Not Nice

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Despite my resolution
to get to know Natalia better,
and to prove my brother wrong,
my heart and my
nervous tendencies
seem to have a completely
different idea.

I've started seeing her
in the hallways
between classes
a lot more these days,
walking and talking with her
popular cheerleader and
football player friends.
I can only wonder how I
never noticed her
around the school before.
Even without taking her
appearance into consideration -
which is a stark contrast
to the rest of our
mostly white-washed student body,
her personality shines out
so brightly
and sets her apart from
everyone else around her.
No wonder she's so popular -
her countenance just screams
to be recognized,
to be different from the rest.

Maybe it's not about
her family's wealth at all.
Maybe she's just
naturally
someone that everyone
aspires to be like.
I know that I do.

But that isn't
the weirdest thing
by far.
I've started seeing her
in the halls, sure -
but she has started
seeing me as well.
The one time, as I
watched her cross the lobby
from the English wing to
the Science hallway,
she met my eyes
across the empty space -
and smiled.
Not just an empty,
'Oh, hi there.
I know you from class,
probably,'
kind of smile, either.
It was one that
lit up her entire face
in a way that instead said,
'Oh, I know you!
Hello there!'

I don't remember
what happened after that.
I think I may have
run into a locker
or an open classroom door.
I just know that
my forehead hurt for
the rest of the day,
but I'm pretty sure
she didn't see just how
clumsy I was
in her presence.

Well,
I can hope she didn't,
at least.

This afternoon,
I decide to take Eddie
to the park
after school since
it's not too far away,
and it's a Saturday so
he has the whole weekend
for homework.
Despite the fact that it's
already into November,
the weather isn't too bad.
We throw on our jackets
and head out the door
after I text Mom
so she and Dad don't come home
and worry if we aren't back
before them.

The park in question
is really an abandoned playground
that used to be part of
an elementary school
that was torn down
long before I was born.
They left the playground for
the neighborhood kids
to play on, though,
and the field behind it
has been the home of
many an impromptu kickball game
throughout my childhood.
I practically grew up here -
Thias, Euni and I all did.

In elementary school and
middle school, we would
run down here
nearly every day over
summer break to hang out
with our neighbors and
hold kickball tournaments
that would last for hours.
When I was in
seventh grade, it became
an official thing, and
our parents would all come down
to watch us play
and to cheer us on.

Now, all of the
neighborhood kids we played with
have grown up
and have lives of their own,
so little Eddie here
can't experience what
his older siblings did.
Still, the playground is here,
and he seems content with that.
He babbles to me about
school and
his friends and
the field trip to the aquarium
they're taking next week
as he swings around on
the monkey bars.

A few other children
join him before long,
and he breaks off to go
and play with them.
I'm left alone with my thoughts -
and as always, that's a
dangerous thing.
I try to concentrate on Eddie,
how he chases after the girls
on the playset
with laughter that we have
been adoring since the day
we first met him.
I try to keep my thoughts
on him, but
a flash of blonde
off to my right
sends my mind scattering
and my eyes darting after,
trying to catch something
I know isn't there.

And I'm left frustrated
after that,
because why in the world
did the sight of some
middle-aged mom
send me plunging back
into thoughts of Natalia?

It doesn't
make sense,
none of it.
Not how I can't seem
to get her off my mind,
or how my eyes
always seem to be drawn
to her face, even in
a room full of
other people.
Maybe it's because
I want to get to know her better,
because I want to
prove to Thias that
she isn't as bad a person
as he's heard.
That is the
only logical reason
for it,
I convince myself.
That is the only reason
for me to feel this way
about another girl...
Right?

Before long, I call
Eddie back over.
It's getting late, and
I know that our parents
will be home soon enough.
Eddie yells a goodbye
to his new friends
as he skips off after me
and proceeds to chatter
once again
this time about
the girls he had been
playing with - who happen
to be twins, apparently.

"Hey, Tilly?"
he says at one point,
probably because he realized that
I'd sort of zoned out.
Tilly is what he's called me
since we first told him
my full name, and
he couldn't seem to
pronounce it quite right.
Even now that he
knows it, and
everyone else has
taken to calling me Matty,
he continues with his version.
I think he likes that
he coined it himself,
and no one else calls me by it.

"Yes, Edwardo?"
I snap back into focus
after a moment,
cringing when I realize
the direction my idle thoughts
had been taking.
As always, he giggles
at the silly nickname.
Normally, I try
a crappy imitation of
our mom's drastic accent
when I call him that, but
I'm a little distracted today.

"Your face looked
kinda funny
back at the playground,"
he says once he's
calmed down some.
"Hailey said that
you were staring at
her mom
really meanly."

I vaguely remember
the blonde woman that had
kickstarted my whole
negative train of thought.
That must have been
Eddie's friends' mom.
"Oh,"
is all I can
think of to say.
"Is that so..."

"Yeah."
His brow puckers
just slightly
as he looks up at me.
"It's not nice,"
he tells me sternly,
"to stare at people.
That's what Mom's said.
You should know that -
you're older than me."

'It's not nice
to stare.'
I nod absently
to appease Eddie, but
I can't help but
wonder why it never
feels so wrong when
it's Natalia
that I'm staring at.
What
in the world
is wrong with me?

×

Someone help Matty please, she's too naïve for her own good... Oh my god, I've been facepalming for a long time now, she needs to get a clue. Holy shit.

Anywho, this chapter was kinda long, lol. I don't usually let them get this bad, but I couldn't find anywhere to split it, so whatever, here you guys go. I'm listening to my favorite song (50 Ways to Say Goodbye by Train) right now so who fuckin cares, right?

If you guys liked this chapter, I'd love if you would vote and leave me some feedback (or just scream at Matty with me, idk). It'd be much appreciated c:

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