Bad Influence

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"Oh, cool,"
is Eunice's first response
the next morning
when I tell her about how
Natalia and I got
paired up in home ec.
"She's really nice -
you just wait and see.
Super cool, too.
I think most of the girls
in our class
look up to her,
to some degree."

Not for the first time,
I wonder how superficial
her opinions are
of Natalia -
as well as those of
her fellow classmates.
Are they based on
her family's wealth,
or her looks,
or something else entirely?

From somewhere behind us,
Thias finally looks up
from his phone
long enough to take notice
of our conversation.
He'd been texting Sara
for quite a while now,
since before we had
even left the house.
"I wouldn't hang around her
too much
if I were you,"
he cautions us.
Euni snorts
as he continues,
"I've heard that she's
gotten into some bad stuff.
Drugs and whatever -
nothing that either of you
need to get mixed up with."

"That's bullcrap,"
Euni laughs.
"I've heard that too,
but unlike you, I've
actually talked to her
about it.
She says that she
would never drag anyone down
with her."

"How is that
supposed to
reassure me?"
Thias sighs wearily.
"Didn't you hear
a single word
I just said?"

Our sister looks
rather unconcerned.
"Blah blah blah,
Thias is a big dummy
and such a spoilsport,
blah blah..."
Then she quails
as Matthias shoots her
such a stern glance that
I'm surprised she doesn't just
melt into a puddle
at his feet.
Then again, melting
isn't really Euni's style.

"I don't want to be the one
to tell Mom and Dad
that their daughter is mixed up
with druggies and gangs and
what-have-you, okay-"

you seriously worry
way too much.
Anyway, I was
just kidding."
With a laugh, Euni
seems to bounce back
from her puddle act
and punches Thias lightly
on the shoulder.
"C'mon, bro,
do you seriously think
we would do something
as stupid as drugs
and whatever?
And it isn't like Matty
can help that she and Talia
are paired together."

We all know that
Eunice is right,
to some degree;
Thias' expression softens
just a little,
and he sighs.
"I'm not liable,"
he repeats,
"if either of you get
mixed up in something
you shouldn't.
And don't say
I didn't warn you."

We're close enough to school
by now that
he drops the topic entirely -
there are too many people
in our school
who would take a little
bit of our conversation
and blow it out of proportion
and spread it everywhere
like the busybodies they are.
It's happened before,
back when I was in eighth grade
and someone spread the rumor
that Thias was gay
after mishearing
something he said to a friend.
To our intolerant school
and equally as intolerant family,
that was not something
to be taken lightly.
Luckily, he and Sara
had just started dating, and
she is definitely not someone
to back down from a fight.
Within a few weeks,
the rumors had been cleared.

But we still remember
those times, so
Thias quiets and
Euni runs to greet her friends,
and I head to my locker
as I always do,
wondering silently how
someone as cool and collected
and secretly vulnerable
as Natalia Davis
could ever be considered a
bad influence to me.
They don't even know her,
I tell myself.
They haven't had a
decent conversation with her,
or even seen anything
as proof of
their alleged rumors.

And I realize that
I haven't, either,
besides that one conversation
in home ec yesterday -
but what separates me
from them
is that I aim to try
and have conversations with her,
and understand who she is
without making assumptions.
I don't think her to be
who she appears as
in the hallways,
distant and lofty
with that popular crowd that
she hangs out with.

Because, in my opinion,
she might be
the best person I have
ever known -
and that is ultimately
what separates me
from all the rest.


Oh jeez, Matty, you're not obsessed at all... Smh girl, find something else to do with your life.
No but seriously, I love her to death and she's cute af so whatever mannnn idc.

Anywho, a bit of foreshadowing here. Not trying to give anything away, but we can all see Thias' stance on the issue of Nat's morality, and that will become important later on. He, personally, is a very upstanding guy, so yeah.

If you guys liked this chapter, I'd love if you would vote and leave me some feedback! It'd be very much appreciated. c: And not to go all self-promo here, but I just posted the beginning of a new story called Steps in the Dark, and I'd love if you guys would check it out! It's teen fiction, but has hints of mystery and stuff in it, as well as some very cute boys who will be cute af together and I love ahhhh--

Also it's lowkey gonna hit on some delicate issues later on, which I very much enjoy because said issue doesn't really get brought up much. Not gonna give too much away, but yeah. Hope you guys enjoy it as well!

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