Posted in Natalie

Natalie: Part 6- Christmas Hope Installment Three

The ride to the hospital was long and tantalizing. The paramedics made the tough decision to transport me all the way to Pittsfield rather than the local North Adam’s hospital. On the one hour ride, they treated my burns the best they could without risking infection. Even in the noisy ambulance, I could hear other ambulance sirens. I kept repeating all I could remember of Psalms 22, hoping to find that indescribable peace again. But with the paramedics staring down it me, it didn’t quite have the same affect.

We finally reached Pittsfield along with all the other ambulances. The emergency room was packed with familiar faces. Most of them had been in the cafeteria with Darcy and I.

Darcy.

I saw him out of the corner of my eye. The paramedics and hospital nurses were rushing him down a long white hallway. His left leg was burnt black.

I took a deep, large, sharp breath. The nurses took notice of me and started to rush to help me.

I don’t know what the nurses did to me. I don’t remember going into surgery even though that’s what I’ve been told. I just remember feeling so helpless.

And like my heart was empty.

**

“Nat.”

“Darcy!” I shouted. I looked around the dark room I was in, but I couldn’t make out anything.

“Nat,” Darcy’s voice called again.

“Darcy?” I asked this time. I began the walk around the room.

“Ouch!” I shouted as I stubbed my feet on what appeared to be stairs.

That’s odd I thought as I stared at my feet. While my eyes where positioned there, I wiggled my toes.

That’s really odd I thought. Slowly, I began to question the reality of all of this. I stared up at the stairwell and started climbing. As I started to climb, my knees gave out and I landed at the bottom of the stairwell flat on my back. I tried to stand but my legs failed. I tried to get up until I could feel the lower part of my body no more.

I reached for a step with my hands, and step by step lifted my body up. By the time I reached the top, I was sweating and out of breath.

“Natalie!” Darcy shouted.

I looked up. Darcy was white as snow and bright as sunshine. We were on a weird type of cloud. Darcy and I were on separate ends of this cloud. I tried to stand, but I stayed sprawled out on the hard and fluffy cloud.

“Darcy!” I cried with joy. I slowly crawled across the cloud, eager to reach Darcy. When I was within inches of his feet, a golden gate slammed shut in my face.

Darcy’s glow became brighter and I suddenly felt the cloud beneath me give way. My back slammed against concrete and darkness surrounded me.

I cried tears of blood.

**

I woke up with a shout. Momma and Daddy jumped in their chairs.

“You’re awake,” Daddy said slowly.

“Where’s Darcy?” I blurted.

“Honey bear, just lie back down,” Daddy said.

“I must know if Darcy’s all right,” I persisted.

Momma and Daddy passed a look between each other.

“Natalie,” Momma started, “Darcy didn’t make it.”

“What do you mean ‘didn’t make it’?” I asked.

“Honey bear, The doctors tried everything they could,” Daddy said. “But they couldn’t save him.”

“You mean Darcy’s…dead?” I asked, praying it wasn’t true. It couldn’t be true.

Momma nodded and broke into tears.

No!” I screamed. “That can’t be true! Just…NO!”

“Natalie, dear, wake up,” An unfamiliar voice said. I blinked and all of a sudden a nurse was at my bedside. I attempted to get up, but my legs weren’t working.

“I can’t feel my legs,” I blurted.

“Amnesia?” My mother’s voice asked.

“Natalie, dear, you were paralyzed a year ago in an accident,” The nurse said. “Do you remember that?”

“Yes,” I said as the memory of Mr. Stewart hitting me with his truck flooded into my mind.

“It probably was just the shock of waking up from such a deep sleep,” The nurse said to my parents. “Call me if she has any more troubles. I’ll be back soon to administer some pain medication.”

I wanted to cry out that I needed that medicine now, but the nurse had hurried out of the room.

“Natalie,” Momma said walking to my bedside and grabbing my hand, “do you know who I am?”

It seemed like a stupid question, but I answered it anyway.

“You’re my mom.”

“And do you know who I am?” Daddy asked taking my other hand.

“You’re my dad.”

“That’s right,” Momma said giving me a sad smile. “How many siblings to you have?”

I counted them in my head: Jaci, Abby, Yule, Noel, Megan, Bella, Love, Avery, and Emmanuel.

“Nine,” I croaked. My voice was suddenly gone.

“Ten children. I feel old,” Daddy said trying to funny. Momma grinned.

Sobs suddenly overtook my body. A voice in the back of my head whispered, “Darcy’s dead.”

“Sweetheart,” Momma cried. She lowered the rail and got into the bed with me. She held me until I stopped crying.

“Darcy’s gone,” I said almost in a forced cry. No, that was all a dream.

“So you could hear us talking?” Momma said with more curiosity than sadness in her voice.

“So he really is…gone,” I forced.

“Yes,” Momma said. “But you’ll see him again…one day soon.”

“Soon?” I asked. I looked at myself. Was I dying?

“You’ll probably see him in a couple of days. It’s Matt you should be worried about.”

I was extremely confused but I still blurted out, “Matt’s dead too?!”

Dead?” Momma asked. A weird kind of laughing relief washed over her. “Darcy and Matt are not dead. They were flown to Boston for emergency treatment.”

“What’s…wrong with them?” I asked.

“I don’t know what happened to Matt. Only that he was in critical condition. One of Darcy’s leg needs to be amputated, but an infection has already spreed. The doctors decided to take Darcy along with Matt just to be safe. What made you think he was dead?”

“I was having a wacky dream within a dream–almost like a cruel April Fool’s joke from God. First I had a strange dream in which I couldn’t get to Darcy and second I had a dream where you and Daddy told me that Darcy was dead.”

Tears of joy splashed out of my ears, and soon I was sobbing a happy sob. It took several soothings from Momma to get me to stop.

“If only this whole disaster was a cruel April Fool’s prank,” Momma muttered in my ear.

“If only,” I echoed.

Posted in Natalie

Natalie: Part 6-Christmas Hope Installment Two

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Pray.”

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

“Dear, God…”

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

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

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

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

“And by night, but I find no rest.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

**

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“MY BABY!”

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

I lost it after that.

Posted in Natalie

Natalie: Part 6- Christmas Hope Installment One

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And that hope helps bind us all together.

**

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“How is that possible?” I asked.

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

“What kind of feeling?” I asked.

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

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

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

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

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

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

**

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Charlly squealed and rolled to the window.

“It’s snowing!” Charlly shouted.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

**

The day started off wrong.

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

I could tell that she could feel it too.

Something terrible was going to happen.

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

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

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

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

“It’s disgusting!” I shouted.

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

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

“It’s not like people barfed in it!”

“You don’t know that!”

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

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

Posted in My Crazy Life

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

Chapter II

9th Grade, Girls, Grace…or Jordan

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

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

“Yeah?” I asked with my mouth full.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“What happened to you?” Regina laughed.

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

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

“You cut your hair!” I shouted.

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

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

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

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

Regina hit him.

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

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

“Virginia?”  Natalie asked.

“Nope,” Regina said.

“Jaci?” Natalie guessed.

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

“Um, Jessie-Maria?” Natalie asked.

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

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

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

I rolled my eyes as the bus pulled up.

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

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

“Charlly?” Leo asked looking at me.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Because he’s bald!” Virginia said.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“You nervous?” Natalie asked.

“Yup,” I nodded. Natalie laughed.

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

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

Natalie smiled and laughed.

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

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

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

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

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

I nodded.

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

“Me too,” Natalie smiled.

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

Virginia looked like she wanted to scream.

“You too?” I asked her.

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I have Mr. Piper too,” Darcy said.

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

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

“So do I,” I shrugged.

“I do also,” Darcy said.

“Virginia?” Leo asked.

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

Leo laughed.

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

“So do I,” Darcy smiled.

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

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

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

“Charlly?” Leo asked.

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

“So what’s your Period F?” Leo asked.

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

“I have her class too,” Leo smiled.

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

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

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

“Well we have lunch together,” Natalie said.

“I forgot about–” I started.

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

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

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

“Leo?” Darcy asked hopefully.

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

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

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

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

I giggled.

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

I smiled.

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

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

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

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

Leo finished rolling me into science.

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

“Then I’ll sit in the front,” I said.

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

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

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

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

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

“I won’t. I promise,” Leo smiled.

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

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

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

“Thanks, Chris,” The girl smiled.

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

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

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

“Hi,” I said shaking it.

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

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

“And you are?” Jordan asked.

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

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

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

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

“Hey, um…, Maggie?”

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

“Ok, then, hi, Jordan,” Leo said.

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

“Huh?” I asked.

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

“I have Second Lunch,” I said confused.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted in My Crazy Life

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

Chapter VI

Motorcycles & A Man Named Lou

The next day I stayed at home while Natalie, Noel, and Yule went to the B&B. I tried to rewrite some of my stories, but my brain was blanking out on creativity.

I fiddled around with Checkers, but the high score on the computer was way higher than the score I had gotten on my old computer. Who knew Bella was good a checkers?

“Charlly, there’s someone here to see you,” Mrs. Matthews called. I rolled out of what was now my bedroom and onto the porch.

“Leo,” I whispered.

“Hey,” Leo shrugged. “Natalie asked me to come ask you if you wanted to join us. We’re going to have a water balloon fight.”

“Sure,” I shrugged. I opened the door and told Mrs. Matthews where I was going and she told me to be back by dinner.

“Charlly,” Leo said as he walked and I rolled towards the B&B.

“Yeah?” I asked.

“Last night I thought about telling you something, but at the last second decided not to. I accidentally hit send and gave you half of the message. I then told you to delete it. After much thought, I’ve decided to confess to you,” Leo said.

I stopped rolling. Leo stopped walking. He looked at me straight in the eyes. I tried not to flicker or scream something I would regret.

“I’m crazy for,” Leo started.

Time seemed to go by very slowly. Seconds seemed like hours.

“Science fiction,” Leo finished.

“Huh?” I asked.

“I know impossible to believe right?” Leo asked.

“You like science fiction?” I asked relieved.

“Love it,” Leo said. “Anything in the future or with aliens I’m all for it.”

“Wait, how did you know I liked science fiction?” I asked.

“I just guessed since you named yourself MyHeadsInSpace. A normal daydreamer would have called themselves MyHeadsInTheClouds,” Leo said.

“Thanks a lot,” I said shoving him. “Why do you act like your love of science fiction is some big secret?”

“It is!” Leo shouted. “Not even Virginia knows how much I like science fiction! She also doesn’t know I write Sci-Fi stories.”

“You write?” I asked. I found that quite hard to believe. Leo was a tough looking boy. He was dressed in jeans, an undershirt, and a leather jacket. His hair was slicked back and he had a playful almost joking manor and attitude. He was not what I would have imagined when I thought male Sci-Fi writer.

“Yup,” Leo said. “I actually just finished my third draft of my novel last week.”

“You’ve written a novel?” I asked.

“A hundred thousand words,” Leo said with pride.

“Can I read it?” I blurted. Leo looked at me hesitated.

“I’ve never shown it to anybody,” Leo said.

“What’s it about?” I asked.

“It’s about this guy named Logan Leopold. He’s an astronaut in the year 2476. He’s on a mission to explore the galaxy closest to the Milky Way. While he’s hovering around the planets, his ship malfunctions and he crashes onto the planet Lux. The planet Lux is a more advanced Earth and the people that live on them are just like humans. This discovery perplexes the people back on earth. I call it Hopping Galaxies.

“It sounds good,” I said.

“You really think so?” Leo asked.

“Really,” I smiled. A smile popped up on Leo’s face.

“I’ll email it t you through the messenger tonight,” Leo smiled. “Race you up the driveway!”

Leo beat me by like three seconds.

“There you guys are!” Virginia shouted. “We’re ready.” Virginia threw a water balloon at Leo.

“Oh no you didn’t!” Leo shouted. He picked up a water balloon out of the bucket and threw it at Virginia.

Soon wet kids were running-and rolling- across the B&B yard trying their hardest not to get wet. Screams and giggles erupted without notice. Nobody even noticed the motorcycle that had made it’s way down the street, into the driveway, and then was parked. Nobody noticed the rider of the motorcycle walk up the driveway and ring the doorbell and nobody noticed him walk into the B&B when the door was answered.

“Who’s bike is that?” Leo asked as he stopped throwing balloons to admire the bike. I withheld throwing a water balloon at him and stared at the motorcycle.

“Does anyone around here ride a motorcycle?” I asked.

“None that I know of,” Leo shrugged.

“What are you guys doing?” Yule asked as he threw a water balloon at the back of Leo’s head.

“Cool ride,” Yule said. He walked up to the bike.

“Awesome bike!” Darcy shouted. He ran towards the bike.

“Who rides a motorcycle!”

“I wonder who the rider is?”

“Did anyone see anyone?”

“I wonder if it has a name?”

That question came from Becca Lou.

“It does, Ducky. I call it Tommy.”

I literately froze in my chair. I knew that voice anywhere in the world.

“Lou,” I said turning around.

Lou looked at me with tear stained eyes. Becca Lou ran into Lou’s arms.

“Hey, Ducky,” Lou smiled as he picked her up. “How you been?”

“Good,” Becca Lou said. “Mommy got married.”

“I know,” Lou said nodding.

My eyes went over to the porch. Mom was sitting on the porch swing. Laz was by her side. I couldn’t see Mom’s face well which meant I couldn’t read it. I couldn’t see Laz’s face either.

I felt like crying. What right did Lou have to show up here and ruin a perfectly good game of water balloon fight? Why hadn’t he just stayed in Colorado? I hadn’t seen Lou since he was sent to jail right after Becca Lou had been born. I hadn’t heard from since my twelfth birthday. Why did he decide to just show up like this now?

“And how have you been doing, Lottie?” Lou asked.

“Just fine without you in my life,” I snapped.

Everyone stared at me. Their eyes were searching for answers.

“Excuse me,” I said as I rolled through the crowded and towards the wheelchair ramp.

My mom didn’t say anything to me as I rolled up the wheelchair ramp. She didn’t even look at me. Laz did though. His face was blank.

“What does he want?” I asked.

Mom sighed. Her eyes kept watching Lou. Now Lou was answering questions about his bike. Becca Lou was still holding on tight to him. Something inside me wanted to do the same thing, but something else inside me told me that no matter how hard I hugged him he would still leave and he would still let me down.

“Why is here?” I asked. Mom finally looked at me. Her face and tears were mixed with regret and…was that happiness?

“Because I asked him to come,” Mom said.

Posted in My Crazy Life

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

Chapter IV

Cherry Popsicles & Chatting

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Sure,” I said.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Why?” Natalie asked.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

She pointed to everyone as she said their names.

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

“That is getting so old!” Regina shouted.

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

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

Nelson snickered.

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

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

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

“I like cherry,” I stuttered.

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

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

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

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

“Yup, what of it?” Leo asked.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Leo kept on smirking. Darcy let a snicker escape.

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

“What do I look like?” I asked.

Leo’s smirked expanded.

“You look like a girl,” Leo said.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Wha…?” Natalie asked as she followed.

**

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MatthewsMommy: Noel?

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

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

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

InMyOwnWorld: This is her

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

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

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

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

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

MyHeadsInSpace: Hello……….?

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

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

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

MyHeadsInSpace: You’re crazy 😛

Sk8erLion: For

Sk8erLion: Delete that

Sk8erLion: So I’ve been told…

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

He was crazy for ME.

I signed off after that.

Posted in My Crazy Life

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

Chapter IV

An Outburst & A Laptop Murder

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Natalie!”

“In the family room!”

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

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

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

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

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

And she did not disappoint.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Why are you angry?” Natalie asked.

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

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

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

“Yeah, what of it?” Natalie asked.

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

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

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

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

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

“That’s it?” Natalie and I shouted.

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

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

Darcy stood perfectly still on the tenth step.

“Um,” He stuttered.

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

“Huh?” Darcy asked.

“Long story,” Natalie said rolling her eyes.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Is she just figuring that out?

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

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

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

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

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

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

“What?” I asked.

**

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

“The N room?” I asked.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“You do?” I asked. “It’s…it’s…it’s…”

“Hilarious,” Yule snorted.

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

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

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

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

“Good Lord,” I said shaking my head.

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

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

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

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

“Natalia! No!”

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

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

Posted in My Crazy Life

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

Chapter III
Surprises & Space

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

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

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

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

“Oh my gosh!” I screamed.

“What!” Mom shouted startled.

I quickly rolled to the van door and opened it.

“Stay in the car!” Mom shouted.

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

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

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

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

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

“You’re Riley Matthews,” I blurted.

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

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

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

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

“I’m Charolette Lily King,” I said.

“You’re Charlly?” Natalie asked.

“Yup,” I nodded. “I love your blog.”

“Thanks,” Natalie blushed.

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

“Hi,” Matt said offering his hand.

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

“Hey!” Yule shouted in a playful voice.

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

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

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

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

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

“What happened here?” Darcy asked.

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

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

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

*

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He could say that again.

Posted in Natalie

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

**

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

“Almost!” Jaci cried.

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

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

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

“You look beautiful,” Momma smiled.

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

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

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

Daddy walked in and smiled.

“You look lovely,” Daddy said.

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

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

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

I smiled at him.

“You nervous?” Darcy asked.

“About what?” I asked confused.

“About dancing,” Darcy said.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mr. Rivers stood up and picked up his son.

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

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

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

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

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

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

**

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s a Marshmallow World in the Winter

When the snow comes to cover the ground

Its the time for play

Its a whipped cream day

I wait for it the whole year round

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

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

“My baby!” Momma cried hugging me.

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

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

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

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

“I’ve decided something,” I said.

“What?” Darcy shrugged.

“I’m staying,” I stated.

Darcy stared at me.

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

I gave him a smile. Darcy is so sweet.

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

Darcy laughed.

“Natalie’s staying!”

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

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

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

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

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

“Yes!” They cheered.

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

Bennet, who was sitting next to Noel, laughed.

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

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

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

Everybody howled at that.

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

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

I then got an idea.

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

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

“Regina!” Emily said.

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

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

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

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

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

“God, are you speaking?” Bennet asked.

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

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

“Why?” I asked.

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

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

And we danced the night away.

**

Dear Natalie,

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

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

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

Keep Calm & Write On!

Charlotte Lily

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

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

I shook my head and went back to worrying.

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

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

“The one for Lily Charlotte?” Daddy asked.

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

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

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

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

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

“Christmas Dreams,” I said.

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

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

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

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

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

“Please show me,” I prayed.

I closed my eyes and let my fingers fly.

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

Posted in Natalie

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

“Um,” I stuttered. “My mom’s in labor.”

It came out more like a question, but it was so very true.

The officer nodded.

“You do realize that you were going over ninety miles an hour and driving recklessly?” The officer asked even though he knew I knew how I was driving.

“Yes, sir,” I said remembering my manners. I let some of my Southern and British charm creep into my voice.

“You avoided me,” The officer said. “I’m sorry, but I’m going to have to arrest you.”

I wanted to say, “You’ve already put the handcuffs on!” but then I realized he was waiting for me to get out of the car.

“I can’t get out,” I said. “I’m a paraplegic. I can’t walk.”

The officer sighed and crossed his arms.

“No, really!” I shouted. “Look in the back.”

I thanked God that my mother let me put my wheelchair in the car. The officer nodded.

“Ok,” He said. He picked me up in put me in the backseat of his cruiser. He also got my wheelchair out of the car.

“It’s going to be ok,” The officer said as he drove me to the police station. “You were doing what you thought was right.”

“My mom’s having triplets,” I cried. “She’s only thirty-three weeks.”

The officer just nodded and didn’t say anything the rest of the ride.

When I got to the station, I was put in my wheelchair. They put me in foot shackles which was crazy considering I couldn’t WALK!

They took my mug shot and got my finger prints.

I was put in a holding cell with a couple of drunk teenagers. I was allowed my phone call. I couldn’t remember my dad’s number so I called Yule.

“Hello?” Yule asked.

“Yule? Is Dad with you?” I asked.

“Yup, we’re about to pull up in the hospital,” Yule said. “Did Mom have the babies already? Did they give her a C-section?”

“I don’t know,” I sighed. “I’m in jail.”

“You’re in what!” Yule shouted.

“Jail,” I repeated shamefully. “I was driving.”

“You were driving?” Yule asked. “How?”

“Hand controls,” I said.

“Dad, you are not going to like this.”

“Hello?” Daddy asked.

“Hi, Daddy,” I said with fake cheer.

“Is your mother all right?” Daddy asked.

“I don’t know. I was arrested,” I said.

I heard Daddy sigh.

“So your mother’s alone at the hospital?” Daddy asked.

“Um, I’m alone in jail!” I shouted.

Daddy sighed again. He had a very interesting decision. Come and get his daughter out of jail or go see his wife who had probably already delivered.

“I’ll be right there, honey bear,” Daddy said. “I just need to find out what’s going on with your mother and then I’ll come and get you.”

Then came the questions.

“Who do you live with?” One of the integration officers asked.

“My mom, my stepdad, and my siblings,” I answered.

“Do you drive often?” The officer asked.

“Nope,” I said trying to loosen up. “My mom went into labor and everybody else was on a camping trip. I live in a small town actually the part I live in is called a village.”

Then I was brought back to the holding cell.

It felt like I had been in the cell for hours upon hours. I kept worrying about presser sores. I kept trying not to feel disgusted as one of the drunk teenage boys looked at me. I tried not to think how much trouble I was in. I tried not to think about the babies.

But not thinking about all these things was nearly impossible.

I couldn’t stop crying. The guy overseeing the cell gave me some paper towels to wipe my nose and eyes. He kept telling me that everything would be ok.

At the time he seemed like a liar.

My dad and Yule arrived thirty minutes after my call.

I was let off with a warning and these words, “We get why you were driving, but it’s never all right to speed unless it is super life threatening. And when you see those flashing lights and hear the siren pull over. We can help.”

My dad wasn’t mad but Yule was.

“What were you thinking?” Yule asked. “You could have killed someone tonight! I’m surprised they didn’t charge you with reckless driving. I’m also surprised they let you off with a warning!”

“What did you want me to do?” I asked.

“You should have called 911!” Yule shouted.

“Then what? Waited an hour for them to arrive and then have to stay home because I wouldn’t have been allowed in the ambulance?” I asked. “Or what if Momma had to start pushing? I didn’t want to…”

Yule gave me a hug.

“I get it,” Yule said. “It’s just that I’ve spent some long nights in jail.”

“I’m sorry,” I said looking down.

Not another word was spoken until we reached the hospital.

“Are Momma and the babies all right?” I asked as I rolled out of the car.

“Yes,” Daddy said. “Love was delivered right away, and Emmanuel and Avery were born via C-section.”

We were allowed to see Momma. When she saw me, she started to cry.

“I am so sorry, Natalie,” Momma said. “I should have never encouraged you to break the law. I’m a terrible mother.”

“You are not a terrible mother,” I said rolling up to Momma. “I should have pulled over. Its my own fault I got arrested.”

“Are you all right?” Momma asked. “Did they treat you poorly? Did they say anything inappropriate?”

“Nope,” I said. “It wasn’t pleasant, but it wasn’t horrible. I got off with a warning.”

“Good,” Momma said. “Just remember not to speed when you actually do get your license.”

I nodded.

I still wrestle with this night. I’ll leave it up to you to decide if I should have been driving or not.

**

“What time is it?” Megan asked for the thousandth time.

“Its eleven fifty-six,” I said. “A minute later than eleven fifty-five.”

“When will it be twelve?” Megan asked.

“Megs, Mom and Dad said they’d be back around noon. Not exactly at noon,” Yule said not looking away from the TV.

It was two weeks later and we were still in Pittsfield. The babies hadn’t come home from the hospital, but yesterday the doctors said that the babies would possibly get to come home today.

Megan still doesn’t understand what the words possibly and around mean.

“Do you think I’ll like them?” Megan asked me as she tried to crawl into my wheelchair.

“Probably not at first,” I said picking her up and plopping her on my lap.

“Why not?” Megan asked.

“New born babies cry a lot,” Yule said. “And sometimes they cry for no reason at all!”

He looked accusingly at Natalia. Natalia gave him a giggle and started to babble a little.

“I see Clifford,” Aunt Clarisse said as she looked out  the window.

We all rushed towards the window.

“Are they smiling? If they’re smiling that means at least one of them has come home!”

“Do you see any babies?”

“Daddy!”

“Ow!”

“Sorry.”

Daddy looked towards the window and gave us a wave. He was smiling brightly.

The car door then opened and Momma stepped out. She was carrying a baby.

We all rushed out the door.

“Whoah!” Daddy shouted. “Don’t worry you will all get a turn.”

“Who’s that?” Megan asked pointing to Momma’s arms.

“This one is Love,” Momma said giving the baby a kiss.

Momma walked towards Aunt Clarisse’s house and Megan and Bella followed.

“What are you guys still doing out here?” Daddy asked standing in front of the car door.

“No more?” Noel pouted.

Daddy laughed. He moved away to reveal that the two other car seats were occupied.

“Meet Emmanuel Gabriel and Avery Joseph,” Daddy said taking them out of the car.

“They’re so cute!” I squealed. Daddy smiled and laughed.

We went back into the house, and we all got to hold the babies.

“Ew,” Yule groaned as Love spit up on him.

I laughed.

“Wait till it happens to you,” Yule said as he wiped Love’s mouth off.

“You won’t do that to me would you, Avery?” I said kissing his head.

“You’re going to be a good boy aren’t you?” Jaci said to Emmanuel who she was cradling.

“Smile!” Daddy shouted pointing his camera at us.

“Triplets!” Yule, Jaci, and I shouted.

The babies then all started to cry and we groaned.

There were going to be some long nights in our future.

Posted in Natalie

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

**

“Its a good thing you went into labor before you opened your shower presents,” Mrs. Stewart said to Abby.

“Oh, why?” Abby asked looking over at her pile of presents.

“Because you would have ended up with a bunch of girl stuff!” Mrs. Rivers, Mrs. Stewart, and Momma shouted.

“You thought I was having a girl?” Abby asked as she cradled Zach Junior.

“I bought this adorable dress,” Mrs. Stewart said.

“We got you a pink quilt,” Mrs. Rivers and Jessie-Maria said at the same time.

“I made a pink jumper,” Jaci said.

“And why would you think I was having a girl?” Abby asked. “I do believe the invitation said that any clothes or the like be yellow.”

“Well we assumed that since you couldn’t think of any girl names that you were having a girl!” Mrs. Stewart said. “It happened to me. Fowler and I came up with Gavin at the last second. To think, the entire time he was in the womb, I was calling him Sarah.”

The room erupted in laughter.

“And your father did think you were a Larry,” Momma joked.

The room kept on laughing.

“We never found out which names won!” Grandma Shirley shouted. She looked at Momma’s stomach.

“And from the looks of it, you’re going to be needing them very soon,” Grandma Shirley continued.

“One month to go,” Momma said. “My doctors’ won’t let me go farther than thirty-five weeks.”

“So when are you guys going to ‘move’ to Pittsfield?” Aunt Jane asked as Virginia and I counted the name votes.

“Well the plan is the Monday after Mother’s Day,” Momma said. “I’ll be around thirty-three weeks then. Let’s just pray I can still fit in the car!”

“Yes,” Mrs. Rivers laughed.

“We have the names!” Virginia and I shouted after a couple more minutes of miscellaneous chatter.

“Baby A’s name is,” Virginia started.

“Love!” I finished.

“How cute!” Mrs. Rivers gushed.

“I love it, but your father might be a little disgruntal,” Momma said.

“Why? What did he want?” I asked.

“Natasha!” Momma shouted. “How dare he want to name our only girl Natasha!”

“Hey!” Noel, Megan, Bella, Jaci, Abby, and I shouted.

“Natasha can be her middle name,” Grandma Shirley compromised. “What’s Baby B’s name?”

“Baby B’s name is,” I started.

“Emmanuel!” Virginia finished.

“What does Emmanuel mean again?” Ms. Donna asked.

“God is with us,” Jaci said proudly. “I came up with that one.”

“I was kind of hoping for Gabriel,” Momma said. “It’s a solid middle name though.”

“And finally Baby C’s name is,” Virginia and I said in unison, “AVERY!”

“Christmas Elf!” Noel shouted.

Everyone laughed.

“And what will little Avery’s middle name be?” Ms. Donna joked.

“Joseph,” I said. “God shall add another son…and He did!”

Once again, everyone laughed.

I love my family.

**

“You can’t be serious!” Momma shouted. “You are not going to take a CAMPING trip on Mother’s Day weekend and when your wife’s going to have triplets any day now!”

“Now, Riley,” Daddy said trying to get Momma to calm down. “This was the only week everybody could come.”

“Not everybody,” I grumbled as I put a spoonful of cereal in my mouth.

“I promise you, Natalie, that I’ll take you camping this summer,” Daddy said. “Just you and me if you want it that way.”

“Still, it’s not fair. Just because I’m in a wheelchair camping automatically becomes one of the things I can’t do,” I said. “Well Bennet’s going!”

“You would just make things even more complicated than they already are,” Daddy blurted. “There are going to be four babies on this trip! Who ever heard of taking babies on a camping trip!”

“Oh so only complete paraplegics and babies are complications,” I said. “Incomplete paraplegics and toddlers are perfectly fine.”

“Somebody’s gotta stay home with your mother,” Daddy tried.

“You can help me pack,” Momma said to me. “If I didn’t know better I’d say that you Steve Matthews are trying to get out of packing.”

“We’ll be back in plenty of time to take all the Florida and North Adams mothers to dinner,” Daddy said.

Momma gave a huge breath.

“Riley, are you all right?” Daddy asked.

“False contractions,” Momma said sitting down. “I’m fine. Your sleeping bag is in the basement.”

“Thank you ladies for understanding,” Daddy said. “We’ll be taking Clifford and Betsy if you don’t mind.”

Clifford was our brand new red fifteen seater van.

“You can’t leave us without a car!” Momma shouted. “Not that we’ll be going anywhere, but you can’t leave your pregnant wife without any form of transportation.”

“Don’t worry,” Daddy said. “Bennet’s not taking his Mustang. He’s going to leave it with you two for the weekend.”

“I don’t think I’ll be able to get into that thing,” Momma said in a serious voice. Daddy laughed and walked away.

“So it’s just going to be the two of us,” Momma said. “Just like old times, huh?”

“I guess,” I sighed.

But somehow, this time was very very different.

**

“The house is so quiet,” I said as I helped Momma pack. “I keep thinking I’m about to hear Megan cry out or see Bella running towards me with a new picture.”

“It sure does seem that way,” Momma said. “It’s kinda creepy just the two of us being in this huge house. What time is it?”

“It’s almost midnight,” I said looking at the clock.

“That’s enough packing for tonight,” Momma said flopping into a chair. I yawned.

“Go to sleep, Natalie,” Momma said. “I’m not going to do anymore packing tonight.”

“Do you need me to help you to your room?” I asked even though I couldn’t really offer her any help.

“No, baby,” Momma said. “I’ll probably not even go to sleep tonight. I took a nap around five. These babies are on a clock of their own.”

“Goodnight,” I said giving Momma a kiss.

“Goodnight,” I said to Momma’s belly and giving it a kiss.

Two hours later, I heard a scream.

“Noel?” I asked waking up. I looked over to her side of the bed and sighed. Noel was off having fun in the woods while I was stuck doing her packing.

“Natalie!” Momma cried. “Natalie!”

“Coming!” I called back. I transferred to my wheelchair and rolled towards her room.

“Momma?” I asked pushing the door open.

“Natalie,” Momma said gravely, “I’m in labor.”

“Are you sure?” I asked.

“I thought I was having Braxton Hicks contractions,” Momma said. “But my water just broke.”

“Where’s the phone?” I asked looking at Momma’s nightstand.

“Honey, you’re going to have to drive me,” Momma groaned.

“What!” I cried. “If you haven’t noticed, I can’t hit the gas pedal. I’ll call 911. Everything’s going to be fine.”

“Baby, the hospital in North Adams doesn’t have dispatchers at night. It’s going to take the paramedics at least an hour to get here and at least another hour back. My contractions are super close together,” Momma said. “You’re going to have to drive me.”

“I can’t!” I cried. “Can’t you drive?”

“You can,” Momma said. “We have Bennet’s car. He forgot to take the hand controls off of it.”

“Is there someone we can call?” I asked even though I knew everybody was on the camping trip.

Momma didn’t answer, and I assumed it was because of a contraction.

“Can you get up?” I asked when the contraction was over.

Momma nodded and got up.

I rolled out of her room and picked up the car keys.

“Got your bag?” I asked as Momma stumbled into the kitchen.

“No,” Momma said. “Can you go get it? I’ll get into the car.”

I got Momma’s bag and rolled out of the house.

It was drizzling. I smiled a little.

“Thank You for sending the rain,” I prayed. “Please help me drive. I’ve never tried before.”

“Natalie!” Momma hollered.

I rolled faster towards Bennet’s blue gratified Mustang. I transferred into the driver’s seat.

“Now,” Momma started.

“I have to get my wheelchair in the car,” I said taking off one of the wheels.

“Leave it,” Momma said. “They have wheelchairs at the hospital.”

I sighed. I know it’s weird, but I’m as crazy about my wheelchair as Bennet was about his Mustang.

“All right,” Momma groaned. “Just hurry up!”

I got my wheelchair into the car and turned the key.

The sound of the car stared me a little bit, but then I started to smile. I had officially gone bonkers.

“Now,” Momma smiled. “How do you work this thing?”

“Big lever for break. Little one for gas,” I said repeating Bennet’s words.

I put my left hand on the wheel, said a slight prayer, and pushed down on the small lever button thingy.

The car barely moved, but I was driving.

“Hurry up!” Momma screamed.

I pushed down hard on the gas lever and the car went flying.

“Turn!” Momma screamed.

I gave the wheel an awkward jerk. We missed the mailbox.

“What’s the speed limit!” I asked.

“I don’t care!” Momma screamed.

I was pretty sure the speed limit wasn’t seventy, which was what I was doing, but I didn’t care. My mother’s voice scared me. I went up to eighty.

My left hand was shaking by the time we got onto the highway. Momma’s muffles were getting louder and each one sounded more painful.

“You’re doing good, baby,” Momma said about thirty minutes after I started driving. She started to inhale deeply.

I wanted to start doing eight-five or maybe even ninety, but instead I asked a question.

“Did you call Dad?” I asked.

Momma fumbled for her phone and dialed Daddy’s number.

“Hello?” Daddy’s sleepy voice asked.

“Daddy!” I shouted.

“Natalie, what’s wrong?” Daddy asked recognizing the worry in my voice.

“Get in the other lane!” Momma cried. I turned into another lane.

“What’s wrong?” Daddy repeated.

“I’m in labor!” Momma cried.

“Ah!” I screamed as I barely missed the railing. Driving with only one hand is a lot harder than it looks.

“Where are you?” Daddy asked.

“On the highway,” Momma said.

“You’re driving?” Daddy asked. “I thought you couldn’t get into the driver’s seat.”

“I’m not driving!” Momma screamed through a contraction.

“Then who is?” Daddy asked.

“I am,” I said as I saw the police lights behind me.

“And on the phone?” Daddy asked. “Wait! How are you driving? Why didn’t you dial 911!”

“Cause I can’t wait two hours!” Momma yelled.

“Natalie, where are you?” Daddy asked.

Momma cried out, and I started going eighty-something.

The police siren started to holler, but I didn’t care. I got off at the hospital exit.

“Why are there sirens?” Daddy asked. I could hear him watching everybody up.

“Cause I’m speeding!” I shouted as I avoided a poll.

“She’s actually doing pretty good for one hand and first time,” Momma laughed. She then started to scream.

“How are you driving?” Daddy asked.

“Bennet forgot to take the hand controls off,” I said pulling into the hospital.

“Thank the Lord for Bennet Edwards,” Daddy mumbled.

“You did good, baby,” Momma said giving me a kiss before getting out of the car.

I reached back to get my wheelchair when I heard the sound of a car door opening.

“Ma’am.”

I stared up at the face of an officer.

“You’re under arrest,” He said putting handcuffs on me. “You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided for you. Do you understand the rights I have just read to you? With these rights in mind, do you wish to speak to me?”

Posted in Natalie

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

**

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

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

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

Momma smiled.

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

“You did what?” I asked.

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

“You did what?” I howled.

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

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

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

I smiled.

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

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

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

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

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

“Wasn’t it obvious?” I asked.

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

There was a knock on the door.

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

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

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

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

“He?”

“He.”

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

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

“Hiya,” Darcy said looking at the ground.

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

“I’ve been a jerk,” Darcy said.

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

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

I laughed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“From London, England,” Stanley said.

It was probably from my grandparents.

Dear Miss Natalie Zoey Baldwin-Matthews

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

Or maybe not.

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

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

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

Darcy looked at me and started to walk away.

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

“What?” Darcy snapped.

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

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

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

“Bye, Natalie.”

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

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

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

**

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

“Phone,” Noel said handing it to me.

“Hello?” I asked.

“Natalie?” Grandma Baldwin asked.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

**

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

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

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

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

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

“Are you serious?” I asked interrupting Virginia.

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

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

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

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

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

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

“What suspicion?” Emily asked.

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

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

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

“Well…,” I started.

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

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

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

I gave them a smile.

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

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

**

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

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

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

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

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

Abby started to smirk.

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

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

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

“Ouch,” Megan said.

“Sorry,” Jaci mouthed to me.

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

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

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

Baby A Baby B Baby C

Merry Gabriel Christian

Natasha Natalio Natal

Love Emmanuel Avery

Eve Nicholas Joseph

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

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

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

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

BANG!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Joan!” Momma laughed.

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

“Mrs. Sugar Bear?” I giggled.

“Mr. Meow?” Jessie-Maria howled.

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

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

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

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

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

Sure enough Darcy was in the kitchen stirring lemonade.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I snorted.

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

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

Darcy laughed and shook his head.

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

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

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

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

“What?” Darcy asked. “What girl?”

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

Darcy started to giggle.

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

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

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

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

“You are forgiven,” I said.

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

“What are you saying?” I asked.

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

“I do-I mean yes,” I said.

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

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

Posted in Natalie

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

**

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

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

That’s when I knew Noel meant business.

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

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

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

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

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

Noel pushed me out the door and down the hall.

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

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

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

“Pray!” Noel screamed.

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

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

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

“Kids, what are you doing?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

**

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

But at the reception, I had yet another blow.

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

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

“Why wouldn’t I be?” I asked.

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

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

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

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

“You’ve gotten heavier,” Darcy said.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I don’t know…,” I started.

“How hard can it be?” Darcy asked.

Famous last words.

**

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

“You look even prettier in real life,” Ms. Etta said. “Did Darcy tell you I’m his grandmother?”

“Yes, Mrs. Chadwick,” I said. Ms. Etta waved her hand.

“Nobody calls me Mrs. Chadwick,” Ms. Etta said. “I’ve never liked the sound of married name nor did I like to sound of my maiden name so everybody has always called me, Ms. Etta, even my own children! People have been referring to me as Ms. Etta ever since I was seven years old. Nobodies hardly ever called me Mrs.”

I nodded.

“Now, I have to know what kind of paraplegic you are, Natalie,” Ms. Etta said. “That way I know what moves you can do and can’t do.”

“I’m a considered a complete L1 paraplegic, but I have a slight break in T12. I have feeling in my waist and a little bit of movement in it too,” I said.

“Ok,” Ms. Etta said. “You have a good range of mobility. You’re entire upper body is free and moving. I’m an incomplete T12 paraplegic. I used to be able to take tiny steps but in my old age I don’t even try anymore. I’ve gained a lot of sensory feeling though and I’m thankfully for that.”

There was a little bit of awkward silence. Sometimes its hard for an incomplete paraplegic and a complete paraplegic to talk about their injuries. For the incomplete there’s great hope for them to walk again. For complete there’s almost absolutely no hope. but strangely my family hasn’t given up hope that I will one day walk again. And if there is one thing I’ve learned, it’s to always have hope.

“So your sister’s wedding is the first Saturday in June?” Ms. Etta asked after a couple of awkward seconds. I nodded.

“Let’s see, it’s the third week in March so that gives us about thirteen weeks,” Ms. Etta said. “Its cutting it real close, but I think we’ll have you dancing by then.”

“So before you love struck teens start, I would like to warn you,” Ms. Etta said. “I have been teaching dance for about thirty years now and have been competing for almost fifty years and most of those fifty years I’ve spent in a wheelchair. And in my lifetime, I have seen hundreds of couples break up because of dance! I’ve taught over five hundred engaged couples and have broken up over one hundred of them. Dancing is about getting to know your partner in ways you’ve never thought possible. In freestyle dancing, which is what I teach the most, it’s all about talking to your partner without talking. I know that may seem impossible but if you stick with this, you’ll soon get to know your partners body language in ways you probably wouldn’t have considered! But just about everyone of my students, including the ones I have broken up, have seen me some time or another and have thanked me. Whether it was because I saved them from a horrible marriage or because they feel like their marriage works better because they know each other so well. Now that I have warned the two of you are you ready to start wheelchair dancing?”

Nope, and I didn’t think I’d ever be, but Darcy and I said yes not knowing how much these lessons would change us.

**

Every single thing Ms. Etta said came true.

After the first lesson, there was a whole lot of tension between us. By the third lesson, we official hated each other. By the fifth lesson, I was wondering how in the world we had made it this far.

Ms. Etta clearly sensed the new found hatred Darcy and I had for each other. She was pretty tense during the lessons too. She kept calling us love struck teens though, but we felt more hate struck if you ask me.

Our real problem was trying to learn one of the easiest moves Ms. Etta was trying to teach us. She called it the Back Step. It was really simple. Darcy would walk backwards while I rolled towards him. We got that part down on the first lesson, but the Double Back Step…now that was a challenge. Darcy would walk back and I would rolled towards him, but then he was supposed to walk towards me and I was supposed to roll backwards. Now that was hard. I never knew when Darcy was going to start walking forward and just about every time I ran over his foot.

Now I know you’re probably like “That’s all? You hate each other because you keep rolling over his foot?” No, that was not all. Darcy had his dancing faults too.

We were trying to do the Glide and Spin. That was were Darcy would take one of my hands and glide me across the room and then spin me. Well the gliding was easy, but the spinning was not. Either he spun me way too fast or he let go of me too soon and I crashed into the wall. “You’re a rat!” soon became one of my favorite new phrases. You should see the look on his face when I call him a rat!

The Shimmy was pretty hard too. That was were Darcy would take both of my hands and pull me with enough force to zigzag me and the wheelchair across the room, but Darcy was pulling me with so much force that I was pulled out of my wheelchair, even though I had a protective strap on me that was supposed to keep me from falling. Obviously it wasn’t working.

I was tired, frustrated, and really angry from being pulled out of my wheelchair for the fifth time in less than a week. And when I was pulled out of my wheelchair for the sixth time, I had had enough.

“Ok, my little love struck teenagers,” Ms. Etta started, “let’s just take a break…”

“No! I can’t do this anymore!” I cried.

“Sure, you can, Natalie, I’ll tell you what let’s be finished for the day and we can finish our lesson on Monday,” Ms. Etta suggested.

“Natalie’s right, I don’t even know why I agreed to do this stupid thing,” Darcy mumbled.

“Now, Darcy,” Ms. Etta started.

“Excuse me! But I remember your the one that suggested this stupid thing!” I shouted.

“Well, sorry if I was just trying to help you,” Darcy said.

“Trying to help me? I have a bruise on my leg from it being hit so hard on the hardwood floor!” I shouted. “Wheelchair dancing isn’t the problem. You’re the problem!”

“I’m the problem?” Darcy yelled. “No, you’re the problem! You can’t control your wheelchair!”

“How am I supposed to control my wheelchair if I don’t know what you’re supposed to do?” I screamed.

“Love struck…,” Ms. Etta started.

“Well how am I supposed to know how hard to pull you?” Darcy shouted.

“Well you’re not supposed to pull me with all your might!” I screamed.

“I quit!” Darcy shouted storming out of the room.

“What just happened?” I asked after about a minute.

“Sweetie pie, I think he just broke up with you,” Ms. Etta said gravely.

Well that sent me into a fit of tears.

Posted in Natalie

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

And when I say everything went black, I don’t just mean I passed out.

When I woke up, it felt like the weight of the world was on my shoulders. I was extremely tired. I was just…worn.

Dr. Walters came in and told me what had happened. As I already knew, Daddy had been shot in the shoulder. It had missed vital organs, and he was going to be fine. He was going to have to wear a sling for a little bit but the good news was that he was fine.

My situation was a totally different story.

I had been shot in the foot two times. I lost a lot of blood, and they had to take the bullets out. There was a possibility that my foot was already infected though, and just because I was paralyzed didn’t mean that an infect in the disconnected area wouldn’t cause problems.

I hadn’t felt a thing and that was the worst blow yet.

When Yule told me that I was paralyzed, my instant reaction was denial. I knew it in my heart, but my mind just didn’t want to believe it. I thought I had accepted it. I thought I was fine with it. I knew in my heart that I was paraplegic. My heart constantly whispered that I probably wouldn’t walk again. But my mind…every time I would think about not walking again my mind would scream no and that I would walk again and that this paralysis was temporary. I was still in the denial stage. I had excepted it for the moment, and the thought of this being a forever thing rocked my world.

I lost all hope after being shot that I would ever walk again. My strength left me and I started to truly go insane.

What would I do when I grew up? Would I be forever living with my parents? Does Darcy truly still like me or is he just pretending so he won’t hurt my feelings? Would I ever go to college? Would I even finish high school?

My life was all of a sudden worthless. I felt like I had no purpose. Life just didn’t feel worth living anymore. I was a burden to my parents. I was a tag along to my friends. I was the poor girl who would never have a full life to the town.

Even when they told me I didn’t have an infection I was still living in a daze.

When I came home, everybody was all sweet and nice to me. My friends came by and talked to me. But they looked at me differently. I mean I knew they thought of me differently ever since the accident, but now they looked at me differently. There looks said, “Poor Natalie.”

They even treated me differently. I had been hoping to go sledding, but when Darcy said that I might want to take it easy for a while, I knew that was just a nice way of saying that they didn’t want me along.

The last thing I ever wanted to happen to me was to be treated differently. I knew that things would never be the same and that I was different, but when people start to treat me like I’m some helpless thing that can’t do a single thing…I just can’t stand that.

My solution to not being treated differently was to just stay in my room. I decided that I was never coming out of my room for the rest of my days. If I just stayed in my room, only a couple of people would bother me and life would just be better some way.

My ‘solution’ didn’t seem to bother my mom. She just shrugged it off and told everybody that it was just a faze. “Common with shooting victims and happens all the time with new paraplegics,” were her exact words. Translation: “One less kid to worry about.”

Daddy was worried about me. He constantly came and checked in on me. The thing was I didn’t really want to talk to him. I blamed myself for him being shot. I told myself that if I could have only run away from Ryan none of this would have ever happened.

But my solution only truly worked for about the first week. Only Momma, Daddy, and Yule bothered me. I would say Noel bothered me, but it was also her room after all and Noel doesn’t usually start conversations and has the hardest time keeping them. She mostly read and played with Natalia.

But then all these people came and visited me. Grandma Shirley came by once a day and would talk about some random thing. Abby always just popped her head in when she was there. Jaci started to do her hand sewing in my room and would often ask me how the dress she was working on looked. Darcy sometimes stopped by after school and would ask me all sorts of meaningless questions. Virginia would come by after dinner and start telling me about all that was going on at school and in town. Aunt Jane sometimes came into the room with her and start pouring out her wedding troubles to me (her wedding was the second Saturday in March). Regina and Emily would come by, and we would have awkward conversations. I got calls from Grandma and Grandpa Baldwin a couple times too.

Well at least they didn’t treat me different, but they still looked at me differently…or so I thought so at the time.

When I wasn’t being bothered, I mostly read my father’s journals. I would just pick up any ole journal and start reading. Somehow I managed to pick out the important stuff.

May 20th

Today I was told some of the greatest news in my entire life. Right now I doubt I’ll ever stop smiling, but I bet I will…just not tonight.

As I have mentioned before, Riley’s been acting kinda strange. She seems afraid of cars, she always rushes me out of the house in morning (and looking a little sick while doing it), she’s been more tired than usual lately, she got all upset when I forgot to bring her her milkshake the other night, and she’s constantly getting up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom.

Well tonight Riley cooked me baby back ribs, baby spinach, baby carrots, baby corn, baby peas, and milk was my drink. She seemed disappointed when I didn’t address her baby theme at dinner. I was about to sit down to right in my journal when Riley walked up to me.

She asked me how I liked my dinner and I told her that it was delicious as usual. She asked me if there was anything unusual about the dinner and I told her that she served a lot more vegetables than usual. She just laughed and asked me if there was anything else unusual. It took me a moment before I finally got to connection.

We’re going to have a baby.

Riley and I haven’t ever really thought about having kids, but now that we have a bun in the oven…I just…I can’t find the words.

Riley’s due in December, which is just perfect. She’s due around Christmastime and very close to our wedding date.

And to think I was going out of my mind wondering where she was just a year ago.

Then the next day I read this one.

November 26

Yesterday was one of the scariest and it was one of the best days of my life.

Riley went into labor four weeks early. She was way calmer than me about it! She actually talked me through an anxiety attack during the drive to the hospital.

It was kinda strange. Riley knew just what to do when we got to the hospital. The nurses in the room said that she was pro at the labor thing and were surprised that she’s never done this before, and I could tell that one of the nurses flat out did not believe that this was Riley’s first delivery.

I’ve seen the stretch marks on Riley’s stomach. I noticed them the day I noticed them the day I knocked her over. I just assumed she had been over weight at some time or another, but it never crossed my mind that she had had a baby.

I’ve noticed that August 1st has always been a hard day for Riley. I assumed it was the day she ran away or something but now thinking about what the nurses have said and all this other stuff. I wonder if that’s the day…

Anyway, our baby is a little girl. She’s relatively healthy, but she is premature and will be in the NICU for at least a couple of days. I can’t wait to take her to England for Christmas.

She is beautiful. We’ve decided to name her Natalie. She wasn’t actually born on Christmas day, but she was born a month before that day.

I have all these worries. But if I’m not a good father? What if…! Ugh! For now all I’m going to think about is how much I love her and how I long to hold her. They say hopefully we can today…

Included was a picture of me in the incubator.

Looking at the picture was strange for me. It was really hard to believe that I had once been so small!

Then later that day, I picked up another journal and got another important entry.

December 24 25

The clock just wrung midnight, and there is absolutely no way I’m going to sleep tonight.

Riley just gave me the shock of my life. We were putting Natalie’s Christmas presents under the tree when I noticed how sad Riley looked. I asked what was wrong and she broke down crying. I will never forget these words,

“Today, at exactly 10:50 P.M. six years ago, I went into labor.”

At first I was confused and then I remembered. Six years ago Riley wasn’t with me. Six years ago Riley was missing.

She started to tell me about her childhood. She grew up in same place up North. The city was Pittsfield I think. She was born to Shirley and Jack Walters (this I knew already). She was a twin (I also knew that). She was the oldest of the two, and she also had two older brothers (something else I also knew). In high school, she fell in love with a man named Steve Matthews only to have her heartbroken when he married some girl the summer they got out of high school. Riley decided to pursue a career as a lawyer and when she was twenty she got a internship at a place called Stewart & Stewart.

The top man, Mr. Fowler Stewart, took a liking to her. The problem was he was already married and was a good number of years older than her. Riley told me that there was nothing he could ever do to make her ‘fall’ in love with him. He offered her money (I’ve forgotten the sum of money he offered but it was rather large). She refused, and he started to harass. Riley still didn’t give in, but when he threatened her family she fled to Boston.

He found her on a cold October day. She had been living on the streets of Boston for about two months then. He promised to take her home. He promised not to bother her every again.

But what he did was the exact opposite. He took her to one of his houses. He kept her locked up. He hurt her.

Riley had a baby boy. She told me she thought she’d hate him, but the second she held him…she was in love with him.

She named him Yule. She told me that the original plan was to put her on a bus to somewhere and force her to keep the baby as some kind of burden. But when this sick man saw that she really wanted the baby, he took Yule away and put her on a bus to Florida.

That’s when she met me.

Then six years ago, she saw Mr. Stewart again. He was that man in the grocery store that Riley was so afraid of. He kidnapped her again, took her to one of his houses in Tampa, and she had another baby. A daughter. Noel. And on Christmas Day too. She got to stay with Noel until around New Years and the day before her planned escape, Fowler took Noel away and cast her out onto the streets of Tampa.

That’s when the police found her.

I was pretty angry at Riley. I asked why she never told me about this. Riley told me that Mr. Stewart threatened to kill anybody she told. She threatened to kill her children if she ever went looking for them.

I had to stop myself from telling her that it was stupid to think he’d ever find out. She looked me in the eye and told me that I had no idea how powerful Mr. Stewart was. I looked her in the eye and told her that Mr. Stewart would never be more powerful than God.

That’s when she broke down crying.

I don’t know what to do about this. I want to find Yule and Noel. In my heart, they’re my children. I want them to live with us. I want Natalie to them. I want Riley to be happy. I want so many things, but so many risk are involved. Am I really willing to put my life on the line for these children?

I cried at that one. My daddy wanted me to know Yule and Noel, and seven years later on what I thought would be one of the worst days of my life, I finally met Yule.

I kept reading that journal. It was full of entries with conflicted thought. One day my dad was sure he was ready to find Yule and Noel and see Jesus if that was what was meant to happen. And the next day all he would wish was that Momma never told him about Yule and Noel.

He talked a lot about Momma and me. He was scared that he wouldn’t be there for me. He was afraid that he was going to die and that I wouldn’t even remember him. He died, but he is very fresh in my memory.

The last entry was the day before he died. It was…well just read.

February 6th

I’ve made up my mind. I’m going to find Yule and Noel.

I made a baby step yesterday. I went around asking at the government offices about a birth certificate for a Noel Stewart.

For the past several weeks, Riley has been begging me not to do this. She’s afraid I’m going to die, but I am no longer afraid.

If I’m meant to see Jesus at this time. Let it be. If I’m meant to become the father of these kids. Let it be. If I’m never meant to find them…Let it be.

I have to remind myself that this world is not my home. I have to remind myself that if I die the Lord will work something out. Riley’s a strong women and Natalie takes just after her. It sounds weird, but I’m no longer worried about what’s going to happen to them if I do die. I’ve given Riley ‘permission’ to remarry if I die. She says that Steve guy wife’s ran away not long before she did. Who knows….

It is my prayer that no matter what happens that Riley will at least get to see Yule and Noel before she dies. She has so much hurt about this. She blames herself. She told herself that if only she could have sneaked away with. A lot of if’s are going through our minds right now.

I’ve been telling Natalie I love her a lot these days. Another one of my prayers is that Natalie won’t forget me. That she will have some memory of me. That she will never forget how much her daddy loved her.

I’m ready to die. I’ve just gotta let go and let God. I love life, but I can’t hold tightly to these life. Life here on earth is temporary, but life with God is forever.

These kids are worth it. They are so worth it. Riley showed me two pictures the other day. One was of her holding Yule and the other was of her holding Noel. I don’t know what they look like today, but they sure were some of the cutest babies I’ve ever seen.

Yule is eight now. He’ll be nine on August 1st. Noel is six. She’ll be seven next Christmas.

Last night I had a dream. It was snowing in my room. I saw through the window of a big house Natalie, Noel, Yule, and Riley. They were sitting around a tree watching It’s a Wonderful Life.

Yule had his hair slicked back. He had brown hair and Riley’s eyes. Noel had beautiful red hair and grey eyes. She wasn’t paying attention to the TV rather she was looking at a baby in her arms.

Natalie. Natalie looked the same. She was all grown up looking like a teenager. She wasn’t looking at the TV per se but rather at some person I couldn’t see. If you ask me she looked rather in love with the other person. I couldn’t help but smile. But then all of a sudden, she was sitting in some strange chair. It took me a minute to figure out what the strange chair she was sitting in was. It was a wheelchair.

That wasn’t the only thing that scared me. I wasn’t in the room. I was looking at them through a window. Did that mean I wasn’t going to be alive during that Christmas? I felt like it meant I was going to die soon, but I wasn’t scared. Riley was going to know her children and I was upset that I might not be there with her and get to know them, but all I want is for Riley to be happy and she looked very happy in the dream.

Its almost February 7th now. Only one more week until Valentine’s Day. I’m actually sitting in Natalie’s room right now. I was telling her a bedtime story and she fell asleep right in the middle of it. That silly girl. I had brought my journal in, mistaking it for an old library book. I’m using one of Natalie’s pens. Its red. All the other colors of her pens were purple and pink. I tried to use her only green one but it was out of ink.

Well I’m at the end of my last page. I don’t have anytime to get a new journal tomorrow so I’ll get one on the eighth. I get off of work early so I’m going up to Tampa to see if I can discover anything about Noel’s birth. I hope to take a trip to Pittsfield soon. Riley showed me some pictures of this place called the Mohawk Trail. The pictures were taken by some town called Florida. I think we’ll have to visit that town when we go.

And that was it. That was his last journal entry. He wrote his last journal entry in my bedroom. He died before he could ever buy another journal.

I cried as I thought about last Christmas. We had been watching It’s a Wonderful Life and sitting around the tree. I had been sitting in a wheelchair. I had been smiling at Darcy when he walked into the room with some popcorn. And my father…he wasn’t there. Instead, Daddy was walking into the room with something to drink.

I cried for a long time. I cried rather loudly too. So loud that Momma came into my room.

“What’s wrong, baby?” Momma asked lying down next to me on Noel’s side of the bed.

“I just read dad’s last journal entry,” I cried. Momma sighed.

“He knew in his heart that he wasn’t going to be there that Christmas. He told me about the dream that day. I begged him not to go to Tampa, but your father was determined to go to Tampa. He was determined to find Yule and Noel,” Momma said on the verge of tears.

She started crying. I kept on crying, but I soon stopped crying.

Daddy felt like him dying so that Momma could be with Yule and Noel was worth it. My father did not die in vain. He died trying to find his children.

I was of course still sad that my dad was dead. There was still a little part of my heart that would always belong to him. I would never forget him and I would never wish to. I had always felt like his death had been in vain. I was always sad that my father died in such a stupid way as a car crash but now I know he was basically murdered. He died so that Yule and Noel might now there Mother. That Momma would no longer have those empty places in her heart.

And to me, that is one of the best reasons to die.

Posted in Natalie, The Berkshire County Chronicles

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

**

How can a person not be excited about going to Paris?

I could name a few reasons why.

For some reason airport security has a thing against wheelchairs. My wheelchair was deemed ‘suspicious’, and my accent was just a little too foreign, all though I saw the TSA giggle a little when I said ya’ll.

Then I had to be rushed onto the plane because “handicapped people must get on the plane first” which is basically just a polite way of saying that I take the longest to be put on the plane.

I have to sit in a special chair which seems ridiculous to me. There are two people who can lift me until we pick up my wheelchair in Paris.

The chair is crazy uncomfortable and they strap you in so tight that you can barely breathe.

Somehow I managed to take a nap on the plan, but then I was awaked by my father’s snores.

After what seemed like forever we finally arrived in Paris.

It took us a minute to find our hotel. Grandma Shirley was so upset when she had to find another hotel to stay in because her regular one wasn’t wheelchair friendly. She was so upset that I personally am surprised she didn’t kick me off the trip. Another thing Grandma Shirley was upset about was that she had to search forever to find a place that had a wheelchair assessable van. Grandma Shirley complained to me so much that I almost decided not to go on the trip at all.

But the view from the Eiffel Tower made it all worth it.

I’m just glad you have to take the elevator to get all the way to the top :).

The Louvre was just as good, and the food in Paris is amazing. They serve cheese after ever meal which was a bummer for me being lactose intolerant and all.

I took so many pictures that my parents had to buy me a new camera card half-way through the week, and yes I filled up the camera card before we left late Saturday.

But in my defense Virginia insisted that I take lots of pictures and it’s not my fault that I took her at her word.

I couldn’t think of anything as snazzy as Christmas Everyday for my blog so I just called my blog Natalie, plain, simple, and straight to the point.

The trip to Paris was amazing and a great break from life, because little did I know that life was about to spin even more out of control.

And it didn’t all start with the smashed windows and gunshots, or Mr. Stewart’s death. It all started with Bennet crying.

**

We didn’t arrive back into the states until around three P.M. on a Sunday. We didn’t arrive in Florida until around dinnertime. Frankly, I was beat. All I wanted to do was sleep and eat breakfast around midnight. I was seriously jetlagged. My body clock adapts really well to new places and time zones but takes a while to change back.

When we pulled up into the B&B driveway, we found Bennet crying over a graffitied Mustang.

“My car!” Bennet cried.

I stared at his car. It was covered in some strange shape. Was that the state of Florida?

Noel didn’t really seem to get that the car was ruined. She looked at the car blissfully. She then looked at Bennet. Tears were streaming down his face. I could tell that Noel was trying to discern if Bennet’s tears were of joy or sadness. She was clearly feeling joy about the damaged car; Bennet was clearly upset.

“Pretty,” Noel said to no one in particular. She started rubbing the car as if she wanted the strange symbol to rub off on her hand.

“Pretty?” Bennet repeated with anger in his voice. “Pretty!”

Noel looked at him strangely. Everyone walked into the B&B too tired to hear Bennet’s sob story. I stayed though. I wasn’t really interested in the car per se, but I was interested in Noel. It had become very clear in the passing months that Noel’s perception of the world was rather different from mine or anybody else’s. Almost every day she shared something with me that made me look at the thing in a whole new way. When we went to the Louvre, Noel could not be pulled away from the Mona Lisa. I, of course, found the Mona Lisa interesting and admired her beauty and went to look at other things. Later on I asked Noel what she found so interesting about the Mona Lisa (I had to ask several times because the first couple times she wasn’t paying attention to me and the other times I could see she did not want to socialize).

“Smile mystery,” Noel smiled. “It took sec but figured what thinking.”

“And what was she thinking?” I asked confused.

“That smile of happy woman,” Noel said walking away.

I was surprised at that. I always thought that Mona Lisa wasn’t smiling at all. I thought the look on her face was serious and stiff, but Noel thought the smile was a smile of a happy woman. I lay awake all night thinking about that one.

“Ya, pretty,” Noel smiled. “Did this you?”

“Did I do this?” Bennet asked angrily. “Of course not! Why would I ruin Betty?”

“Who Betty?” Noel asked looking around for some girl.

Her ecstasy turned into anger. It was hard to tell if Noel and Bennet were a couple. He took her along on a group date once, but she didn’t enjoy it. She told me later in few words that it was too noisy and that the entire time that she felt pressured to say something. Before this I questioned if Noel truly liked Bennet, but seeing how jealous she looked at the idea of Bennet ruining some girl made me believe without a doubt that Noel was in love with Bennet.

“Betty is my car!” Bennet cried clearly fed up.

“Oh,” Noel said relieved. “What’s ruin? Still good car just some scares.”

Bennet looked at Noel with surprise and understanding. His tears stopped and he reached to hug Noel. Noel squirmed in Bennet’s arms as if she was being suffocated.

“What would I do without you?” Bennet asked.

“Cry,” Noel said finally breaking away from Bennet’s arms.

Bennet laughed and rolled towards the house. Noel followed, but I lingered.

I looked closely at Bennet’s now redeemed car. There was something so familiar about this strange shape. As I peered at it I became even surer that the shape was the state of Florida. Then I saw something that made my blood go cold. Inside each and every one of the Florida’s was one word: Santa.

**

How can a person not be excited about their Mom having triplets?

It was a couple days later just before Valentine’s Day. It was Momma’s twenty-one week appointment. If everything went well today we would find out the triplets genders.

There had been much debate about the triplets’ gender for the past couple of weeks. Virginia and Megan wanted three girls, while Yule and Bella hoped that all three of them would be boys. Noel, like Momma and Daddy, said that she didn’t care and just wanted healthy babies. Darcy shrugged it off and said he didn’t care, but I had a feeling he wanted all three of them to be boys. Bennet took the Noel approach and said all that mattered were that they were healthy. And me, well, I hoped at there would be at least one boy for Yule, but I would like one girl to be in there. The third one could be a boy or a girl and I’d be happy but I’m not saying I wouldn’t be happy if it didn’t turn out like that.

“Is that stuff cold?” Megan asked as they put that gel on Momma’s tummy.

“A little bit,” Momma said.

The room soon filled with the sound of the babies’ heart beats.

“They’re moving!” Megan cried looking at the screen.

“Yes, baby, they move,” Momma smiled. “I can feel them too. Don’t you feel them when you kiss my belly?”

Megan shook her head no.

“They’re all in good positions to day,” The ultrasound person said, “and I’m pretty sure of their genders.”

We looked at each other. Excitement was clear in all of our eyes.

“Baby A, I believe, is a girl. Baby B and C, the twins, I believe are boys,” The ultrasound person said.

I tried not to scream. I was the only one, who expressed their option, who got what they wanted. Somewhere in my heart a whisper told me that this happened just for me.

We children watched wide-eyed during the rest of the ultrasound. When the ultrasound person tried to get a picture of Baby C’s face, he put his hands in front of his face causing us all to laugh.

“So now that we know,” Abby said to Momma and Daddy, “will you please tell us what you thought.”

“All I’m going to say is that your mother has never been wrong,” Daddy said starting the car up.

“You’ve never been wrong?” Abby asked Momma. Momma shook her head yes.

“I just knew Yule was a boy. I was sick day and night,” Momma said in a disgusted voice. “I couldn’t think about getting into a car without getting sick and feeling dizzy. I was so tired that I had dreams about naps.”

Yule, who looked a little embarrassed, laughed.

“I was perfectly fine in the car with both Noel and Natalie and morning sickness wasn’t all that awful so I concluded that they must be girls,” Momma smiled. “And they were.”

I smiled; Noel’s face screamed “What does car and morning sickness have to do with anything?”

“And this time I was very tired but able to function. I always feel queasy in the car especially if I’m driving, but I don’t always vomit nor do I always get dizzy. And surprisingly, morning sickness hasn’t really been a problem. I remember throwing up twice in November because of just feeling sick. So I thought there were two boys and one girl,” Momma said. “And until they’re born, I will remain at the finish line waiting for my prize.”

Abby laughed.

“And you Dad?” Abby asked.

“I’m never right,” Daddy mumbled.

“You thought they were all boys,” Momma said. “You only got one wrong.”

“But I was wrong about Abby,” Daddy said, “so that makes me 0 for 0.”

“You thought I was a boy?” Abby asked. Daddy gave a sheepish smile.

“Up until you were born we called you Larry,” Daddy said.

“You were going to name me Larry?” Abby asked outraged. “I hate that name! Zach wanted to consider Larry but I stopped him before he could utter the Y.”

“And now we know why,” Daddy said focusing on the road.

That made even Abby laugh.

“I thought you said you weren’t finding out,” Momma said looking back at Abby.

“We aren’t,” Abby said. “But we’re going out of our minds trying to think of baby names. We’ve decided if it’s a boy we’ll name him after Zach, but we can’t think of any girl names!”

“Speaking of baby names,” Jaci said, “what names have you picked out.”

I groaned. Back when I was sleeping with my parents, Momma would keep me up at all hours asking me about Christmas themed names.

“I like Holly,” Daddy said.

“Mistletoe,” Momma said stubbornly.

“Never,” Daddy said shaking his head no.

“How about Mary?” Jaci asked.

“I’m not naming my girl ‘bitter,’” Momma said.

“How bout Merry,” I said.

“Were you not listening?” Momma asked.

“Not M-A-R-Y, but M-E-R-R-Y. Merry. Happy,” I said.

“That’s a name to think about,” Daddy said nodding.

“Love!” Bella cried.

“That’s cute,” Momma nodded.

“Eve,” Noel mumbled.

“That’s an idea,” Momma said.

“Hey, there’s two boys in there. Let’s not spend all our time on girl names,” Yule spoke up. Momma and Daddy laughed.

“What do you suggest, mister?” I joked.

“Natalio,” Yule suggested.

“I don’t know. We already have Natalie and Natalia,” Daddy said.

“Then how bout Rudolf?” Yule joked.

“I like it,” Megan said.

“Um, no,” Daddy said.

“Christian?” I suggested.

“Cute,” Momma smiled.

“Emmanuel,” Jaci said.

“Nicholas, Nick, and Nikki,” Abby said.

“Why don’t we just name them Santa, Santalle, and Rudolf?” I joked.

Daddy and Yule howled. Momma giggled. Noel, Megan, and Bella didn’t get the joke. Jaci put her hand over her mouth. Abby was not amused.

“Larry,” She muttered.

I had a feeling that joke was going to come back to me.