Knew Her

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Aunt Margo's house
is already crowded
by the time we arrive.
Some of Mom's side of the family
had flown in last night,
while Dad's brother
had only pulled into
the long stone drive
leading up to her house
just before we had.
After Dad parks, he
gets out to talk to Uncle Greg,
while the rest of us
are stuck carrying the food in.
Before Eddie can
be roped into that responsibility
as well, he runs off
to play with the younger cousins
clustered at one side
of the yard.

Almost every year,
we celebrate Thanksgiving at
Aunt Margo's house,
purely because of how
expansive it is.
Her ex husband was
rather well off
as far as money goes,
and the sheer size
of this place
more than proves that.
There probably isn't enough
room to comfortably house
all of us for
a long period of time,
but it serves our purposes
for the day.

The women start hurrying about
getting everything ready
once we set down our contributions.
Euni, Thias and I are
shooed out of the kitchen area
in short order.
My older siblings go to talk
with some of the adults
while I wander outside.
It's cold today,
colder than it has been in
the past couple weeks.
Winter seems to be
setting in rather quickly now;
I'm not too thrilled for that.
While I do like seeing
the snow fall from the sky,
all crisp and clean and white,
the cold is something
I could do without.
I always get restless
during the winter.

As if to perpetuate that,
Uncle Greg soon
turns on a Christmas station
on his phone, eliciting
a chorus of groans from
the rest of us.
It's too early to even
think about Christmas,
in my opinion,
let alone listen to Christmas music,
but that has never stopped him.
He's a Christmas aficionado;
he even plays Santa Claus
at the mall near his house
back in Vermont.
Still, it's no call
for him to play that kind
of seasonal music when
it's only Thanksgiving today.

Before long,
dinner is ready, and
we're all called back in
to fill our plates.
Aunt Margo's table isn't quite
big enough for all of us,
so the kids get it while
the adults sit around
her living room
and in the kitchen
and wherever else
they can find space.

I find myself next to
my cousin Addie, who
is a year older than Thias.
Though shes old enough to
be grouped in with the adult,
she sits down anyway.
She hasn't seen any of us
since last year, as she
started college in the fall,
so she goes around the table
asking about how we've been
and what we've been up to
since she's last seen us.
Most of the answers she receives
are typical of the little kids -
starting school,
sleepovers and field trips,
proposed vacations in the summer.
She takes them all in stride,
unfailingly polite as always.

When she asks Thias
about his girlfriend, he
shrugs her off,
suddenly looking very interested
in his turkey and mashed potatoes.
When she gets to Eunice,
my sister goes off about
how idiotic junior year is
and how much of a waste
of her money college is.
Addie nods politely, but
I'm sure she doesn't agree,
being that she's currently
enrolled in college herself.
Or maybe she does -
I wouldn't know.

Finally,
she reaches me,
just as I start to dig in
to my fruit salad.
"So,"
she says,
"how's it going
with Natalia?"

Immediately,
I choke on my food.

When I finally recover,
face burning slightly
in embarrassment,
I ask her,
"How do you know
who Natalia is?
Are you psychic?"
Not that I had
been thinking about her
or anything...
Definitely not.

"Eunice told me,"
Addie replies obliviously.
"She said that
you had finally made a friend,
and that you guys
hang out a lot.
That's a good thing,
right?"

I'd forgotten how close
Addie and Euni are.
Despite the two-year age gap,
they're as thick as thieves,
and have been since
they were really little.
While Euni and I are also close,
and she talks to me about
whatever is on her mind a lot,
I guess there are some things
that she can't or won't
tell me -
and things about myself
would probably be some of them.

"Yeah,"
I assure her,
spearing a chunk of pineapple
with my fork.
"She's really nice.
Pretty, too -
practically the whole school
is jealous of her."
I hadn't really meant
to say that much -
I can feel my cheeks
turning redder
by the second.
"She took me to
the nurse's office once
when I cut myself
in home ec,"
I blurt out
before Addie can say anything,
hoping to save myself
from any incrimination.
It doesn't work,
and my cheeks flame more.

But Addie just laughs.
"That's kind of her,"
she says.
"I wouldn't think that
she would be much concerned
with anyone but herself -
but maybe that was
just when I knew her."

"You know her?"
My embarrassment is forgotten
for just a moment
in light of this new fact.
Considering Addie has lived
in Vermont for the majority
of her life,
rather than down here
in Ohio,
I wouldn't think that she
would know anyone
from our school.

"Knew her,"
Addie repeats,
"but yeah, I did.
She used to live
near us in Vermont -
before we moved, that is.
She went to the high school
on the other side of town.
We both played basketball,
and things kind of picked up
from there."
She pauses for a moment,
looking thoughtful.
"I didn't know until
Eunice mentioned her the other day
that she lived down here now.
Her family has moved around
quite a bit from
what I can recall,
but I'd thought she was
still in Vermont."

"Small world,"
Euni pipes up from
the other side of the table.
"Seems like everyone
and their grandma
knows Natalia Davis."

"It's not as if she's
some big celebrity
or something,"
Addie puts in.
"Though she always did
act like she was one..."

From there, the conversation
trails off into something about
actual celebrities,
and I'm subsequently lost.
It doesn't really matter,
though, since
I'm lost in my own thoughts,
ones that I probably
shouldn't be lost in
to begin with.
It's Thanksgiving, though,
so I try my hardest
to push back everything but
the current moment,
here with my family,
just like I'd told myself
to do earlier today.

Of course, that fails
in short order,
leaving my head cluttered
and my plate still full
of untouched food.

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New character, and more stuff about Natalia, as well as Matty's family. Fun times. But seriously, Matty is so oblivious and it hurts. Like, really hurts.

I dunno how many of you guys have seen the movie 13 Going On 30, but I watched it for the first time last night and the one guy's nickname is Matty and I sort of cried inside. I dunno. I might have imagined him as being female for the majority of the movie....

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

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