Posted in Natalie

Natalie: Part 3- Heaven Everywhere Installment Seventeen

**

“Did you sleep last night?” Mr. Steve asked me in the car as we drove to school the next day.

“Nope,” I said looking out the window.

“Natalie, I…,” Mr. Steve started, but we pulled up to school and I got out.

“Hey, polka dot, missed you yesterday,” The same girl who made fun of me before said when I walked into math class.

“Hey, Blondie,” I said. “I have a name you know just like you. Mine’s Natalie. What’s yours? Queenie?”

Some of the class snickered.

“Nicole,” The girl said not looking at me. “Your name may be Natalie, but you’re just another outcast just like your desk friend Noel.”

I walked towards my seat in the back of the class. Mrs. Roberts walked into the class and towards the back.

“Is Noel in the bathroom?” Mrs. Roberts asked.

“I don’t know,” I shrugged. “I just got here.”

Mrs. Roberts nodded.

“Class,” Mrs. Roberts said walking up to the front.

Noel didn’t show up for class, and for some reason that bothered me.

**

“Natalie!”

I along with at least two dozen heads turned towards Mrs. Roberts who was running down the hallway.

“Natalie Matthews! Natalie Zoey Matthews!” Mrs. Robert shouted running up to me. The other Natalie’s walked away.

“Yes, Mrs. Roberts? Was something wrong with my homework?” I asked.

“No,” Mrs. Roberts said. “You’re doing great in my class. It is only the first week of school, but you’re doing really well. Can I talk to you for a second?”

“Sure,” I said looking at my watch. “My stepdad just called and said he was going to be a little late.”

“Great,” Mrs. Roberts said. I followed her to the Advanced Math classroom.

“Did I do something wrong?” I asked. “If it’s about Nicole, she called me polka dots first.”

“What? No,” Mrs. Roberts said. “It’s not about Nicole. It’s about Noel.”

“Oh,” I said. “What about her?”

“I want you to deliver her her homework,” Mrs. Roberts said taking a stack of papers out of a bag.

“Oh,” I said. “Does she live close to me?”

“Um, no,” Mrs. Roberts said. “I believe you live in Manhattan. She lives in Brooklyn.”

“Then why do you want me to deliver her homework?” I asked.

“You’re the first person I’ve seen in a long time try to be friends with her,” Mrs. Roberts said.

“She wasn’t very friendly,” I mumbled.

“Natalie, Noel has autism,” Mrs. Roberts said. “She’s incredibly smart, but she doesn’t have very many social skills. She doesn’t communicate very well. She has trouble talking even to me. She’s a truly bright girl stuck in an autistic body. She’s in all the advanced classes here and is on scholarship.”

“I didn’t know,” I said.

“I’m surprised Nicole didn’t ‘warn’ you. She likes to go around telling people that Noel doesn’t want friends. She likes to tell people that Noel will treat them as if they are like objects. She says that she’s shady and a liar because she doesn’t make eye contact,” Mrs. Roberts said. “Noel hasn’t had it easy. A lot of the people here think that I’m showing favorites, but she doesn’t deserve to be treated like dirt.”

“Um, where does she live?” I asked.

“She lives with her sixteen year old brother and grandmother. Her grandmother had a stroke a month ago. So she and her brother spend most of their time at the hospital. I think they’ve moved into their grandmother’s hospital room,” Mrs. Roberts said. “Her brother got his his high school diploma early so he could start working.”

“I didn’t know,” I said feeling a little guilty.

“I didn’t expect you to,” Mrs. Roberts said. “If you keep trying you’ll eventually get through to her. It took me two weeks before I could get her to say hi.”

Mrs. Roberts gave me the hospital information.

“You just have your stepfather drive you here, ok?” Mrs. Roberts said. I nodded, took Noel’s homework, and walked out the door.

“There you are,” Mr. Steve said when he saw me in the hall. “You didn’t get into any trouble did you?”

“I need you to take me here,” I said handing Mr. Steve the piece of paper Mrs. Robert’s gave me.

“Why do you need to go to a hospital?” Mr. Steve asked.

“I need to deliver this girl her homework,” I said walking towards the car.

“Why do you have to do? Shouldn’t a teacher be doing this?” Mr. Steve asked.

“She’s my friend,” I said getting into the car. “Nobody really likes her. She’s an outcast like me.”

“You’re an outcast?” Mr. Steve asked.

“That’s what Nicole says,” I said.

“Natalie, you’re not an outcast,” Mr. Steve said. “I thought this school would be better than public school.”

“It is,” I said. “I’m not upset about it. I have Noel.”

Mr. Steve looked at me and relaxed. If I didn’t find this a big deal then would should he?

“Call your mother,” Mr. Steve said. “Tell her that we’re going to be late.”

Mr. Steve stopped.

“And stuck in traffic for a while,” Mr. Steve sighed.

**

“I’m looking for a girl named Noel,” I said really wishing Mrs. Roberts had given me her last name. “I go to her school. She didn’t came today, and I’m delivering her her homework. Her grandmother had a stroke and she has an older brother.”

“I didn’t know Noel had any school friends,” The nurse smiled. “Lord knows she needs some. Her grandmother is in the stroke ward. Her grandmother had surgery today and her brother wanted one of them to stay here with her. Floor two. Take two rights and then a left and ask for Noel. They’ll know who she is.”

I nodded. Mr. Steve thanked the nurse and we walked to the elevator.

“Noel,” Another nurse said when we got to the point the other nurse had said. “Room 7.”

“Thank you,” I said walking towards the room.

“Such manners,” I heard the nurse say to Mr. Steve.

The door to room seven was shut so I knocked on the door. Noel opened the door.

“Hey, Noel,” I said. She didn’t quite look me in the eye.

“You Natalie right?” Noel asked.

“I brought you your homework,” I smiled. Noel opened the door wide enough for me to walk in.

“Stop,” Noel said to Mr. Steve. “Two at time.”

“I’ll just wait out here,” Mr. Steve said. Noel left the door open a crack.

“Thank you,” Noel said taking her homework. She looked over to who I assumed was her grandmother on the hospital bed.

“I’m sorry about your grandmother,” I said. Noel looked at her feet.

“Natalie?”

I turned around to find Yule standing there in the doorway.

“Yule?” I asked. “Noel is your sister?”

“Yup,” Yule smiled. Noel ran to her brother and gave him a hug.

“New names?” Noel asked pointing to her stomach.

“Portia, Betty, and Thelma Lou,” Yule said not moving from the doorway. Noel shook her head no.

“So, Natalie, how do you know my sister?” Yule asked.

“We go to the same school. We’re both in Mrs. Roberts Advanced Math Class,” I said. Yule nodded still not moving from the doorway.

“What a coincidence,” Yule said.

“Yule, you know the rules. Only two visitors allowed at one time,” A nurse said to Yule.

“Two visitors in the room at one time,” Yule said. “I’m in the doorway.”

I laughed. Noel didn’t seem to get the joke. The nurse smiled.

“Whatever you say, Yule,” The nurse said walking away smiling.

“You know,” Noel started. She pointed at me.

“Yup,” Yule said

“This is Natalie,” Noel said like a light bulb went off in her head. “Is girl you meet cabling?”

“Yes, Noel,” Yule laughed. Noel gave me a hug. Yule smiled. I hugged her back.

“Natalie,” Mr. Steve said clearly uncomfortable. “We should get going.”

“Now that you know where I live don’t be a stranger,” Yule said to me as I walked out the room. “Noel and I are usually here in the evenings and Noel is here all day weekends.”

I nodded, and Yule ruffled my hair. I smiled.

“So you know him?” Mr. Steve asked as we walked towards the elevator

“You could say that,” I said smiling.

Posted in Natalie

Natalie: Part 3- Heaven Everywhere Installment Fifteen

**

“How was work?” Momma asked Mr. Steve at dinner.

“Noisy,” Mr. Steve said. “I don’t know if I’d rather work with children or adults. How was your day?”

“It was all right,” Momma said. “But we stayed in all day watching TV.” Momma looked at me.

“Hey, my idea of a good TV day is not Blue’s Clues, Dora, Mickey Mouse, and Max & Ruby,” I said.

“Let me guess,” Mr. Steve said tickling Megan. “Megan had the remote.”

“Yes,” Jaci, Momma, and I said.

Mr. Steve laughed.

“What time did the cable guy get here?” Mr. Steve asked. “Late, I guess?”

“Nope, he came right on time,” Momma said.

“Natalie practically stalked him,” Jaci joked.

I laughed. That’s something Abby would say not Jaci.

“Does Darcy have competition?” Mr. Steve joked.

“No!” I cried. “He said I reminded him of his little sister, and he’s probably too old for me.”

“Sulking?” Mr. Steve joked.

“Nope,” I said. “He’s more like a big brother.”

Momma started coughing like crazy.

“Did something go down the wrong pipe?” Mr. Steve asked patting Momma’s back.

“Um, sure,” Momma said taking a sip of water.

“You ok?” I asked.

“Just fine,” Momma said. “So what should we watch tonight?”

**

I woke up feeling cold. I opened my eyes and found that half my body was jammed into the refrigerator. I quickly got out of the fridge. I was ending up in the strangest places.

“Morning, Natalie,” Jaci yawned. “Ready for your first day of school?”

The past week had been boring. Momma had tried to get me to go out and go sightseeing, but I didn’t feel like it. I was feeling homesick. I wanted to go back to Florida. I wanted to explore the Mohawk Trail with Darcy, not the Empire State Building.

“As ready as I’ll ever be,” I sighed.

“It makes me feel better that you’re going to an advanced school and not a regular public school,” Jaci said touching my arm that had been in the fridge. “Your arm is cold.”

She touched my other arm.

“I was looking in the fridge for something to eat,” I lied. Well maybe it wasn’t a lie. I could have been looking for something to eat. It wouldn’t be the first time I slept ate.

“Oh, I’ll make you some breakfast,” Jaci smiled. “How do you like your eggs?”

“Scrambled,” I said.

“I’m ready to face the world!” Megan screamed running into the kitchen.

“And how to you like your eggs?” Jaci smiled picking her up.

“Hard,” Megan smiled. I laughed.

“One hardboiled egg coming up,” Jaci said turning the stove on. I went to go get dressed.

“Morning, Natalie,” Momma said. “Natalie, it’s going to be eighty degrees today. I’m sorry but you’re going to have to wear a short sleeve shirt.”

I sighed and walked back into my room and changed my shirt.

“Morning,” Mr. Steve said rushing from his bedroom.

“Natalie! I made you some bacon too,” Jaci said putting the plate on the counter.

“Thanks,” I said. I said grace and started eating.

“And here’s your hardboiled egg,” Jaci said putting another plate on the counter. “I started peeling for you.”

“Thank you,” Megan smiled. “Thank you God. Amen.”

I smiled.

“You better hurry up if I’m going to give you a ride to school,” Mr. Steve said after he finished his milk. I put my last little bit of egg in my mouth and got my backpack.

“Have a wonderful day!” Jaci smiled.

I huffed. Not likely.

“Be good,” Mr. Steve said when he dropped me off.

I didn’t answer him. I just walked into the school and didn’t look back.

There was a line to get your school schedule. I stood in line for fifteen minutes. The girl in front of me did not want to have gym first and got into a fight with the lady who was handing out the schedules.

“Name,” The lady at the front desk said flatly.

“Natalie Zoey Matthews. Grade Eight,” I said.

The woman found my schedule and handed it to me.

“Thank you,” I smiled. The woman looked shocked. I stood off to the side to see what my first class was. Advanced Math. Well I might as well get it out of the way.

It took me ten minutes to find Mrs. Roberts Advanced Class. It was in the front of the school by the main office. I thought that 10B would be in the back of the school but the ones and twos were in the back of the school. Well at least I knew were history class was.

I let a girl go before me into class. As she passed me I noticed she was quite pregnant. She couldn’t be any older than me. I actually felt sorry for her.

She turned towards me. The look on her face was sad and lonely. She had soft long silky red hair. Her grey eyes were hard but I saw some softness and hurt in them……….and maybe a little bit of beauty in them.

“Excuse me,” She said quietly. She walked towards the back of the class.

Daddy, you better be right about finding heaven everywhere.

“What’s on your arms, polka dots?” A girl with silky blonde hair laughed.

“It’s called Psoriasis,” I snapped. “Don’t worry. You can’t catch it.”

I walked to the back of the class and sat next to the girl.

She looked at me but didn’t make eye contact. She looked almost uncomfortable. She moved around in the chair. I told myself she was just uncomfortable in the chair.

“Hi, my name is Natalie,” I said offering my hand. She didn’t even look at me. I couldn’t tell if she heard me or not.

“Hi, I’m Natalie,” I said louder still offering my hand. She looked at my feet and turned away. I sighed and opened my math book.

I looked over at her one more time. Her elbow slowly knocked her pencil over the other side of her desk. She noticed that her pencil wasn’t on her desk and started to freak out.

“My pencil!” She cried. “Pencil!”

She was the most distressed and desperate person I’ve ever seen and it was all over a pencil. I got up and picked up her pencil.

“Thank you,” She said with some trouble. Relief washed over her face.

“Welcome,” I shrugged. She looked at the pencil with the most admiration in the world. The pencil was almost down the the eraser. It was perfectly shaped and just waiting to be broken. There was no way she could possibly use this pencil to write anything down. She then did something that shocked me. She licked the pencil. She then took another pencil out of her backpack and started to doddle.

Mrs. Roberts walked into the classroom. She walked to the back and put her hand on the girl’s shoulder. She pulled away quickly.

“Noel, are you doing ok?” Mrs. Roberts asked.

“You all right,” I stuttered. Mrs. Roberts smiled.

“If anybody gives you any trouble you know you can come to me,” Mrs. Roberts said. Noel didn’t respond to her but Mrs. Roberts seemed satisfied.

“You must be my new student,” Mrs. Roberts smiled. “Welcome.”

I smiled. Mrs. Roberts noticed my rashes but she didn’t say anything.

“Welcome to advanced eight grade math,” Mrs. Roberts said when she got back to the front of the class.

I stole one more look at at Noel and then paid attention to what Mrs. Roberts was saying.

**

“How was school?” Mr. Steve asked when he picked me up.

“All right, I guess,” I said. The rest of the day went fine. I didn’t see Noel the rest of the day but that didn’t mean she wasn’t on my mind.

“Make any new friends?” Mr. Steve asked.

“Nope,” I answered.

“Well, you’re a very likeable girl. I’m sure you’ll make some friends soon,” Mr. Steve said.

“Whatever you say,” I mumbled.

“People teased you didn’t they?” Mr. Steve asked.

“One girl called me polka dots,” I said. “But its ok.”

Mr. Steve sighed as we pulled up into the parking garage.

“Natalie,” Mr. Steve started but I walked out the car.