Dumb Book

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Natalia's house is
significantly further away
than my family's.
It had taken her
less than five minutes to
drive me home
earlier this week,
whereas the drive
to her own house
takes around ten,
and is in the opposite direction,
besides.

The houses subtly change
around us
the further out we get.
My own neighborhood is
one of those middle-class ones
with a bunch of retired people
and families with young kids
who don't care as much
about having a perfectly
manicured front lawn
as they do about
having a roof over their heads
and food on the table.
There's a big difference
between what I'm used to
and the houses I start seeing
only minutes before
Natalia slows her vehicle down
and pulls left into
what I assume to be her driveway.

She had been talking
about something while driving;
what, I don't know,
because I had more or less
lost track of the conversation
as the houses got
fancier and fancier
all around us.
Now, she cuts off
with a surprised little laugh
as she notices my expression -
which, I'm sure,
is even more surprised.

Natalia's house is
huge -
and I don't know if it's just
one of those houses that
looks so much bigger
and more glamorous
on the outside, but
it leaves no doubt in my mind
that she and her family
are definitely well-off.
I guess some of the
rumors that Thias has heard
are true, at least in part.
The Davis family
really is loaded.

"Do you have
a butler?"
I ask her
impulsively -
and sort of without
really meaning to.
"Or maids?
A housekeeper?"

"What kind of books
do you read?"
she laughs at me.
"Of course not.
I mean, I'm sure
we could afford them
if we really wanted to,
but Mom hates the idea
of making someone
outside of our family
clean up our messes and stuff.
And anyway, she
has this thing against
taking advantage of Dad's paycheck
and wasting it on
stupid little things..."

"Oh."
I feel a little
embarrassed now -
but she brushes away
that topic with
a quick wave
of her hand.

"Now,"
she says,
throwing her door open
and stepping out of the car,
"let's get to work,
huh?"

The inside of Natalia's house
isn't too shabby, either.
I can see what she means
about her mother's opinion
on being showy with
their wealth, though -
her house is
modestly furnished,
and if you look past
the sheer size of the place,
you might think it to be
just another house
somewhere in my own neighborhood.
It seems homey, at any rate;
Natalia has no trouble
making herself at home,
anyway.

Then again,
it is her home...

"Want something to drink?"
she calls back as she
tosses her backpack
on a sofa in
the living room.
"We have Coke,
water, juice..."

"I'm fine,"
I tell her automatically,
feeling a little awkward
for whatever reason.
"But thanks
for asking..."

But she's looking at me
with a strangely apologetic
expression on her face,
almost as if she hadn't
meant to say that at all
"Sorry,"
she chuckles.
"I think my mom's
drilled the whole
hostess thing
into my head by now.
'You have to have manners
and crap when you have
people over...'
You know."

Her voice changes
into an accent that
must be reminiscent
of her mother's.
At least, that's
what I gather,
but considering how ridiculous
she makes it sound,
I can't help but laugh
I'm spite of never having met
her mother.
She joins in after a second,
shrugging as she
plops down next to her bag
and pulls out her binder.
A second later,
I follow suit.

Right now in Brit Lit,
as she and most of
the student body calls it,
we're reading through
Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre.
Natalia pulls out
several worksheets on the book,
some of which I recognize
as being due
some days ago, perhaps
even weeks.
I raise a brow
in her direction
as I read the date on
the topmost sheet.
She colors slightly and,
almost defensively,
mumbles a short,
"I was busy,
okay?"

But I'm not really
paying attention to
her excuses.
In my attempts to
avoid any
Natalia-borne distractions,
I'm instead scouring
the questions she has
yet to answer.

Soon enough,
I pause to look up
at her.
"These questions,"
I say,
"are really easy -
they're right in the book.
It's just comprehension stuff
based on what you've read."

"Well,"
she huffs,
"I can't find them.
That's why I need
your help."

"Any of them?"
I cant believe it.
"Have you even
read any
of the book?"
Her answering silence
and pointed grimace
quickly answers my question.
"Natalia,
you have to read the book
in order to answer the questions."

"But it's so boring,"
she whines.
"And I don't get
the point of it.
She's poor and ugly
and no one likes her -
big deal.
This is such
a dumb book."

"But you have
to read it,"
I point out,
"even if you
don't want to.
It's for a grade."

"But that's why
you're helping me,"
she repeats.
"I told you
I need your help."

"I'm not going to
do your homework
for you."

At that, she
lets out a long sigh,
and that alone tells me
that that had been her aim
this whole time.
And that, of course,
sort of irks me -
why in the world
would I ever do
Natalia's homework for her?
It's so easy;
I can't believe that she
is incapable of
doing it herself.

"This is stupid,"
she says at last,
throwing down her binder.
It makes a dull thud
on the wooden coffee table.
"Let's talk about
something else."

"But your homework-"

"Yeah, yeah,
I'll do it later."
With a long sigh,
she flops back on the couch;
obviously, she has
no intention of
doing anything productive
for the moment.
With a low groan,
I lean back in my seat
and resign myself to
the situation at hand.

"You're hopeless,"
I tell her -
but she only shoots me
a wan grin.

"I know."

×

Jfc, Nat... Taking advantage of other people's kindheartedness (and probable crush on you) to get them to do your homework... Smh.

This while scene was supposed to be one chapter, but I write too long and I didn't want this chapter to be humongous... Actually, it kind of already is, rip. More to come tomorrow.

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

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