A Moment

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As soon as I get home,
I run up to my room
and shut the door behind me.
Euni isn't anywhere
to be found, thankfully -
there's no way that she
wouldn't have bothered me
about what happened if
she was around.
I'm not ready for the
inevitable 'I-told-you-so’
that would result from
telling her that Seth
and I had fought.

Even thinking about
it now is too much.
I'd thought that things
between Seth and I
were all right, but
leave it to Natalia
to worm her way
in between us again.
I'm almost surprised by the
sudden irritation that
surfaces when I think
about her, about how
Seth had spoken of her -
even how she had cried
back at the mall
earlier this week.
I don't know why, but
all of a sudden, I feel myself
start to despise Nat
for her part in all of this.
If it weren't for her, none
of this would have happened,
would it?

But that's not
exactly right, I soon
admit as I throw myself
back onto my bed.
If it weren't for Natalia,
I would never have
met Seth or done
any of the things that
the three of us have done
in this past half a year.
For all I know, I might
still be tagging along
with Euni’s friends,
destined forever to be known
simply as 'Eunice’s little sister,’
and nothing more.
I can't imagine how
my sophomore year might
have gone so far
if it weren't for Nat;
it almost seems too
strange to even consider,
life without her in it.

I realize a little
too late that that thought
is a bit out of the ordinary.
I've had friends before,
friends who have gone
their separate ways over time,
and it's just a fact of life
that no one sticks around
for forever, except
maybe your family,
if you're lucky.
I should be used to this,
since I'm one of those people
who doesn't normally hold
onto friends so well.
But for some reason,
the thought of Natalia
walking out of my life
like other people have
before her
starts up an ache
in the center of my chest,
right over my heart.

Maybe I'm just emotional
because of that
argument with Seth.
Though I try to
rationalize this explanation,
I'm still not convinced
after a few moments of
mulling it over.
Even if Seth had been
saying horrible things about Nat,
there's no reason for
me to be getting so
worked up over her.
The more I think about it,
the more confused I get,
to the point where I finally
just bury my face in
my pillow and let out
a long groan.

What happens next
is almost instinct, or
maybe some unconscious
kind of reflex.
Before I know it,
I'm scrolling through the
contact list on my phone
(which, admittedly,
isn't really that long)
until I reach a
familiar name.
Addie Leopold.
This time, though,
I skip the texting and
instead jump right
to hitting the call button.
It doesn't take her
all too long to answer.

“Matty!”
she exclaims as
the dial tone clears
from the line.
“How are you doing?
And how's your boyfriend?”

“We got into a fight
a little bit ago,”
I respond impulsively.
“But before you say
anything, that's not
what I want to talk
to you about.
Well, not exactly.”

I've probably said it before,
but Addie has always been
like an older sister to me,
though we only see each other
on holidays, and I have
Euni around all the time besides.
But Euni is only
good for so many things,
while Addie has more
life experience, and is
a little more rational, too.
I think if she was
actually my sister, things
would be a whole lot easier.
Her advice has always
been something to stand by,
and she's always been
trustworthy, in my experience.

It takes me a few minutes
to explain everything to her -
why Seth and I had fought,
what he'd said about Nat
and why it had upset me.
How we had all met
and hung out for so long,
through Thanksgiving and
Christmas and New Year's,
and how it had all seemed
to crumble away in
only a few months after
school had started again.
She listens in silence as
I spill out everything that
has been bothering me
for the last few months -
and even some things that
I hadn't acknowledged before,
things that make my
stomach twist up into
half a dozen little knots
of anxiety as they
come pouring out.

“Matty,”
Addie says when I'm done,
“I'm gonna ask you something,
but I don't want you to
get all offended about it, okay?”
She pauses, but
when I don't say anything,
she sighs and continues on.
“How do you really
feel about Seth?
Do you love him?”

All of a sudden, it's
like something freezes
deep down inside of me.
Yes, my mind fills in
immediately, reflexively -
but my tongue hesitates
before that can come out.
Do I actually
love Seth Hunter?
He's nice, sure,
and has been a good friend
the whole time
I've known him, but
do I actually love him?
When he kissed me
at the winter dance, and
again on New Year's, did it
actually feel like
anything more than surprise,
and maybe a little fear?
A sort of shock
suddenly runs through me -
am I doing this
dating thing all wrong?

“I don't know,”
I tell my cousin, barely
higher than a whisper.
“I don't know, Addie -
is that a bad thing?”

“No, no!”
she hurries to assure me.
“It's not at all, really.
You can't help how
you feel, not at all.”
Of course, that doesn't
really do much to
make me feel any better.
“Different question,”
she continues.
“How do you feel
about Natalia?”

“Well, she's my
best friend,”
I reply immediately, defensively.
“I don't hate her,
if that's what you're asking.”

“That's not it at all,”
she says, patient as
a future special ed
teacher ever could be.
“Think about it
for a moment.
How do you really
feel about her?”

Not wanting to upset her,
I try it, remembering back
to the day we had met,
the way Nat had almost seemed
like this larger-than-life figure
who I never could
hope to reach.
And then when I had
passed out in home ec,
and she'd carried me to
the nurse's office, and
had driven me home after.
Natalia talking about
her parents, or her grandpa,
laughing or grumping, and
her smirk as she
set up that double date to
get Seth and I together.
The way she had looked
at me when I'd spent
the night at her house
after the dance, lying
side by side on her bed,
all the vulnerability leaking
through her tough façade
as she talked about the
glow in the dark stars
stuck to her ceiling -
and the strange way she
makes my heart pound whenever
I'm anywhere near her.

My heart is beating in
the same off-kilter syncopation
as I suck in a breath
to answer Addie.
“I don't know,”
I whisper fearfully.
“She's my best friend,
Addie, so why does
it feel so weird
to think about her?
Or to be around her, even -
I don't know what's
happening to me…”

My cousin's tone
when she answers is
as gentle as I've
ever heard it.
It's the voice that has
bandaged my scraped knees
when I was little, climbing
trees in my aunt and
uncle's backyard in Vermont.
It's held me close when
thunderstorms would shake
their little cottage in the mountains,
always calm in the face
of the deafening crashes outside.
It's familiar and soothing,
but the words that it speaks now
aren't so comforting to me.

“Matty,”
she says for the third time -
but this time, it's
so soft that I
barely catch it.
“Do you think it's possible
that you might be
in love with Natalia?”

×

I just love cliffhangers, don't you? ;) No but seriously, look, we're getting somewhere. So y'all can stop bitching at me about how naïve Matty is now;;;

Anyway, angst. I told you guys it was coming. But believe me, the next chapter is gonna be even better B)

Anywho, if you guys liked this chapter, I'd love if y'all would vote and leave me some feedback!! It'd be very much appreciated <3 Also feel free to screech in the comments because it'll probably make me laugh and I could use a good laugh right now, haha.

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