up of vows.”

“Abby, I love you. Today is a very special day. Long ago you were just a dream and a prayer. This day like a dream come true the Lord Himself has answered that prayer. For today I promise to care for you, honor and protect you so long as we both shall live,” Zach promised.

“Zach, I love you. I am confident that God has chosen you to be my husband. Through the pressures of the present and the uncertainties of the future I promise to be faithful to you. I will love, serve, and obey you as long as we both are alive,” Abby promised.

“The rings,” Pastor David smiled.

Darcy walked up with a pillow in his hand. I tried not to laugh.

“Abby, I give you this ring, wear it with love and joy. God choose you to be my wife, to have and to hold from this day forward for better or for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish as long as we both shall live,” Zach said putting the ring on Abby’s figure.

“Zach, I give you this ring, wear it with love and joy. God choose you to be my husband: to have and to hold, from this day forward. For better, for worse, for richer for poorer; in sickness and in health; to have and to cherish, as long as we both shall live,” Abby said putting the ring on Zach’s finger.

“I know pronounce you man and wife,” Pastor David said. “Zach, you may kiss your bride.”

Zach removed Abby’s veil and kissed her.

Momma gave me the que to throw rose petals. Virginia, Regina, Emily, and I started to throw rose petals at Abby while Darcy, Timmy, Ned, and Nelson threw rice at Zach.

Abby and Zach laughed as Abby’s side of the aisle threw rose petals and Zach’s side threw rice while they were walking towards the house.

When they walked into the house everyone got up out of their chairs and walked into the house for the reception.

**

It was around ten o’clock. Most of the wedding guests were still here, just hanging out. Abby had changed from her wedding dress into a more comfortable reception dress.

I walked towards the kitchen to get a fork for my third piece of cake but stopped when I heard voices.

“Why should I tell you? It’s kept your mouth shut for seventeen years well mostly. You know their next on the list. You wouldn’t want anything bad to happen to them?” Mr. Stewart’s voice asked.

“You would never hurt them,” Momma voice said. Her voice was fearful but tender.

“Ok, probably not. But what about Natalie? Steve? Abby? Jaci? Megan? You wouldn’t want anything to happen to them would you?” Mr. Stewart’s voice asked.

“They don’t have to know the full story,” Momma’s voice cried.

“As much as I hate to hear you cry, no, Riley, darling, it’s what’s best,” Mr. Stewart’s voice said.

“Don’t call me darling,” Momma’s voice snapped. Mr. Stewart laughed.

I walked into the kitchen just as Mr. Stewart was walking out.

Momma looked shaken up. There was a bruise on her arm and tears in her eyes.

“Are you all right?” I asked. “What did Mr. Stewart want?”

“Nothing, just a fork,” Momma lied. I bit my tongue.

“Did you fall?” I asked.

“Yes, I fell,” Momma said.

“I also came for a fork. There aren’t any on the refreshment table,” I said.

“Oh, here,” Momma said handing me a fork. “I better go put some on the table.”

Momma quickly walked out of the kitchen. I stood there wondering what that was all about. What had Mr. Stewart and Momma been talking about? Did he give her that bruise and why in the world did he call her darling?

Posted in Natalie

Natalie: Part 2- Marshmallow World Installment Twenty-Five

**

“When I found out that the world famous Ned Davis was moving into the apartment next to me, I almost moved out,” Ms. Erin said as she told the story of how she met Ned. “I was appealed at the time that I was going to be living next to a man who played the Devil and was a Stewart.”

“You played the Devil?” Virginia asked.

“And won an Oscar for it,” Ned said.

“So I guess you were pretty famous,” I said.

“Yup. I’ve got two Oscars and five Golden Globes,” Ned said.

“Then why did you leave Hollywood?” Nelson asked.

“I got in trouble a lot. Fights at clubs and bars. And when my daughter Emma was born I knew I had to change,” Ned said. “So Emma and I left Hollywood and came back to where I grew up.”

“If I was a famous actress making lots of money I wouldn’t leave,” Virginia said. Ned smiled.

“Well I’m glad Ned left,” Ms. Erin said hugging Ned.

“We about ready to go?” Zach asked. We nodded.

“It’s really snowing out there,” Darcy said looking out the window.

“Again?” Emily asked also looking out the window. “We just had that terrible blizzard.”

“Let’s get home before it gets worse,” Zach said.

We piled into Zach’s car and started on the road for home.

“Honey, can you see?” Abby asked.

“Nope,” Zach said.

“Pull over!” Emily shouted putting her hands over her eyes. Nelson hugged her.

“I think we’re almost home,” Zach said. Abby groaned.

“What?” Ms. Erin asked.

“Nothing,” Abby laughed.

“LOOK OUT!”

Zach slammed on the breaks and just barely missed hitting another car.

“Seriously!” I shouted throwing my hands up.

Mr. Stewart walked from the other car and Emily looked at Timmy.

“Don’t worry,” Timmy said squeezing her shoulder.

“Mr. Stewart, what are you doing?” Abby asked rolling down her window.

“I could ask you the same question,” Mr. Stewart said.

“Zach, Erin, Ned, Natalie, Darcy, Emily, Nelson, Jaci, Timmy, and I went out on a group date,” Abby said. “What are you doing?”

“If you have to know I’m coming from Pittsfield,” Mr. Stewart said. “I don’t remember giving Emily and Timmy permission to go out this evening.”

“Grandma said we could go!” Emily screamed loud enough that Mr. Stewart could hear her. Mr. Stewart nodded.

“Uncle Fowler, why were you spending?” Zach asked rolling down his window. “And why are driving on the wrong side of the street?”

“Zach Davis!” Mr. Stewart shouted. “I’ll get on the right side of the road.”

Mr. Stewart got in his car and got out of the way.

As we started to drive towards the street where Ms. Erin and Ned lived, I had a strange feeling that Mr. Stewart was out to get me.

**

“Meehghneojgsosanivgsnhiigsiogils.”

“Huh?” I asked Mrs. Stewart. Mrs. Stewart took some pins out of her mouth.

“Hold still,” Mrs. Stewart said. I tried to stand still.

“Ow!” I shouted.

“I said hold still,” Mrs. Stewart said. “Now I don’t want to poke you but if you keep moving I’m going to.”

“Are you sure about this bow in the back?” I asked Jaci.

“I’m positive,” Jaci said. “I think the daughter of the bride’s dress should be a little different from the other bridesmaid’s dresses.”

“Darcy better not laugh at me,” I sighed.

“I’ll have a talk with him,” Mrs. Stewart winked.

I sighed.

“I feel like a princess,” Abby said. “OW!”

“Sorry!” Momma said. “I’m not the world’s best pinner. I still can’t believe Jaci talked me into letting her and Mrs. Stewart make my wedding dresses and my bridesmaids’ dresses.”

“We will not disappoint,” Mrs. Stewart smiled.

“Well I was impressed when Mrs. Stewart put the pattern instructions in her pattern drawer without even reading it,” Momma laughed.

“I’ve made these dresses a thousand times.” Mrs. Stewart said. “Ok not a thousand but I know what I’m doing and so does Jaci.”

“I’m just glad you were able to find the color pink I wanted in fabric,” Abby smiled.

“I feel like a penguin,” Mrs. Rivers sighed. Sean smiled.

“You should,” Momma smiled. “You’re carrying twins.”

“We should start planning your baby shower,” Regina said.

“Riley, you know the only reason I’m doing this is because you’re getting married next month,” Mrs. Rivers said. Momma smiled.

“How are we going to get these dresses made by April 20th?” Emily asked.

“I can help,” Sean said in a low voice.

“Do you know how to sew?” Jaci asked.

“Yeah,” Sean mumbled.

“I can help out too,” Mrs. Rivers said. “It will give Jessie and me something to do.”

“Why don’t you go to school?” Regina asked Sean.

“I…I….I….,” Sean started.

“She already has her high school diploma and is taking online college courses for Oxford. They made a special exception,” Mrs. Rivers said.

“You must be mighty gifted to be get into Oxford at your age,” Emily said. Sean dropped the pin cushion and went running out the door.

“I meant it as a compliment,” Emily said looking hurt.

“I know sweetie,” Mrs. Rivers said hugging Emily. “I know.”

Posted in Farm Girl, Highlight & Contest, Natalie

Highlight & Contest: Will You Be My Valentine?

Valentine’s Day is coming soon and I decided that this is the perfect time to have our first ever contest!

Contest Info:Valentine’s Day is about two weeks away and love is in the air in Florida, Massachusetts! But a couple of people are too afraid to tell their feelings to the person they like so they sent anonymous Valentines! Who likes who? Its up to you to find out!

So what you have to do is figure out who sent the Valentine and to who. Comment your answers but chose wisely you only get one chance! It should look like this: Valentine X was given to Blank from Blank.

photo 1

All of the Valentines!

photo 1 (2)

Valentine A

My heads in the clouds

My heart’s in my throat

I’m walking on air

Handing you this note!

photo 2 (3)

Valentine B

Love is patient.

Love does not envy or boast.

Love is not arrogant or rude.

Love never fails.

Love never rejoices at wrongdoing.

Not irritable or resentful.

Love does not insist on its own way.

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love is kind so be my Valentine!

photo 3 (1)

Valentine C

Take all my love.

Take all my kisses.

But there better be a ring.

If you want me to be your Mrs.! 

photo 4 (1)

Valentine D

I have just one Valentine’s Day wish.

That you’ll be my Darcy and I’ll be your Elizabeth!

So what do you say?

Will you make my Valentine’s Day?

photo 1 (1)

Valentine E

Roses are Red.

Violets are blue.

I never know what to say around you!

I’d like to convince myself there’s no one left to ask.

But the truth is I only want you!

photo 2 (2)

Valentine F

I know we’re young.

I know its soon.

But I think I’m in love with you!

There is no fear in love, but perfect love cast out fear.

So I’m just going to say it.

Please be my Valentine till the end of time!

photo 4

Valentine G (two people receive this Valentine)

You’re amazing.

Did you know?

I’ve crushed on you.

Since long ago.

So here’s my heart.

And here’s my soul.

I think its time you should know.

Will you be?

Can you be?

Could you think of me?

That way?

photo 3

Valentine H

Roses are Red.

Violets are blue.

I never know what to say around you!

I don’t want to blurt it but since its Valentine’s Day.

I think I should tell you that I like you in that special kind of way!

photo 2

Valentine I

Left you once.

Lost you twice.

Now its the third time.

So I’m not going to take any chances.

Please be my Valentine and my wife.

Who ever gets them all right (or gets the most right) wins the contest! I will announce the winner and PRIZE on Valentine’s Day! Good Luck!

Posted in Natalie

Natalie: Part 2- Marshmallow World Installment Eighteen

“Yes, yes you did,” Zach said. His voice sounded shaky.

“Fowler, its been more than ten years. Its not his fault that Gavin crashed his car and killed his wife,” Ms. Donna said.

“A Stewart looks out for a Stewart,” Mr. Stewart growled. “Its all his fault that Gavin is sitting in jail right now.”

“Its not my fault that your son drove like a maniac, crashed his car, killed his wife, and lied to the police about it,” Zach said with a little bit more confidence in his voice.

“A Stewart looks out for another Stewart,” Mr. Stewart repeated.When you found the wreckage you should have come to be first before calling the police!”

“I thought I was helping when I found Tami’s body in a car in the woods,” Zach said. “I had been told that she had gone missing after Gavin got into a brutal attack.”

Mr. Stewart growled.

“Why are you back? I told you to never come back to Berkshire County after the trial so why are you back?” Mr. Stewart asked.

“Fowler!” Ms. Donna shouted. “He’s a grown man. He can do whatever he wants!”

Mr. Stewart gave a laugh that scared the life out of me.

“We’ll just see about that,” Mr. Stewart said with a smile on his lips. “Donna, I want a Sea Food Salad to go.”

Ms. Donna quickly made him his salad and Mr. Stewart left.

“You’re a Stewart?” Abby asked Zach.

“I’m NOT a Stewart!” Zach shouted. “So what if my mother is his niece and my grandmother’s maiden name is Stewart? The name Stewart is not on my birth certificate so therefore I’m NOT a Stewart.”

“Zach,” Abby said. “You can’t deny what’s in your blood. Mr. Stewart is your great-uncle.” Zach looked angered.

“You know each other?” I blurted. Abby nodded.

“I designed a building for his company last Spring,” Abby said. She looked sadden at the mention of last spring. Zach too looked sad at the mention of Spring.

“I’m not a Stewart,” Zach said. “I refuse to be. I refuse to be part of a clan of thieving, dirty, and tricky people!”

Zach ran up the steps and Abby looked sad. Jaci sighed.

“He has to learn to overcome the fact that he’s been born into such a line,” Jaci said.

“No. He has to realize that he’s a Stewart,” Timmy said. “But he’s not like the rest.”

Jaci smiled at Timmy.

“Who’s hungry?” Ms. Donna asked. I had a feeling this wasn’t going to be mentioned the rest of the night but one way or another I was going to find out what this was all about.

**

“Momma?” I asked the next day after school.

“Yeah?” Momma said looking up from the table she was cleaning.

“Can I visit the Rivers?” I asked.

“Sure. Why not? Tell Joan that I want her to be a bridesmaid no matter how fat she is,” Momma said to me as I put on my coat.

I promised her that I would tell her and hobbled out the door towards the Rivers’ cabin.

“I was just wishing for some company,” Mrs. Rivers said when she opened the door. Mrs.Rivers hadn’t gained a lot of weight in the past couple of months but she starting to show.

I smiled at her and hobbled into the house.

“So what brings you here?” Mrs. Rivers asked as she took my coat.

“Ms. Donna has a new boarder. His name is Zach Davis,” I said.

“Zach Davis is back in town? Mr. Stewart won’t be happy about that,” Mrs. Rivers said taking out some brownies.

“He saw him yesterday at the B&B. He said that he had told him to never come back to Berkshire County,” I said.

“Mr. Stewart and Zach don’t get along too well. They never did. Zach hated the fact that he had any relation with the Stewart family. Mr. Stewart tried his hardest to make him like being a Stewart and nothing worked. And after Zach told the police about finding Gavin’s car in the woods there was no hope of a relationship between the two of them,” Mrs. Rivers said getting out some hot chocolate.

“Why did Mr. Stewart want to make Zach a Stewart? I mean he was born into the Davis family right?” I asked.

“True but Mr. Stewart wanted Zach to help him out at the law firm,” Mrs. Rivers said. “When Zach told him that he wanted to work with children, Mr. Stewart was disgusted.”

“No wonder he doesn’t like to be called a Stewart,” I said.

“Its sad but if you’ve ever had any relationship with a Stewart present or past people can be a little prejudice. I should know,” Mrs. Rivers said getting out some marshmallows.

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“In high school I went out with Gavin,” Mrs. Rivers said.

“You did?” I asked. Mrs. Rivers nodded.

“Tom hadn’t come to Massachusetts yet and well Gavin was popular. He was known for driving fast to impress a girl and all sorts of crazy stuff. For two months in my junior year of high school I lived the fast life. Sneaking out at night, going to wild parties, asking Gavin to drive dangerously over the speed limit. It took a long talk to get me out of it,” Mrs. Rivers said. “To think I could have been the one in that car. I could be dead by now.”

I sat and thought about this for a minute.

“Why is Gavin in jail. That’s what I don’t understand,” I said.

“He was driving way over the speed limit on an icy day. He crashed his car and killed his wife. He was nervous and worried that the police would think he murdered her that he went to the police and told some story about taking a drive and some people pulling them over. He said he got in a bad fight with them and that’s what his scares were from. He said that they had taken his car and his wife,” Mrs. Rivers said. “When Zach found the car crashed and knowing Gavin’s reckless driving history, the police got curious. It was soon relieved that Gavin’s scares and injuries were from a car crash.”

I nodded.

“But why does Mr. Stewart hate Zach so much? Its not his fault that he found the car. He had been told that someone stole the car. He would be thinking he was helping and not hurting,” I said.

“Mr. Stewart needed a good reason to be angry at Zach. He never really did like him and it gave him a good reason to give him a job in Boston,” Mrs. Rivers said. “Mr. Stewart is a purebred Stewart. They have more grudges then everybody in Massachusetts.”

“How does Mrs. Stewart feel about her nephew?” I asked.

“She loves and adores him more than her own son. Zach was always so well behaved. Gavin was always getting into trouble. Who could blame her? Zach was defiantly the perfect ‘son’,” Mrs. Rivers said.

Mr. Rivers came bursting through the house.

“There’s a terrible accident on the Mohawk Trail!” Mr. Rivers shouted. “They need all the help they can get.”

“Where’s the accident at?” Mrs. Rivers asked.

“Right around the area where Gavin crashed his car. That place is a crash magnet,” Mr. Rivers said.

I felt like crying. Nobody had to tell me that Zach was in that car. I had a strange feeling that this was in connection with my father’s car crash and my mother’s recent one.

Posted in Natalie

Natalie: Part 2- Marshmallow World Installment Thirteen

**

I stumbled out of the car. I touched the snowflake earrings dangling from my ears (I found them at my feet this morning).

“Let’s just get this over with,” I grumbled.

“Why does everybody in town dislike the Stewarts? I had a delightful time sledding with Timmy,” Jaci said.

“You’ll figure out soon enough,” Abby said rolling her eyes.

Mr. Steve rang the doorbell and straightened his tie. Darcy answered the door.

“Darcy? What are you doing here?” I asked.

“Emily invited me over for dinner,” Darcy said. He opened the door wide enough for us to walk in.

“Welcome! Welcome!” Mrs. Stewart smiled as we poured into her family room. “I’m so glad you could come.”

“Thanks for inviting us,” Momma said. I wonder how hard it was to say that.

“It’s the least I could do after what my Emily has done to your Natalie,” Mrs. Stewart said. “But don’t worry. I am working on her.”

I didn’t know what ‘working on her’ meant but I hoped it worked.

“Oh, I love your dress! Did you make it yourself?” Jaci asked overlooking Mrs. Stewart.

Mrs. Stewart was wearing a plain looking pink dress. She didn’t have on her glasses today. A smile managed to creep into her face.

“Yes. Yes, I did. I love making clothes but Emily will only let me make her Sunday dress,” Mrs. Stewart said.

“I don’t see why. Your work is very good. Even mother wasn’t this good,” Jaci said kneeling to admire the hem.

“Are you a coach?” Megan asked. I felt like laughing. Mrs. Stewart did have a voice of authority.

“Why do you ask, child?” Mrs. Stewart asked.

“Whistle,” Megan said pointing to Mrs. Stewart’s chest.

“Oh. This? I use this to communicate with my grandchildren and sometimes my husband,” Mrs. Stewart said holding up the whistle. I hadn’t even noticed she had been wearing it. Come to think of it I think she was wearing it the day she burst into the school and at The Hill.

“Speaking of those children, where are they?” Mrs. Stewart asked. She blew her whistle five times.

A sound that sounded like elephants stomping rang through the house. Momma tried to hide the horrified look on her face. Mr. Steve seemed unfazed. Jaci stared at Mrs. Stewart in amazement. Megan covered her ears. Darcy (I almost forgot he was there) stood like he was in the army.

Timmy and Emily ran down the steps and got in line with Darcy.

“State your full name and age for our guest please,” Mrs. Stewart said in a stern voice. She blew her whistle once.

“Timothy-Caleb Jeffery Stewart. Age sixteen,” Timmy said. He looked at Jaci.

“But I’ll be seventeen on April 3rd,” Timmy added not taking his eyes off Jaci.

“Thank you for that extra and unasked for information,” Mrs. Stewart said. She blew her whistle twice.

“Emily Elizabeth Stewart. Age twelve,” Emily said. Emily looked at Darcy.

“But I’ll be thirteen on July 27th,” Emily said looking at Darcy. Mrs. Stewart rolled her eyes and blew her whistle three times.

“Darcy Chadwick Edwards. Age thirteen,” Darcy said. He looked at me.

“But I’ll be fourteen on August 10th,” Darcy said still looking at me.

“At ease children,” Mrs. Stewart said. “And next time please just give what I ask for.”

“Yes, ma’am!” Timmy, Emily, and Darcy said. Timmy and Emily ran upstairs. Darcy reluctantly followed.

“I’m so sorry about them,” Mrs. Stewart said shaking her head. “Dinner will be in a minute. My husband has not returned from Pittsfield yet.”

“May I go upstairs?” Jaci asked.

“Oh of course!” Mrs. Stewart said. “You, Natalie, Abby, and Megan can all go upstairs. Six whistle blows means dinner.”

Jaci took her time going up the stairs. That wouldn’t be a problem if she wasn’t ahead of Abby, Megan, and me.

“Move it, slow poke,” Abby said walking past her. Jaci looked hurt but she continued to walk up the steps. Abby slammed a door upstairs.

“Take my hand,” Megan said to Jaci. Jaci took Megan’s hand and they finished walking up the steps.

“Oh! I wonder what room is what,” Jaci said looking at the five doors along the hall.

Timmy walked out of the third door.

“I’m just going to assume that the third door leads to Timmy’s room,” I said. Jaci nodded.

“Hey, Jaci,” Timmy said smiling.

“You have a nice house,” Jaci said.

“Thanks,” Timmy said.

“Can you please tell me what’s behind these doors?” Jaci asked.

“Oh sure,” Timmy shrugged. “The first door is Grandma and Grandpa’s room. The second room is Emily’s. The third room is mine but sometimes I have to share it with Darcy. The fourth room is the upstairs bathroom. I think Abby’s in there. And the fifth room is Grandma’s sewing room.”

“I would like to see the sewing room,” Jaci said. Timmy looked like he didn’t want to show us the sewing room but one look at Jaci made him do it.

“This is where Grandma does all of her sewing,” Timmy said opening the door.

“Oh my goodness! I must have some of this fabric!” Jaci said holding up a roll of pink fabric. Jaci went around the room showing things to Timmy, Megan, and I that had to do with sewing. I don’t think Timmy was really listening thou.

Six whistles went through the air. Timmy offered his arm for Jaci and Jaci took it. She gave Megan a look that said follow her.

When we got out to the hall, Darcy took one look at Timmy and offered me his arm.

Let me get this straight. I did NOT want to take his arm but I did NOT want to be rude. So I let Darcy escort me downstairs.

“My lady,” Mr. Steve said to Momma when he saw Darcy and Timmy escorting Jaci and me. Momma giggled and took his arm. Mr. Steve offered his arm for Abby and she took it. Mr. Steve looked at Timmy and Jaci. If you ask me he looked a little upset to see Timmy escorting Jaci.

“Such gentlemen!” Mrs. Stewart gushed. Emily just pouted. Mr. Stewart looked at Timmy but Timmy didn’t notice.

There were little pieces of paper at different spots. I sat at my spot across from Darcy.

For once I felt bad for Emily. Her spot was the edge of the table between Mrs. Stewart and Timmy. I almost actually offered her my spot.

But Abby had a spot wedged between Mr. Steve and Mrs. Stewart so that was just as bad.

“Let’s eat,” Mr. Stewart said. Worry crept into Jaci’s face.

“Aren’t we forgetting to say the blessing?” Jaci asked. Mrs. Stewart looked at Mr. Stewart.

“Why don’t you say it, Ms. Matthews?” Mr. Stewart asked. Jaci nodded.

“Dear Lord. Thank you the food on the table. I’m sure Mrs. Stewart worked hard on it. Thank you for the chance to have dinner with the Stewarts. Lord, please bless the food we are about to receive for our nourishment, body, and soul in Christ’s name, Amen,” Jaci prayed.

“Thank you,” Mr. Stewart said reaching for a roll.

“So, Riley and Steve, when do you think the wedding will take place?” Mrs. Stewart asked reaching for the green beans.

“I’ve always wanted a spring wedding,” Momma said.

“Springtime is a wonderful time of year! It gets so pretty out here. You just have to take a walk on the Mohawk trail in the summer. My husband takes Timmy, Darcy, and Emily camping during the summer,” Mrs. Stewart gushed.

“I walked a little through the Mohawk Trail coming here. It’s surely a beauty in God’s creation,” Jaci said. Mrs. Stewart nodded.

“Did you just say walk? You didn’t walk here from Maine did you?” Timmy asked.

“Oh, heavens, no!” Jaci laughed. “I walked from Pittsfield to Florida.”

“You did what!” Mr. Steve, Darcy, Timmy, Momma, and Abby shouted at the same time. Jaci looked shocked.

“Are your ears troubling you?” Jaci asked speaking louder. “I said I walked from Pittsfield to Florida. It took me two days but I did it. I could have been here in one but I got a little tired along the way and took a nap in the woods. I lost track of time I guess.”

Mr. Steve looked horrified. Abby looked like she wished Jaci had just stayed in the woods.

“Why did you walk from Pittsfield to Florida? You could have gotten a cab,” Mr. Steve said.

“A man did pull up to me when I was in Pittsfield. He said he was a cab driver and said he could take me to the place I needed to go. But Mother always told me never to get in a car with a stranger so I didn’t,” Jaci said. Mr. Steve shook his head.

“I don’t think I want to hear anymore,” Mr. Steve said stuffing pot roast into his mouth. Jaci looked confused but she didn’t say anything.

“Abby, How’s Boston?” Mrs. Stewart asked.

“It’s good,” Abby said. “I just finished the Smith Project.”

“I heard about that. The building looks gorgeous!” Mrs. Stewart smiled. Abby nodded.

And that’s the way dinner went. We had scattered conversations about this and that. I was just glad nobody was fighting.

Emily got up from the table leaving her dirty plate and Mrs. Stewart gave one long whistle.

“Emily Elizabeth Stewart! How many times am I going to have to tell you to scrap off your plate after dinner and ask for permission to leave?” Mrs. Stewart said. Emily rolled her eyes.

“Did you roll your eyes at me?!” Mrs. Stewart shouted. “Get on your knees!”

“May I say something?” Jaci asked as Emily got on her knees. Mrs. Stewart looked at her but didn’t say anything.

“Mrs. Stewart, it’s easy to see that you love and care about your grandchildren but don’t you think it’s rather harsh making them kneel to the ground in front of people and make halfhearted apologizes? If there not truly sorry for what they do what good is all this? By the way you treat them with the whistles and kneeling apologizes I wouldn’t be surprised if Emily and Timothy-Caleb leave the minute they turn eighteen and I wouldn’t blame them if they did. I would find it a little hard to believe I was loved if I was treated like that. Mother didn’t always make it easy to see that she loved me but she wasn’t as bad as this. All thou she wouldn’t let me learn how to drive. She just said that she had her reason. That always meant that the discussion was to go no further but I’m getting off course. Now please don’t think I’m criticizing you but isn’t there a better way to punish your grandkids?” Jaci asked.

Mr. Steve looked like he wanted to disappear. Timmy looked shocked and fearful. Emily looked at Jaci with wonder. Abby looked at Jaci with wonder and amazement. All eyes were on Mrs. Stewart to see how she would react.

“Miss Jaci Matthews, I like you,” Mrs. Stewart finally said smiling. “You remind me of me when I was your age. Always speaking my mind. If you had blonde hair you could be a spitting image of me.”

Jaci smiled. Relief seemed to wash over Timmy’s face.

“I like you too, Mrs. Stewart. I think we’re going to be good friends,” Jaci smiled.

Mr. Steve, Abby, and Darcy just looked at Mrs. Stewart and Jaci in wonder.

Posted in Natalie

Natalie:Part 1-Christmas Dreams Installment Six

“Great. You kids stay here. I’m going back to the B&B for help,” Mr. Steve said getting out of the car.

When he was out of sight I opened the door. I was hit with cold air.

“What are you doing?” Darcy asked me as I tried to get out with my crutches.

“I’m doing what I got in this car to do,” I said slamming the door.

“But Mr. Matthew said to stay in the car!” Darcy tried to scream over the howling wind. I hobbled off into the woods and then I realized this was the dumbest thing I’ve ever done. Why should I be out here looking for the Stewarts in unfamiliar woods during a blizzard?

Cause it’s the Christian thing to do My mom’s voice rung through my head. Once but when I was young this boy pulled my hair. I wanted to never speak to him again but my mother told me that that was not Christ like.

I sighed and watched my breath in the wind. I started to shout over the wind but that seemed nearly impossible. Then I heard gunshots.

I almost fell over but I realized that the Stewarts might have heard me calling them and were signaling that they were there.

I walked closer to the gunshots and found Emily sitting in the snow with three coats on. Timmy and Mr. Stewart were holding guns and had no coats on. They looked freezing.

“Oh, great! It’s just her!” Emily shouted.

“Do you know where we are?” Timmy asked me.

“No.”

“Did you make markers?”

“No.”

“So, you’re lost?”

“I wouldn’t say lost.”

“Ugh! Why don’t you just go back to Florida?” Emily shouted.

“I think we’re still in Florida,” I said.

“UGH!” Emily screamed. She pushed me. I fell into the snow. I gave just a loud of a scream as I had when Ryan grabbed me.

“NATALIE! EMILY!”

“DARCY!” Emily screamed back. That was the last thing I remember before everything went dark.

**

                  “THAT’S HOT!” I screamed. I found myself in my Momma’s room on her bed. There was a washcloth on my arm.

“Glad you’re up,” Momma said startled. I tried to breathe.

“What happened?” I asked.

“Word in this house is that you’re a hero,” Momma said putting another washcloth on my arm.

“Hero?” I asked.

“They say you gave a horrible scream and that they found where you were when you screamed,” Momma said.

I was surprised Emily didn’t take the credit.

“Now about you getting out of the car,” Momma said. I gave a weak smile.

“Well I guess since you’ve saved some lives it’s ok,” Momma smiled. I gave her a hug.

“Why are putting super-hot washcloths on my arm?” I asked.

“You got your first ever case of frost nip,” Momma said. “Donna said to just put some hot washcloths on your arms and it would go away.”

I sighed.

“You never told me what you wanted for Christmas,” Momma said. “And Christmas is Tuesday.”

“What I want for Christmas is a place to call home,” I mumbled.

“You want a Barbie home?” Momma asked surprised.

“Never mind,” I said.

“There’s nothing you want?” Momma asked surprised.

“Not that I can think of,” I said.

“I know our sudden move has been difficult for you,” Momma said. “And I know you want to go back to Miami and I know you wish you’ve never come here but we’re here now and there’s no turning back.”

Momma got up and left the room. I put my head on the pillow. Why can’t we just go back to Miami and pretend like this never happened?

“Why God?” I asked and then I cried.

**

                 “There she is!” Mr. Rivers shouted as Mr. Steve carried me back downstairs.  Just about everyone in the town was down there and they were clapping for me.

“What you did today was very brave,” Mrs. Rivers said giving me a hug. I smiled.

“Who’s hungry?” Ms. Donna asked. Everyone walked into the restaurant and sat down. As I tried to eat my beef carrot stew just about everyone came up to me and told me how ‘brave’ I was.

“Hi Natalie,” Timmy said walking up to me.

“Hi Timmy,” I smiled.

“Thanks for what you did today,” Timmy said. “Most people in this town wouldn’t risk their lives for a Stewart.”

“Oh, I can’t believe that,” I kinda sorta lied. I wouldn’t be surprised if someone did want to go save Mr. Stewart and Natalie. Timmy seemed different.

“Believe it,” Timmy said sitting down at the table where I was sitting with Regina and Erin.

“Well it was the right and Christian thing to do,” I said. Timmy smiled.

“My family doesn’t have a reputation for doing the Christian thing,” Timmy said. “Everyone in my family is stubborn and does what they want even if it’s wrong. So I just want to say thank you for actually caring enough to do the right thing.”

“It’s not a problem,” I shrugged. Timmy smiled.

“So how was it out in that blizzard?” Erin asked.

“Cold especially since Princess Emily kept complaining how cold she was and Grandpa made me give her my coat,” Timmy laughed.

I laughed too and let my eyes wonder over to the table where Darcy and Emily were sitting. Emily seemed to catch my glance and eyed me.

I turned back to Timmy who was telling the story of how Emily kept complaining how cold the snow was and that she didn’t want to stand.

I then started to think about Christmas this year. What would it be like? I looked out the window. My first white Christmas was also the first time I wished Christmas wouldn’t come.

Posted in Natalie

Natalie:Part 1-Christmas Dreams Installment Five

TIMMY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

“Sorry, Grandpa!” A boy around Paige’s age said. Mr. Stewart was the man he was calling Grandpa. And oh great, Emily was with them.

Mr. Stewart walled into The Treasure Chest and Timmy followed. I saw Emily walk up to the door but she didn’t come in. Darcy saw her standing at the door and walked out the shop.

“I’m sorry about my grandson,” Mr. Stewart said. “We’re going hunting today and he fired his gun by accident,” Mr. Stewart said. Paige nodded.

“My dad went to Monroe on business,” Paige said. “I’m in charge of the store.”

“I’m sorry this had to happen while you were watching the store,” Mr. Stewart said. “But I promised the grandkids I take them hunting.”

“Let me call my dad,” Paige said. She picked up the phone. I looked at Nelson. He just shrugged.

Soon Paige was in a conversation with a man I assumed was her dad. She told him that the damage wasn’t that bad but they needed a new window. Then Mr. Stewart talked to him and apologized for Timmy.

“Grandpa, this is why we shouldn’t go hunting,” Emily said walking into the shop after Mr. Stewart got off the phone. “Timmy doesn’t know how to handle a gun!”

“It was an accident, lil sis,” Timmy said. Emily looked mad.

“Come on kids, I’ve worked it out with Mr. Chadwick. Let’s get a move on,” Mr. Stewart said walking out the shop. Emily and Timmy followed.

“Now what is it that you wanted?” Paige asked me.

“The perfume,” I said.

“Oh yeah,” Paige said. “Christmas Dreams right?” I nodded.

She took the perfume from the glass case and put it in a bag.

“Twenty-Five dollars and fifteen cents please,” Paige said ringing me up. I gave her the money.

“Got an iron for these?” Paige joked as she tried to flatten the money. She gave me a receipt and I took my bag.
“Have a merry Christmas,” Paige smiled. I nodded and Nelson followed me towards the door.

“Are you coming, Darcy?” I asked. Darcy was looking into a glass case.

“I’ll be right there,” Darcy snarled. Nelson and I walked out the door. Soon Darcy walked out the store with a bag in his hand.

“You buy your little girlfriend a Christmas present?” I teased. Darcy didn’t answer.

Snow started to come down and I lost my footing. The perfume flew through the air.

“NO!” I screamed. Darcy dropped his crutches and caught it before Nelson could even move.

“Thanks,” I said as Nelson helped me up.

“You’re welcome,” Darcy grumbled. He hobbled along. What a strange boy.

“I was about to worry about you kids,” Ms. Donna said when we got back to the B&B. “They say a real bad snow storm is coming.”

“The roads are not good for crutches,” I said remembering my fall.

“Looks like you’ll have your first ever white Christmas,” Momma said smiling. I smiled back. This was not how I imagined my first white Christmas would be.

“What’s in the bag?” Momma asked.

“Oh, nothing,” I smiled. Momma winked at me.

I sat on the couch and watched the weather. Then there was a knock on the door.

I got up wondering what fool would come out here in this weather. A blizzard was going on!

“Tom! Joan!” Ms. Donna shouted. “What are you doing out in this weather?”

“Our power is out,” Mr. Rivers said. “We went looking for someone who had power.”

“Come in,” Ms. Donna said. “Get warm. It’s freezing out there!”

“Hopefully they can get out here and fix the power,” Mrs. Rivers said taking her coat off.

An hour later there was another knock on the door.

“Carlson clan!” Ms. Donna shouted.

“Our power went out thirty minutes ago. It got so cold in our house that we had to go and find somewhere with power,” Mrs. Carlson said.

“Come in,” Ms. Donna said.

Five minutes later Erin and her family were at the door.

“Our power is out,” Mrs. Cooper shivered.

“Natalie, meet my two little brothers Brandon and Toby,” Erin huffed as she walked through the door.

Brandon stuck his tongue out at me and I stuck mine out at him. Toby laughed.

“Your power out too?” Mrs. Rivers asked the Cooper’s. They nodded.

Ten minutes later Victoria and her parent’s showed up at the door.

“Our house is so cold!” Victoria cried. “Feel my hands.” I felt them. Coldness rushed through my hands.

It went on like this for about an hour. Everyone in town lost their power and came to the Sunshine B&B.

“I guess since I’m not exactly in Florida I might be on a different power circuit,” Ms. Donna said when I asked her why our power wasn’t out.

“How many people are here?” I asked as Mr. Steve moved the couch to make more room for people to sleep.

“All most the entire town!” Regina said. “There’s the Young’s, the Hardy’s, the Clark’s…………”

“Have any of you seen Emily?” Darcy asked hobbling over to us.

“No,” I said. “Why?”

“Cause she, her brother, and Mr. Stewart went hunting and then it started to snow,” Darcy said.

“Do you think they’re stuck in the snowstorm?” Victoria asked. Darcy nodded.

“Ms. Donna!” I shouted. Ms. Donna walked over.

“Yes?” Ms. Donna asked. She had a bunch of blankets in her hands.

“Mom, are the Stewart’s here?” Darcy asked.

“No. Maybe they have power,” Ms. Donna said.

“They went hunting today,” I said.

“I better call Mr. Stewart to make sure they’re all right,” Ms. Donna said. She dialed their number but there was no answer.

“If you want Donna, I’ll go out and look for them,” Mr. Steve said. Ms. Dona sighed.

“I don’t want to think about what could happen if we don’t find them soon,” Ms. Donna said. “Let me go boil some water and make coco.”

“I want to go too,” Darcy said.

“I also want to go,” I said.

“Why do you want to go? You don’t care about the Stewart’s,” Darcy snarled.

“I want to go because I want to help,” I said. “Sure I don’t like Emily too much but I don’t want her to die.”

Darcy looked at me like he didn’t believe me. I hobbled to the closet to get my coat and when I put it on my mother stopped me.

“Where do you think you’re going in this blizzard?” Momma asked.

“I want to help find the Stewart’s,” I said. Momma got a worried look on her face.

“I promise to stay in the car,” I said. Momma sighed.

“Fine but stay in the car,” Momma commanded. I nodded.

I walked outside to find Darcy and Mr. Steve ready to go. I got in the back seat and Mr. Steve started to drive.

“Where does Mr. Stewart like to hunt?” Mr. Steve asked Darcy.

“He always takes me to this place behind town,” Darcy said. Mr. Steve nodded.

The snow was coming down hard now and I had no idea how Mr. Steve could see. The windshield wipers weren’t working too well now.

“Mr. Matthews, you’re about to fall into a ditch!” Darcy screamed but it was too late. We were already stuck in the ditch.

Posted in Natalie

Natalie: Part 1- Christmas Dreams Installment 4

**

               “Good morning, Natalie,” Momma said to me with a smile. I nodded. Maybe what happened last night was all a really bad Christmas dream.

But it wasn’t. Darcy hobbled into the family room on his crutches. His knee cap was broken. He looked at me with an evil eye and hobbled into the kitchen.

“It wasn’t your fault, honey,” Momma said. Did she think I felt sorry? I didn’t feel sorry one bit for that Darcy. Ok maybe just a little. It was rotten having a broken foot but a broken knee?

“Can you hand me my crutches?” I asked. Momma nodded and handed them to me. I started to hobble into the restaurant.

“Look, who’s up,” Mr. Steve said to me. His face lightened up and then I saw that my Momma was behind me. Momma smiled back at him. I hobbled away not wanting to even think about my Momma liking Steve Matthews.

“Good morning, Miss Natalie,” Ms. Donna said to me. She smiled and put a plate of waffles on the table where Darcy was sitting.

“Good morning, Ms. Donna,” I said sitting at an empty chair at the table. Darcy gave me a look that clearly said I wasn’t welcome but I didn’t get up.

The door to the restaurant banged open and Emily Stewart walked into the restaurant with her grandfather not far behind.

“Mr. Stewart,” Ms. Donna started walking up to him. Emily walked to the table were Darcy and I were sitting.

“Move, clumsy,” Emily said. I got up. Not because I was afraid of this girl but because I really didn’t feel like fighting.

“My granddaughter would like an apology from both Natalie and Regina,” Mr. Stewart said. “We’ve already taken care of Erin.”

“What did Natalie do?” Momma asked. “Your granddaughter pulled her hair!”

“I did not! She told a lie about me in front of the entire school!” Emily cried.

“It wasn’t in front of the entire school,” Regina said. “Claire wasn’t there.” Emily balled up her fist.

“You! You assaulted me!” Emily shouted.

“Look, I don’t know what I’m supposed to be apologizing for but I’m sorry for whatever I did,” I said. I took one look at her before I walked out the door and hobbled down the road.

The log cabin was the first thing that caught my eye when I got close to town. Christmas lights hung from it and Mr. Rivers was on top of the roof trying to put a snowman on top of it. He waved and I smiled.

“Hello, Natalie,” Mrs. Rivers said. She had a box full of lights under her arm. “How’s the foot?”

“Still broken,” I sighed. Mrs. Rivers smiled.

“So what brings you down the road?” Mrs. Rivers asked.

“I don’t know,” I sighed. “I bet you heard about what happened at the Christmas party.”

“It’s all over town,” Mrs. Rivers said. “How Ms. Ross let things get so out of hand surprises me.”

“It was all Emily Stewarts fault. She pulled my hair in front of everybody and then denied it,” I said.

“A Stewart will do that to you,” Mrs. Rivers said taking some tinsel out of the box.

“And she came by today asking Regina and I to apologize. I understand Regina but what did I do?” I asked.

“From what Erin told me, you did nothing wrong but if you dig deeper into Emily Stewart’s past you might figure out why she feels like you should apologize,” Mrs. Rivers said putting the tinsel on the mail box.

There was no way I was digging into that girl’s past.

“I should probably go back home,” I huffed. “My mother doesn’t know I’m here.”

“Do you need a ride?” Mrs. Rivers asked me. I shook my head no and hobbled down the road.

When I got back to the B&B Emily and her grandfather were gone. I hobbled back to the couch in the family room and found a note.

If you know what’s best for you. You’ll stay away from Florida(especially Darcy!!)!!!!!!!!!!!!

No one needed to tell me who this was from.

**

    “Nelson,” I said all serious.

“Yeah, Natalie,” Nelson said.

“I have a mission for you,” I whispered.

Nelson looked at me like I was crazy.

“Nelson, I need you to sneak into my mother’s room and get the catalog sitting on her dresser,” I whispered. “I would do it myself but my foot.”

“Why are you whispering?” Nelson asked.

“Haven’t you ever watched spy movies?” I asked.

“Sure,” Nelson shrugged.

“I’m pretending to be the Christmas Spy,” I said. Nelson nodded.

“I will get that catalog, sir. I mean ma’am,” Nelson said. He tiptoed up the stairs in a dramatic way. Boy, did he look funny.

After what seemed like forever, Nelson came back down with the catalog I wanted.

“What do you need this for?” Nelson asked.

“I need to find out what my mom wants for Christmas,” I said turning to the page with an index card stuck in it.

“Why don’t you just ask her?” Nelson asked.

“Cause that’s not how Baldwin’s do it,” I said. There was only one thing on the page. It was an ad for perfume. The perfume was called Christmas Dreams.

Perfume? Why in the world would my mother want perfume?

She wants to smell good for Steve a voice in my head said. No way. That was NOT the reason.

“How do you know if she wants perfume or this book,” Nelson said looking at the two pages.

The page where the lines of the index card touched was what she wanted and I knew she didn’t want the book. The book was called, How to Enjoy Christmas.

                    “This page had the side of the card with the lines,” I said. “And my mother could enjoy Christmas with all the bones in her body broken.”

Nelson nodded.

“I need to go to the store,” I said. “Where’s the closet Wal-Mart?” Nelson laughed.

“There’s a little shop in town. I believe they sell perfume,” Nelson said. That would have to do.

“Will you take me?” I asked. Nelson shrugged. I hobbled off towards the family room where Ms. Donna was watching TV.

“Ms. Donna, I’m going out to go get my mom a Christmas present. Don’t worry, Nelson is coming with me,” I said. Ms. Donna nodded.

“Take Darcy with you,” Ms. Donna said. “DARCY!”

Darcy hobbled into the family room.

“Nelson and Natalie are going to town to get Christmas presents,” Ms. Donna said. “I want you to accompany them.”

Darcy groaned and then looked at me as if I had something to do with. I went through my suitcase and found my green fudge tin my dad had given me. It was where I kept my money.

“Let’s get this show on the road,” Darcy said as we walked down the road. He started to hobble ahead of Nelson and me. That boy is fast on crutches.

“Do you hear that?” Nelson asked me. It sounded like an engine. I was about to say yes but Nelson didn’t give me the chance. He pushed me into a ditch and hid along with me.

“What did you………” I started but then a car drove by real fast. It drove right on the ground I had just when walking on.

“People don’t know how to drive these days,” Nelson muttered helping me out of the ditch.

“Hurry up!” Darcy called from far down the road.

When Nelson and I got to the shop Darcy was already there looking around. A girl around fifteen was standing at the counter.

“Welcome to The Treasure Chest. My name is Paige,” The girl said. “And you must be Natalie.” I nodded.

“Darcy said you were looking for a perfume called Christmas Dreams. You’re in luck. We have one bottle left,” Paige said. Darcy had told her that? Funny, I didn’t even think he was listening.

Just as Paige reached under the counter to get the perfume the sound of glass ringed through my ears.

Posted in Natalie

Natalie: Part 1-Christmas Dreams Installment 3 Part 2

**

                                      My mother agreed to let me go to the party. She said it would help me get to know my new classmates better. Mr. Drew would be driving us kids to the party and at six we got into his car.

“There are so many people for you to meet!” Regina shouted. “Let me see there’s Claire, Erin, Victoria……….”

The drive to the school wasn’t long and soon we were at the school. The Memorial School was a one story brick building that I thought looked more like a church than a school.

Darcy climbed over me to get out of the car. What a gentleman.

As Mr. Drew was helping me get out the car, Regina screamed and another car hit the other side of Mr. Drew’s car.

“Mr. Stewart, are you all right?” Darcy asked running to the other car.

“I’m just fine, son,” Mr. Stewart said getting out of his car. “I’m sorry, Samuel, for hitting your car.”

“What happened?” Mr. Drew asked. He didn’t look too mad but there was a little bit of annoyance in his voice.

“Some kid ran out in front of me and I swerved,” Mr. Stewart muttered. He sounded mad. “Don’t worry, Samuel, I’ll fix your car.”

“That would be nice since it was your fault,” Mr. Drew said. He finished helping me out of the car.

“You kids go in while I sort this out with Mr. Stewart,” Mr. Drew said. Darcy ran into the school but Nelson and Regina walked at my pace as I hobbled into the school.

“I didn’t see any kid,” Regina said when we were inside the school.

“Neither did I,” Nelson said. “To me it looked like he was trying to hit the car.”

“But why would Mr. Stewart do that?” Regina asked.

“Cause he’s a Grinch,” I joked. That made them laugh.

“He really kinda is. I mean look at Darcy. Mr. Stewart is the father figure in his life!” Regina laughed.

I wanted to ask what happened to Darcy’s dad but I thought it might be rude to ask. And anyway Regina might not even know.

When we walked into the gym there were decorations and a large tree. Christmas music was playing. A bunch of children were dancing. Darcy and some girl walked up to us.

“You must be Natalie. I’m Emily Stewart,” The girl said offering her hand. I couldn’t shake her hand because if I took my hand off my crutch I would fall.

“Nice to meet you,” I said with my polite smile (a smile I was using a lot lately).

“When will you start attending our school?” Emily asked.

“In January,” I answered. Emily smiled.

“Well, welcome,” Emily said. She and Darcy walked away.

“Just in case you didn’t make the connection, Emily Stewart is Mr. Stewart’s granddaughter,” Regina said. I actually hadn’t made that connection.

“I guess that makes since,” I said. Emily’s niceness seemed kinda fake to me.

“Hello, you must be Natalie,” A woman said walking up to me.

“Did the cast tip you off?” I asked. The woman laughed.

“I’m Ms. Ross and I’m the sixth grade teacher aka your teacher,” The woman said. I smiled.

“Nice to meet you Ms. Ross,” I smiled.

“I look forward to having you in my class this year,” Ms. Ross said. “I will see all three of you in class a couple weeks from now.”

She smiled and walked away.

“You’ll really like Ms. Ross,” Regina said walking over to the refreshment table. “She’s nice and the best art teacher.”

I nodded. Someone tapped on my shoulder.

“Hi! I’m Erin Cooper!” The red haired girl said to me.

“And I’m Victoria,” A dark skinned girl said to me. I smiled at them.

“These are my best friends, Natalie,” Regina said.

“Hi,” I said.

“Where’s Claire?” Regina asked.

“I thought she told you. Because she got a C on the spelling test today her mother wouldn’t let her come to the party,” Victoria said.

“EVERYBODY PLEASE COME DOWN TO THE DANCE FLOOR EVEN IF YOUR FOOT IS IN A CAST. WE’RE GOING TO PLAY FREEZE DANCE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” Ms. Ross screamed through a microphone. I hobbled to get in line. Just to be mean I stood next to Darcy which forced Emily to find someone else to stand next too.

Christmas music started to play and I hobbled in a circle. I noticed that Emily was making her way over to me. The music stopped.

“Erin, you moved!” Ms. Ross shouted. Erin groaned and stood next to Ms. Ross. The music started up and what happened, happened all too fast.

Emily pulled on my hair and I fell and while I fell I heard the worst scream in my life.

“What’s wrong?” Mr. Drew asked running into the gym.

“Clumsy hit my knee with her cast,” Darcy groaned. He sounded like he was in some serious pain.

“Your girlfriend pulled my hair!” I screamed.

“What a lie,” Emily said rolling her eyes.

“I saw you!” Nelson shouted. Emily gasped.

“Why would I do such a thing?” Emily asked.

“Cause your jealous,” Regina snapped. Emily laughed.

“Why would I be jealous of her? She probably just tripped like she did the first time she tried to break Darcy’s knee,” Emily said.

“That’s crazy! Darcy tripped her the first time!” Regina shouted. Emily laughed again. Regina snapped and jumped on Emily. They started to scream and pull each other’s hair.

I turned my head and saw that Darcy’s knee was out of place.

“That’s gross,” I laughed. Darcy gave me an evil look.

“Girls!” Ms. Ross shouted separating them.

“She assaulted me!” Emily cried. Darcy laughed.

“Darcy!” Emily screamed. She started to walk towards the door but Erin pulled her hair.

“That’s what she did,” Erin said.

“I’m being attacked!” Emily cried. She ran out the door.

What a wonderful debut, right? Who am I kidding? What a mess.

Posted in Natalie

Natalie: Part 1-Christmas Dreams Installment Two

We parked in front of a huge house and Momma told me to get out of the car so that we might ask the people if there was anywhere we could stay.

“How can I help you?” The woman who answered the door asked.

“Do you know of a place that my daughter and I can stay?” Momma asked.

“This is your lucky day,” The woman said. “This is the Sunshine Bed & Breakfast.”

Momma smiled. This had to be one of the worst days of her life well at least for me.

“What do you charge?” Momma asked walking through the door.

“Depends,” The woman shrugged. “How long you planning on staying?”

“For a while,” Momma said.

“Everybody’s got a different idea of ‘a while’,” The woman said frowning. “I have day, week, month, and year.”

“How much for a month?” Momma asked.

She wasn’t serious about staying in this small town for at least a month could she?

“For one room its one thousand a hundred dollars due at the end of your month,” The woman said. Momma looked shocked. How was she supposed to come up with that much money by the end of the month?

“But since its Christmas I charge nine hundred dollars for a month,” The woman said.

“What’s your yearly price for the Christmas season?” Momma asked.

“Eight hundred and fifty dollars a month,” The woman said.

“Does it include breakfast?” Momma asked.

“Yes, it includes breakfast. I serve breakfast and dinner,” The woman said. Momma sighed.

“Are there any jobs around here?” Momma asked.

“Not many,” The woman huffed.

“Maybe I can be of help to you,” Momma said. “I know how to cook and clean. I decorated people’s homes back in Miami for the holidays.”

“I could use some help in the kitchen,” The woman mumbled.

“I’d be willing to do the yearly plan,” Momma said. I wanted to scream. Spend an entire year here?

“You got a deal. You help me around here and I give you a paycheck. It won’t be much but it’ll be better than nothing. I’ll see if I can help you get jobs with people in town,” The woman said. “Oh and by the way I’m Donna.”

“Riley. And this is my daughter Natalie,” Momma said offering her hand. Ms. Donna smiled and shook it.

“How old are you?” Ms. Donna asked me.

“Twelve,” I answered.

“I got a son who’s thirteen,” Ms. Donna smiled. “DARCY!”

A tall boy who I assumed was Darcy walked up with an empty plate in his hands. He had dark brown almost black hair and blue eyes. He had pale skin and a couple freckles. He had a huge scowl on his face.

“This is Mrs. Riley and her daughter Natalie. Say hello,” Ms. Donna said.

“Hi,” Darcy grumbled.

“Darcy, help these ladies with their things. I’ll be putting them in the Miami Room,” Donna said. I felt like laughing.

Darcy handed the plate to his mother and walked out the door.

“Wow, I’ve never seen licenses plates from so far away,” Darcy said when he saw our Florida tags. Momma smiled and opened the trunk.

“We’re going to need more manpower,” Darcy gawked as he looked at all the stuff in the car. “Did you pack your entire house in this car?”

“Actually, yes,” Momma laughed. At least someone was having a good sense of humor about all this.

“I’ll be right back,” Darcy said walking back into the house.

“And entire year, Momma?” I asked. Momma looked at me.

“Natalie, you do realize that we have nowhere to go?” Momma asked me.

“We can go back home!” I cried.

“We are home,” Momma said picking up the wreath. I wanted to cry but Darcy and two other men and another boy walked out the house.

“Ladies meet Steve Matthews, Samuel Drew, and Nelson Drew your housemates,” Darcy said.

“Hello!” The boy said offering his hand. “I’m Nelson.”

“Natalie,” I said not shaking his hand.

“I’m Steve Matthews,” One of the men said. He took one of my mother’s hands and kissed it. My mother’s cheeks turned bright red.

“Hello, Natalie,” Mr. Steve said to me. He took one of my hands, the right to be exact, and kissed it. I smiled politely.

“And I’m Samuel Drew. Welcome to the neighborhood,” Mr. Drew said. Momma smiled.

“That’s one interesting tree,” Mr. Drew said looking in the trunk.

“I’ve had it since Natalie was a baby,” Momma said. Darcy snickered.

“It’s very gold,” Darcy commented. Nelson shook his head.

“Let’s start helping the ladies with their things. I’m sure that they’ll want to get settled in as soon as possible,” Mr. Steve said. The men started to move the tree out of the trunk and the rest of the things.

“Thank you all so much,” Momma said opening her purse. “I have ten dollars in here……….”

“That won’t be necessary,” Mr. Drew and Mr. Steve said at the same time. Darcy looked disappointed.

“Here young men,” Momma said giving Darcy and Nelson both four dollars.

“No ma’am I can’t take your money,” Nelson said.

“Take it. It’s Christmas,” Momma smiled. Darcy had already put the money in his pocket.

“How long do you plan on staying?” Nelson asked me as we walked up the steps.

I wanted to say, “I want to go back to Miami and I don’t care that stalker dude Ryan is there.” But instead I said,

“At least a year.”

“Cool! I’ve been living here since I was three,” Nelson said. “I have a twin sister named Regina and a younger brother Fred.”

“You must be the new girl,” A blonde girl said when I walked through the door. “I’m Regina Drew.”

“Natalie. Natalie Baldwin,” I smiled.

**

                              “Miss Natalie Baldwin, you are the newest waitress for the Sunshine B&B,” Ms. Donna said to me that night. As part of the deal I would help out in the restaurant.

“Do you get a big crowd?” I asked worried I might drop the food. I’m not exactly the most balanced person in the world.

“Depends on what you call a crowd,” Ms. Donna laughed. “During the Christmas season there are a couple more people stopping in but it’s mostly the regulars.”

“Miss Donna, are you open for dinner yet?” An elderly man asked walking through the Sunshine B&B restaurant door.

“I sure am Hank,” Ms. Donna said. “My new waitress, Natalie, will be helping you today.”

“Hello, sugar,” Mr. Hank said to me. I smiled politely.

“What can I get you?” I asked.

“My regular of course!” Mr. Hank shouted like I had just asked what country we were in.

“Regular?” I asked.

“Sorry, sugar,” Mr. Hank said. “My regular is beef carrot stew with a glass of root beer. I’m so used to Darcy taking my order. Sorry, sugar.”

I nodded my head and walked towards the kitchen. No one’s ever called me ‘sugar’ before.

“Here’s Hank’s root beer,” Ms. Donna said when I gave her his order.

When I walked back to the restaurant Darcy was talking to Mr. Hank. He scowled at me when I put the root beer on the table.

“Fix your face, son,” Mr. Hank said to Darcy. He quickly turned his frown upside down.

A man and a woman walked into the restaurant and sat down.

“Hi, my name is Natalie and I’ll be…..serving you today,” I said unsure if serving was the right word to use.

“Well hello Natalie, how long have you been living in Florida?” The man asked.

“Which one?” I blurted out. I soon realized that he meant Florida, Massachusetts.

The man and the woman laughed.

“I’m assuming you’re from the other Florida? The state?” The woman asked. I nodded to afraid that I might say something else stupid.

“That’s ok,” The man said.

“I’ve been here for about two hours,” I sighed.

“Did you here that, Joan? The girl’s only been here two hours and she already has a job!” The man laughed. I smiled politely.

“Well we’re Tom and Joan Rivers. We live down the road,” The woman said. “If you ever need anything honey you just walk down the road to the log cabin.”

I nodded. It wasn’t like I ever intended to actually do that.

“We already know what we want,” Mr. Rivers said. “I would like Seafood Salad and Joan will have the beef carrot stew with a glass of ice tea. I’ll also have an ice tea.”

I nodded and wrote it down on the pad.

“Here are the Rivers’ ice teas,” Ms. Donna said when I got back to the kitchen.

There was another customer by the time I put the ice teas on the Rivers’ table. Darcy was helping the lady.

“You sweetheart! The one with the dirty blonde hair! Come here!” The woman shouted across the room.

I walked over towards her a little embarrassed.

“Darcy, introduce me to your new friend,” The woman smiled.

“This is Natalie. She and her mother live here now,” Darcy mumbled.

“You must love Christmas,” The woman joked. I nodded.

“You should see their gold Christmas tree,” Darcy mumbled.

“Speak up, Darcy Edwards!” The woman scolded. “Hi, I’m Jane Powers but you can just call me Aunt Jane. Everybody does.”

“Nice to meet you Aunt Jane,” I said a little uncomfortable. Aunt Jane smiled.

I curtsied. Why I did that I have no idea but I walked back to the kitchen and got Mr. Hank’s food.

“Thanks, sugar,” Mr. Hank said with his mouth full of stew.

I nodded and walked back to the kitchen and delivered Mr. and Mrs. River’s food.

“Thank you, Natalie,” Mrs. Rivers smiled at me. Another customer walked in. This time it was a man and I walked up to his table.

“Hi, my name is Natalie and I’ll be serving you today,” I said with my best smile.

“Eh? What happened to Darcy?” The man asked.

“I’m right here, Mr. Stewart,” Darcy said walking up.

“Who’s this Natalie girl?” The man asked rudely.

“She’s a new waitress. Her mother and her live here now,” Darcy said. He scowled at me and I had a feeling Mr. Stewart wasn’t going to tell him to fix his face.

“Darcy, I would like to try to Seafood Salad tonight and I’ll stick with the root beer,” Mr. Stewart said. Darcy wrote it down and walked away. I walked away feeling a little awkward.

A family of six (three girls, one boy, and two parents) walked through the doors of the restaurant and since Darcy was off in the kitchen I walked up to them.

“Hi, my name is Natalie and I’ll be serving you today,” I said with a smile.

“Hello, Natalie we are the Carlson’s,” The man said.

“I’m Libby!” The youngest shouted. I smiled.

“And I’m Michael,” The boy said.

“Judy!” The other girl shouted.

“Jody!” The other girl shouted.

“And I’m Michael the second and this is my wife Kaitlin. We’ll all just take the beef carrot stew all with lemonade. Please make three bowls children sized,” The man said. I nodded and walked towards the kitchen.

Darcy was walking out the kitchen at the same time with Mr. Stewart’s drink. I don’t know if he meant to do this on purpose or not but he tripped me.

If he meant to do it on purpose the joke was on his because as I started to fall and I banged my foot HARD into his knee and he fell on me. Root beer splashed everywhere.

“My foot!” I groaned. I couldn’t move my toes.

“My knee!” Darcy groaned holding on to it.

Ms. Donna and Momma walked out of the kitchen and Ms. Donna knelt down next to Darcy and me.

“Darcy’s knee with be all right but Natalie’s foot is broken,” Ms. Donna said touching Darcy’s knee and my foot.

What a wonderful way to start off in Florida.