Posted in Natalie

Natalie: Part 3- Heaven Everywhere Installment Twelve

**

The bus from North Adams to Virginia took about ten hours. I tried to take a nap, but all I could think about was that I was moving to New York in less than a month. Mr. Steve kept his distance even though I knew Momma was trying her hardest for him to get closer to me. I personally thought some distance between us was a good thing.

Ms. O’Donnell had gone down to Virginia a week early so she could get everything put together. I wondered how the people down there were putting up with her.

Once word got out that the ‘world’ famous Jessie-Maria Sean would be performing at the Christmas in July show tickets were sold faster than you could count to ten.

“Jessie-Maria, you are an angel!” Is what Aunt Jane said when she found out how much money we had already made.

“Natalie?” Virginia asked as we got closer to her hometown.

“Yeah?” I asked.

“You’re the best friend a girl could ever ask for. Thank you for everything. You’ve done a lot to help out my family and neighbors. I’m going to miss you more than you could ever imagine,” Virginia said with tears in her eyes.

“You’re an awesome friend too,” I said trying not to cry. I had done a lot of crying lately.

“When are you leaving?” Virginia asked.

“Mr. Steve hasn’t gotten the exact date from his job yet,” I said.

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose,” Virginia said quoting Romans 8:28. “Pretty hard to believe, huh?”

She could say that again.

**

It was almost nine-thirty P.M. The day had been hectic. The show had just finished, and thankfully nothing major had gone wrong. I hadn’t been able to go on the rides or spend any time with Darcy, but it was ok. I was helping the victims of the fire and that’s what I came here to do.

“You look tired,” Darcy said to me.

He had no idea how tired.

“You were great,” Darcy said.

“Thanks,” I said. “It was tiring and hard, but we’ve made a lot of money and its really going to help the victims.”

“I used most of my coins,” Darcy said sheepishly.

“Oh and you want mine?” I asked digging into my pocket. “Here, I haven’t used a single one.”

“Keep your coins,” Darcy said. “I was wondering if you’d take me on one of the rides or something since we didn’t get to spend the day together.”

“Sure,” I said. “But I want to go in the photo both first.”

“Sure,” Darcy shrugged.

There wasn’t a line at the photo both and I didn’t expect there to be. I just wanted one last picture. One final memory.

“Say ‘Christmas’!” I shouted.

“Christmas!” Darcy and I shouted.

The pictures we took were totally goofy, but they were special (at least to me. I have no clue to this day what Darcy did with our pictures). Every time I looked at those photos I couldn’t help but smile. For three minutes I forgot about not being able to go to sleep at night, I forgot about waking up in strange places, I forgot about Mr. Steve, I even forgot about moving to New York! For three minutes it was just about Darcy, me, and making silly faces.

**

“Call 911!”

It was thirty minutes later and after going on the Ferris wheel, bumper cars, and watching Darcy win me a bear I was more tired than I ever thought I’d been. The time I had found myself outside was the only time I had gone to sleep in two weeks.

“What’s wrong?” Darcy asked. I shrugged.

We walked towards to the scream, and found Mr. Rivers running around like an idiot and Mrs. Rivers screaming for someone to call 911.

“Calm down, Joan,” Momma coaxed. “The pain is natural.”

Mrs. Rivers breathed.

“I..I..I..can’t find my car keys,” Mr. Rivers said with his car keys behind his ears.

“Um, Dad,” Jessie-Maria said. “They’re behind your ears.”

Mr. Rivers looked at Jessie-Maria with pure amazement.

“Behind your ears!” Jessie-Maria shouted just in case he couldn’t hear her.

“Oh, yeah,” Mr. Rivers said taking the keys from behind his ears. “Where’s the bag?”

“Forget the bag! Get me to a hospital!” Mrs. Rivers cried.

“Here,” Jessie-Maria said handing me a box. “Can you, Virginia, and Darcy count the names and see which one is the winner? I have a feeling we’re gonna need the names real soon!”

It took us two hours to count up all the names. When we were finished I could barely keep my eyes open but sleep just wasn’t coming.

“Let’s see,” Virginia said looking at the sheet of paper. “Addison and Austin won for a boy and a girl, James and John won for two boys, and Faith and Hope if it’s two girls.”

“I wonder if Mrs. Rivers has had the twins yet,” I wondered out loud.

“I remember when my mom went into labor with Caroline. It took eighteen hours,” Virginia groaned.

“Have you figured out the names yet?” Momma asked walking where we were sitting.

“Yeah,” I said rubbing my eyes.

“Good, because Mr. Rivers just called and asked what names he should put on the birth certificates,” Momma smiled.

**

“Addison and Austin,” Jessie-Maria cooed. We were back in Florida and this was our first real chance to see the twins.

“I guess it’s good to have a boy and a girl,” Virginia said. “Even though I think it would be cool to have an identical twin.”

“I think it would be cool to have any kind of twin,” I said. Virginia nodded.

“Get ready for nonstop crying,” Virginia said to Jessie-Maria.

“I’m going to help Mom and Dad out,” Jessie-Maria said. “Dad already owns me three diaper changes.”

We burst out laughing.

“Can..I..,” Emily started. “Hold a baby?”

“Sure,” Mrs. Rivers smiled. She showed Emily how to hold a baby and then put Austin in her arms.

“I’ve always wanted to be a big sister,” Emily said with tears in her voice. “Maybe it’s because I’m good at bossing people around.”

Mrs. Rivers gave Emily a sad smile.

I never thought that Emily would want to be an older sister. She was more of the baby type if you asked me.

“You can have Megan if you want,” I joked.

That put a smile on her face, and Megan gave me a dirty look. She was smart for two.

Posted in Natalie

Natalie: Part 3-Heaven Everywhere Installment Three

**

The alarm went off and, I groaned. I looked at the clock. I had only gotten three hours of sleep.

“Is it time already?” Abby whined walking down the steps.

“Rise and shine! It’s Easter Sunday!” Momma shouted walking down the steps. “Sunrise Service is at five-thirty!”

“Do we have to go?” I groaned getting up off the couch.

“Yep,” Momma said. “You’re in the Easter show you have to go.”

I sighed.

“Who’s ready for church?” Jaci asked walking down the steps fully dressed.

“How can you be so alert after three hours of sleep?” I asked slowly taking my suitcase from under the couch.

“I didn’t go to sleep,” Jaci said. “I figured I’d get some sleep on the flight to England after church.”

“Still aren’t you tired?” I asked taking out my Easter dress.

“Nope, I had what do you call it……coffee! Yeah, I had two cups of coffee,” Jaci said.

“Can I have a cup of coffee?” I asked.

“Sure,” Momma shrugged. “I’ll make you a cup. Now go change!”

I changed into my dress and walked into the restaurant.

“Here,” Momma said handing me a cup of coffee.

“Yuck!” I screamed after I swallowed some coffee. I took another sip.

“Why are you still drinking?” Abby asked laughing.

“Cause I need to stay awake,” I said.

“Here,” Momma said pulling a Coke out of the fridge. “Now, I want you to understand this is a special and isolated event. I just don’t want you falling asleep during church. Do you understand?”

“Yes,” I said taking the Coke and putting the coffee down.

“Now come on,” Jaci shouted picking up her purse. “Or we’ll be late for church.”

**

“You did a wonderful job, Sean.”

Sean smiled at Momma.

“I didn’t know you could sing,” Aunt Jane said to her.

“We didn’t know either,” Mrs. Rivers laughed. She gave Sean a squeeze.

“Our girl is full of surprises,” Mr. Rivers smiled. “Just last week she cooked breakfast for our Anniversary.”

Sean looked at him and then turned away. She had tears in her eyes.

“You did good too, Natalie,” Aunt Jane said. I laughed.

“All I did was sing along in the choir,” I said.

“Being in the choir is important too,” Sean spoke up.

“Thanks,” I smiled.

“We better get moving,” Momma said looking at her watch. “Our plane leaves in three hours.”

“We’ll be praying for ya’ll!” Aunt Jane screamed running towards her car. Virginia, her brother, and her sister tried to catch up with her.

“See you when you return,” Mrs. Rivers smiled. “Hope you have a wonderful time.”

“Thanks!” Momma shouted. “See you next Monday!”

“See you!” The Rivers shouted.

**

“I planned to give you this last night but we stayed so long at the reception that by the time we got home I was too exhausted to walk up the stairs,” Momma said handing me two envelopes. “It doesn’t matter really which one you open first.”

I nodded and got into the car. We were about to drive to the airport.

“We ready?” Mr. Steve asked.

I nodded and got into the car.

“See you when you get back!” Regina, Ms. Donna, Nelson, and Darcy shouted waving.

“Bye!” I cried sticking my head out of the window. I blew kisses.

“Natalie!” Mr. Steve shouted. I put my head back in the car and huffed.

I opened one of the letters and nearly cried when I was finished reading it.

  Dear Natalie,

  Natalie, I want to start off this letter by telling you that I love you. When you’re finished with this letter, you might find that hard to believe, but believe me, Natalie, I love you more than you will ever know.

  Life is about to change for you. Your mother has just gotten married and you’re probably not the happiest person in the world about it. Now don’t go mopping around. I want you to be happy for her. I’ve already said that but it’s so important that I must repeat it.

  I want you to call your new stepfather ‘Dad’. Now I know this may seem impossible and I’ll tell you what. I’ll let you do it on your own time. But you must do it someday. Please respect my wishes.

Love,

Your Father

No. Never. Not today. Not tomorrow. Not even next year. No, I will never call Mr. Steve anything close to father or dad.

I didn’t want to open the next envelope out of fear but I did open it. My fingers were trembling and Jaci looked at me.

“Are you ok?” She asked.

“I’m fine,” I said taking two pieces of paper out of the envelope.

One of the pieces of paper was an old looking treasure map. The other was another letter from my father.

  Dear Natalie,

  So you’re going to England. One of my favorite things to do was too look for heaven everywhere and in everybody. Ok, I know that sound strange but it really is fun. What you do is you look for the good wherever you go and in everybody you meet. Some days I would just look into the persons eyes and sense that they had potential. I would walk up to them and the in a few hours I would know everything about them and them everything about me. It’s really amazing how God works.

  I tell you the truth, Natalie. I truly believe that there is a little bit of heaven everywhere. So look around every corner. Look into everybody’s eyes and what you will find will amaze you. Don’t judge a book by its cover. Even the worst looking place/person can be transformed. I should know. While you’re in England I want you to do two things. First I want you to go to that place on that map. It used to be a dump. It’s not that far from my house so you can imagine the joy we felt when that dump was closed. I cleaned it up in my teen years. It’s beautiful now. I also want you to find Rhys Smith. Don’t worry. Your grandparents will know where he is and who he is.

Love,

Your Father

At the time I had no clue what finding Heaven everywhere meant. Now, I know what he meant and boy was he ever right.

Posted in Natalie

Natalie: Part 3- Heaven Everywhere Installment Two

“What am I supposed to do?” I asked.

“I’ll talk to her,” Grandma Shirley spoke up.

“NO!” Everyone in the room shouted.

“Ugh, when I try to help everybody tells me not to,” Grandma Shirley mumbled sitting down.

“Please,” Grandma Baldwin pleaded. I nodded and walked to the bridal chambers.

“Momma, are you all right?” I asked.

“Alexander?” Momma groaned. “They’re out to get me! I just can’t marry Steve! I just can’t!”

“Momma, it’s me, Natalie,” I said. “Who’s out to get you?”

“HIM!” Momma cried.

“Who is HIM!?” I asked.

“Alexander, you know how HIM is!” Momma cried.

I sighed.

Grandma Shirley stormed into the bridal chambers.

“I’ve had enough of you!” Grandma Shirley screamed. “You can never make up your mind! The entire wedding is being stalled because you’re sitting in here crying about your dead husband. He’s DEAD! Get over it!”

I was about to say something when Momma snapped.

“I’ve heard enough out of you!” Momma screamed. She picked up her dress and walked out the door.

“Look what you’ve done!” I cried running after her.

“Well I never!” Grandma Shirley snorted as I slammed the door. I ran into the dressing chambers to find Aunt Clarisse putting on Momma’s veil.

“I don’t know what you said to her but whatever it is you said. It worked,” Grandma Baldwin whispered in my ear.

“Still can’t find my other contact lenses! A little help here!” Mrs. Stewart shouted. I bent down and helped her look.

“I’ll go get Mr. Walters,” Mrs. Rivers said walking towards the door. “Found it!”

I got up off the floor and walked towards the chapel.

The chapel Momma and Mr. Steve chose to get married in was small but the view from it was amazing. It was along the Mohawk Trail and from this point you could see the Berkshire Mountains.

“Here are your flowers,” Abby said handing them to me.

“Thanks,” I said. “Are you nervous?”

“Not too much,” Abby said. “I’m afraid I’m going to trip.”

“You’ve got flats on,” I said. “Me on the other hand. I have heels on. I’m the one who might trip.”

Abby laughed.

“Cue the music!” Mrs. Rivers whispered excitedly.

I sighed and prepared for my life to change.

**

I was swaying. I opened my eyes and found myself in the reception hall. It had to be almost midnight now. Most of the people had gone home already, but a few had were still at the reception hall.

The Christmas song was playing. It wasn’t one of those fast verisons but a slow one. One that you could sway to.

I was in Darcy’s arms. His eyes were closed and he had a smile on his lips. I looked around the room. The Rivers’ were still here and Sean was asleep in Mr. Rivers lap. I smiled.

Momma and Mrs. Rivers were chatting away like they had all the time in the world. Grandma Shirley sat in a corner along with my two uncles. They were fighting over a Sudoku answer.

Abby and Zach were the only two other people on the dance floor. They looked like they were asleep also. They both were smiling sweet soft smiles.

Jaci was asleep on Timmy’s shoulder. Timmy was stuffing food into his mouth.

Megan was sleeping on Mr. Steve’s lap. She had a smile on her lips and you just couldn’t help but wonder what she was dreaming about.

Mr. Steve and Mr. Rivers were talking. Both of them were stroking the hair of the girl in their laps.

Emily was sitting in a chair looking in pain. Nelson was feeding her chocolate cake. I couldn’t help but giggle.

Virginia and Leo were playing some game on the table. It looked like they were throwing grapes at each other.

Regina sat stone-faced next to Andrew, Virginia’s older brother. Andrew looked bored and disinterested. Occasionally, he would look over at Aunt Jane, who was talking to Mrs. Stewart, with desperate eyes begging to go.

Virginia’s little sister Rachel was singing along with the Christmas Song with all her heart. She was holding her baby sister Caroline in her arms.

As I said, Aunt Jane and Mrs. Stewart were talking. Aunt Jane’s eyes told me that she was surprised she was having a conversation with Mrs. Stewart and actually enjoying it. Mrs. Stewart’s eyes told me that she was hoping she had made a new friend.

Mr. Stewart refused to come to the wedding and the Stewarts’ invitation didn’t have his name on it anyway. Momma refused to include him even though Ms. Donna and Mr. Steve pleaded with her to. Momma said the wedding was off if she had to invite Mr. Stewart. Frankly, I wasn’t mad about. I don’t like Mr. Stewart.

Grandma and Grandpa Baldwin were looking at me. They were grinning from ear to ear. When I looked at her, Grandma Baldwin gave me a quick wink. I smiled back.

My mind went back to swaying in Darcy’s arms. Strangely, I didn’t want to let go. I felt safe here in his arms. Wow, I can’t believe I actually wanted to be around Darcy Edwards. What a couple months can do…………

I wanted to stay here forever. I didn’t want to have to face the world again. If I could stay right here in Darcy’s arms surrounded by all these people I loved and cared about nothing could make me feel better.

And for some reason, I felt like this was heaven.

Posted in Natalie

Natalie: Part 2- Marshmallow World Installment Twenty-Eight

**

“I swear I didn’t push her!”

“I saw you!”

“I saw you too!”

“I’m telling you. Mrs. Baldwin was running away from the house looking upset about something. I tried to talk to her but she just backed away from me. She tripped and fell into the road!”

Aunt Clarisse looked at Mr. Stewart with cold eyes. It was less than an hour after my mother had been hit by the car. Thankfully, she wasn’t injured badly. She’s got bruises and broke one of her ribs and has made everyone promise not to change the wedding date.

Aunt Clarisse and I were at the police station telling the Chief what had happened. He looked nervous about something and a second later I knew why.

“Look, ladies,” The Chief said sighing. “You weren’t exactly close enough to really see what Mr. Stewart was doing.

“What are you trying to say?” Aunt Clarisse asked with anger lurking in her voice.

“I’m not going to charge Mr. Stewart with anything,” The Chief said. Aunt Clarisse blew (well almost).

“One day you’re going to be sorry about this,” Aunt Clarisse said in the calmest tone she could manage to get out (wasn’t very calm). “One day somebody is going to end up seriously hurt and you’re going to look back on this moment and cry.”

Aunt Clarisse walked out the door but not before tears ran down her eyes. I stood in the room not sure what to say.

“See you at the wedding,” I said stupidly. Then I added, “Or not.”

I walked out the office to find Mr. Steve and Darcy outside by Mr. Steve’s car. Aunt Clarisse was talking to Mr. Steve. She was telling him with such passion about how the Chief was so stupid to realize that Mr. Stewart was clearly crazy and that the Chief was blinded by his belief that a Florida native wouldn’t just push someone for no reason.

Mr. Steve didn’t seem surprised or shocked by the fact that Mr. Stewart hadn’t even been charged with anything. Aunt Clarisse screamed at him asking him how he could be so calm. She also ordered him in not so nice words to get his butt in there and talk to the Chief.

“The law doesn’t affect a Stewart,” Mr. Steve said finally. “For such a minor offense as this it doesn’t surprise me that Mr. Stewart was able to get away with. If Mr. Stewart had pushed Riley and killed her that would be a different story. The Chief is afraid of Mr. Stewart’s power in the Berkshire County area and his money but the Chief’s got a conscience and heart. He arrested Gavin all those years ago and, he would do it again even though he and his family had to go into hiding when they got threats from both Stewart sides.”

“But he has no reason to push her,” Aunt Clarisse yelled.

“Well, um, I don’t know about that Clarisse. You remember the ‘stuff’ that happened. I’m not saying his reason is good but a Stewart doesn’t try to hurt somebody without at least the filmiest of a reason,” Mr. Steve said.

Aunt Clarisse didn’t talk out of shock. There was something I didn’t know, and to tell you the truth. I really didn’t WANT to know.

**

“Papa!”

“Riley!”

“How’s my girl?” Grandpa Jack asked Momma.

“A nervous wreck,” Momma sighed.

“And this must be your daughter,” Grandpa Jack said looking at me.

“Yes,” I smiled.

“Let me see,” Grandpa Jack said picking me up. “You’re about hundred and some pounds.”

“Jack, put her down! You could hurt yourself!” Grandma Shirley snapped. Grandpa Jack put me down.

Mrs. Stewart walked through the restaurant door with Momma’s dress in a black bag.

“I was able to fix the dress,” Mrs. Stewart said. “It took me all night but I fixed it.”

When Momma was run over by the car, her dress was torn a little bit. Jaci stayed at the Stewarts’ all night so that she could help Mrs. Stewart fix it.

“Papa Jack, I think we better leave,” Mr. Steve said walking up.

“DON’T LOOK AT THE BAG!” Mrs. Stewart screamed. Mr. Steve was taken aback.

“Get out of here boys,” Mrs. Rivers said walking through the door with Sean. “It’s the big night before the wedding and we girls are having a sleepover bridal shower. My house is just down the road. Get!”

“See you in the morning,” Mr. Steve sighed. He gave Momma a kiss and for once it didn’t make me want to puke.

“I can’t believe tomorrow is the wedding,” Abby squealed as the men walked out the house.

“Move it, Darcy!” Mrs. Rivers hollered.

“Why do I have to leave?” Darcy asked standing in the doorway.

“GET!” Ms. Donna, Mrs. Rivers, Aunt Jane, and Momma shouted.

“All right. All right,” Darcy said putting his hands up. “See you in the morning, Natalie.”

“There,” Mrs. Rivers said closing the restaurant door. “Let’s get this party started!”

**

“No. No way,” I said crossing my arms.

“It’s perfectly sterilize,” Sean said with her mouse like voice.

“No, I am not getting my ears pierced,” I said.

“Come on, Natalie,” Regina said. “You’re the only one doesn’t have your ears pierced.”

“No,” I said shaking my head. I glanced over at my mother who was sitting in the ‘Guest of Honor’ chair. She looked like she wanted to laugh.

“I have an idea,” Virginia said in a sneaky voice. “Let’s see what Darcy thinks.”

“WHAT!” I screamed as Virginia picked up the phone. She put it on speaker.

“Hello?” Mr. Rivers’ voice asked.

“Can we please speak to Darcy?” Virginia asked sweetly.

“DARCY!”

“Hello?” Darcy’s voice asked.

“Darcy, do you think Natalie would look nice with earrings?” Virginia asked.

“NO!” I shouted. That proved to be a mistake, because I could hear him laughing.

“Sure, why not?” Darcy said.

“You traitor!” I screamed. “You’re going to pay for this!”

Abby picked me up and put me in a chair. She put her hands on my shoulders. Darcy walked through the front door and burst out laughing.

I grinded my teeth at him.

“Ow, you’re braces are hurting my eyes,” Darcy said walking closer to me.

“If you don’t tell them not to poke holes in my ears, that’s not all that’s going to be hurting,” I said. Everybody laughed.

Darcy offered his hand and I squeezed it with everything that I had in me.

“There,” Sean said after she was done.

I frowned in the mirror. My earrings were the same color blue that my braces were. I was really starting to hate this color blue.

“You look very nice,” Darcy said tugging my ear.

“Ow!” I shouted. I slapped him.

The room howled.

“This reminds me so much of how you and Steve acted when you were younger,” Aunt Clarisse said to Momma. “Steve was always doing something to make you mad and you’d slap him. But he kept trying to get your attention and it worked. You went with him to Homecoming.”

Momma sighed.

“Those were the days,” Momma said looking into space.

I noticed then that Darcy had walked out the door. I’d have a talk with him later.

“Now that that’s out of the way,” Grandma Baldwin said smiling. “Let’s open presents.”

Grandma Baldwin handed Momma an envelope. Momma opened it.

“I thought since Spring Break starts on Monday and since you and Steve weren’t having a Honeymoon. Mr. Baldwin and I thought that it would be perfect,” Grandma Baldwin said.

“What is it?” I asked looking over her shoulders.

“It’s a weeklong stay in England,” Momma said showing the postcard to the ladies. They oooed and awed.

Soon wrapping paper (Christmas of course) and boxes were all over the floor. Aunt Clarisse was telling stories about Momma and Mr. Steve, and Momma was ‘correcting’ her. Grandma Shirley for once said nice things instead of well whatever she says.

I was sitting on the couch laughing with, Regina, Jaci, Virginia, Emily, and Sean. Everybody was smiling around me. I felt like I’d known these women all my life instead of five months.

For some reason I thought about a prayer I had prayed plenty of times since I got here.

God, all I want is for my life to go back to being sweet.

That’s changed now.

God, all I want is for my life to stay being sweet.

THE END

 

Posted in Gifted

Gifted: Chapter 2 Installment One

Chapter 2

I hate waiting rooms especially if it’s in a hospital.

I hate hospitals. It smells too clean to me. I believe that germs make the air smell good. When I told Mr. Jenkins (he’s a doctor) that he called the state and told them that they gave him a crazy child.

But Mrs. Rivers had an appointment today. Turns out Mrs. Rivers is having a baby. Why they took me in amazes me. The day Mrs. Young announced she was having a baby they called Mr. Bill.

I’d been with the Rivers’ for two weeks now. They were nice and all but Mrs. Rivers and I didn’t talk much and it was just us in the house during the day but things might be looking up. I’m going to be a bridesmaid in a local wedding.

“Jessie-Maria?” Mr. Rivers asks walking out the door.

“The air smells germless,” I blurt. I felt my cheeks blush. Why did I have to say a stupid think like that? Mr. Rivers just chuckled.

“Come on,” Mr. Rivers says. “We got a surprise for you.”

“What kind of surprise?” I ask following Mr. Rivers down the hall. Mr. Rivers didn’t say anything. He just opened a door to where Mrs. Rivers was sitting down. She smiled at me.

“Mr. Rivers said something about a surprise,” I say walking in. Mrs. Rivers nodded her head.

“Honey,” Mrs. Rivers says reaching out for me to hug her. I walked over to her and let her squeeze me.

“I’m having twins,” Mrs. Rivers smiles. I frown.

“What’s wrong?” Mr. Rivers asks. I don’t know why but I go fly out the door and ran outside.

“JESSIE-MARIA!” Mr. Rivers calls. I turn around.

“Are you ok, honey?” Mr. Rivers asks me. He takes my hand and gets down to my height.

“I guess I’ll be leaving ya’ll soon,” I say. Yes, I know that ‘ya’ll’ is not a word but I’ve spent a considerable time in the South.

“Do you not like it here?” Mr. Rivers asks.

“No. You and Mrs. Rivers are really nice and I like being back in Massachusetts and I expected to stay here at least until the baby came but now that you’re having twins I guess I’ll be leaving after Mrs. Baldwin’s wedding,” I sigh.

“Jessie-Maria,” Mr. Rivers sighs. “I know that you’ve lived in quite a few foster families and that you’ve probably had something similar happen to you but Joan and I like you and if it’s all right with you, we’d like for you to stay.”

“Under one condition,” I say.

“What is it?” Mr. Rivers asks.

“That you stop calling me Jessie-Maria and call me Sean. Everybody else does. Even your wife sometimes calls me that,” I said. Mr. Rivers smiled.

“Deal,” Mr. Rivers smiles.

*

“Aren’t these cute?” Mrs. Rivers asks.

I nod. We’re baby shopping. We’re also shopping for me but Mrs. Rivers made a beeline for the baby clothes the minute we walked into the store.

“Are you having two girls, two boys, or a boy and a girl?” I ask.

“Tom and I want to be surprised,” Mrs. Rivers says.

“I like surprises,” I blurt. Mrs. Rivers smiles.

“So do I,” Mrs. Rivers says. “For now we’re looking at things in yellow and green.” I nod.

“What do you want?” I ask.

“In regards to what, honey?” Mrs. Rivers asks.

“Do you want two girls, two boys, or one of each?” I ask. “Oh and do you want them to be identical.”

“I’m not too crazy about identical twins, but I’ll take whatever the Lord gives me,” Mrs. Rivers said. “We can go baby shopping in a minute. You need a new dress. One that covers your knees.”

Right now I’m wearing one of Mrs. Rivers’ old pants. They’re too big for me and this belt I’m wearing is killing me.

“This one looks my size,” I say picking up a black and white dress.

“Go try it on,” Mrs. Rivers says taking a pink one off the rack.

“I’m pretty sure it’s my size,” I say. Mrs. Rivers hands me the pink dress and walks away. I walk towards the dressing room.

I hate dressing rooms. With all those mirrors around the scorn you. I haven’t been in one for over a year. I walk into the dressing room and the lady gives me a number two.

There’s only one left. The big one with all the mirrors around.

“Go on,” The woman says. I walk into the dressing room and tears stream down my face. I slowly undress.

My scares laugh and mock at me. My tears flow down like a river.

“Sean, are you ok?” Mrs. Rivers asks through the door. I guess I’m crying loud now. I put my shirt back on and walk out the dressing room.

“I can’t do it! I just can’t do it!” I cry. I run to the baby section and cry as if I was a baby.

 

Posted in Natalie

Natalie: Part 2- Marshmallow World Installment Twenty-Three

**

I hate going to the dentist.

Dr. Walters was concerned about my teeth since Scurvy does something. I can’t remember. I was too dazed thinking about how bad this trip to the dentist was going to be.

I turns out Mr. Rivers is a dentist/orthodontist

“Braces,” Mr. Rivers said after the checkup.

“Braces,” I repeated.

“The Scurvy disfigured the inside of your mouth plus you already had an overbite,” Mr. Rivers said. “Look in the mirror, Natalie.”

Ok. My teeth did look bad but there was no way I was letting them put braces on my teeth.

“If it makes you feel any better I’m one of those cool dentist. I believe that you can eat popcorn every once and awhile. I let my patients chew sugar free chewing gum because it helps relieve the soreness that comes with braces,” Mr. Rivers said. “You won’t have to wear them for more than five years I promise.”

“I’ll be going to college in five years,” I said. Mr. Rivers laughed.

“You’ll probably have them off before you go to high school,” Mr. Rivers said. “That is if you take proper care of your teeth and braces.”

I sighed.

“Pick a color,” Mr. Rivers said pulling out a wheel.

**

“The more you do that the sorer your mouth is going to be,” Momma said. I was looking inside my mouth to see how my new blue braces looked.

“I look like a freak,” I huffed.

“A very cute freak,” Darcy said. I looked at him.

“Wrong thing to say wasn’t it?” Darcy asked. I shook my head yes.

Timmy and Emily walked through the restaurant doors.

“Nobody understands me!” I cried sitting in a booth.

Timmy walked up to me and plopped his retainer out of his mouth.

“Um, Timmy,” Jaci said looking absolutely disgusted.

“It’s a retainer. It helps keep my teeth in place. I had braces,” Timmy said showing Jaci the retainer.

“That’s quite all right,” Jaci said. “Can you please put that back in your mouth?”

Timmy put his retainer back in his mouth. No one spoke for a second.

Then, Abby started to snicker then the entire restaurant started to laugh.

“Jaci,” Timmy said when the laughter died down. “Emily has some questions and well……..”

“I was looking at this Sunday school lesson that Timmy was doing. It said something about this dude named John?” Emily started.

I saw Timmy walk over to Mr. Steve and they walked out of the room.

“The Gospel of John?” Jaci asked.

“Huh? Whatever. Anyway,” Emily started. “It was talking about this guy named Jesus who died for these people that were trying to killing him? Why would he die for these ungrateful and selfish people?” Emily asked.

“Emily Stewart, its love.” Jaci answered.

“Love?” Emily asked. “He must have some pretty strong love for those people.”

“Emily, he made those people,” Jaci said.

“Why in the world would he create people who would betray him? Why would he let the one who would give him to the bad guys carry the money?” Emily asked.

“Come with me,” Jaci said taking her hand and walking up the stairs.

“So Abby,” Aunt Jane said walking up to her. “When’s the wedding?”

Abby laughed and looked at Momma.

“What are you looking at me for?” Momma asked.

“I don’t want our wedding dates to clash,” Abby said.

“I’m getting married this spring,” Momma said.

“Then I’ll get married this summer,” Abby said.

“Then what does that leave me with?” Ms. Erin asked.

“September,” Momma and Abby said unison. We laughed.

**

“Here”

I stared at a plastic bag filled with money.

“Um,” I started.

“Don’t worry it’s yours,” Emily said. “Don’t tell Grandfather that I gave it back to you. He told me to steal it without giving me a reason at all so I took it.”

I looked at her.

“Jaci had a long talk with me last night. I realize what I’ve been doing is wrong and I’m going to try to be better so people can now that I’ve accepted Christ,” Emily smiled.

I took the bag.

“There’s a thousand dollars in there,” Emily said. “You should put it in a bank and not leave lying around in a tin can.”

“My father gave me that tin can,” I mumbled starting to walk away.

“I understand,” Emily said touching my arm. She reached into her jeans pocket.

“It’s a letter from my father along with a picture of him and my mother on their wedding day,” Emily said. “I always carry it with me. I’ve never seen my father in person. Only this picture. Its so I can have a piece of him here with me all the time. Do you want to read it?”

“Oh no I couldn’t………….” I started but Emily shoved it in my face.

Dear Emily Elizabeth,

As you probably know I’m in jail right now so I can’t be here with you. I don’t know if you remember but a couple of years ago I tried to take you and your brother after I escaped from jail. Your Grandmother tried to stop me and I assaulted her and I hurt you. It was the second stupidest thing I’ve ever done in my life.

I’ve done bad things and those bad things will reflect on you if you stay in Florida. That’s why I left Florida and went to Nevada where I met your mother. I’ve seen a recent picture of you. You have your mother’s hair and my eyes. You are truly beautiful.

I can’t say that I was ‘in’ love with your mother but I was rather fond of her. Don’t get me wrong. I did not want your mother to die and I did not try to kill her. After the crash I panicked. I assumed everyone would think it wasn’t an accident so I lied. I’ve made a mess of things for you and Timmy. But I want you to know that I love you and Timmy both very much.

I won’t get out of jail until your senior year of high school but I hope one day you will come and see me. Not that I’d ever think your Grandmother would want you to have any communication with me. I’ve changed. Preachers come and visit the jails and they’ve taught me about God. I hope one day to share (or that someone will share it will you and Timmy) the goodness of Christ Jesus and how all past mistakes can be washed away.

Your Loving Father,

Gavin Caleb Stewart

“He got his wish,” Emily said with tears in her eyes. “Nice braces by the way. That’s a very pretty blue.”

She walked away towards Ms. Ross’s class and I walked towards Ms. O’Donnell’s.

**

“What am I going to wear?”

Mr. Steve had just carried me upstairs and I heard Jaci shouting from Abby’s room.

“What’s going on?” I asked walking into the room. Sean was also there. She was sitting on Abby’s bed.

“Timmy came by after school and asked Jaci out on a date for tomorrow!” Abby said clapping her hands.

“I can’t breathe,” Jaci said breathing in and out. Abby laughed.

“Jaci and Timmy sitting in a tree. K-I-S-S-I-N-G,” Abby sang.

“Why would we be sitting in a tree? And why would we be kissing?” Jaci asked. Abby shook her head.

“It’s a silly elementary school song. It’s what you sang if two people liked each other to tease them,” Abby said.

“It sounds like a cruel song and I’ve only heard the first verse,” Jaci said. “What am I going to wear?”

“Put on your best pair of jeans and your most flattering shirt and you’ll be fine. He’s already in love with you,” Abby shrugged.

“Jeans? What are these jeans you speak off?” Jaci asked.

“You’ve never heard of jeans?” Sean, Abby and I asked.

“MOMMY” Abby screamed running out the door. I wondered who she was screaming for when Momma walked into the room.

“Yes?” Momma asked.

“We have to go shopping,” Abby said. “Jaci has no idea what jeans are.”

“Then we must!” Momma shouted. “What are we waiting for? Jessie-Maria, I’ll call Joan and see if she wants to come along. Oh I should probably call Aunt Jane to see if she and Virginia want to come to the mall.”

Sean nodded and we walked out of Abby’s room.

**

“I think the third one flatters her hips the best,” Mrs. Rivers said.

“But I don’t want to flatter my ‘hips’,” Jaci said looking disgusted.

“I think if Jaci goes out in the first one Timmy goes to have to beat up somebody,” Aunt Jane joked.

“I agree. I look too worldly in those,” Jaci said.

“I like the red pair,” I spoke up.

“But they’re not really jeans,” Virginia pointed out.

“But they go good with that shirt Abbypicked out for her and they flatter her shape,” I said. “But not like the third one flatters.”

“I agree. I don’t feel totally gross in the red pair,” Jaci said walking back into the dressing room. She came out wearing the red jeans and the shirt Abby picked out.

“I think you look very cute,” Mrs. Rivers said.

“And modest,” Momma added.

“Oh! I forgot to tell you, Natalie,” Jaci said looking at me. “Timmy asked if you and Darcy would come along as our ‘chaperons’.”

“Wait what?” I asked letting my braces show. They broke out laughing.

“My little girls going on a date!” Momma said hugging me.

“Whoa,” I said getting up. “Slow down. It’s not a date.”

“I thought we were over this,” Virginia groaned. The rest of the group laughed again.

“I’m too young to date,” I said. Momma nodded and then squealed.

“Oh what am I going to wear?” I asked giving up.

And we all laughed at that.

 

Posted in Gifted

Gifted Chapter 1

Chapter 1

You wouldn’t know it by looking at me but I’m the most wanted foster child in America. At least that’s what Mr. Harris said.

I’ve got scabby knees. Mr. Bill says that they’re scabbed beyond repair. I’ve fallen a lot trying new things.

My brown hair is always a mess and I’ve been told more than once that my fashion sense stinks.

Partly the reason why my fashion sense stinks is because I like to wear knee high socks and shorts/skirts to show off my knees. I’ve had more than one foster mother make me cover my knees.

If I’m so wanted then why do I have so much trouble staying in one place one may ask.

I’ve lived in every state at one time or another. The least amount of time I spent in a state was two days. It was seven months ago and Montana. The Andersons’ didn’t like me very much.

Mr. Bill says that it’s not my fault I have so much trouble finding a home. He says it’s the government’s fault for having so many corrupt people in the foster care system.

You see I’m gifted, special, unique. I can speak twenty-five different language. I can play just about any instrument. I can sing. I can dance. I have a photographic memory. I can remember stuff before I was even one. I’m only twelve and I already have my high school diploma (and I’ll graduate from college this summer).

I’ve had a hundred and seventy foster parents. A hundred of them have tried to use my gifts for profit.

The worst were the Winters’. They own a club in Boston. I became a household name at least in Boston because of them.

I performed in their club and I played in various symphonies in Boston. After three months of that kind of life I finally called Mr. Bill and asked him to get me out of there.

Too bad the day he got me out of there a huge blizzard happened.

So far Mr. Bill has been pulled over twice by the police and each time they’ve told him that he’s not supposed to be on the roads unless it’s an emergency and twice he’s yelled at the police saying that getting me to my new foster family is an emergency.

If you haven’t guessed by now Mr. Bill is my social worker. He’s the best and is devoted to all his kids. He tried to adopt me once but for the stupidest reason the state won’t let him. He’s got ten children already and something about adopting the child you’re a social worker to and blah blah blah.

“We’re here,” Mr. Bill said stopping the car. It was really snowing now. I couldn’t even see my new foster parents’ walkway to their house. I stepped and sunk into the snow. My knees and the snow collided.

I’m not that tall. I’m only four feet eight inches. I’m starting to regret wearing shorts today.

When I finally gotto the door I’m sure that my knees have caught frostbite and walking in this cold snow was all for nothing cause I’ll have to be rushed to the hospital. Mr. Bill catches up with me and rings the doorbell.

I try to think of something to say. Whenever I’m meeting a new foster family, I want something really smart to come out of my mouth. A woman with long sorta curly brown hair opens the door before I can come up with anything good.

“Yes?” She asks not opening the storm door.

“Mrs. Rivers? I’m William Johnson, the social worker. I called a couple of days ago and told you that I’d be dropping off Jessie-Maria on Friday,” Mr. Bill says.

Nobody ever really calls me Jessie-Maria. Mr. Bill does that for ‘legal’ purposes. Everybody just calls me Sean which is my last name. My mother called me that first. She had named me Jessie-Maria because she said that when she saw me she knew I would be ‘bitterly blessed’ with gifts. I don’t know what that means but I sure can get bitter about my ‘gifts’. It also didn’t hurt that Maria is the name of my mother’s all-time favorite character from The Sound of Music.

“Yes, you did call to tell me that but with this blizzard going on I would have thought it was at least postponed until tomorrow,” Mrs. Rivers says still not opening the storm door.

“Can we come in?” I ask.

“Of course!” Mrs. Rivers shouts opening the storm door. I walk in the door and instantly she notices that I’m wearing shorts and knee high socks.

“Scares show struggle and struggle leads to success,” I say. Mrs. Rivers’ looks at me and slowly nods.

I start to feel my cheeks blush. That was the stupidest thing I could have possibly said. I’m the shyest girl in the world well that’s what Mrs. Lewis said. Anyway, I’m shy so I don’t say much so I try to say something smart or humorous when I do speak. People like me because I think big and talk little, well that’s what Mrs. Peebles said.

“Tom, honey she’s here!” Mrs. Rivers shouts to her husband.

Mr. Rivers walks into the hallway. He’s a relatively tall man who was strangely wearing a cowboy hat.

“Welcome,” Mr. Rivers says offering his hand. I shake it. I hear a hint of a Southren Accent in his voice.

“I just need the two of you to sign some papers and I’ll be heading out,” Mr. Bill says opening his briefcase.

“You can’t go back out in that blizzard!” Mrs. Rivers shouts.

“I have to. My wife is probably freaking out,” Mr. Bill says taking a pen from his pocket. Mr. and Mrs. Rivers signed the paper.

“Call me,” Mr. Bill says giving me a kiss on the forehead.

I watch as Mr. Bill drives away down the street. I wonder if I ran out into the street if he would came back.

I look at Mr. and Mrs. Rivers just standing there in the hallway and right then and there I decide to keep my gifts a secret.

Posted in Farm Girl, Highlight & Contest, Natalie

Highlight & Contest: Will You Be My Valentine?

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

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

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

photo 1

All of the Valentines!

photo 1 (2)

Valentine A

My heads in the clouds

My heart’s in my throat

I’m walking on air

Handing you this note!

photo 2 (3)

Valentine B

Love is patient.

Love does not envy or boast.

Love is not arrogant or rude.

Love never fails.

Love never rejoices at wrongdoing.

Not irritable or resentful.

Love does not insist on its own way.

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

Love is kind so be my Valentine!

photo 3 (1)

Valentine C

Take all my love.

Take all my kisses.

But there better be a ring.

If you want me to be your Mrs.! 

photo 4 (1)

Valentine D

I have just one Valentine’s Day wish.

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

So what do you say?

Will you make my Valentine’s Day?

photo 1 (1)

Valentine E

Roses are Red.

Violets are blue.

I never know what to say around you!

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

But the truth is I only want you!

photo 2 (2)

Valentine F

I know we’re young.

I know its soon.

But I think I’m in love with you!

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

So I’m just going to say it.

Please be my Valentine till the end of time!

photo 4

Valentine G (two people receive this Valentine)

You’re amazing.

Did you know?

I’ve crushed on you.

Since long ago.

So here’s my heart.

And here’s my soul.

I think its time you should know.

Will you be?

Can you be?

Could you think of me?

That way?

photo 3

Valentine H

Roses are Red.

Violets are blue.

I never know what to say around you!

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

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

photo 2

Valentine I

Left you once.

Lost you twice.

Now its the third time.

So I’m not going to take any chances.

Please be my Valentine and my wife.

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

Posted in Natalie

Natalie: Part 2- Marshmallow World Installment Eighteen

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mr. Stewart growled.

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

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

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

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

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

“You’re a Stewart?” Abby asked Zach.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jaci smiled at Timmy.

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

**

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

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

“Can I visit the Rivers?” I asked.

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

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

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

I smiled at her and hobbled into the house.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“What do you mean?” I asked.

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

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

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

I sat and thought about this for a minute.

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

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

I nodded.

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

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

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

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

Mr. Rivers came bursting through the house.

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

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

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

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

Posted in Natalie

Natalie: Part 2- Marshmallow World Installment Fifteen

**

“What else is on the list?” Momma asked. Ms. Donna had asked Momma to go to the little grocery store in town and get a couple of things. Jaci had gone along with us.

“She needs ten pounds of carrots,” Jaci said reading the list.

“Ten pounds of carrots,” Momma said picking up two five pounds bags.

“So we’ve already gotten the maple syrup, lettuce, and thirty-five pounds of beef,” Jaci said. “All that’s left on this list is salad dressing.”

Momma pushed her cart off towards the salad dressing aisle.

“Excuse me,” Jaci said taking her purse out of the cart. “There’s something I have to look for.”

Jaci walked down the aisle and Momma just stared at her. After a couple seconds she shrugged.

“How many bottles of salad dressing?” Momma asked.

“Thirteen,” I said. “And that’s just the Cesar. You need twenty ranch and ten Italian.”

“I would never guess that we go through so much salad dressing in a week,” Momma mumbled. She pushed her cart towards to checkout lane.

“Watch out!”

Momma stopped her cart just in time. Aunt Jane stopped her cart just in time also. Strangely her cart was full of ice cream.

“Why do you have ice cream in your cart?” I asked. Momma gave me a look.

“I’m throwing an ice cream party for my nieces and my nephew,” Aunt Jane said. “They’re coming to live with me for a while.”

“Oh,” Momma said. “Why?”

“Their parents died not too long ago. They’ve been staying with a bunch of my family members down South,” Aunt Jane said. “I volunteered to take them in. I haven’t seen them since they were in diapers.”

“Why are you throwing them an ice cream party when its seventeen degrees outside?” I asked. Aunt Jane looked stumped by this question.

“Well who doesn’t love ice cream?” She finally answered. “Ya’ll are invited. It’s going to happen tomorrow. Their bus gets here around nine so maybe they’ll see their first snow fall!”

A snow shower was forecasted for tonight.

“The party is a surprise so don’t say anything to them,” Aunt Jane said. “I gotta get home and prepare everything.”  She smiled at us and pushed her cart towards the checkout counter.

“Not with all that ice cream in your freezer,” I mumbled. My mother must have heard me because she gave a faint chuckle.

We were just finishing checking out when Jaci walked up.

“What’s that?” I asked pointing to the box in her hands.

“It’s a Bible for Timothy-Caleb,” Jaci said handing it to the casher and pulling out her wallet.

“Do you mean Timmy Stewart?” The casher asked as Jaci handed her some cash. “Sorry to break it to you honey but nobody has ever been able to tame a Stewart and nobodies tried for a long time.” Jaci gave the woman a smile.

“I’m not trying to tame Timothy-Caleb. I’m letting God do that,” Jaci smiled. “And I saw with my very own eyes and heard with my very own ears Timothy-Caleb accept Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. I think the young man needs a Bible.”

The casher seemed stunned as she gave Jaci back her change.

“Have a blessed day,” Jaci smiled. She walked to the door and we walked out of the grocery store with her.

“She seemed stunned,” I said.

“With all the things I’ve been hearing about The Stewart family I’m not surprised,” Jaci sighed.

**

TIMMY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

Timmy looked up from his Seafood Salad. He had gone along with his grandfather tonight and Aunt Jane had just walked into the restaurant.

“Timmy Stewart, I have been looking all over Florida for you!” Aunt Jane shouted. “Where have you been?”

“At school,” Timmy said looking at Aunt Jane weirdly. “And at the library.”

“Well when I woke up this morning three of my chickens, Maggie, Brigitta, and Wilma were dead by gunshot wounds,” Aunt Jane said. “What do you have to say for yourself?”

“Aunt Jane, I’m sorry about shooting at your chickens yesterday. Let me replace them,” Timmy said. Aunt Jane looked shocked.

“Yes, um, if that’s how you’d like to repay me,” Aunt Jane said nodding her head. She sat down at a table.

Jaci smiled at Timmy. He smiled back.

“Did you just really offer to pay for Aunt Jane’s chickens? When you killed her prize chicken she had to harass you to get you to replace her chicken,” Regina said surprised.

“I’m trying to….,” Timmy started. “What did you call it, Jaci?”

“Be a new creation,” Jaci smiled. Timmy nodded.

“I want people to know that I’m different now,” Timmy said. “But I think it’s going to take some time and its not going to be easy. Nobody seems to think that a Stewart can be nice and good. I tried to help Mrs. Hardy today and she thought it was a trick. Its only been a couple days and my patience is running thin.”

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness,
faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law,” Jaci said. Timmy smiled at her.

“Oh no!” Aunt Jane shouted looking at the clock. “I’ve gotta go pick up my nieces and nephew!”

Aunt Jane ran out the door and the room erupted in laughter.

“That’s Jane Powers for you,” Mr. Rivers laughed.

I laughed wondering what her nieces and nephew would be like.

Posted in Natalie

Natalie: Part 1-Christmas Dreams Installment Seven

I woke up on Christmas morning and sighed. Christmas was my favorite time of year but right now I didn’t feel too merry.

I looked around and saw that no one was in their sleeping bags. Maybe I had slept late. I looked at the clock. It was only seven. I took my crutches and hobbled into the restaurant.

“MERRY CHRISTMAS, NATALIE!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

I looked around. Everyone in the town was crowded into the restaurant. There was a little Charlie Brown tree in the center of the room. There were a bunch of presents under it.

“And yes, Natalie, all these presents are for you,” Mr. Rivers said. I started to cry.

“What’s wrong, sugar?” Mr. Hank asked. Everyone looked at me like they were worried about me.

“Nothing!” I cried. “I’ve never felt more loved in my life . I’ve barely been here and I haven’t had the best attitude but you still did this for me. THANK YOU!!!” Everyone smiled. Momma came and gave me a hug.

“Natalie, I think its safe to say that everyone in this room cares about you,” Ms. Donna said walking up to me. I looked over at Emily who did not agree with that.

“Thank you!” I shouted giving her a hug.

“Don’t thank me. Darcy came up with this idea,” Ms. Donna said. I hobbled over to Darcy.

“Thanks,” I smiled. Momma raised her eyebrows at me.

“What?” I asked.

“You and Darcy are under the mistletoe,” Momma smiled.

My eyes bugged out. Darcy gave me a kiss on the cheek.

“Good enough,” Momma said. “Now open your presents!”

**

Fresh snow started to fall just as we sat down to eat Christmas dinner. Everyone had come together. There were turkeys, hams, prime ribs, and some chickens. We had a bunch of sides.

“I think we should do this every year,” Nelson said looking around at all the people talking and just being happy. I nodded.

I looked around the room myself. I suddenly felt like I could call this place home. Could I fit in here? Would anyone like me?

I looked at the table where I was sitting. Regina, Nelson, Erin, Claire, Victoria, and even Darcy were sitting here with me. These were my friends (well I was still working on Darcy).

My mother walked up to the table I was sitting at.

“Did you all get what you wanted for Christmas?” Momma asked.

“All I wanted for Christmas was a place to call home and I just might have found one,” I said hugging Regina.

THE END

Posted in Natalie

Natalie:Part 1-Christmas Dreams Installment Six

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“No.”

“Did you make markers?”

“No.”

“So, you’re lost?”

“I wouldn’t say lost.”

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

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

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

“NATALIE! EMILY!”

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

**

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

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

“What happened?” I asked.

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

“Hero?” I asked.

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

I was surprised Emily didn’t take the credit.

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

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

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

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

I sighed.

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

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

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

“Never mind,” I said.

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

“Not that I can think of,” I said.

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

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

“Why God?” I asked and then I cried.

**

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

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

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

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

“Hi Timmy,” I smiled.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted in Natalie

Natalie:Part 1-Christmas Dreams Installment Five

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“The perfume,” I said.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“What’s in the bag?” Momma asked.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

An hour later there was another knock on the door.

“Carlson clan!” Ms. Donna shouted.

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

“Come in,” Ms. Donna said.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“No,” I said. “Why?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

“They went hunting today,” I said.

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

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

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

“I want to go too,” Darcy said.

“I also want to go,” I said.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted in Natalie

Natalie: Part 1- Christmas Dreams Installment 4

**

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“You! You assaulted me!” Emily shouted.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No one needed to tell me who this was from.

**

    “Nelson,” I said all serious.

“Yeah, Natalie,” Nelson said.

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

Nelson looked at me like I was crazy.

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

“Why are you whispering?” Nelson asked.

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

“Sure,” Nelson shrugged.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nelson nodded.

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

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

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

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

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

Darcy hobbled into the family room.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted in Natalie

Natalie: Part 1-Christmas Dreams Installment Two

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“For a while,” Momma said.

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

“How much for a month?” Momma asked.

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

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

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

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

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

“Does it include breakfast?” Momma asked.

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

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

“Not many,” The woman huffed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Twelve,” I answered.

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

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

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

“Hi,” Darcy grumbled.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“We can go back home!” I cried.

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

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

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

“Natalie,” I said not shaking his hand.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“At least a year.”

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

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

“Natalie. Natalie Baldwin,” I smiled.

**

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

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

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

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

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

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

“What can I get you?” I asked.

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

“Regular?” I asked.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The man and the woman laughed.

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

“That’s ok,” The man said.

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

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

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

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

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

I nodded and wrote it down on the pad.

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

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

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

I walked over towards her a little embarrassed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“And I’m Michael,” The boy said.

“Judy!” The other girl shouted.

“Jody!” The other girl shouted.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What a wonderful way to start off in Florida.