I'm Tired

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Natalia makes me promise
after dinner that night that I'll
make time to hang out
with her from now on.
I'm not the only who's
been affected by the distance
that her argument with Seth had
put between us, it seems.
Seth is still sick for now, so I
make that promise, and she
seems more relieved than before
after she drops me off
at home and drives away.
I am, too, even though I
know I'll have to figure out
how to make time for her
after Seth recovers and
insists on domineering my
life as he had before.
But I'll manage it.
Even if I have to
lie to him forever in order
to stay friends with Nat,
I'll do it.

I don't want to
lose her again.

But everything is changing still,
try as I might
to ignore it.
Thias leaves to spend
spring break with our family
out in Vermont -
he’s gotten better since
his breakup with Sara, but
Aunt Tina still thinks that
the mountain air or whatever
it is that they have up there
will help his mood, which
hasn't been the same since.
Euni, too - she decides
at last minute to go as
his driver, even though Thias
probably is a lot safer
on the road than she is.
I almost wonder if she's
going with just so she can
avoid me, but that's unreasonable,
so I doubt it.
Then again, who can tell?
It's Euni,
after all.

I make a point to visit Seth
most days until he
finally is well enough to
come back to school, and
hang out with Nat on
those that I don't.
Seth's gone back to
acting strangely, but not
in the way he had
before he got sick.
He's been getting better, but
has started to talk to me less
when I come to see him, and
smiles less, too. When
I try to ask him if
there's anything wrong, he
only shrugs, looks away.
I'm not even sure if he
likes that I've been coming by
to see him any more.
I don't know what
to think, except that
maybe he'll act more normally
once he's recovered from the flu.
Maybe he's just tired.

I find myself talking to
Nat more as a result, and even
though I can't really ask her
about Seth, just being with her
after so long is comforting.
Everything starts to fall back
into place in our friendship -
everything except that
nervous, electric edge
that I can still feel with every
accidental knock of our knees
and minor collision of our hands.
I may as well be shoving
a fork into a live outlet for all
the good it's doing me.
Every moment I spend with Nat,
every second that
makes me remember
feelings that I should not have,
feels like a betrayal of
my boyfriend, an act of giving in
to what I shouldn't want.
It hurts - but sometimes,
it hurts worse to sit
at Seth's bedside and wonder
how much better my life
would be if I didn't
have to worry about what
everyone in it thinks of me.

So now, when Natalia
asks me what's wrong, I
can’t say anything, even when
she knocks my shoulder
ever so slightly with hers
and calls my bluff.
It's automatic to fight the
red that seeps up into
my cheeks, and even more so
to excuse myself to the bathroom,
where I stand before her parents’
fancy gold plated mirror that I
had once admired and stare
at a face which I never have.
Even if I had been able to
talk freely with Natalia, I don't know
how I would have put into words
exactly how I'm feeling
right now.
The girl who peers back at me
looks tired, though I've never
felt more on edge;
her eyes are darker than my
normal chocolate brown,
almost black;
and she looks older, more worn,
like my Aunt Margo did
at her son's funeral:
small, weary, drooping.

I don't know what's
going on.
I'd thought everything
was all right, but maybe
it really isn't.
Maybe I care more about
my sister's distance
and Seth's silence
and all this running from
everything in my life that
never will fit together
as perfectly as it used to
than I had thought.
Maybe I really am tired -
and the more I wonder,
the more my body
decides to agree with me.

“Matty?” I hear from
the other side of the
door after a while.
“You okay in there?”
I hadn't realized how long
I'd been in the bathroom;
no wonder Nat must be worried.
After another moment, I finally
break off this staring contest
with my reflection to
splash some water
on my face and hope that
I don't look as awful
as I now feel.
I'm still wondering how
well it'll work as I swing
the bathroom door open -
and almost hit Natalia.

She looks up in a hurry
as I emerge, and the frown
in her eyes tells me that
she’s worried - suddenly
guilt ridden, I look down and away
as the door swings shut behind me.
She’s all green and gold in the
dim hallway light, shadows darkening
her already dark skin,
a balance of contrasts.
Something in me stops short
at the sight of her, half-lit
and open, waiting for
what she can't know, what
I can't tell her, not now.
The pain returns;
part of me wants to
take another step forward,
just one more to cross
the divide between us -
but I know I can't.
Everything is changing
all around us, but
I can't keep from
falling behind, and I can't
push myself to press ahead
into the unknown, either.
I'm stuck.

“I'm fine,”
I tell Natalia at last -
and I hope she believes
me, because if she
were to argue the point,
I don't know how I
would be able to keep
from telling her
the truth.
I'm tired of running.
I'm tired of lying
and wondering when someone
will call me out on it.

But she doesn't
say anything, just
shrugs and detaches herself
from the hallway shadows
to make her way back
towards the living room
ahead of me - and
I don't know whether I
appreciate her silence
or wish that she had
asked me to tell her
what I wish she could know.

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The huge angsty chapters are almost here, dudes... B) I'm excited. Y'all should be too. It's gonna be great and it'll make me cry but that's fine. It's all fine. Actually it's not and everything is falling apart in this story but... Y'know, that's cool. Matty survives. We all know that, so yeah.

I'm on my way back to school today so hopefully that means I'll be able to write a few more chapters before I have to get back to studying and homework. Here's to hoping...

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