Brit Lit

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Natalia ends up
driving me home
after the discovery is made
that my siblings had gone
on without me
(and had blown my
cell phone up with
worried messages, besides).
I tell them what happened,
and after informing me
that no, they won't
hide my accident from
Mom and Dad,
they subside,
and my phone goes back
to its normally silent state.

Natalia's car is
not what I would
have expected.
With her parents' wealth, she
could probably have her pick
of several newer models -
or at least, something nicer
than the decrepit old Pontiac
that she leads me to.
I can see how it
must have been a nice car
years ago, but now
it looks like it should
have been left at a dump
some time ago.

"This was my grandpa's,"
she tells me as she
leans through the
driver's side door
to pop the trunk.
I shiver in the
blustery winter air
as I watch her
chuck her backpack inside.
"When he started chemo,
he told my dad
to give it to me
since he probably wouldn't ever
need it again,
and I was looking for a car,
anyway."

She chuckles, then,
like she's remembering
something amusing.
"It's a classic,
he said.
Yeah -
a classic piece
of trash."
And as if to
emphasize her statement,
she kicks the nearest tire
with another laugh.

"Your grandpa..."
I start hesitantly.
I almost don't want
to ask.
"Is he..."

"Alive?"
she finishes for me.
"Yeah,
sure as hell.
He's still up and kicking -
just last week
when I visited him,
he got into this
whole huge argument
with one of the nurses
over why he couldn't have
a second portion
of chocolate pudding."

I laugh before I can
stop myself.
Natalia flashes a
small grin as she
ducks into the driver's seat,
motioning for me
to get in the other side.
But her expression falls
just a little
in a few moments.

"He's not
getting any better, though,"
she tells me
as I take my seat.
"He's been in the hospital
for two years, now -
two years, and they
keep telling us that he
only has a few months
left to live,
at the very most.
But he's a fighter,
my grandpa.
I think he's just
holding on this long
to spite them."

I don't know what
to say to that.
I've never had a
family member who's
had cancer.
My maternal grandparents died
of old age or something
when I was little,
and my dad's parents
have never shown
much of an interest in
our family, other than
the occasional birthday card
and phone call.
The closest I've come
to what Natalia's experienced
is when my cousin Hal died.
Even then, it wasn't
due to medical complications.

"I'm sorry,"
I tell her,
earning a surprised look.
"I'm sure it must be
pretty rough on your family."

"Well..."
She pauses for a moment,
as if considering
whether it really is
a big issue for her.
"I mean, it does suck
that Grandpa is in there,
I guess -
we used to be really close,
you know.
He'd come to all
of my basketball games
when I was in middle school,
and would take care of me
when Mom and Dad were away."

"What happened?"
I prompt her when
she abruptly stops speaking.
I'm worried for a moment,
until she glances
over at me
with another grin.
Somehow, though,
it doesn't quite reach
her eyes.

"He gave me this
stupid old car,"
she laughs hollowly.
"That's a deal-breaker right there,
let me tell you."
With that, she shoves
her key in the ignition,
and the Pontiac roars to life,
obviously unwilling to
say anything more
on the subject.
All my remaining questions
are choked off into silence.

It doesn't take long
to reach my house.
We only speak on the
very few instances that I
have to give her directions;
otherwise, the only sounds
are that of her car.
It actually is quite loud,
so I don't know
if we could have carried on
a decent conversation, anyway.

"How about
Friday after school?"
she asks as we
pull up in front
of my house.
Abrupt as her question is,
I barely even register
what she's saying,
let alone what she's
referring to.

"You know,"
she adds when I
cast her a confused glance.
"Helping me out
with Brit Lit.
You said you were
taking it this year, right?"

"Oh,"
is all I can say
for a moment
as I remember her deal.
"But I thought it was
a sophomore class -
why are you
taking it this year?"

"I failed it
last year,"
she sighs dismissively.
"Mostly because
Mrs. Branham is
a total reject
and hates my guts -
but anyway,
I had to retake it
this year.
And I hate English and stuff,
so I'm not the best at it."
She shrugs after a moment,
as if done with that
train of thought.
"So,
Friday after school?"

"Where?
At school?"

"Or my house,"
she says,
obviously unconcerned.
"I mean,
it'll be quieter there.
My parents won't be home
for a few weeks, at least."

"Oh."
I can't say for sure
why the idea
of studying at her house
surprises me, but
I'm left in surprise for
a few seconds.
Part of me is screaming,
'What the heck?'
very loudly, while
a more rational
part of me
is telling me that
we're friends, and
that's completely normal, right?
I don't know.
I haven't had enough
experience with having friends
to tell for sure.
I haven't had enough
experience with
being friends
with Natalia.

I must have
voiced some kind of agreement
somewhere during my
internal conflict, because
Natalia brightens
and says,
"Great.
My house it is,
then.
I'll see you tomorrow."

Before I can
say anything more,
she speeds off,
leaving me both
very confused
and very nervous
for this coming Friday.

And then,
the front door opens
behind me.

×

I'm so bad at cliffhangers. Wtf is that last sentence. Help.

Anyway, I only like this chapter because of Natalia talking about herself and stuff. Character development always makes me happy. But Matty was being weird, as usual, so whatever.

If you guys liked this chapter, I'd love if you would vote and leave me some feedback! It would be very much appreciated <3

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