The Dark

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The rest of the evening
flies by in a blur.
Somehow, Natalia convinces me
to stay the night at her house,
as the next day
is New Year's Eve
and she apparently wants
to have her own little celebration.
Her parents are going to
a party with their coworkers
and friends, so I guess
she feels a little left out.
It won't be nearly as big
of a party as her birthday,
she assures Seth when
he expresses his concerns.
Just me, her and him -
and even if he isn't
spending the night, he
just has to come, she says.
It won't be the same
without him.

Personally, I just think
that she's still plotting
to get Seth and I together
since we sort of thwarted
her attempts tonight.

After texting my parents
to ask their permission,
Nat and I pile into
Thias' car -
Seth gets let off the hook
in carpooling us since
he claims he has
somewhere else to be.
It's a short trip home for me
to grab an overnight bag
and change out of my dress,
and then Thias drives us
back in the direction of Nat's house.
She chatters the whole way
about the dance and
her plans for us tomorrow
and what she thinks
the new year will bring.

Thias shoots me a look
out of the corner
of his eye, almost as if
he's asking just how
I've made friends with someone
as talkative and animated
and completely unlike myself
as Natalia Davis.
I know he doesn't
like her very much -
he's said as much before -
and besides, the way that
he looked at her as she
climbed into his car earlier
spoke louder than his
words ever could.
I can only wonder
what she's done to
make him dislike her so.
Maybe it's just because of
the rumors he'd warned
me of before, and nothing more.

We arrive at her house
before very long, though.
After hugging my brother goodbye,
I step out of his car,
flanked by Natalia, who
suddenly seems very eager
to get inside and
change out of her dress.
Thias pulls away, and then
it suddenly hits me:
I'm alone with Nat
at her house.
Her parents aren't home;
it's just the two of us.
The realization only makes
me more nervous, though
I don't know why, exactly.

Maybe I'm
just tired and
still strung up from
all that happened tonight...
Let's go with that.

Just like the first time
I had been here,
Nat's house is open and empty,
almost eerily quiet.
Our shoes echo against
the hardwood floor as she
shows me upstairs to
where her bedroom is,
and the butterflies start to flutter
around in my stomach again.
"Make yourself at home,"
she tells me as she
throws the door open,
revealing a room that makes
Euni's half of our bedroom
look spotless.
"Sorry it's a mess -
this whole thing was
really impromptu, you know?
I'm going to
take a shower."
And with that, she
flounces out of the room.

I set my bag down
in the corner of the room
before looking around fully.
While messy, her room is
actually kind of cute -
like the rest of the house,
it isn't extravagant at all,
but it's obvious that
Natalia lives here.
Her bedspread is a
bright purple color,
as are her curtains.
Picture frames line the walls,
showing her at various
points of her life, and with
various other people.

A little girl whom I
assume to be Nat
beams out at me from
the closest of them;
behind her are two people
that probably are her grandparents.
Another one shows a
slightly older Natalia
running on the beach,
the sun shining in
her platinum blonde hair.
Still another shows me
a group of girls,
all in uniform, leaning
in a huddle towards the camera,
a trophy held between them.
She played basketball
at her old school,
I distantly recall.
I guess her team
must have won
the championship that year.
I'm almost surprised to see
Addie on the leftmost side
of the group,
before remembering that
she'd been on Nat's team, too.

When Natalia comes back in,
hair wrapped up
in a towel on top
of her head,
I'm lying flat on my back
on her bed, staring
up at the ceiling.
She has those paste-on
glow-in-the-dark stars
up there, I've discovered,
and I find that
to be kind of a cute quirk
to what otherwise is obviously
the bedroom of a
typical high school girl.
Maybe some people
don't really ever grow up -
or maybe they just
don't want to.

"Those are from
when I was seven,"
Nat tells me,
following my gaze as she
shuts the door after her.
"I was scared of
the dark back then,
I guess, so my grandpa
bought me these.
I can't reach them,
so I've never taken them down."
She laughs a little,
almost self-deprecatingly.
"They're kind of fun,
anyway.
I doubt many other people
our age still have
stupid little kid stuff
like this in their
rooms anymore."

"Are you still
scared of the dark?"
I ask her, wondering
at the same time why
I'd asked that.
It's not like it
matters very much.
I'm sure she grew
out of it, the same way
people uncondition themselves
from believing in Santa Claus,
or that there are
monsters in their closets.

But she just shrugs.
"Depends on the night,"
she says vaguely,
waving a hand before
reaching up to
remove the towel, letting
her long blonde hair
cascade down as she
flips her head over.
Her voice, when she
speaks again, is muffled.
"But don't sweat it, okay?
I won't wake you up
screaming or anything, if
that's what you're worried about."

It's not, but I
don't push it any further.
Natalia looks tired as she
straightens, tosses her towel
to the side, and
flops down on the bed
right beside me.
I have to admit that
I'm exhausted, too,
though that somehow isn't
enough to keep me from
watching her as she
closes her eyes and
lets out a long, deep breath.
She looks strangely
vulnerable at that moment,
in a way I've never seen
from her before.

But the moment
quickly passes, and she
opens her eyes to
grin over at me.
No words pass
between us, but
inexplicably, I feel my
cheeks begin to redden as
I find myself staring into
those bright green
eyes of hers.
The room is suddenly
far too small, and I
roll onto my side
away from her,
suddenly embarrassed,
to the cheerful tune
of her laughter.

×

Matty is literally so obvious now. Come on, girl, get some common sense in your head. This is not how you typically feel about your gal pals, alright? Alright.

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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