Heart Attack

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"You and me,
today,"
is the first thing
Natalia says to me
when I answer my phone
the next morning.
"I'll pick you up
if you need me to -
just be ready by ten."

Considering it's already
nine in the morning
and I have absolutely
no idea what she's on about,
the only response
I can muster is
a yawn.
"What are you talking about?"
I ask blearily
once I've found my voice again.
"I just woke up, Nat..."

"Dress shopping,"
she proclaims.
"You're going with Seth,
aren't you?
You're gonna need
something to wear."

"Is that an assumption
or something you heard?"
I ask her,
wondering how in the world
she would have heard
about last night so quickly.
"And anyway, I don't
have to wear
a dress, do I?"

"Yes!"
she responds immediately,
nearly deafening me
with her sudden loudness.
"What kind of question
is that?
Of course you're going
to wear a dress.
Jeans won't cut it, missy."

"I wasn't saying that
I'd wear jeans,"
I protest halfheartedly;
I can't help but notice
that she doesn't disclose
exactly how she knows that
Seth asked me to the dance.
Maybe it really was
an assumption, and I
somehow confirmed it for her.
Maybe she's smarter than
I give her credit for.

"I'll be there at
ten o'clock sharp,"
she insists as I
roll my eyes.
"Which is in
less than an hour, sleepyhead.
So get going."
And with that,
she hangs up on me,
leaving me staring at
the home screen of
my phone.

Sure enough, she's
pulled up at my door
right at ten,
honking impatiently as I
shrug my coat on and
hurry out the door.
Luckily, my parents are
elsewhere for the day, so
that saves me having
to explain my sudden exodus
from the house.
After shouting goodbye
to Thias through his
bedroom door,
I'm on my way.

Nat shoots me a
self-satisfied smirk as I
jump in the passenger side
of her beat up Pontiac,
as if anticipating
the question perched on
the tip of my tongue.
"You got your car back,"
I say as she
guns the engine,
more of a statement than
a question.

"Told my parents that
I was going to visit Grandpa,"
she laughs.
"Yeah right.
Serves them right for
ditching me on Christmas."

"Visiting your grandpa would
be a good thing, though,"
I say, frowning.
"If he doesn't have
very long left-"

"Don't you guilt me too,"
Nat replies, surprisingly vehement.
"I've already had
enough of that for
the year, y'know.
'Be a better person,
Natalia, stop doing
all these horrible things,
throwing parties and crap.'
But it's my life, and
if I don't want to visit him,
then that's my problem -
and they can't tell me otherwise."

"Still,"
I murmur into
the sudden silence
as she drops off
in her mini rant,
"You'd feel a lot better
if you did go visit him."
She shoots me
a surprised look at that,
but says nothing in return.

We're at the mall before long;
I'm hit with a sudden
bout of déjà vu as I
remember coming here
with Seth just the other week.
Unlike then, though,
we know exactly
where we're headed.
Before long, Nat and I
are surrounded by dresses
of every shape and color.
But she still doesn't say
anything to me as she
picks through the racks,
her back turned to me.

"How about this one?"
I ask after a while,
hating the silence that has
built up between us.
I hold up a red dress
that goes down to my knees,
layered from about my waist down.
She lifts her head long enough
to give it a cursory glance,
then shakes her head and
goes back to her own search.
I try with another one
a few minutes later,
but with the same result.

That goes on for
about ten more minutes,
and I feel like she isn't even
looking at the dresses before long.
She has this look in her eyes
that says that she's fallen
too deep into her own thoughts
to be bothered with what
she'd brought me here to do.
And I don't understand that -
she was the one who had
suggested we go shopping
in the first place.

It doesn't take long for me
to get frustrated with
the whole ordeal,
and soon enough I'm not
even seriously looking
for a dress.
The racks thin as I
move further from the section
Natalia is browsing through,
and the pickings get
slimmer and slimmer.

And then,
I find it.

"How about this?"
I ask Natalia as I
make my way back to where
she's staring glumly at
a row full of
lacy blue dresses.
Any one of them would
look good on her, I think;
the blue sets off her
green eyes and dark skin well.
Momentarily, I'm distracted
by that thought as
she waves a hand at me,
as if to shoo me away.
"You didn't even
look at it,"
I belatedly complain to her -
and with a loud groan
(the first sound I've heard
from her sinceher car),
she spins around
to face me and the dress.

She starts to
shake her head and
turn away -
and then she spins back around
for a double take,
eyes widening in shock.
"You're not seriously
thinking of that?"
she asks in disbelief.
It's all I can do
not to laugh at her
incredulous expression.

"Why not?"
I say,
twirling around in a circle
so the dress swooshes
against my knees.
"It's cute, right?"

"Matty,"
she deadpans.
"That dress looks like
a circus threw up on it.
Whoever designed it
should be shot."

At that, a laugh
escapes my lips,
and I soon find it impossible
to hold back any more.
Natalia stares at me
for just a moment before
sighing, a small grin
flickering at her lips.
"You did that
on purpose,"
she accuses me.
"Even you wouldn't
pick such a hideous dress."

"You were so quiet,"
I explain, mirroring
her growing grin with
one of my own.
"I was worried.
And my mom always says
that laughter is
the best medicine."

"Well, she's not wrong,"
Natalia shrugs exasperatedly.
"But you nearly gave me
a heart attack.
Don't do that again."

Nodding, I turn to
return the dress
to its proper rack, but
not before I hear her
mutter under her breath
something to the effect of,
"And this is why I
love you, Matty..."

But no, I must
have imagined that -
I must have, because
there is no way
she would say
anything like that.
She would never think
that way about me.

But why does it matter
if we're friends?
Don't friends say things
like that about each other?
I don't even know,
which only makes it worse.

Face burning subtly,
I return to my dress search,
mind buzzing with confusion.
I make sure to keep myself
as much out of her view as
is humanly possible
so she doesn't spy the
color rising on my cheeks.

×

Oooooh I smell Natty B) I wrote this after work last night so it's pretty out of nowhere but oh well. I love it, okay.

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

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