Posted in Natalie

Natalie: Part 3- Heaven Everywhere Installment Ten

 

**

I looked at the clock. Only one more minute.

Ms. O’Donnell stared us down. We had just been sitting here for fifteen minutes. We had finished out schoolwork early but she refused to let school go out early.

The bell rang and the room erupted.

SUMMER!

Ms. O’Donnell put her hands on her ears and walked out the room muttering something.

“Ms. O’Donnell!” I cried running out the room.

“Yes, Natalie?” Ms. O’Donnell asked. I pulled a box of chocolates out of my backpack.

“Happy summer,” I smiled. Ms. O’Donnell smiled back.

“I expect to see you at this weekend Christmas in July meeting/Erin’s dress making?” Ms. O’Donnell asked. I nodded.

“Everything’s almost set up and July 25th is a month away. All we need to do is get the word out,” I said.

“Don’t worry about that,” Ms. O’Donnell said. “I’ll handle the media.”

I smiled.

“Thank you, Ms. O’Donnell. I had my doubts about you but you really are a good teacher,” I said.

“You’re welcome, Natalie,” Ms. O’Donnell said with tears in her eyes. “That really means a lot to me.”

I smiled and walked back to the class.

Maybe Ms. O’Donnell had a little bit of heaven in here.

**

I looked out the window. A black limo pulled up and a short blonde girl got out of it.

“Don’t move,” Mrs. Stewart commanded. She poked me.

“Ow,” I said.

“We’ve been over this before, Natalie,” Mrs. Stewart said. “If you don’t stand still I’m bound to poke you with one of these pins!”

“Who is that girl?” Sean asked looking out the window.

“I think that’s one of Ned’s friends. I believe her name is Kristen. She’s from Hollywood and is married to Ned’s best friend from there,” Ms. Erin said looking out the window.

“I can tell,” Mrs. Stewart said looking out the window.

In less than two minutes Kristen walked into the room.

“You’re even prettier than Ned said,” Kristen said hugging Ms. Erin. “Omygosh!”

“What?” Ms. Erin asked.

“You got Jessie-Maria Sean for your wedding!” Kristen shouted looking at Sean. “No way! I tried to get her for mine but they said she had left the state and was no longer preforming! Leave it to Ned Davis to get what he wants!”

Wait, what? Sean was famous?

Mrs. Rivers looked at Sean. Sean looked like a deer in a car’s headlights. She tried to run away but as she ran Abby lost her grip on the pins and they pierced her skin and caused her to fall down. Blood dripped from her leg.

“I’m sorry, Jaci,” Sean cried. “I’ve bloody the dress.”

“It’s ok,” Jaci said grabbing a Band-Aid from the first aid kit. “We’ve got plenty of fabric if we can’t wash it out.”

“Honey, why did you tell Tom and me about this?” Mrs. Rivers asked.

“Most people once they find out I’m gifted use my gifts for…profit,” Sean cried.

“Oh, baby,” Mrs. Rivers said hugging Sean. “Sean, honey, Tom and I would never use the gift’s God’s given you for profit.”

“Sean?” Kristen asked. “Why do you call her by her last name?”

“Cause my first name is embarrassing,” Sean said. “My name means bitter gifted.”

“Let’s get the dictionary,” Mrs. Rivers said. Emily came back a minutes later with a dictionary.

“B…,” Mrs. Rivers said flipping through the dictionary. “Bitter!”

“See, it means something that is unpleasant, distasteful, and distressing,” Sean pouted.

“It also means being relentlessly determined,” Mrs. Rivers read.

“Determined?” Sean asked.

“Relentlessly,” Mrs. Rivers said hugging Sean.

“Sean, I have an idea but I don’t want you to think I’m trying to use your gifts,” Ms. O’Donnell said.

“What is it?” Sean asked.

“I think that we should not only have a little carnival thing but a Christmas show and nativity play! Sean could perform in the show and we could advertise it!” Ms. O’Donnell said. “What do you think? It would be for a good cause.”

“On one condition,” Sean smiled. “You call me Jessie-Maria.”

“Deal!” Everyone shouted.

“Oh, thank you!” Virginia shouted hugging Jessie-Maria. “I just know we’re going to help all my friends! Thank you. It means a lot to me.”

“My pleasure,” Jessie-Maria said. “We’re supposed to use or gifts to help others right?”

Everyone laughed.

**

“Oh, where is my camera?” Momma asked. “I had it at Abby’s wedding.”

“Mrs. Matthews! Abby and Jaci are on their way from North Adams,” Regina said. “Everything isn’t finished yet! Oh, this is going to be a disaster!”

“The baby shower isn’t going to be a disaster!” Momma shouted. “As long as I can find my camera.”

“Well at least the cake is finished,” I said looking up at it. Ms. Donna had made the cake, and Jaci made the icing. The cake was kinda silly. It was decorated with question marks and diapers.

“I brought the baby shower umbrella!” Mrs. Stewart shouted running into the house. “Where’s the rocking chair.”

“Can I get a little help here?” Ms. Donna asked from the steps. “Steve said he was going to help me carry it down from the attic. I don’t know where he is.”

“I’ll help,” Mrs. Stewart said dropping the umbrella and helping Ms. Donna.

“Ok,” Mrs. Stewart said setting the chair and umbrella up. “Now all we need is the mother-to-be or is she already a mother? She has Jessie-Maria.”

“Where is my camera?” Momma cried. “Oh, Natalie, can you go check upstairs in my room. Knock first. Oh and bring our gifts down too.”

I nodded and walked up the steps.

“Come in,” Mr. Steve’s voice said when I knocked.

“What are you doing?” I cried when I heard a familiar tune and saw Mr. Steve with my mom’s camera.

“You’re really good,” Mr. Steve said not taking his eyes from the camera. “When did you start playing the piano? You couldn’t have been but four or five in this video.”

“I was three when I learned the basics and how to read notes,” I said trying not to cry. What was Mr. Steve doing snooping on my mom’s camera card?

“Why’d you stop?” Mr. Steve asked. “You’re really good. You should start taking lessons again.”

“No!” I cried. Mr. Steve looked up from the camera.

“What’s wrong?” Mr. Steve said. “With talent like that you really could become something.”

“What’s wrong? You’re wrong!” I cried.

“Excuse me?” Mr. Steve asked.

“How dare you snoop on my mother’s camera card?” I cried. “That card has special memories on it! Memories that you shouldn’t see!”

“And why shouldn’t I see them?” Mr. Steve asked folding his arms and getting angry.

“Because,” I said.

“Just because,” Mr. Steve said. I nodded.

“And what’s wrong with taking lessons? You have a gift and you should pursue such a talent with all you’ve got,” Mr. Steve said.

“Music was something I shared with my dad,” I shouted as calmly as I could. “When he died I stopped playing and Momma didn’t mind. So I haven’t touched a piano since I was five.”

“That’s not right,” Mr. Steve said shaking his head. “There aren’t any piano teachers in Florida. So we’ll have to try North Adams.”

“Don’t you understand?” I screamed. “I don’t want to take lessons! My father was my teacher! He understood how I learned music better than anybody else ever or could!”

“Natalie, this music teacher isn’t going to replace your father,” Mr. Steve said with disgust in his voice.

“Oh, but you can!” I screamed. I grabbed the gifts and walked out the door before Mr. Steve could say anything else.

“Did you find my camera?” Momma asked. “What’s wrong?”

If I looked how I felt, I was a mess. How could Mr. Steve force me to take piano lessons? So what if I had a talent? My father loved music, and introduced it to me. I couldn’t learn music with anyone else. I just know I couldn’t.

“Mr. Steve has your camera,” I said. “Tell him to stop snooping!”

“Snooping?” Momma asked.

“He was looking through your card,” I said.

“Um, ok,” Momma said not seeing the invasion of privacy.

“You just don’t understand!” I cried walking towards the bathroom. “Nobody understands.”

I understand.

What in the world was that? Is that you God?

“If it’s about those naked baby pictures of you…,” Momma started but I slammed the bathroom door.

By the time I finished crying the baby shower was underway. The shower might have been a lot of fun if Mr. Steve had destroyed it for me, but looking back I think I destroyed it for myself.

Posted in Natalie

Natalie: Part 3- Heaven Everywhere Installment Nine

**

“Let me get a picture,” Momma said.

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

“Smile,” Momma said. “Stinky feet!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“What’s wrong?” Abby asked.

I might as well just tell her.

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

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

I just cried.

“Does Dad know?” Abby asked.

“I don’t know,” I cried.

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

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

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

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

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

I stared at her and cried.

“You don’t understand!” I cried.

“I understand perfectly!” Abby cried.

“No you don’t!” I cried.

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

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

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

“What do you want?” I barked.

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

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

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

“No, you aren’t!” I cried

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

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

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

“Go away,” I interrupted.

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

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

**

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

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

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

“Oh, what does he care?” I asked.

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

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

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

Momma sighed.

“Fine,” Momma said zipping up my dress.

I walked out of the room and down the steps.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I’m ready,” Abby said.

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

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

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

Jaci handed Abby her bouquet and Abby smiled.

“Here goes nothing,” Abby smiled.

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

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

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

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

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

“The rings,” Pastor David smiled.

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

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

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

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

Zach removed Abby’s veil and kissed her.

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

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

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

**

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Did you fall?” I asked.

“Yes, I fell,” Momma said.

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

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

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

Posted in Natalie

Natalie: Part 3- Heaven Everywhere Installment Eight

**

“I promise not to let go.”

I closed my eyes and started to pedal. My jeans were ruined. They had a bunch of holes in them and blood was splattered on my shirt. Who knew learning to ride a bike was so dangerous.

Mr. Steve was defiantly tired of trying to teach me how to ride a bike. His voice was starting to get impatient and I didn’t blame him.

“Natalie! Open your eyes!” Mr. Steve cried.

But he shouted too late. I slammed into the mailbox.

“You promised not to let go!” I cried as Mr. Steve helped me up.

“Honey, next time keep your eyes open,” Mr. Steve said ignoring what I said.

“There won’t be a next time!” I cried.

“Natalie, just because you crashed doesn’t mean you have to burn. Don’t give up just because you’re having a hard time,” Mr. Steve said picking the bike up. “Natalie, I um never grabbed the seat.”

“You didn’t?” I asked. Mr. Steve nodded.

“But I thought….,” I started.

“Natalie, you know how to ride a bike. You’re just afraid that you’re going to crash. Natalie, you can do this,” Mr. Steve  said. “So what are you going to do? You going to hop on this bike or go in the house?”

I took the bike and started to pedal. I fell down again, but by the end of the night I knew how to ride a bike.

**

“Get out of here. I have a huge knife in this bag and I’m not afraid to use it.”

I smiled as Mrs. Rivers pulled out a knife from her purse. Mr. Steve and Zach stared at her like she was crazy.

“We’ll go!” Zach shouted. “But don’t think I won’t take this up with the Chief and your husband. Mrs. Rivers, all you had to tell me is that you were going to be having finger sandwiches and I would have been out of here. You wouldn’t have to resort to murder.”

Mrs. Rivers laughed and then motioned for Sean to pull up a chair.

“Only two months to go,” Mrs. Rivers sighed.

“Do you have any names picked out?” I asked.

“Ugh,” Mrs. Rivers said. “We have five names picked out for each. If we have a boy and a girl either Addison and Austin, Zane and Zoey, Tristan and Trinity, Caleb and Chloe, or Michael and Michelle. If we have two girls either Olivia and Sophia, Faith and Hope, Addison and Avery, Arianna and Brianna, or Mia and Maya. If we have two boys either James and John, Logan and Luke, Ethan and Nathan, Caleb and Joshua, or Elijah and Elisha.”

“I came up with Addison and Austin,” Sean smiled. “And Addison and Avery, and Logan and Luke.”

“I’ve always wanted to name a girl Addison,” Mrs. Rivers said daydreaming.

Virginia and Aunt Jane walked into the restaurant with tears in their eyes.

“What’s wrong?” I asked. Virginia started to sob.

“There’s a bad fire down in Virginia. It’s already destroyed her parent’s old farm. Its inching close to my brother’s farm. He and his family have had to evacuate! And to think somebody set the Virginia forest on fire!” Aunt Jane shouted.

“Arson?” Momma asked. Sean looked at Virginia and then at me. She smiled.

“Why are you smiling?” Virginia asked.

“I just had the best idea!” Sean shouted. “We can have a Christmas in July fundraiser! We can have games, a baby naming contest, and a bunch of other stuff. And all the proceeds will go to the victims of the fire!”

I think that’s the most I’ve ever heard Sean say at one time.

“That’s not a bad idea,” Aunt Jane said. Momma and Mrs. Rivers nodded.

“But how are we going to plan it? We’re just kids,” Virginia said.

“We’ll help you,” Momma said.

“I’m a pretty good organizer,” Mrs. Rivers volunteered.

“I have an idea,” I said. I looked at Virginia. She would hate this idea but…

“I think we should as Ms. O’Donnell to help,” I said.

“WHAT!” Virginia shouted. “What does that woman know about organizing things?”

“She runs A Father’s Presence,” Mrs. Rivers said. “She’s defiantly the boss type.”

“What’s going on?” Abby asked walking into the restaurant.

“Honey, I think your wedding shower just turned into a fundraiser planning party,” Mrs. Rivers joked.

Abby looked at us weirdly.

**

I woke up on Monday and found myself in the closet I shared with Regina. Now that my foot was out of a cast and I didn’t have strep throat. I had moved into the room Regina slept in.

I peeked out of the closet and saw that Regina was still asleep. It was five A.M. Ugh. I’d only been asleep for two hours.

I walked out the room and into the bathroom. I saw myself in the mirror and screamed.

I heard a knock on the door.

“Who’s in here?” Mr. Steve’s voice said. I opened the door.

“Look at my arms!” I screamed. There were small pink dots on both of my arms.

“Natalie, what’s wrong?” Momma asked walking up to my. She looked at my dots and sighed.

“Let me handle this,” Momma said to Mr. Steve. Mr. Steve walked away looking relieved.

Momma closed the door and ordered me to pull up my pants.

“Agh!” I cried when I saw that they were also on my legs. My mom told me to pull up my shirt. When I did I saw these strange dots were also on my chest.

“Chicken poxes?” I asked baffled. Momma shook her head no.

“I’m going to call, Dr. Walters, but I’m ninety percent sure it’s not chicken poxes,” Momma said walking out of the bathroom. I collapsed on the floor. I didn’t feel sick but I really hoped this was chicken poxes.

I started to itch these dots.

“Don’t itch!” Momma shouted when she walked into the bathroom.

“But they itch,” I whined.

“Go but a change of clothes on. Dr. Walters wants you to see a dermatologist at the hospital,” Momma said.

“At five o’clock in the morning?” I asked.

“Yes, now go change,” Momma said walking out of the bathroom. “But on a tank top and shorts. Bring something to wear to school too.”

I cried for five minutes before getting up and changing.

**

“Psoriasis,” The dermatologist said when she walked into the room.

“That’s what I thought,” Momma said.

“Dr. Walters told me that she just had strep throat,” The dermatologist said. “Strep throat sometimes triggers Guttate Psoriasis. The outbreak can go away and never come back.”

“On her father’s side they have a history of Psoriasis,” Momma said. “Her father had Guttate Psoriasis but it turned into plaque psoriasis.”

“Well Psoriasis may be inherited. Some people carry genes that make them more likely to develop Psoriasis,” The dermatologist said. “Does anyone else in her family have Psoriasis?”

“Her father’s mother does,” Momma said. The dermatologist nodded.

“Don’t itch,” The dermatologist commanded. I stopped.

“I recommend lotions and sunlight,” The dermatologist said. “Let it run its course. It’s not too bad. It usually clears up within a few weeks but since she has a family history of Psoriasis it may be chronic or may turn into plaque psoriasis like her father.”

Momma nodded.

“So this might not go away?” I asked.

“Sometimes psoriasis can go away for a time but psoriasis is chronic so it will come back. Did her father have a remission time?” The dermatologist asked.

Momma shook her head no.

“He didn’t let psoriasis hinder his life. I personally didn’t care. It wasn’t too too bad but noticeable,” Momma said.

The dermatologist smiled.

“There is a Psoriasis kid group that meets in Pittsfield once a month. There’s about fifty kids from all over Berkshire County that go to the monthly meetings. Here, give this lady a call,” The dermatologist said.

Momma took the piece of paper and nodded.

“Honey, do you want to go to school today?” Momma asked. “I’m willing to take Ms. O’Donnell’s wrath if you don’t want to go today.”

“I want to stay home,” I cried.

Momma hugged me and the dermatologist walked towards the door.

“Natalie, some people in life will be mean. People will tease you something awful. If your friends go running when they see you or talk bad about you then they really aren’t your friends. People should accept you because of your personality not your skin. God doesn’t care about the outside. He sees the inside and that determines if you’re beautiful or not. I heard about what you’re doing to help the victims of the Virginia Fire. I heard about how you went out to save those Stewarts last Christmas. People should care about what you do, not what your skin looks like,” The dermatologist said walking out the door.

I stared at the door for a second. I never learned that lady’s name but she changed my life. My psoriasis didn’t go away, but I didn’t care. My friends acted like they didn’t even notice it. I learned who my real friends were and who weren’t. I knew God thought I was beautiful and that’s all that mattered.

Posted in Natalie

Natalie: Part 3- Heaven Everywhere Installment Seven

**

Ms. O’Donnell is the meanest teacher in all of Berkshire County.

I wasn’t contagious anymore but that didn’t mean my symptoms had gone away. My throat was still sore and all I could eat was applesauce and stew. My fever was being controlled by Tylenol, but I was still above average. I’d vomited a couple times, and even though I hated it I resorted to sleeping with Momma and Mr. Steve. I snuggled as close to Momma as I could and tried to ignore Mr. Steve’s snores.

I hadn’t asked Momma about her going missing. I figured she tell me she couldn’t talk about it and encourage me to read on so I cut out the asking and feeling hurt part and kept reading. My dad was pretty skimp on journal entries which doesn’t surprise me but doesn’t tell me a lot about what was going on. It was almost Christmas time and Momma still hadn’t been found. The funny thing is Momma always skipped the Christmas of this year when she told me about her Christmases with Daddy.

Ms. O’Donnell had been livid when she heard I wasn’t contagious and still didn’t come to school. I don’t think she understands the difference between contagious and sick. I couldn’t get anybody else sick but that didn’t mean I wasn’t sick.

But here I was sick as a dog learning where to place comas. It had only been three days since I learned I had strep throat. Darcy looked at me. He smiled and I smiled back. Ugh, my stomach hurt. I wish I had a Tylenol but you couldn’t bring medicine to school and Momma didn’t want to take a chance with aspirin.

“Girls, listen up,” Ms. O’Donnell said. “I am pleased to announce that North Adams annual Father-Daughter Dance will take place May 31st. Tickets are five dollars apiece and as you know all the funds will go to A Father’s Presence. Class dismissed.”

I felt like laughing. Ms. O’Donnell was indorsing the dance at school? That didn’t seem like her. I waited as Darcy handed Ms. O’Donnell some money.

“You’re not going to the dance are you?” I asked. Darcy chuckled.

“No, but every year I do give Ms. O’Donnell some money for her cause,” Darcy said. “She started A Father’s Presence. She quit her teaching job when she started it but had to start teaching again when she couldn’t pay herself since A Father’s Presence is nonprofit. A couple years back she started pairing the boys without fathers with one of the temporary fathers. She chose Mr. Stewart for me since we’re related, but Mr. Matthews and Mr. Drew stepped in more than he did as a temporary dad.”

“You’re related to Mr. Stewart?” I asked surprised.

“My mom is anyway. She’s on the other side of Stewarts. She’s a Stewart-Chadwick hence my nickname,” Darcy said. He walked over to Nelson which gave me the feeling he didn’t want to say anymore.

Then a thought made me vomit (literally I vomited right in front of everybody). Momma was for sure going to make me go to that dance with Mr. Steve. I mean it would be weird if he took Abby, Jaci, and Megan but not me. I couldn’t go to that dance. I just couldn’t. Not with Mr. Steve. The thought of having to dance with him made me vomit again.

Darcy led me to the nurse’s office. God must have an interesting sense of humor because Mr. Steve came by to pick me up from school just as the nurse picked up the phone to call my mother.

**

“How could you do this to me?!”

That was Jaci’s voice and she wasn’t too happy. I crawled from under the covers and tiptoed down stairs.

“I’m sorry but Erin and Ned wanted to get married in July,” Abby said to Jaci.

“I still can’t believe you’re getting married in June! That’s less than a month away. There is absolutely no time to make dresses!” Jaci cried. She really did look upset.

“You can make my dresses, Jaci,” Ms. Erin said hugging Jaci.

“I’m sorry, Jaci, I didn’t know it was that important to you,” Abby said truly looking sorry.

“It’s my sister’s wedding! How could it not be important for me to make the dresses?!” Jaci asked clearly outraged.

“Honey,” Mr. Steve said. “It’s not normal no I shouldn’t use that word. Let’s just say most people don’t have handmade dresses for their weddings.”

“They don’t?” Jaci asked with her eyes filled with wonder. “They just buy them?”

Mr. Steve nodded.

“Where’s the fun in that?” Jaci asked. She wasn’t as anger but she was still angry.

“Natalie! Go back to bed!” Mr. Steve shouted spotting me.

“Oh, all I did was throw up,” I said.

“Go. Back. To. Bed,” Mr. Steve and Momma said in unison. I walked back up the steps. Parents, can’t live with them but wouldn’t survive or be here without them.

**

“Tada!”

I stared at the purple bicycle that just moments ago had been hidden underneath a white sheet. Mr. Steve smiled at me and I looked at him totally clueless. I’d never ridden a bicycle before. When Dr. Walters heard that he said no wonder I had gotten Scurvy.

It had been two weeks since my strep throat diagnosis and the symptoms were almost all gone. I still had a lingering sore throat but I could eat more than apple sauce and stew. I hadn’t had a chance to read too much of my father’s journals. I still was where I was at two weeks ago. We had testing at school and Ms. O’Donnell doesn’t play around.

I wasn’t sleeping well. Just yesterday I woke up to discover myself in the shower.

Abby was getting married June 1st the day after the Father-Daughter Dance. Abby knew this of course and Mrs. Rivers and Sean had been upset when they learned there would be no bridal shower sleepover to plan. Abby told them they could have their shower a week before the dance and they agreed but not without kicking and screaming.

“Thank you,” I said remembering my manners. “but I can’t ride.”

“You can learn,” Mr. Steve smiled. By the way he looked you would think he was the one who was about to learn how to ride.

I wanted to say “Not from you.” But that would be rude. I just smiled and walked back into the house.

“Hi, Natalie,” Virginia said walking into the house. “Is that bike outside yours?”

“Yup, and I don’t have any clue how to ride it,” I said. Virginia opened her mouth.

“I guess you being a Farm Girl it’s really hard to believe that a twelve year old doesn’t know how to ride a bike,” I said.

Virginia just nodded.

“I just stopped by to say hi since I have a feeling Aunt Jane, Rachel, Caroline, and I won’t be by for supper,” Virginia said.

“Why not?” I asked.

“Aunt Jane is taking Rachel and me shopping for dress for the Father-Daughter Dance,” Virginia said. She had a big grin on her face.

“Who’s taking you?” I asked.

“Mr. Hank. He came by last week and asked Aunt Jane if it was all right if he took us,” Virginia said. “If you ask me he’s a little sweet on Aunt Jane.”

I smiled.

“I hope you have a good time,” I said. “I can’t see to worm out of the dance.”

“Why would you want to?” Virginia asked. “You got a real dad.”

“Mr. Steve is not my real dad!” I shouted.

“Sorry,” Virginia said. “I just thought since he married your mom and all.”

“He may have married my mom but he’s not my dad,” I said. “My dad’s in heaven.”

“So is mine,” Virginia said. “And I plan on enjoying the Father-Daughter Dance with Mr. Hank. Did you know that Emily is going too? Zach’s taking her.”

“So what?” I asked.

“Virginia!” Aunt Jane called.

“Mr. Steve cares about you, Natalie,” Virginia said walking towards the door. “I’d go as far as to say he loves you. And I hope one day you’ll see that too. I just hope God doesn’t have to do something drastic to make you see that.”

I was pretty mad at Virginia after that but only for about the rest of the day. Virginia was my best friend, and I knew there was some truth to her words. I just didn’t want to believe them. I knew I was hurting Mr. Steve’s feelings, but if I could just pretend that he didn’t care about me I could just go ahead and hurt his feelings and not feel guilty about it. And I would have to learn the hard way just how much Mr. Steve really did love me.

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 3- Heaven Everywhere Installment One

How can a person fall asleep on the eve of their mother’s wedding?

I was wondering that question at four o’clock in the morning. In less than an hour, it would be time to get up and get ready for the wedding.

“Natalie! Wake up! There’s someone in the restaurant!” Virginia screamed shaking me.

“I’m up! I’m up!” I shouted sitting up and getting out of my sleeping bag. Virginia picked up a flashlight. Everyone else was fast asleep (amazingly. Virginia was LOUD).

We crept towards the restaurant and when we turned around the corner a water balloons hit us.

“DARCY!” I screamed at my attacker. Darcy laughed. Leo, Timmy, Zach, Ned, and Nelson kept through water balloons at us.

“Girls! AH!” Grandma Shirley screamed walking into the restaurant. A water balloon hit her and she was soaking wet.

“That is it!” Grandma Shirley screamed. She picked up a bottle of salad dressing someone forgot to put away and squirt it at the boys.

“What in the world?” Momma asked walking up only to be hit by a water balloon. “GIRLS! I NEED SOME BACKUP!”

Soon food and water balloons were flying everywhere. By five o’clock, the floor was too slippery and wet to walk on and everybody was either drenched in water or condiments.

“You boys will pay!” Emily screamed. Water was dripping from her halo ring.

“I think we already have,” Leo said. He was covered in ketchup.

“You boys better get back to my house,” Mrs. Rivers said.

“Mr. Rivers knew where we were going,” Timmy said as the boys walked towards to door.

“Oh, he is so gonna pay!” We girls shouted. We burst out laughing. The boys left and then Abby screamed.

“Hair emergency!” Abby shouted touching Momma’s hair. “GET ME EVERY BLOW DRYER IN FLORIDA!”

Two hours later everybody’s hair was dry and we were now changing into our dresses.

“This bow is stupid,” I mumbled looking in the mirror.

“It’s so everybody can know who you are from the back,” Jaci said. Jaci looked fabulous in the same dress. I just looked stupid.

“Go to makeup,” Jaci said. “Why Mrs. Baldwin insisted on makeup I may never understand.”

I walked off to the makeup room (Ms. Donna’s bathroom) and found that Sean was the only one there. Mrs. Rivers was putting makeup on her scares.

“Hi,” I said sitting down.

“Hey,” She mumbled.

“Donna!” Mrs. Rivers shouted. Ms. Donna walked in the room and started putting mascara on my eyes.

“I look weird,” I said after Ms. Donna put some light red lip-gloss on my lips.

“You look beautiful,” Ms. Donna said. “Now go downstairs!”

I walked downstairs to find Mrs. Stewart and Grandma Shirley in a fight.

“Shirley Walters!” Mrs. Stewart shouted. “Let go of the dress!”

“Why should you get to load it in the limo?” Grandma Shirley screamed.

“Because I know how to handle it!” Mrs. Stewart screamed tugging on the black bag.

“But I’m her mother!” Grandma Shirley screamed.

“But I made the dress!” Mrs. Stewart shouted.

“Oh, really? I thought squirrels put it together with tree sap!” Grandma Shirley screamed. Harsh.

“Where’d you get that dress?” Mrs. Stewart screamed.

“I got it in Paris,” Grandma Shirley said.

“Oh, I thought a lion ripped a zebra apart and you took the skin!” Mrs. Stewart screamed. I tried not to giggle. Grandma Shirley did look like a zebra in that dress.”

“Ladies, ladies,” Grandma Baldwin said.

“Mother!” Momma screamed walking up. “Let Mrs. Stewart put it in the car.”

“Humph!” Grandma Shirley shouted letting go.

“Homecoming Queen!” Mrs. Stewart screamed walking towards the door.

“Prom Queen!” Grandma Shirley sneered. Mrs. Stewart slammed the door.

“What was that all about?” I asked.

“My sister and Mrs. Stewart have been enemies for like forever,” Mrs. Walters said. “But they started the screaming battles after Shirley won homecoming queen and Mrs. Stewart won Prom queen.”

“Go find your shoes, Natalie, the limos will be here in a minute,” Momma said walking off somewhere.

I groaned. I was so not looking forward to wearing heels all day. And yes, they were pink. And yes they had tiny bows on them.

“You ok?’ Abby asked me. She was putting on shoes also expect hers were flats.

“I don’t know,” I said sitting down and putting on my shoes. “I just saw Mrs. Stewart and Grandma Shirley scream about who gets to put Momma’s dress in the car.”

“I heard,” Abby said. “They are so similar but they hate each other.”

“The two of them similar?” I asked.

“Very. They both are very fiery and quick to the tongue,” Abby said. “But I guess people that like don’t get along with most people anyway.”

“I DID NOT!”

“We better go see what they’re fighting about this time,” Abby said getting up and I followed.

“I know you hid them! Where did you put them?” Mrs. Stewart screamed.

“FOR THE LAST TIME LORI!” Grandma Shirley screamed. “I DID NOT TAKE YOUR GLASSES!”

“Well, somebody did!” Mrs. Stewart screamed. “And nobody but you has a reason!”

“And what would be my reason?” Grandma Shirley screamed.

“You’ve always hated me!” Mrs. Stewart screamed. “You were always jealous of me!”

“Jealous of you!” Grandma Shirley snorted in a way that made you feel like she really was jealous of Mrs. Stewart. “As I recall you were the one who was jealous of me!”

Mrs. Stewart snorted.

“Ladies!” Grandma Baldwin shouted. “This is a very special day for Riley, and she wants both of you to share it with her. But if you keep this up, one of you is going to have to leave.”

“Then it should be her!” Grandma Shirley shouted pointing her finger at Mrs. Stewart.

“Me? I’m not the one who stole someone’s glasses!” Mrs. Stewart shouted.

“I didn’t take them!” Grandma Shirley screamed. I noticed something red sticking out in Grandma Shirley’s purse. I pulled out Mrs. Stewart’s glasses.

“The limo is here!” Grandma Shirley screamed walking towards the door. Mrs. Stewart put her glasses on and walked towards the door.

“This going to be a long day,” I sighed.

“You can say that again, love,” Grandma Baldwin said hugging me.

**

“Ow!” I shouted. I slapped the hand of the person who just tugged on my bow.

“Natalie?” Darcy asked when I turned around.

“You’re gonna pay for that,” I said walking towards the dressing chambers.

“How mad are you about the whole water balloon thing?” Darcy asked.

“I’m furious,” I said. “I actually didn’t plan on ever speaking to you again.”

Darcy gave an uneasy laugh and walked away. I walked into the dressing chambers.

“Get out!” Emily screamed when I walked into the room. “This room is too small for all of us! Its making my spine hurt!”

“Don’t move!” Mrs. Stewart screamed. “I dropped my contact lenses!”

“Oh!” Grandma Shirley grumbled.

“Natalie!” Grandma Baldwin cried running into the dressing chambers. “Come quick! Your mother is having a melt down! She’s refusing to come out of the bridal chambers and is screaming that she wants to call off the wedding!”

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 Natalie

Natalie: Part 2- Marshmallow World Installment Twenty-Five

**

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

“You played the Devil?” Virginia asked.

“And won an Oscar for it,” Ned said.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Honey, can you see?” Abby asked.

“Nope,” Zach said.

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

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

“What?” Ms. Erin asked.

“Nothing,” Abby laughed.

“LOOK OUT!”

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

“Seriously!” I shouted throwing my hands up.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

**

“Meehghneojgsosanivgsnhiigsiogils.”

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

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

“Ow!” I shouted.

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

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

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

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

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

I sighed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Do you know how to sew?” Jaci asked.

“Yeah,” Sean mumbled.

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

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

“I…I….I….,” Sean started.

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

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

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

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

Posted in 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 Farm Girl

Farm Girl- Installment Five

**

I woke up to the smell of burnt bacon. I had overslept again.

I opened the door and stepped on an egg. Aunt Jane is forgetful but…………

I soon felt a chicken pecking my unprotected toes.

“AUNT JANE!” I called running down the stairs. “Why is there a chicken at my bedroom door?”

I looked at the table and saw Leo sitting there poking at an attempt at an oatmeal sandwich.

“And why is Leo Logan in my house?” I asked crossing my arms.

“Ms. O’Donnell called me last night and said that she wanted me here at your house first thing in the morning to talk about the ball,” Leo said. “She didn’t even care that a blizzard was coming.”

“And that’s why I brought the chickens in the house,” Aunt Jane said placing an oatmeal sandwich down on the table.

“Ms. O’Donnell asked you to put the chickens inside the house?” I asked knowing that wasn’t the answer.

“No,” Aunt Jane laughed. “A blizzard is coming and the last time we had a blizzard I plum forgot about the chickens and three of them froze to the death the poor things.”

A chicken started to peck at my toes.

“Lynn, stop it!” Aunt Jane shouted to the chicken.

“Can I use your restroom?” Leo asked.

“Sure, darling, right now the hall,” Aunt Jane said putting a live chicken in the oven. “WHOOPS!”

Leo stared at me as if I was the one who just put the chicken in the oven and walked down the hall.

“The boy likes ya,” Aunt Jane said putting the oven chicken in the sink.

I snorted.

“A boy doesn’t risk his life in a blizzard to see some girl just because a teacher asked him to,” Aunt Jane said turning the facet on and letting the water run on the chicken.

“You don’t know Ms. O’Donnell,” I said.

“Oh, yes I do,” Aunt Jane said. “The woman’s lonely that’s all.”

That gave me a brilliant idea.

**

“What guy would be stupid enough to go out on a date with Ms. O’Donnell?” Natalie asked. It was a couple days later the day before Valentine’s Day to be exact. Natalie and the rest of the B&B gang excluding Ms. Edwards had been in a car crash.

I had made Zach his special Valentine and had sold Valentines to Timmy, Jaci, and Abby. I was out walking with Natalie to the Treasure Chest for Valentine’s Day gifts. I was also carrying around my box.

“We’ll we have to find somebody,” I said.

“Good luck,” Natalie snorted as we walked into the store.

Someone knocked Natalie and me over.

“Watch where you’re going!” Natalie shouted trying to get up.

“Sorry, Nat,” Darcy said helping Natalie up. What about me?

Darcy walked out the door.

“What’s his problem?” I asked.

“I think he’s still a little mad at his mom for staying during the blizzard,” Natalie shrugged. “But I’m just guessing.”

“What can I do for you girls?” The girl at the counter asked. I believe her name was Paige.

“We need Valentine’s Day gifts,” Natalie and I said together. We laughed.

“What type of Valentine’s Day gifts? For your mother or that boy?” Paige asked.

“Was Darcy looking at anything in particular?” I joked.

“Shut up, Virginia!” Natalie cried.

The bell to the store rang and Emily and Timmy walked into the store.

“Hey Timmy,” I said. “Hi Emily.”

Emily looked horrible. She had on a vest and a halo ring to keep her back in place. She also looked like she was in a lot of pain.

“Hi,” Emily grumbled back.

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

“A box of chocolates,” Timmy said picking one up.

“Are you going to the ball tomorrow?” I asked Emily.

“I have to. Grandma is over the hill with excitement. Grandpa is going into Pittsfield that night. I wanted to go with him but he says I can’t,” Emily complained.

“Well before the ball after school, a bunch of us girls are going over to the B&B to get our hair done, and our nails done, you know the ‘girl thing’. Would you like to join us?” I asked.

What was I saying? The look on Natalie’s face said it all. This was a huge mistake.

“Hair done? Do you know how much pain I am standing here?” Emily asked sounding really mad.

“You can still do your nails,” I said really wanting to stop myself. “And your Grandma can come to.”

Emily sighed.

“Fine,” Emily said. “But only because I want to look pretty. Come on TIMMY!”

“Coming!” Timmy shouted walking towards the door. He smiled at us.

“Bye,” Timmy said walking out the door.

“What have you done?” Natalie asked after Timmy left.

“I don’t know,” I sighed.

Posted in Natalie

Natalie: Part 2- Marshmallow World Installment Twenty-Two

**

  February 14

 Today was my first Valentine’s Day with Riley and I tried extra hard to make our first Valentine’s Day as a married couple special.

 I had planned to take her out to a little Italian restaurant and give her a dozen roses and everything. But it turns out Riley had plans too. She had bought a prime rib and all my favorite foods and had planned to eat in this Valentine’s Day. She even got special candles for the occasion.

 I was MAD. I wanted Valentine’s Day to go my way. We got into a huge fight and in the end Riley stayed at home and ate her prime rib and I went out to the restaurant.

 About halfway through my meal I realized what an idiot I was. I paid for my meal and went home. I found Riley crying in the bathroom.

 It broke my heart to see her crying just because I was too stubborn to eat at home on our first Valentine’s Day. Riley had ‘Valentine’s Day’ music playing so I switched it back to Christmas music and lit the candles. We started to dance.

 I think all is forgiven now. I ate some of her prime rib at like eleven o’clock at night. In a way this was a pretty good Valentine’s Day. I think we’ll stay in from now on.

Today was Valentine’s Day. I woke up to find a rose on my pilliow.

I had skipped ahead to my father’s second journal to read about their first Valentine’s Day. I put the journal back in the book under the couch and got up.

The hole in the restaurant was no longer there. Mr. Stewart had paid to get it fixed. He wanted Grandma Shirley to help pay for it but she said because he had already made a hole in the wall when she made a hole in the wall that she didn’t have to pay. That seemed to confuse Mr. Stewart enough to pay for the wall to be repaired.

“Happy Valentine’s Day!” Mr. Steve shouted.

“Happy Valentine’s Day,” I smiled back.

“Look at the strawberries!” Megan shouted with a white teddy bear in her arms. She had red and chocolate smudges on her face.

“I got my girls fruit baskets and bears or strawberry baskets and bears since that’s the only fruit but I think yours, Natalie, has oranges in it,” Mr. Steve said handing me my basket and teddy bear.

“Thank you,” I said taking out a chocolate covered strawberry. Chocolate and strawberries, now that’s a combination you can get me to eat all on my own.

Timmy walked through the restaurant door.

“Morning,” I said not looking up from my chocolate covered orange.

“Is Jaci here?” Timmy asked. I looked up. He had some chocolates and a balloon in his hand.

“Um, yeah,” Mr. Steve said backing away. “JACI! TIMMY’S HERE TO SEE YOU!”

“COMING!” Jaci screamed back. Jaci walked into the restaurant wearing a red skirt and a white shirt with a red heart on it.

She was carrying a box that contained Timmy’s Bible and a Valentine.

“Happy Valentine’s Day,” Timmy smiled.

“Happy Valentine’s Day,” Jaci smiled back. They exchanged gifts.

“This is such a sweet Valentine!” Jaci cried. “Mine’s feels kinda dumb now.”

I looked over her shoulder.

I know we’re young

I know it’s soon

But I think I’m in love with you!

There is no fear in love but perfect love casts out fear

So I’m just going to say it

Please be my Valentine till the end of time!

“Your Valentine reflects who you are,” Timmy said. “You love the Lord and you love the Bible. I think it’s perfect.”

I tried to look over Timmy’s shoulder but he’s like six ft. and Jaci is no more than five ft. three.

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.

“The bus is here!” Momma called. “Ms. O’Donnell wants all seventh graders in early so Valentine’s Day doesn’t take up school time.”

“WHAT!” I shouted. “I’m not even dressed!”

“Here are some clothes,” Momma said throwing them at me. “GO!”

I shook my head, grabbed my backpack, and headed out the door.

**

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 it’s time you should know.

Will you be?

Can you be?

Could you think of me?

That way?

My heart seemed to beat out of my chest as I read this note. Could it be from Darcy? The note wasn’t signed. I hadn’t signed the one I gave to Darcy. I was too scared to do it. I actually gave him two Valentines so he wouldn’t guess it was me. The Valentine I gave to Darcy went like this.

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?

“Virginia?” Darcy asked walking to the back of the classroom.

“Huh?” Virginia asked looking up from a yellow Valentine.

“Did you give me this?” Darcy asked. His voice sounded like he really really hopped Virginia hadn’t given him this Valentine.

“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?” Virginia read. “I made it but I didn’t send it to you.”

I don’t know why but I went flying out the door. I ran into the girls’ bathroom and broke down crying.

“Natalie?” Virginia asked walking into the bathroom.

“What?” I asked wiping tears away from my eyes.

“Before you get all mad at me, I want you to know that I didn’t send Darcy a Valentine because you like him and well I just didn’t want to send a Valentine to a guy my friend likes,” Virginia said shrugging.

“Liked,” I corrected.

“Look, I KNOW Darcy likes you. He’s your Secret Santa,” Virginia said. “He just used a logical method of reasoning.”

There was a knock on the bathroom door.

“Who is it?” Virginia called.

“Darcy.”

I got up and walked into a stall.

“Come in,” Virginia said. “Nobodies in here but Natalie and I.”

“I don’t feel like talking to you,” I said with my back towards the stall door.

“Can you listen?” Darcy’s voice asked.

“Do I have a choice?” I snorted. I heard Virginia chuckle.

“Look, I’m sorry. I didn’t think you would send me that Valentine because I was kinda a jerk to you when you first came. City folk never understand us. But you’re not like other people who didn’t grow up here. You seem to like it here and enjoy the easy lifestyle we have. I really like you,” Darcy said his voice trailing off after the last sentence.

I opened the bathroom stall door.

“Will you take me to the ball?” I asked.

“I would be delighted,” Darcy said in a fake British accent. I laughed.

“All is forgiven,” I said giving him a hug.

**

“I am so disgusted!”

I looked at Regina who looked like she could kill somebody.

“It’s not that bad, Regina,” I said trying to calm her down.

“And the creepy thing is. She likes him back!” Regina shouted.

“Hi, Natalie,” Emily said walking up with Nelson. They were holding hands.

“Yuck,” Regina shuddered.

“You’re just jealous. No one sent you a lovey dovey Valentine,” Emily said smiling at Nelson. “Look at my Valentine.”

She pushed it in my face.

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 it’s time you should know.

Will you be?

Can you be?

Could you think of me?

That way?

“Cute,” I said not telling her I got one exactly like it.

“My heads in the clouds. My heart’s in my throat. I’m walking on air. Handing you this note!” Regina said. I looked at her strangely.

“That’s what my Valentine said,” Nelson cleared up.

“I don’t know what your problem is,” I said to Regina. “Nelson and Emily can like whoever they want.”

“Oh, you’re just happy Emily doesn’t like Darcy,” Regina shouted getting up and storming out of the cafeteria.

“What’s her problem?” I asked. Nelson shook his head twice. Once for him and once for Emily.

**

Left you once.

Lost you twice.

Now it’s the third time.

So I’m not going to take any chances.

Please be my Valentine and my wife.

“Isn’t it so romantic?” Abby asked hugging Zach. “And to think I thought I was giving him a push!”

“You’re getting married?” Virginia asked excitedly. She had come over because us girls were going to get ready for the Valentine’s Day Ball.

“Yup,” Abby said showing us her ring.

“I knew I made the right decision when I read her Valentine,” Zach laughed. He handed it to me.

Take all my love.

Take all my kisses.

But there better be a ring.

If you want me to be your Mrs.!

I laughed.

“Get out, Zach,” Mrs. Rivers barked. “You can see your fiancée at the ball.”

Zach gave Abby a kiss and left.

“Girls, I would like you to meet Jesse-Maria. She’s going to be staying with Tom and me for a while,” Mrs. Rivers said hugging a short shy looking girl. “She likes to be called Sean.”

“Hi,” I said.

“Hi,” Sean mumbled.

“Let’s start doing hair!” Momma shouted. Soon the B&B was filled with girly giggles.

“Where are the guys?” Jaci asked as she was putting on her dress.

“It is a truth universally acknowledge, that a man in Florida, Massachusetts has something for his girl in the morning on Valentine’s Day and has something for her in the evening too,” Mrs. Rivers joked.

We all laughed, including Sean who hadn’t said a word the entire time.

“Who else besides Abby got a special Valentine?” Aunt Jane asked. Virginia looked uncomfortable.

“What’s wrong?” I asked.

“This!” Virginia shouted taking a yellow Valentine out of her backpack.

Roses are Red.

Violets are blue.

I never know what to say around you!

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

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

“It’s from that Leo boy isn’t it?!” Aunt Jane asked sounding excited. Virginia nodded.

“And I sent him the stupidest Valentine back,” Virginia sighed.

“What did it say?” The entire room asked.

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!” Virginia recited. “He’ll think I like him.”

“But you do,” Aunt Jane said.

“I don’t,” Virginia said looking disgusted.

“Do,” Aunt Jane said.

“Don’t.”

“Do.”

“Don’t.”

“Don’t,” Aunt Jane said.

“Do,” Virginia messed up.

We burst out laughing and Virginia shook her head.

**

“I can I have everybody’s attention?!”

I looked up at the stage were Ms. O’Donnell was standing next to Zach’s brother whose name was Ned Davis.

“Ned has something he would like to say,” Ms. O’Donnell said. Her eyes looked excited.

“Erin! Erin Carter! Where are you?” Ned shouted into the microphone. Ms. Erin stepped forth.

“I have something I would like to say,” Ned said getting down on one knee. The entire room gasped.

“Would you marry me?” Ned asked. Ms. Erin shook her yes head and ran up on stage.

“Three weddings and two in the same family and Joan is having a baby,” Mrs. Stewart smiled. “I wonder if there’s ever been this much excitement in Florida!”

“And now we’re going to crown our Junior Mr. and Mrs. Darcy and Junior Mr. and Mrs. Bingley,” Ms. O’Donnell said waving an envelope around. She opened it.

“Our Junior Mr. and Mrs. Darcy are………….Darcy Edwards and Natalie Baldwin!” Ms. O’Donnell shouted. Darcy and I walked up on the stage.

“And our Junior Mr. and Mrs. Bingley are…………Nelson Drew and Emily Stewart!” Ms. O’Donnell shouted. Regina looked surprised and ran out of the room where the ball was being held. Mrs. Stewart screamed and helped Emily on stage.

“Our Mr. and Mrs. Darcy are…………..Ned Davis and Erin Carter!” Ms. O’Donnell shouted. Ms. Erin laughed as she walked up on stage.

“Our Mr. and Mrs. Bingley are…………Steve Matthews and Riley Baldwin!” Ms. O’Donnell shouted.

I smiled as Ms. O’Donnell put a sash on me.

Happy Valentine’s Day, Daddy I thought.

Posted in Farm Girl

Farm Girl-Installment Four

**

“Ms. Natalie Baldwin! Is the Algebra lesson too hard for you? Why don’t you come up here and tell the class why you just burst out crying?” Ms. O’Donnell asked.

I looked up from my Algebra lesson. Since I was way back in the back I couldn’t hear Natalie crying but Leo had been snickering for a couple of minutes so I guess he heard her. Despicable young man.

“Um, seven years ago,” Natalie said getting up. “My dad died on this day.”

I felt a pain in my heart. I knew how it was to lose my father.

“Oh, Natalie…..,” Ms. O’Donnell started. I rolled my eyes on the inside. Why was she so nice to her only?

The bell rang and Natalie ran out of the room. I jumped from my seat as fast as I could. Darcy looked like he didn’t know what to do.

“I got it,” I said running past him.

“Natalie!” I called. She was pretty fast. Natalie stopped and it took me a second to catch up with her.

“Are you ok?” I asked.

“No,” Natalie cried. Tears started to splash down her face.

“Let’s step into my office,” I said. My office was in the cafeteria. It was this table in the back where people changed during the school plays. There was a curtain there for privacy.

“Wow,” Natalie said looking around.

“Cool, I know,” I said.

“Do you want to talk about your dad?” I asked.

“He was from England,” Natalie started.

“My dad was born and raised in Virginia,” I said.

“My dad was killed in a car accident,” Natalie sighed. She looked very sad when she said this.

“My parents took a bus to Richmond,” I said. “They had to pick up a part for our tractor. The bus driver fell asleep and crashed.”

It felt a little good to get that off my chest. I haven’t talked to anyone since my father’s death.

“I’m sorry,” Natalie said.

“I guess we know how each other feels,” I sighed. “What did your dad smell like?”

“Pine Needles,” Natalie laughed. “It was his favorite body wash.”

“My dad always smelled like goat, sweat, and manure,” I laughed.

I pictured my father. Tall, strong, and well built. I could see him walking towards the house after all the work was done but as he got closer he faded. Then I couldn’t see him anymore all I could do was smell him.

“Manure?” Natalie asked breaking into my thoughts. I nodded and we started to laugh.

“Were you thinking about him when you started to cry?” I asked after we stopped laughing. Natalie nodded.

“I was remembering the last time I saw him,” Natalie said. She looked like she was going to cry.

“I can’t really remember the last time I saw my parents. I try so hard to but I just can’t remember,” I said. I tried to think of them at this moment but Natalie sighed and started talking.

“But it was so weird,” Natalie started. “When I stopped thinking about it, I looked at Darcy and my stomach seemed to flutter and my heart started to beat like crazy.”

I gave her a sly smile. I knew it. I knew it. I knew. Natalie liked Darcy.

“What?” Natalie asked. I thought of the perfect thing to say.

“Admit it Natalie,” I said. “You like him.”

“I do not!” Natalie shouted.

Some people need more of a push than others.

“Just stop it, Natalie,” I said. “Everybody in Florida knows it. Your own mother knows it.”

“She doesn’t think I like Darcy,” Natalie denied.

“Sure,” I said rolling her eyes. “Talk to me when you’re ready to send him a Valentine.”

“I do no……” Natalie started but stopped.

I smirked at her but she was too lost on thought to notice it.

“Oh! I don’t know!” Natalie shouted throwing up her hands. “When I first got here Darcy wasn’t the nicest person to me but lately he’s been…..”

“He’s been what?” I asked.

I tried not squirm in my seat but I felt myself wiggling. It’s a bad habit that I always do when I’m close to finding out a good juicy secret.

“He’s been kind,” Natalie said. “He’s not mad at me anymore for breaking his knee. He’s just….UGH!”

“I think he likes you,” I said. Natalie snorted.

“Emily Stewart sticks to him like glue,” Natalie snorted. It took all that was in me not to tell her that Darcy liked her a lot and show her the Valentine he was thinking about getting her.

“Sometimes glue falls off,” I said instead. Natalie smiled.

“I have the perfect Valentine,” I said getting my box from under the table. “Have you ever read Pride and Prejudice?”

“I’ve seen the movie,” Natalie said. I sighed the movie is as good as you can do in two hours but at least she was familiar with the story/

“You’re lucky,” I said pulling out a Valentine.

“In what way?” Natalie asked as I pushed the Valentine towards her.

“Darcy!!! You know as in Mr. Darcy?” I shouted. Natalie sighed.

“Give him this Valentine, Elizabeth,” I urged. If she didn’t do this I might blow about how much Darcy liked her.

“How much?” Natalie asked.

I clapped my hands and squealed. What? I love romance.

“I charge a dollar just like that other Valentine seller,” I said adding disgust to the word ‘other’.

“You like him,” Natalie said pulling out a dollar from her backpack.

My mouth fell open and Natalie laughed. That’s when I realized that it was a joke. But my mouth was still open as she gave me her money and I gave her the Valentine.

“Natalie?”

Mrs. Baldwin was standing there and was carrying a picnic basket.

“Ms. O’Donnell called me about what happened,” Mrs. Baldwin said.

“I didn’t mean to burst out crying,” Natalie started but Mrs. Baldwin put up her hand.

“Come on,” Mrs. Baldwin said taking Natalie’s hand. “Ms. O’Donnell has given you the rest of the day off.”

“But Darcy….” Natalie started. I tried not to smirk. And she says she doesn’t like him.

“You can see Darcy at home,” Mrs. Baldwin said. She had that look on her face that said ‘Where has my baby gone? She’s liking boys.’

Natalie and her mother left and soon after that Emily Stewart walked into my office.

“How can I help you?” I asked.

“I hear you’re selling Valentines,” Emily said looking at me.

“Yup,” I nodded.

“I need two Valentines. One for Darcy and one for Nelson Drew,” Emily said. Her eyes got dreamy. Sorry sister, Darcy doesn’t like you.

“What type of Valentines do you want friendship, love, secret crush?” I asked.

Emily thought for a minute.

“Secret crush. No, just crush. He’s and idiot if he doesn’t think I like him,” Emily said. I pulled out a Valentine.

“This will do,” Emily said. “I need a friendship one too. Any ole one will do.”

I pulled out just ‘any ole one’ and Emily gave me two dollars.

“Nice doing business with you,” Emily said. She flipped her long red hair and walked out of my office.

At least that altercation didn’t last long.

“Hey, Virginia,” Nelson said walking into my office.

“Hey, Nelson,” I said. My stomach rumbled. I had thrown my lunch in the trash the moment I was out of Aunt Jane’s sight. I didn’t get up early enough to make breakfast so Aunt Jane made it. I swear that woman cannot cook.

“Want half of my sandwich?” Nelson asked sitting down.

“Would you?” I asked. Nelson nodded and tore his sandwich in two. He gave me one half.

“Oh this is so delicious,” I said munching it.

“I bet you’re hungry. Aunt Jane is a miserable cook but no one has the heart to tell her,” Nelson said.

“Somebody better tell her soon or I’ll starve to death,” I joked.

“Why don’t you tell her,” Nelson said taking a swig of his water. I laughed.

“Are you friends with Emily Stewart?” I asked. “She got you a Valentine.”

“She did?” Nelson asked. His eyes lighted up. I knew that dangerous light all too well.

“You like Emily STEWART?” I asked. “THE Emily Stewart. The one that sticks to Darcy Edwards like glue. The woman with long red hair and brown eyes. The one who is the younger sister of Timmy Stewart? The one who is most mean, arrogant, and rude girl in Florida?”

“I don’t know any other Emily Stewarts,” Nelson said.

“How could you like her? She has a massive crush on Darcy,” I said.

“But Darcy doesn’t like her,” Nelson said.

“How do you know that?” I asked.

“I share a room with him,” Nelson shrugged. “Darcy doesn’t like her so I thought that maybe if she sees how much I like her she’ll like me.”

“Trust me,” I said. “That’s not how love works.”

“Do you have a Valentine for like secret crushes?” Nelson asked. I pulled out a Valentine that was just like the one Darcy was thinking about giving to Natalie.

“Perfect,” Nelson said smiling a silly smile.

Oh no. He was in love with a Stewart.

**

“Class dismissed!” Ms. O’Donnell shouted. “Leo, Darcy, and Virginia I would like to speak to you for a minute.”

Why would she want to talk to me and that other boy?

“Yes, Ms. O’Donnell?” Darcy asked. He was in pain, I could tell. Ms. O’Donnell had no heart.

“North Adams and Florida can coming together to have a Valentine’s Day ball. I’m one of the people in charge of planning it and we’re having the toughest time coming up with a theme and Valentine’s Day is in a week!” Ms. O’Donnell said.

I sighed and looked at Darcy. This woman was……………

“DARCY!” I shouted jumping up and down.

“What?” Darcy asked moving back.

“No. No, not you!” I shouted. “Mr. Darcy, Elizabeth, Jane, and Mr. Bingley. We’ll have a Pride and Prejudice ball. We’ll have a contest for Mr. and Mrs. Darcy and Mr. and Mrs. Bingley! Everyone will wear clothes that age period and we’ll do dances from that age period it will lots of fun!”

“I like it,” Leo said. He didn’t look like he liked it.

I rolled my eyes. Darcy looked at him like he was crazy.

“I LOVE it!” Ms. O’Donnell shouted. “Time to get my Jane Austin on!”

I smiled. Maybe Ms. O’Donnell isn’t so so bad.

Posted in Natalie

Natalie: Part 2- Marshmallow World Installment Twenty

**

I hate the week before Valentine’s Day.

I don’t hate Valentine’s Day. I really like the holiday even thou I’ve never had anyone that I really like like.

It’s just that my father’s car accident happened exactly a week before Valentine’s Day. February 7th.

And this February 7th is even more painful. My mother is engaged to Mr. Steve. I like him a little bit better but still. And now that I know that my father’s accident wasn’t an accident it just hurts all the more.

It’s been seven years since he died. That day is still fresh in my memory.

The last time I ever saw my father alive was when he came home for lunch. He always came home for lunch. When he got his job, he wasn’t around as much and he always said that there was nothing better than spending time with his girls.

“I’ve got a surprise for you,” Daddy said to me that day. His hands were behind his back.

“What! What!” I screamed excited.

“When I was driving past the pharmacy I saw a sign that said ‘90% off Christmas Things’ and with my two Christmas loving girls I just had to go in,” Daddy said.

“What is it?!” I asked impatiently.

“They had some bags, a Christmas bear, and one fudge tin,” Daddy said with a grin on his face.

“Will you take me to get the fudge tin?” I asked forgetting about the surprise. “I love fudge!”

“It’s not there anymore,” Daddy said. I pouted.

“Who took it! I want them thrown in jail!” I shouted. What? I was five.

“Take it! I don’t want to go to jail!” Daddy shouted showing his hands. In his hands was a tin of fudge.

“Thank you, Daddy! I love you!” I screamed taking the fudge tin. I ran to the couch and started to devour the fudge.

My dad gave one of his British laughs. My mother started laughing too. A Christmas song had just started to play and the two of them started to dance.

My mother was laughing. My daddy was smiling. I was eating fudge. It was like this a lot. My parents would just start dancing no matter the song. I would just sit on the couch and laugh and smile. My dad was always doing something to make me smile.

He left an hour later. It wasn’t until that evening that the officers showed up at our front door.

“Is that the door, Natalie?” Momma asked.

“I don’t know,” I groaned. I had eaten the entire tin and was feeling sick.

Momma walked towards the door and opened it.

“Officers,” Momma said in a shaky voice. “Come in.”

“Are you Mrs. Alexander Baldwin?” One of the officers asked. Momma slowly shook her head yes.

“Your husband got into a car accident at two o’clock this afternoon. He was rushed to the hospital but died on the way,” The other officer said.

My momma burst out crying. I felt a stream of tears rush down my face. The stream then turned into an ocean. My daddy was gone. I ran to my room and locked the door. I didn’t want to know anymore.

“NATLAIE BALDWIN!”

I looked around and realized that I was in Ms. O’Donnell’s class. Darcy looked at me. His blue eyes were filled with confusion. His hand was on my arm.

Darcy had been released from the hospital on Monday. Ms. O’Donnell had a fit when he didn’t come to school on Tuesday. And when he didn’t come on Wednesday, she went down to the B&B and demanded that Darcy be in class on Thursday. So here he was. He looked sick and weak, and he already fell asleep once in class.

My stomach fluttered as our eyes met. My heart started to beat like crazy. I closed my eyes and tears came out.

“Ms. Natalie Baldwin! Is the Algebra lesson too hard for you? Why don’t you come up here and tell the class why you just burst out crying?” Ms. O’Donnell said. I know that getting up in front of the class is not optional. I stood up a little embarrassed that I burst out crying. What am I supposed to say?

“Um, seven years ago,” I started. “My dad died on this day.” I felt more tears fall from my eyes

“Oh, Natalie…..,” Ms. O’Donnell starts but the bell rings before she can say anything else. I grabbed my lunch bag and ran out the room.

“Natalie!” Virginia called. I stopped and she caught up with me.

“Are you ok?” Virginia asked.

“No,” I cry letting some tears escape.

“Let’s step into my office,” Virginia said. We walk into the cafeteria and Virginia walks to the back of the cafeteria. There’s a small table back there. She pulled back a curtain that was attached to the wall.

“Wow,” I said. The curtain covered the entire table. I could only hear the noise from the cafeteria.

“Cool, I know,” Virginia said. “Do you want to talk about your dad?”

“He was from England,” I started.

“My dad was born and raised in Virginia,” Virginia said. She had a sad looking smile on her face.

“My dad was killed in a car accident,” I sighed.

“My parents took a bus to Richmond,” Virginia said. “They had to pick up a part for our tractor. The bus driver fell asleep and crashed.”

“I’m sorry,” I said trying not to cry.

“I guess we know how each other feels,” Virginia said. “What did your dad smell like?”

“Pine Needles,” I laughed. “It was his favorite body wash.”

“My dad always smelled like goat, sweat, and manure,” Virginia laughed.

“Manure?” I asked. Virginia nodded. We started to laugh.

“Were you thinking about him when you started to cry?” Virginia asked after we stopped laughing. I nodded.

“I was remembering the last time I saw him,” I said.

“I can’t really remember the last time I saw my parents. I try so hard to but I just can’t remember,” Virginia said looking sad. I sighed.

“But it was so weird,” I said without thinking. “When I stopped thinking about it, I looked at Darcy and my stomach seemed to flutter and my heart started to beat like crazy.”

Virginia gave me a sly smile.

“What?” I asked.

“Admit it Natalie,” Virginia said. “You like him.”

“I do not!” I almost shouted.

“Just stop it, Natalie,” Virginia said. “Everybody in Florida knows it. Your own mother knows it.”

“She doesn’t think I like Darcy,” I said.

“Sure,” Virginia said rolling her eyes. “Talk to me when you’re ready to send him a Valentine.”

“I do no……”

My voice trailed off. Could Virginia possibly be right? Did I have a crush on Darcy?

“Oh! I don’t know!” I shouted throwing my hands up. “When I first got here Darcy wasn’t the nicest person to me but lately he’s been…..”

“He’s been what?” Virginia asked. She was squirming in her seat.

“He’s been kind,” I said. “He’s not mad at me anymore for breaking his knee. He’s just….UGH!”

“I think he likes you,” Virginia said. I snorted.

“Emily Stewart sticks to him like glue,” I snorted.

“Sometimes glue falls off,” Virginia joked. I cracked a smile.

“I have the perfect Valentine,” Virginia said pulling her box from under the table. “Have you ever read Pride and Prejudice?”

“I’ve seen the movie,” I said. Virginia sighed.

“You’re lucky,” Virginia said pulling out a Valentine.

“In what way?” I asked as Virginia pushed the Valentine over to my side.

“Darcy!!! You know as in Mr. Darcy? From Pride and Prejudice!” Virginia almost shouted. I sighed.

“Give him this Valentine, Elizabeth,” Virginia urged.

“How much?” I finally asked. Virginia clapped her hands and squealed.

“I charge a dollar just like that other Valentine seller,” Virginia said adding disgust to the word ‘other’.

“You like him,” I joked pulling out a dollar from my backpack. Virginia’s mouth fell open. I laughed. Her mouth was still open as I handed her the dollar and put my Valentine in my backpack.

“Natalie?”

I turn around the find my mother standing there. She looks like she’s been crying. She had a picnic basket in her hand.

“Ms. O’Donnell called me about what happened,” Momma said. Her voice was shaky.

“I didn’t mean to burst out crying,” I tried to explain but my mother put her hand up.

“Come on,” Momma said taking my good hand. “Ms. O’Donnell has given you the rest of the day off.”

“But Darcy…,” I start before I can stop the words from tumbling out of my mouth. Darcy was in a car accident. I just cried in class.

“You can see Darcy at home,” Momma said. There was a look on her face that I never noticed before. Maybe she really did think I liked Darcy……..which wasn’t entirely untrue.

“Where are we going?” I asked as we got into the car.

“You’ll see,” Momma said. She turns on our Christmas CD and Let it Snow blares out. Then I remember. That was the song Momma and Daddy had been dancing to. Tears roll down Momma’s face and I try my hardest not to cry but tears start to rapidly fall down from my face.

Momma gets on the highway and gets off at one of the best places on the Mohawk Trail.

“Can you hold on to the picnic basket?” Momma asked. I nodded. Momma got out of the car and opened the trunk. She took out a rather large box.

“You ready to have a picnic?” Momma asked. I slowly nod. We walk a little bit till we find a spot that’s just plain beautiful.

The snow right here is nice and white.  Momma laid down a blanket. I find it kinda crazy that we’re going to have a picnic in the snow but I sit down and Momma pulls out two thermals cups.

“Beef Carrot Stew,” Momma smiles. She pulls out an orange and hands it to me.

“I know moving from Miami to Florida has been hard for you,” Momma started. “There are places in Miami that your father used to take you to and you can remember those places. In our apartment every corner had a memory of him. I think you’re old enough now to…well let me show you.”

Momma opened the large box. Inside there were twenty journals.

“These were your father’s,” Momma said as tears fell down her face. “Ten years of history are recorded here. From when he first came to Miami to the day before his death. Your father knew that he might die soon so the last entries focus mostly on us and how much he loved us and life and how he was ready to see if Jesus if necessary.”

“Daddy knew he was going to die?” I asked looking at the journals.

“Yes,” Momma sighed. “I’m not ready to tell anyone anytime soon about the accident or why your father thought he might die. Reading his journals is the second best.”

Momma’s eyes were red and her face drenched.

“Honey, I miss your father now more than ever,” Momma said. “I had to come back home because he died. I had to come back because he never met my parents. I had to come back because he never met my siblings. I had to come back because he never got to see the Mohawk Trail and marvel about its beauty. You’re his child and you deserve a chance to see what he died before doing.”

Momma started to have some of her stew and I did the same.

“He left you letters,” Momma said when we were finished without picnic.

“He did?” I asked in disbelief.

“And I think it’s almost time for the first one,” Momma said getting into the car.

**

August 7th

   It’s been nearly a week since I took holiday and came to Miami. It’s hot here all the time. It felt so good to get out of the rainy and cold British air and to feel the hot and steamy Florida weather. I still can’t believe that some people call this time ‘winter’.

 Today while trying to learn how to surf I knocked down a woman. Her name is Riley Walters. Her hair is the perfect mix between dirty blonde and ash blonde. Her eyes are the most beautiful amber eyes I have ever seen. I apologized repeatedly and she kept forgiving me. I didn’t want to go back to my surfing lesson. I stupidly suggested to take her out to dinner to show how sorry I was for knocking her down. She surprisingly agreed. She looks no older than twenty. Would she have turned me down if she knew I was twenty-seven?

  I took her to a little Mexican restaurant near the apartment building I’m staying in. It turns out Riley just got here too. She’s come from some place in New England. I have a feeling she didn’t have a very good childhood. She didn’t speak much about her parents.

 I told her just about everything. I told her my life back in England. I told her where exactly in England I had been born (including the hospital and exact second I entered the world). I told her about my parents. I caught myself before I told her about my father’s invention. Who knows if it will even work?

 I got her phone number before the night ended. Is there such a thing as love at first sight? Cause if there is. I’m in love

I locked myself in the bathroom along with my father’s first journal. The journal started off with his journey from England to Miami, Florida. Then finally I got to the one where he met my mother. I tried my hardest not to get the pages wet but a few tears spilled on the page.

I was about to read August 8th when a horrible sound blasted through the air and the house shook. I heard screaming. I unlocked the bathroom and hid my father’s journal under my pillow before I walked into the restaurant.

“Oh my goodness!” Momma screamed.

“This is crazy!” Jaci screamed.

“MOMMY!” Megan shouted.

“My restrurant!” Ms. Donna shouted.

I gasped.

Mr. Stewart’s car was in the restaurant.

Posted in Farm Girl, Highlight & Contest, Natalie

Highlight & Contest: Will You Be My Valentine HINTS

First I would like to apologize. I didn’t know how hard this contest would be. So, I’ve decided to give out hints!

Couples

Jaci and Timmy– Hint: Scripture

Abby and Zach– Hint: Proposal

Natalie and Darcy– Hint: Pride and Prejudice

Virginia and Leo– Hint: Roses are Red

Nelson and Emily- Hint: Crushed

photo 1

Also the person who sent the Valentine they receive, they sent a Valentine to. The original post can be found here. Please contact me if the contest is still too hard. The winner and PRIZE will be annouced on Valentine’s Day! Good Luck!

Posted in Farm Girl

Farm Girl- Installment Three

**

The bell rang for lunch and I was about to get up when a boy walked over to Leo.

“I heard that you’ve started selling the Valentines,” The boy said.

“Yup,” Leo said smiling.

“I’d like to buy three,” The boy said.

“That will be three dollars,” Leo said opening his desk and handing him three Valentines.

“Thanks,” The boy said handing him three dollars.

“What kind of Valentines do you sell?” I asked interested.

“See for yourself,” Leo said with a smirk on his face. He handed me one from his desk.

Roses are red

Violets are blue

I don’t know what to say around you

“Don’t tell me that you’re selling this junk!” I shouted outraged.

“Excuse me?” Leo asked.

“If I were to receive this Valentine I would be crushed!” I shouted getting up from my chair. “This Valentine is despicable!”

“Despicable?” Leo asked getting up from his chair.

“Despicable,” I repeated. I stormed into the cafeteria.

“Look at this! Look at this!” I shouted shoving a Valentine in Natalie’s face.

“What is it?” Natalie asked harshly. She didn’t look mad but she sure sounded mad.

“This is so rude! So ridiculous! I would punch the boy who gave me THIS piece of junk!” I screamed.

Everyone at that lunch table looked at me like I was crazy. Especially Emily Stewart.

“Calm down,” Natalie said snatching the Valentine out of my hand. She read it.

“What’s wrong with that?” Natalie asked. She had scrunched up look on her face.

“I don’t know what to say around you? What kind of cheesy line is that? It might as well read ‘Roses are red. Violets are blue. I really don’t want to give a Valentine to you.’” I said sitting down.

“I don’t see what’s wrong with it,” Darcy said standing up for Natalie. I gave him a look. Boys.

“This is being marketed as a Valentine to give to someone who you really don’t want to give a Valentine too! Dozens of poor girls are going to receive this terrible Valentine!” I shouted.

Ok so I didn’t really know if this was being marketed as a Valentine to give to someone you didn’t want to give a Valentine too, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was!

“VIRGINIA!” Aunt Jane screamed running into the lunch room waving a brown bag.

“What now?” I muttered. I was starting to wonder if she was a little bit more than slightly crazy.

“I didn’t give you a lunch before you took off,” Aunt Jane huffed. “I’m sorry.”

She gave it to me. I took one look and decided this woman could not make a PB&J sandwich.

“Thanks,” I said taking it anyway. Aunt Jane smiled.

“Somebody get their Valentine’s Day out of the way?” Aunt Jane asked picking up the disgusting Valentine.

“No,” I sneered. “I just found out that my desk partner is selling these!”

“Then sell them back,” Aunt Jane said.

“Huh?” Everyone at the table including me asked.

“You make Valentines bigger and better,” Aunt Jane said.

“That’s a wonderful idea!” I shouted. “I’ll beat him at his own game!” Aunt Jane nodded.

She may be more than slightly crazy but her crazy ideas can be good.

This was war.

**

It took me all night to make a bunch of Valentines. I made some for friendship. I made lots for romance. I made a big mistake letting my little sister cut out hearts. By the way she cut them you would think she didn’t know what a heart was!

“VIRGINIA! ANDREW! RACHEL!” Aunt Jane shouted the next afternoon. The three of us ran down the steps.

“What’s wrong, Aunt Jane?” Rachel asked.

“There’s been a terrible accident on the Mohawk Trail. They want Andrew to go down and help out,” Aunt Jane said trying to catch her breath.

“Who was hurt?” I asked grabbing my coat.

“Zach Davis and Darcy Edwards,” Aunt Jane said trying to put her arm through Rachel’s coat’s armhole.

“Who’s Zach Davis?” I asked handing Aunt Jane her coat.

“He’s Mr. Stewart’s nephew. Trust me they do not get along,” Aunt Jane said picking up the car keys.

“How bad is it?” Andrew asked as we hopped into the car.

“They aren’t dead but Zach is badly hurt,” Aunt Jane said going way over the speed limit.

“Aunt Jane, slow down! I haven’t even put my seatbelt on!” I screamed. Aunt Jane didn’t seem to hear me. We got to the sight of the crash in less than two minutes.

“Don’t ever do that kids!” Aunt Jane shouted hopping out of the car.

I stumbled out. I felt like puking. I saw a sight. Natalie was being loaded onto an ambulance.

“What’s wrong with Natalie?” I asked Mrs. Baldwin.

“She fell,” Mrs. Baldwin said. “Nothing to worry about. She wasn’t in the accident.”

Andrew walked down the hill and started helping.

“What happened?” I asked.

“We don’t know yet. They haven’t tried talking to them. Zach is unconscious and Darcy is delirious,” Mrs. Baldwin said. “Poor Natalie.”

Mrs. Baldwin walked away before I could ask her what that last part meant.

“I have the strangest feeling that a certain Stewart dispute had something to do with this,” Aunt Jane said under her breath.

And for a strange reason even thou I knew nothing about Stewart disputes I had a feeling it did too.

**

I walked into the North Adams hospital with two Get Well balloons and one box full of Valentines. I planned on selling my first Valentine today.

“You’re my first friend visitor,” Darcy said as I walked into the room. I smiled.

“I have to admit this isn’t only just a social call,” I said pulling a chair up close to his bed.

“I’ll buy a Valentine or two from you,” Darcy laughed.

“So who do you need?” I asked.

“I need a Valentine for my mother, Emily, Regina, Jaci, and Abby,” Darcy said. “And maybe one for little Megan.”

“You don’t want to give a Valentine to Natalie?” I asked a little outraged.

“I do don’t get me wrong but…………,” Darcy started. “Can I tell you a secret?”

“Sure,” I shrugged. I tried not to squirm in my seat.

“Well one Christmas morning I left a present for Natalie under her little Charlie Brown tree but I didn’t put my name on it. Ever since I’ve been sending her anonymous gifts,” Darcy said not quite looking at my face. “Natalie calls me her Secret Santa but she doesn’t know its me.”

“How romantic!” I cried. “I have the perfect Valentine!”

I went rummaging through my box and found the Valentine I was thinking about.

“I don’t know,” Darcy said reading it. “What if she doesn’t feel the same way? I mean……”

“Don’t worry. I’ll take care of that,” I smiled.

Darcy looked at me strangely.

“Tell you what. I have to stop by and see Zach. I’ll go visit him and come back. It will give you time to think about it,” I said. “But don’t worry. I know Natalie likes you that way. I just do. I’m not just a farm girl you know? I also do the occasionally matchmaking!”

Darcy laughed as I walked out the room with my box and Zach’s balloon.

“Can I see Zach Davis?” I asked a nurse.

“Do you know him?” The nurse asked.

“I’ve got a balloon for him. I also live in Florida,” I said. “My name is Virginia Powers. I live with my Aunt Jane Powers.”

“I’ll ask him,” The nurse said walking towards his room.

“And tell him I’ve got Valentines!” I shouted.

The nurse came back a minute later.

“He says he doesn’t know you but he knows your Aunt so he said you can come in,” The nurse said. I smiled and walked down the hall.

“Hello!” I said walking into the room.

“Hi,” Zach said weakly.

“I’m afraid we haven’t met,” I said putting the box of Valentine’s down. “I’m Virginia Powers.”

“Zach Davis,” He smiled. “I only let you in because she said you had Valentines.”

I smiled and laughed.

“Yup,” I said shaking the box. “What do you need?”

“I’m afraid someone is trying to kill me,” Zach said.

“And you want to send them a Valentine?” I asked.

“No!” Zach shouted. “I want a Valentine for Abby.”

“Abby Matthews?” I asked. “The one that lives in Boston?”

“That’s the one,” Zach said. “If there’s one thing I want to do before I die is marry that girl.”

“She didn’t mention a boyfriend,” I said digging through my box.

“That’s because I’m an old boyfriend,” Zach sighed. “I left her but I sure didn’t forget her.”

“If you broke up with her why in the world would she want to marry you?” I asked.

“I knew her back in college and well she left me that time and well I guess we’re even now,” Zach said. He had a smile on his face.

“I think I’m going to have to make a special Valentine for this one,” I said putting a lid on the box.

The nurse that had helped me walked into the room with a syringe in her hand.

“Flu shot,” The nurse said. “Doctor’s orders.”

Zach quickly jumped out of his hospital bed. His legs were really shaky. He started to run but the Nurse stuck the syringe in his arm. She ran after him wanting to complete the job.

I had a feeling Zach wasn’t kidding when he said he thought someone wanted to kill him.