Tell Me

73 12 10

“I need to
talk to you,”
are the first words
Natalia Davis says to me
after a nine week, five day
long gap in our friendship.
I'd been counting, though
I don't know why.
Counting something like that
doesn't do anything but
make you wish
that you could
stop counting.

“Where's… You know,”
are the next words out
of her mouth, spoken
as she practically drags me
down a side hallway,
away from my siblings
and the other students
who stand around talking before
the five minute bell threatens
to scatter them.
“Your…”

“Seth?”
She grimaces at the
mention of his name, and
without meaning to, I
frown a little, too.
“He's home sick today -
caught the flu or something,
I don't know.
Why, you miss him?”

The acid in my tone
surprises me a little;
Natalia is caught off guard
entirely, and even takes
a startled step back
from me.
Immediately, I feel bad -
I don't really have a reason
to be mad at her, do I?
It's not her fault
we haven't talked lately.
It's not her fault Seth
doesn’t want anything
to do with her now.
Or maybe it is -
and like with Euni
and Addie, I just don't
know what's going on
between them.

“What happened with
you and Seth?”
I say before Nat can
get anything in.
“Why don't you guys
talk any more?
Why doesn't he even
want to mention your name,
let alone see you?
And that,” I add as
I point at her face,
at the scowl again forming
on her lips.
“Why do you hate when
I say anything about him?
We used to be such
good friends before,
the three of us, so
what's going on now?”

She hesitates before answering,
her jaw working as
her mouth opens, then shuts,
as if she can't figure out
what to say.
I don't see why
it’s so difficult -
she could, I don't know,
tell me the truth instead of
hesitating in an effort
to find a suitable lie
or excuse.
Is that so hard?

Sure enough, she finally
comes up with:
“Look, Matty, the bell
is going to ring
any minute now.
We can talk about
this later, okay?
I have to
ask you something now,
so please just listen-”

“No, Nat,
you listen to me.
I'm tired of this, okay?
I'm sick of pretending that
everything's all right, that
I don't care that my
best friend and my boyfriend
apparently hate each other
and I don't even
get to know why.”
She flinches back again,
but then remains unmoving.
I hadn't realized quite how
angry I really am -
or that I was even angry
to begin with -
but the longer I stand here,
the longer I have to look at
Natalia and her martyr act
right in front of me,
the more I have to say.
Maybe I'll regret
it all later, but for now,
I don't care.
“So, please,”
I continue, softer.
“Please, would you just
tell me something?
I think you owe me
at least that much.”

The bell rings
somewhere in the distance,
but neither of us moves.
Nat stares down at me,
unblinking, silent, as if
to break this moment
would be to sever our friendship
forever. I don't
think I want that, especially
not after my anger subsides
and my heart decides to bring up
all the complications that,
for now, I've been
able to ignore.
What would my life be like
without Natalia Davis in it?
I've already had
a little taste of that, and
I certainly don't like it.

“Fine,” she says
at last, almost
too quietly for me
to hear.
“Fine, but not
right now.
Class starts soon, and
I don't want to be late.”

“I have time,”
I protest stubbornly.
“Skipping class isn't
the worst thing -
and this is pretty important.”

“It is.”
She looks nervous
as she worries away
at her lower lip, a habit
that I might have found cute
in any other circumstance.
“But no, I can't.
You shouldn't, either.
And this isn't the best
place to talk, anyway.
Who knows when someone
could come up behind us
and hear something wrong -
and then, all of a sudden,
everyone here is talking
about something that never
actually happened.
So no, not here.
Later.”

She's not wrong, but
I'm not willing to put
this to rest, not while
my head still spins
with pent up frustration
and confusion.
I can't even think about
going to class like this,
even as the late bell rings
around us.
I just need to know
what's going on, and if
it had something to do
with me.

At the sound of the bell, Natalia
looks up in a hurry, then sighs as if
she's relieved to have a reason
to leave the conversation.
“I'll text you later,”
she promises as she turns
to head in what must be
the direction of her homeroom.
“We can figure out when
and where to go.
I promise I will tell you
about what happened, but
I can't now, not here.”

“Fine,” I say - and
that's that.
I turn to head
off towards my own homeroom,
head still spinning.
But then I remember something,
and wheel back around towards
the retreating figure of
my blonde friend.
“Natalia?” I call after her,
and as she spins back,
I continue with a confused,
“You didn't tell me
what you wanted to talk
to me about before.”

She hesitates in
the middle of the hall;
brow bent, green eyes dark,
her blonde ponytail swishing
around her waist
to its own silent beat.
Stretched back as it is,
I can see the dark roots
beginning to peek through
her hairline, even from
this distance.
I can see the weird look
in her eyes, too,
like she can't quite
remember the answer to
my question.

Finally, she just
shakes her head.
“Don't worry about it,”
she tells me.
“I'll talk to you
later, all right?”

And then she
walks off again,
turns a corner
and is gone.

×

Dunno what to say. Angst is coming up fast. Natalia is back. It's great. I'm excited but also trying not to cry.

I might be getting a ukulele today too, and that's exciting but irrelevant. Idk. I was woken up too early today so my brain is a mess, please excuse all the sense I'm not making, lol. But ukuleles are cool. Best instrument ever. Please tell me I'm not the only one who loves 'em, they're great...

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