Natalia's Friend

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The sound of voices
wakes me the next morning.
Sitting up slowly, I
blink the sleep from my eyes
as I stare around at
my surroundings,
trying to remember.
But remember I do,
soon enough, and I
sit up with a start as
everything from last night
comes flooding back.

I'm all alone
in Natalia's bed, the covers
skewed all around me;
Nat herself is
nowhere to be seen.
Sunlight is streaming in
through her windows,
barely hindered by the
thin curtains hung across them.
I don't even remember
falling asleep, just lying
side by side with Nat as she
told me some story
about a friend of hers
from her old school.
I guess it must have
been pretty boring
if I fell asleep during it.

A t-shirt and sweats
is what I'd changed into
at home last night;
that's what I shuffle out
into the hallway in,
looking for the girl
whose house I'm staying at,
wondering when she had
left her room -
or if she had even
slept in her room at all.
The fact that I may have
accidentally taken her bed
for the night makes me
feel a little guilty.

But instead, I catch
the sound of voices
from downstairs again,
and creep to the top
of the stairs to hear better.
One is obviously Natalia;
another is more feminine.
The final, masculine voice
is somewhat familiar,
though I can't place
where I've heard it before.
They don't sound angry,
just a calm discussion of
something I can't really
pick up on.
As I head down the stairs, I
catch hints of the topic
by way of words like
'girlfriend' and 'party.'
Said snippets don't make it
any more obvious
to me, though.

I find the source of the talking
in the kitchen down the hall -
Natalia standing at one side,
and two adults sitting at
the kitchen table.
It takes me a moment,
but I recognize them
from Nat's birthday party:
her parents.
But they don't look as upset
as they had that night,
thankfully.
I let out a subtle
breath of relief that
I didn't release I'd been holding.

The three of them
look up as I
hesitate in the doorway.
Nat's parents look
as if I had just walked
in on them during a
semi-casual dinner party,
while she herself probably
just rolled out of bed
from the looks of it,
hair disheveled and
t-shirt wrinkled.
She's the first to smile
and wave me in, though.
"Mom, Dad,"
she says,
"this is Matty Leopold.
Matty, this is
my mom and dad."

As I look at her parents,
I can see where she's
gotten her looks from.
Her mom is much like her,
dark skin and bright green eyes,
and a friendly grin to
top it all off.
Her father is more fair-skinned
and light-haired, if not
precisely blonde like his daughter.
They both look friendly, which
I guess is good for
an ambassador or
whatever she'd said her
parents do for a living.

"Nice to meet you, Matty,"
Mrs. Davis greets me,
accompanied by a nod
from her husband.
She has a bit of
an accent, one that
I don't really recognize.
It's not something that
Natalia has seemed
to inherit from her.

"You too, Mrs. Davis,"
I start, but she
waves a hand at me
with a small grin.

"Do call me Raina,"
she laughs.
"Everyone does.
I'm not much of a
stickler for proper titles,
unlike this one."
And saying so, she
jabs a thumb back
towards her husband,
who only rolls his eyes
in response.

Nat's parents seem
pretty nice, so I
don't understand how she
can think so badly of them.
Or maybe I can, as
Mr. Davis' phone rings
from the table beside his plate
and he stands to answer it,
his clipped, precise steps soon
carrying him out of the kitchen.
Both Nat and Raina watch him
until he disappears from sight;
my friend seems mildly irritated
by the whole ordeal,
while her mother simply
sighs out a vague,
"Oh dear,"
as if she knows
what the call is about.

We stand and sit respectively
in silence for a moment;
Raina then seems to
remember herself, and
proceeds to offer me breakfast,
which happens to be
scrambled eggs and
homemade waffles.
"She thinks they're
her specialty,"
Nat murmurs to me
as Raina piles food
onto a plate for me.
Her tone is so cynical
that it makes me laugh
just a little, covering
my mouth with a hand.

Her mom turns to
shoot us a mildly
inquisitive look then, as if
she's asking one of us
some unspoken question
that I don't understand.
It must be Nat she's looking at,
because when I glance
over at the blonde next to me,
her face is, surprisingly,
beginning to flush a little.

Natalia announces her intention
to take me shopping
after I've finished eating,
and then proceeds to
flounce from the room
to go change, her hair
flying out behind her
like a pennant.
I move to follow her, but
Raina catches my arm
to stop me.
"I just wanted to
thank you,"
she tells me,
"for being Natalia's friend.
She doesn't always have
an easy time of it,
you know.
And it's been hard for her
since we moved
from Vermont."

She seems so
straightforward and sincere
that I can't help but
feel a little bad for her,
but part of me is wondering
if she really knows
her daughter at all.
Natalia is in no way
scared of making friends -
I mean, she had been
the one to befriend me,
not the other way around.
I can't imagine a Natalia
who is afraid of people,
afraid of making friends.

But then I remember
the look in her eyes
as she told me about
her paste-on stars last night,
the way she had almost seemed
to put distance between herself
and our peers, as if
she's not at all
like any of them -
as if there is something
that sets her apart
from the rest.
And maybe that might
sound a bit cocky
to someone else, but to me,
it sounds more lonely
than anything.

"It's no problem, Mrs-
I mean, Raina,"
I tell her mom,
who smiles amiably as
I turn and follow
after her daughter.
Maybe, I think,
I'm the one who
doesn't know Natalia
after all, despite
what I might think.
Maybe there really is more
to this blonde socialite
that I've befriended than
just what meets the eye.

×

Raina's my new favorite, okay. She's so happy and good and so many other things that Nat doesn't see her as. Nat's opinion of her mom, at least, is really unfair in my opinion.

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

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