We Are

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The rest of winter break
flies by much too quickly
after the start of
the new year.
Before I know it,
my siblings and I are walking
up the sidewalk that leads
to the school building again,
backs weighed down with
all of our books.
I, at least, hadn't
brought many of mine back
on the last day of exams,
so it feels like I
might just fall over backwards
from the weight of it all.

But that's forgotten as
we walk in the front doors
and nearly run headlong
into Seth.
I don't know if he
had been waiting for me,
but as soon as he sees me,
his face lights up
in a way that makes
my stomach do this
weird flop thing.
It's not exactly
comfortable.

“Hey, Matty!”
he says, as if
he hasn't seen me since
before the start of
Christmas break, and
pulls me in for a hug.
It's kind of awkward,
at least for me.
But maybe that's just
because I have no idea
what's going on.
Seth doesn't normally
act like this -
but the more I
think about it, the more
I realize that it probably
has something to do with
what happened yesterday.

We hadn't talked since
the New Year's party
at Natalia's house,
not even a single text
to commiserate about
school coming up on Monday.
But that was all right -
I was still lost
in my own chaotic thoughts
about what had happened
between us.
Not talking to Seth
was almost a good thing,
a breath of fresh air
after a long series of
confusing events.

But it didn't last long.
On Sunday, he had
finally called me -
not to apologize for
kissing me unexpectedly, no,
but to ask me
something very different,
something that I wouldn't
really have expected, even
if I do know that
Natalia probably had
something to do with it.

“So, wait,”
Eunice speaks up
from beside me,
her brow puckering
in confusion.
“Are you guys, like…
Dating?”

It's dead silent
for a moment.
Thias, on my left,
looks rather perplexed
by the idea,
as if he would never
have considered it,
while Euni, on the right,
is staring accusingly
at Seth and I.
I've frozen in place,
for my part,
wondering how she would have
guessed something like that -
Natalia’s influence, I imagine.
There's no other
explanation for it.

But Seth doesn't seem
very shocked by the question,
oddly enough.
“Yeah,”
he responds casually,
slinging an arm
around my shoulder,
“we are.
Why?”

Euni lets out a
surprised little shriek
at the same time that
Thias’ eyebrows shoot up
into his hairline,
looking supremely shocked.
I hope he doesn't think
that I'm making light of
what happened with
him and Sara, but
it wasn't like I could
have said no to Seth yesterday.
When I had tried, I
almost seemed to hear
the raggedness in his voice
when he'd told me about
his parents a few days
before the dance.
It would have been
a little cruel, I think.

And anyway,
he's a nice guy,
isn't he?
I'm sure it won't
be that bad.
What's the worst
that could happen?

“You and him?”
Thias splutters when
he's recovered from
his shock some.
“I didn't even know
that you two
knew each other.”
He frowns, then makes an
amendment to his statement.
“Well, not until
the dance, anyway.”

“Natalia tried setting
the two of us up,”
Seth shrugs.
“That's how we met.”
I'm surprised by how
nonchalantly he's addressing
my brother, whose face looks
as if it's beginning to
morph into a tomato.
It's a bit alarming;
even Euni seems
taken aback by Thias’
sudden shift in mood.
He isn't normally
anything but calm
and collected.

“Don't tell me that
you're only saying you're
dating Matty because of
some stupid matchmaking thing,”
he growls.
“That's not at all
fair to her, you know-”

“Of course I
know that,”
Seth replies, obviously
a little irritated
by his assumption.
“It has nothing
to do with Natalia now.
What she wants to happen
has no bearing on
how I feel about
your sister.”

They probably make
to go on about the topic
after that, but I
can't seem to focus
on their conversation
any more.
Everything else has seemed
to descend into a
stark, shocked silence.
Since when has Nat
ceased to have an influence
on this whole thing
between Seth and I?
I think maybe I'd assumed
that she had pestered him
into talking to me again
and properly asking me
to be his girlfriend,
which is why I hadn't
overreacted to it
this long while.

But to hear it come
from Seth himself, that
it was his idea
to properly ask me
to be his girlfriend
a little disconcerting,
and confusing more than that.
What could possibly
be his motive for it?
This whole time,
I'd thought that we
were just friends.

“I have to go,”
I vaguely hear him
say into my ear;
he gives my hand a
slight squeeze before
starting away.
His absence is almost
like the removal of
some kind of tension,
another breath of fresh air,
and I feel my shoulders loosen
as he disappears from sight.
Thias, shaking his head,
soon follows suit,
muttering about not
wanting to be late to class -
but Euni remains,
still looking at me
with a quizzical expression
that I know means that
she's trying to
read my own features.

“Is everything okay?”
she asks after a moment,
stepping forward towards me.
“You seemed a little…
spaced out with him.”
She pauses,
tilting her head in
a way that reminds me
of a dog I saw
on TV once.
“Are you guys
actually dating, or
was he just saying that?”

“We are,”
I mutter, shrugging.
“And I'm fine, really.
Just didn't get
a whole lot of
sleep last night.”
It's a feeble excuse,
and I know it, even before
Eunice frowns down at me.
“I have to get
to class too, okay, Euni?
Can we talk
about this later?”

She hesitates, but
relents in the end.
“Yeah, okay -
but we are gonna
talk about it, right?
You're not going to
just blow me off?”

“Of course,”
I assure her as
the bell rings, signalling
the approaching start of
today's classes.
“I promise.”
But as we both
hurry away down the hall,
I find myself wishing
that I could just
escape this issue,
escape whatever it is
that I'm feeling right now -
and escape having to
talk about it with my
gossipy older sister.

×

HELLO!!! It's been a while, hasn't it? So sorry I haven't updated this story in AGES, college has been insane but I think I might be getting the hang of it... I've only had 3 days of classes so far, so idk, but let's hope so.

Speaking of, this story definitely won't be updated as much as in the past. Really sorry, but I literally only wrote 4 parts in all this time (including this one), so I don't have a lot to work with. I don't have time, either. So I'm gonna aim for once a week at the very least, maybe more during breaks and stuff. Please don't hate me, but I have to put school first or I'll die, haha...

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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