Posted in Natalie

Natalie: Part 2- Marshmallow World Installment Twelve

**

When I awoke fresh snow was on the ground and snow was falling from the sky. The thunderstorm must have turned into snow in the middle of the night.

“It looks like today is going to be a good snow day,” Mr. Steve said at breakfast.

“Will you take us to The Hill?” Darcy asked putting Mr. Steve’s breakfast in front of him.

“I don’t know, Darcy. Do you think you’re knee will be all right?” Mr. Steve asked. “And what about Natalie’s broken foot?”

Darcy looked at me. His glance was a little hurtful but I kept eating my eggs.

“We’ll be fine,” Darcy said.

“But The Hill is rather steep,” Mr. Steve said.

“Me want to go in the snow! Me want to go in the snow!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

I turned to see Megan running into the restaurant with Momma not far behind.

“Not until you have eaten your breakfast,” Momma said sliding into the booth and holding her hand out for Megan.

“Ok, Mommy,” Megan said crawling into her lap.

“What can I get for you?” Darcy asked.

“Two orders of toast, bacon, and eggs,” Momma said. “Make on kids.” Darcy nodded and walked towards the kitchen.

“I want to go to The Hill,” I said.

“What’s The Hill?” Momma asked.

“It’s this steep hill that all the kids go to when it snows. Darcy wants me to take him and the rest,” Mr. Steve said.

“Me want to play in the snow!” Megan shouted.

“Look at me, honey,” Momma said. “I want to play in the snow.”

“Yes! Me too want to play in the snow,” Megan said. Momma shook her head and laughed.

“Are you sure you’ll be ok?” Mr. Steve asked me.

“How steep can it be?” I shrugged.

**

“Whoa.”

“I told you it was steep,” Mr. Steve said handing me a sled.

I stood for a minute looking down the hill but that was a mistake.

GET OUT OF THE WAY!

I turned around the find Darcy and his sled racing towards me. And for some reason I froze. The sled, Darcy, and I collided. Darcy pulled me up into the sled.

“I got you,” He said as we went down the hill but he was so focused on making sure I didn’t fall off that we ended up crashing. The sled went on as we flew through the air.

Darcy landed on top of me and I started laughing.

“You know I’ve never been sledding before,” I laughed. Darcy started to laugh too.

I stopped laughing because I was looking into his eyes. Then for a moment I forgot that I didn’t really like Darcy. He seemed to forget too.

Then (maybe I imagined it) Darcy started to lean towards me. The memories of being tripped (purposely or accidently) and how Emily Stewart stuck to him like glue flooded into my mind. I felt fear and coldness going through my body. His cold nose touched my cold nose.

“You call that sledding?”

Darcy got off of me and helped me up. Timmy had Darcy’s sled in his hand.

“I told her to get out of the way,” Darcy huffed.

“I’m sorry,” I snapped. “I froze!”

“No need to get defensive about it,” Darcy mumbled. I huffed.

“Timmy,” Darcy snarled.

“What!” Timmy snapped.

“Thanks for getting the sled,” Darcy said taking the sled and walking up The Hill. Emily ran past us running towads ugh whatever Darcy was to her.

“Hi, Natalie!” Megan screamed. She was coming down the hill in a sled with Mr. Steve and Jaci. Jaci was screaming and had her eyes closed. Mr. Steve was laughing.

“How do I stop this thing?!” Momma screamed as the sled holding her and Abby flew by the sled with Mr. Steve, Jaci, and Megan.

“Come on,” Timmy said taking my hand. “Grandpa has an extra sled in the back of the truck. I didn’t want to sled with Emily anyway.”

“Um um,” I said as Timmy pulled me up the hill.

“Where’s Emily?” Mrs. Stewart snapped.

“Sledding with Darcy,” Timmy said opening the truck of their car.

“Natalie, is your mother here?” Mrs. Stewart asked me.

“Yeah, she’s here. I believe she’s sledding with Abby. She may be at the bottom of The Hill by now,” I said.

“Thank you my dear. I have to find out if we’re still on for Sunday dinner tomorrow,” Mrs. Stewart said starting to walk down The Hill.

“You ready?” Timmy asked dropping the sled on the ground.

I didn’t know if I’d ever be ready to go down The Hill with Timmy Stewart.

“I um,” I started.

“Natalie, I’m harmless,” Timmy said. He held out his hand. I didn’t take it but I sat in the sled.

My heart pounded as the sled started to move. Why was I so scared to go down The Hill with Timmy Stewart?

“NATALIE BALDWIN!” Abby screamed as we past her. She dropped the sled in her hand and started sledding.

Her sled bumped our sled hard and all three of us crashed.

“What is this? Extreme Sledding?” Timmy cried outraged.

“Natalie, what are you doing sledding with Timmy Stewart?! I thought you were sledding with Darcy!” Abby shouted.

“I’m not sledding with anyone,” I mumbled.

“Natalie!” Megan shouted running to me.

“OW!” Timmy shouted as Megan ran over him. He was still sitting in the snow. Abby laughed. I snickered.

“You sledding with me!” Megan shouted grabbing my arm. I hobbled up The Hill with a two year old pulling me.

“There you are,” Jaci said. She gave Megan a hug.

“Natalie sledding with me,” Megan said.

“You, Natalie, and Daddy go ahead,” Jaci said. “I don’t think I’m sledding material.”

“Then we’ll just have to make you sledding material,” Abby said. Mr. Steve gave a little chuckle thinking it was a joke but I didn’t find it very funny.

“Ready girls?” Mr. Steve asked sitting in the sled. I got in and Megan followed.

“Faster! Faster!” Megan shouted as we went down The Hill really really fast.

“I’m going as fast as I can go, sweetie pie!” Mr. Steve shouted.

“Boo!” Megan screamed. “Me want to go faster! Faster!”

She didn’t stop screaming faster until we stopped.

“Again! Again!” Megan shouted. Mr. Steve laughed.

“Ok, again,” He said getting out of the sled.

As we walked up The Hill a sled with Jaci and Timmy came down.

“Hold me tighter! Tighter!” Jaci screamed.

“I’m not holding you tight enough?! I don’t even know how can breathe! Yes, I’m holding you that tight!” Timmy shouted.

“Tighter! Tighter!” Jaci screamed.

Mr. Steve laughed but something in his face told me that he was disturbed that Jaci was on a sled with Timmy and that Timmy was holding on to her tight.

“I want to go home!” Emily screamed.

“Emily Stewart! Get down on your knees and apologize for speaking to me that way!” Mrs. Stewart shouted.

Everyone at the top of The Hill stopped what they were doing. Emily dropped to her knees.

“I’m sorry, Grandma. Its rude to be disrespectful and I’m sorry if I embarrassed you,” Emily apologized.

“You may get up now,” Mrs. Stewart said. Emily got up and ran into their car.

“You coming this time, Natalie?” Mr. Steve asked sitting in the sled.

“I think I’ll wait for the one with Mom and Abby,” I said. Mr. Steve nodded and looked at Megan.

“Do you think it will go faster with only two persons?” Megan asked. Mr. Steve laughed.

“Let’s see,” Mr. Steve said as she got in the sled.

“Faster! Faster!” Megan screamed as the sled went down.

“Hey.”

“Timmy,” I started as I turned around. But it wasn’t Timmy. It was Darcy.

“What do you want?” I asked.

“Sorry for being a little rude after we crashed. I just can’t stand Timmy Stewart,” Darcy said.

“Well you seem to stomach his sister pretty well,” I said. Darcy rolled his eyes.

“She has her moments,” Darcy sighed. “Emily doesn’t want to sled with me and Regina is sledding with her brothers so do you want to sled with me?”

I saw my mother walking up The Hill with Abby. Momma looked worn out. She probably wouldn’t sled for a little while but Abby probably would.

“If you rather sled with your mom,” Darcy said catching my gaze. “I understand.”

“She looks tired,” I said. “I’ll sled with her later.”

I let Darcy take my hand and hold onto me as we sled down The Hill.

“You know that Christmas song Marshmallow World?” Darcy asked as we walked up The Hill after our fourth time going down it.

I wanted to say “Duh.” or “Of course.” But instead I said, “Yeah.”

“It’s days like this where I truly believe I’m trapped in a Marshmallow World. So what if spring is late? I can’t think of anything better than sledding on a cold winter day and having a snowball fight with my friends,” Darcy said.

“Darcy, are we friends?” I blurted.

“I’m walking with you aren’t I?” Darcy asked. When he said this his cheeks got pink.

You see in the song Marshmallow World there’s a part about taking a walk with your favorite girl.

“Race you to the top!” I screamed running up The Hill. Darcy quickly followed.

**

My whole body ached but I didn’t care. Today was one of the best days of my life. I actually had fun with Darcy. Nelson, Regina, Megan, Abby, Jaci, and I had a massive snowball fight when we got back from sledding.

“I hate sledding but I had so much fun,” Jaci said as she sipped on hot chocolate.

“I know,” I sighed. “I wish my life could be as sweet as this day was even thou I got knocked down.”

Jaci laughed. Megan ran into the room with a sippy cup full of hot chocolate and snuggled in her lap.

I sighed and barely uttered this short prayer, “God, all I want is for my life to go back to being sweet.”

Posted in Natalie

Natalie: Part 2- Marshmallow World Installment Two

I sat there speechless. What did she mean it was no accident? How could a car accident not be well not an accident?

“What do you mean?” I asked slowly. Momma didn’t answer me.

“How can you just tell me my father’s death wasn’t an accident and then not tell me anymore?” I asked a couple minutes later outraged.

“I’m sorry, Natalie,” Momma said getting up. She turned back and looked at me.

“I truly am sorry.”

And with that, she walked out the room.

**

When I woke up it was a new year. They had kept me over night as a ‘precaution’ which might have been a good idea since I almost had a panic attack just thinking about what my mother had told me.

“Morning Natalie. I would say good but by the look on your face it doesn’t seem to be going too well,” The doctor (whose name was Dr. Charles Walters) said.

He had that right.

“You’re still a little unstable I assume but I think you could go home later this afternoon,” Dr. Walters said.

“Why do you have to keep me here?” I asked.

“Because I want to make sure this doesn’t become a habit with you,” Dr. Walters said. He looked at my foot.

“Trust me. I don’t want to end up in the hospital every few weeks,” I huffed.

“Good,” Dr. Walters said walking out the door.

“WHERE’S NATALIE BALDWIN?!!!!”

I quickly sat up recognizing the voice. Regina ran into my room.

“New Year’s Eve was torture! Torture I tell you!” Regina cried.

“Why?” I asked. Then I saw why. Darcy, Nelson, Timmy, and Emily (who was still wearing cupcake pajamas) walked into the room.

“I thought you were Clumsy not Panicky,” Emily laughed.

“A panic attack is no laughing matter,” Darcy said putting his hands in his pockets.

“Why are you wearing cupcake pajamas?” I asked trying not to laugh.

“Grandpa has three flat tires,” Timmy mumbled.

“And they couldn’t leave cause the only tow truck in Florida was closed and Grandpa doesn’t trust no Monroe people,” Emily said. Timmy kicked her.

“That’s not why. It was so late that nobody in Berkshire County was open,” Timmy said.

“What are you doing here?” I asked. “And that doesn’t answer the pajama question.”

“Grandpa is off getting our tires fixed and I was forced to come along,” Emily said rolling her eyes.

“And you didn’t have time to change?” I asked. Emily rolled her eyes.

“Mrs. Walters has my clothes,” Emily said walking out the room.

“So what happened?’ Regina asked sitting at the foot of my bed.

I wondered if I should tell them what happened. I thought against it.

A nurse walked into my room with a big needle in her hand.

“Whoa. What are you doing with that thing?” I asked.

“It says here that you need a flu shot,” The nurse said.

“What? Where’s my mother?” I asked.

“I’ll go find her,” Nelson said walking out the door. Darcy followed.

Regina stared at the nurse with cold eyes.

“I never get a flu shot ma’am. I’m here because of a panic attack,” I said.

“Miss Baldwin, I’m just trying to follow orders. Dr. Walters wrote to give you an influenza shot and I’m gonna give it to you,” The nurse said.

“MRS.BALDWIN!” Regina screamed running out the room.

“Get away from me,” I barked at the nurse as she put the needle in my arm.

Everything instantly went hazy.

“Daddy?” I asked before I everything went black.

**

“Stop!” I screamed sitting up. I was in a different hospital room. I tried to breathe. Why would I be in a DIFFERENT hospital room? Oh, yeah. That crazy nurse who tried to give me a flu shot.

“Natalie, you’re up. They thought you were going to sleep the New Year away,” Momma said. I knew she was trying to joke but there was no sparkle in her eyes.

“What happened?” I asked.

“A nurse at the other hospital mixed up flu shot with a huge douse of sleeping medicine. They airlifted you to Pittsfield to make sure it wouldn’t over power your system,” Momma said.

“I’ve always wanted to ride in a helicopter,” I said.

“You must still be sleepy,” Momma said getting up. She walked towards the door but Ms. Donna walked into the room.

“I hate to add to your troubles, Riley, but,” Ms. Donna started. She pulled my tin from behind her back and showed that the tin was empty.

All the money I’ve ever had. Gone.

Posted in Natalie

Natalie:Part 1-Christmas Dreams Installment Six

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“No.”

“Did you make markers?”

“No.”

“So, you’re lost?”

“I wouldn’t say lost.”

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

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

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

“NATALIE! EMILY!”

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

**

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

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

“What happened?” I asked.

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

“Hero?” I asked.

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

I was surprised Emily didn’t take the credit.

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

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

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

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

I sighed.

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

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

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

“Never mind,” I said.

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

“Not that I can think of,” I said.

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

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

“Why God?” I asked and then I cried.

**

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

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

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

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

“Hi Timmy,” I smiled.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted in Natalie

Natalie:Part 1-Christmas Dreams Installment Five

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“The perfume,” I said.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“What’s in the bag?” Momma asked.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

An hour later there was another knock on the door.

“Carlson clan!” Ms. Donna shouted.

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

“Come in,” Ms. Donna said.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“No,” I said. “Why?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

“They went hunting today,” I said.

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

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

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

“I want to go too,” Darcy said.

“I also want to go,” I said.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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