I had never wanted this, any of this. But the things we want and
the things we need always seem to be quite different. I didn't
know what I needed until it was unexpectedly given to me, no
warning, no explanation. And now when I finally had everything,
and things had finally started to make sense, this beady eyed,
fish-faced, sixty year old woman decided to take it away from me.
I stared at her, mouth open, eyes wide with disbelief. Her words
didn't make sense to me, they were incomprehensible. Anyone else
would have been able to understand the words she was saying
easily, but my mind was frozen, not allowing anything to come in
or anything to go out, I had shut down completely. After several
seconds my mind started to thaw out, and a small voice in the
back of my head that was gradually getting louder and louder told
me to turn and run.
"No…no…no!" I whispered when her words began to sink in.
I stared at the blindingly white screen, the black curser
blinking at the top of the blank page. I tapped my fingers
lightly on the keys and blinked my eyes a couple times trying to
make the white spots that had appeared in my vision to go away. I
had a short story due the next day for Mr. Riddle's grade eleven
English class; I don't classify five thousand words as a short
story, too many words. I knew this moment would come, when I only
had a few short hours before the assignment was due and my page
would be blank. I also knew that no matter how hard I wished for
inspiration to come, nothing would. There would be no spark of
imagination, and my fingers wouldn't fly across the keyboard as
the words poured out of my mind. I did, however, know that my
famous procrastination would kick in and that I would leave the
assignment for last minute.
I pushed myself away from the computer and flicked the bedroom
lights back on. I stared out of my window at the sheeting rain
that had been falling constantly for the past two days, which was
odd since it rarely rained in October. Phil, my father, pulled up
in the driveway. The engine was cut off and the drivers' door
flung open, he pulled his jacket up over his head and kicked the
door shut with his foot before running quickly to the front door.
"Natalie?" He called out after shutting the door behind him.
"Hey dad," I said as I walked down stairs and into the kitchen.
"You're home early, how was work?"
"Oh, there you are. Work was good, quite slow." Phil and his best
friend since high school went in business together and now owned
a home hardware store.
"How was school today?"
"Uhm, it was…fine." I mumbled as I grabbed the carton of milk
from the fridge.
"Its school dad, nothing exciting happens at school." I took a
gulp of the cold milk. An awkward silence fell; I took another
sip of my drink before placing the empty glass in the sink.
"How was the date last night with Laura?" I pulled a chair out
from the table and sat across from Phil.
"Oh, it was really good. She's quite nice, uhm… we're actually
going to go out again." He replied embarrassed, his eyes never
"Mm, that's good." I muttered. "I don't really feel like cooking
tonight, do you think we could just order Chinese food or
something?" I asked as I pushed myself away from the table.
"Yeah sure," He shrugged. I grabbed the phone from off the
counter and passed it to him.
"I'm going to go finish my homework."
"'Kay, I'll call you down when its here."
Conversations between Phil and I were always short, awkward
silences filling up the majority of the conversation. Although he
was my only parent, since my mother ran out on us when I was only
several months old, we didn't talk very often. Dinners were
always quiet, only a few sentences spoken. We had usually covered
all topics when he first came home from work, examples would be
how was work/school? Or sometimes how was your day? He usually
asked if I had any homework during the middle of dinner to try
and fill the silence. All in all, we were quite the awkward two.
I mentally smacked myself for asking how his date with Laura
went, when it came to relationships the awkward thing got even
I gave up on the shortish story and started on my math homework.
I was finishing up the second last question when Phil called me
down for dinner. The smell of Chinese food had drifted up the
stairs and into the hallway, my nose lead me down into the
"I am starving!" I announced as I sat down at the kitchen table,
as if to enforce my statement my stomach growled loudly. Phil
laughed and grabbed the bottle of Orange Crush from the fridge
and placed it on the table.
"Almost finished your homework?" Phil asked halfway into the
meal. I had been expecting this question; a dinner wasn't
complete until this question had been asked. I swallowed down the
piece of chicken that was in my mouth before answering. "Almost
finished math, I still have English though." I sighed and twirled
"I thought you liked English." He sounded puzzled.
"I do, just lately my imagination sucks." I admitted.
"Ah." He laughed quietly. He scooped up a pile of rice on his
fork and shovelled it into his mouth, affectively cutting the
conversation short. But then again, that's the only kind of
conversation we had, the short kind. I finished my dinner and
brought the plates over to the counter and began filling the sink
with hot bubbly water.
"When are we going to get a dishwasher?" I asked as I began
scrubbing the first dish.
"Once you finally get a job and can help pay for one. Those
things can get pretty pricey." Ah, my dad the cheapy.
"First of all, I do have a job and have had one for a few years.
Second of all, I told you I'd help pay for one."
"Oh…right. Well, we'll get one later." I rolled my eyes and
started on the next dish.
"I'm done washing the dishes." I said after a couple minutes and
dropped the tea-towel on the table in front of him.
I don't know what time it was when I finally finished the dreaded
story and made my way, still clothed in my day-wear, into bed. It
was much too early when my alarm clock started to beep loudly in
my ear and before I knew it I was washed, dressed and ready and
waiting for my ride to come pick me up.
"Okay, I'm off, I'll see you tonight, dad!" I shouted up the
stairs when I saw Seth drive down the street in his 1994 Jeep
"Morning." I said as I jumped in and pulled the seatbelt across
"Morning." He mumbled as he pulled out of the driveway, "Hey, did
you finish the math homework?"
"Yes…" I answered suspiciously.
"Great, do you think I could borrow it quickly first period, I
sort of forgot to do it. I'll give it back to you next class,
promise." He turned his head towards me, his eyes pleading.
"Ugh, fine." I huffed.
"And this is why you're my best friend." He smiled happily and
turned the music up.
"Yeah, yeah." I rolled my eyes and grabbed the two pages; both
sides covered with my messy scrawl, and laid them on his back
"How was Phil's date with Laura Monday?" He asked as he slowed
the jeep to a stop when the light turned red.
"Well they're going out again, so I guess it was good." I
"Hmm, that's good." Silence. "Are you feeling okay?"
"Yeah, why, do I look sick?" I asked worriedly.
"No, just, well you're not talking. And since you're you, it's
just a bit unnerving."
"Oh shut up, Seth. Just because I'm not talking doesn't mean I'm
not feeling well." I glared at him.
"Sorry, sorry!" He held his hands up in surrender.
"Keep you're hands on the steering wheel, I don't really feel
like getting in a car accident this morning, thank you very
"Wow, someone woke up on the wrong side of the bed this morning."
"Sorry," I sighed, "I have a huge English assignment due today
and it had me up almost all night." A yawn escaped my lips. "I'm
way past exhaustion and even though I spent hours on it, the
story still sucks." My shoulders sunk and a frown pulled my lips
"Pfft, I highly doubt that Ali, you're stories are always
amazing." He wrapped his arm around my shoulder and smiled at me.
"Thanks, but seriously, lately all my ideas stink; I just…can't
seem to find the inspiration." He rolled his eyes but let it drop
knowing he wouldn't win, especially with me in the mood I was in.
"I'm sorry that I'm in such a downer mood." I apologized.
"Ah, no worries, kid." He smiled.
"How did I ever end up with such a great friend like you?"
"You know what, I'm not really sure." He laughed. He parked the
car and shoved the math homework in his bag and slung it over his
"So, for lunch I was thinking we try that new pizza place down
"I would be totally up for that because I heard the pizza there
is like heaven but, since I didn't know we were going to be going
out, I didn't bring any money." He sighed and looked thoughtful
for a moment.
"I'll pay for you then, and you don't need to worry about paying
me back, this'll make us even since I have yet to pay you back
for the DQ Blizzard last week." He seemed happy with his idea.
"Okay, fine." I smiled, happy that I didn't need to have the ham
and cheese sandwich I had made for myself.
I got nervous butterflies flying around in my stomach when I
reached my locker which was four lockers and one classroom door
away from my English room, which also happened to be my home room
class. I held a breath in as walked slowly to the taunting
classroom, my fingers clasped tightly on the binder. The
assignment felt heavy, weighing me down. I forgot to let the
breath out. My face felt a little bit funny, sort of like it was
about to explode. Breath, I reminded myself.There was a folder at
the front of the classroom where we were supposed to place our
assignments, a few sheets of paper already placed inside. I sat
down in my desk, far back row next to the wall, and opened my
binder. I stared at the paper -more like glared, and took it in
my hands. I sighed and walked back up to the front and placed it
on top of the other sheets. Mr. Riddle came walking through the
door right after the bell rang loudly, a coffee cup in his hands.
I stared longingly after the steaming mug he had placed on his
desk. I needed the caffeine badly. Not only could I feel myself
drifting off to sleep already but my eyelids were drooping closed
ever so slightly, my brain dying on me. How in the world would I
be able to get through the day? Note to self, don't stay up until
four in the morning writing an English assignment, it's worth
failing if you can at least sleep.
"Okay, has everyone handed in the short story?" Mr. Riddle asked
as he flipped through the papers.
"Oh, here's mine!" A girl came running into the classroom, paper
in hand. Her blonde hair was tied back into a sloppy ponytail,
her bangs falling into her eyes. Mr. Riddle raised his eyebrow at
the girl but took the paper.
"You're late, Ms. Turner." He said giving her a pointed look as
she scurried to her desk.
"Sorry?" She replied.
"Way to be late." I whispered when Mr. Riddle had started talking
"I slept in," She shrugged "Oops." I rolled my eyes. Hannah
Turner was the definition of lazy, completely laid back and easy
going. Nothing could frazzle this girl up. She found humour in
the little things of life, letting things roll by without a
second glance. I sometimes envied her view of the world, so calm
and peaceful. It did end up getting her into quite a bit of
trouble at times though, that part I did not envy.
"Want to come to lunch with me and Seth today?" I whispered when
Mr. Riddle turned around to write something down on the
blackboard. "We're going to that new pizza place." I picked up my
pencil and began quickly writing down the note.
"Sure, I'll meet you by your locker." She gave me the thumbs up
before turning back to her doodling. I stared at the sheet, not
one note about the lesson on it. The rest of the class was a
bore, the butterflies in my stomach had calmed down, I could
still feel one flying around, too much energy in that one. The
bell rang loudly and I closed my books up and headed off to my
next class. Seth was at my locker, my math notes in his hand.
"Thanks again for letting me borrow your homework." He said
handing them back to me.
"Just remember, it's not my fault if they're all wrong and we
both get zero on it."
"Gotcha." He leaned up against the locker beside mine as he
waited for me. I turned around ready to head off to Media Arts
when I saw his cheeks turn a light shade of pink, his eyes
looking down at the ground in embarrassment and running a hand
through is shaggy sandy brown hair. I looked across the hallway
trying to figure out what had caused this reaction that I hadn't
seen since the ninth grade when he had a crush on Hayley Pinto.
Standing at her locker talking to one of her friends was Amy
Lincoln; she was twirling a finger around in her long wavy brown
hair and laughing.
"Seth?" I could hear the laugh in my voice.
"Huh? Yeah?" He shook his head quickly before looking at me.
"Is there something you need to tell me?" My eyes drifted towards
Amy and then back to him. He sighed and pushed himself off the
locker and started walking towards the classroom. I laughed and
shut my locker before running up behind him.
"Oh come on, Seth, we've been best friends for years, you can
tell me!" I caught up to him but still was jogging to keep up at
"There's nothing to tell." He exclaimed throwing his hands up in
"Hmm, denial, that's not good. Oh come on, puhlease! Do you mind
slowing down, not all of us have six feet legs!" I panted.
"My legs aren't six feet tall, you're just short." He grouched.
"Hey, I'm not short." I pouted.
"When you're five foot three and in grade eleven, you're
considered short. You're considered short at your height in grade
nine…now you a midget."
"Ouch, that hurt. And I'm five three and a half. That half is a
big difference thank you very much." I could practically hear him
roll his eyes.
"Please, Seth. I saw your reaction, there's not much to tell; I'm
just hurt that you wouldn't tell me before. That you've kept me
in the dark for so long." I grabbed his arm and turned him to
"There's seriously nothing to tell, Natalie." He said yanking his
arm free of mine.
"Natalie? Wow, you never call me that." I mumbled.
"We're going to be late for class." He muttered and started
walking again. I walked a few steps behind him, staring at his
back with a puzzled expression. I took my seat next to Mr.
Grumpy-pants and logged onto the computer. I pulled up a solitar
game as I always did at the beginning of class and began playing.
Out of all the times I played this game, at least two a day, I've
won a total of four times. This game hates me.
"Why do you play that game when you always lose?" Mr.
"Because I'm determined to win." I replied.
"But you always loose. Doesn't that frustrate you?" Boy, Mr.
Grumpy-pants sure was persistent today.
"Look, Mr. Grumpy-pants, you're the one frustrating me at the
moment. Now please stop talking and let me loose my game."
"Mr. Grumpy-pants?" Seth asked me, his eyebrow raising.
"It's the new name I've given you."
"Oh." He turned back to his computer screen, the conversation
finished. I glared at the monitor, more so at the game than at
the monitor, when I realized that, once again, I'd lost.
"Stupid game." I mumbled as I closed out of it. Mr. Daniels came
in then and walked to his desk. He ran a hand throw his thinning
gray hair and picked up the attendance sheet. I wasn't paying
much attention until I heard him say my name. "Natalie Owens?" I
raised my hand. "Seth Peters? Nancy Ross? And Philip Zooner? Okay
class, everyone please log on and start on the assignment,
remember, it's due next Wednesday and it's worth twenty percent
of your grade." I was practically finished mine so I spent half
the class loosing to solitar and the other working on bits and
pieces of my project. I swivelled around in my chair and stared
at the computer, tapping my fingers on the keys. Wow, flashback
to last night, I laughed to myself. I started counting how many
times I could spin my chair around without Mr. Daniels realizing
it. I got to four before he gave me an evil glare. I was going to
continue when he looked away but I was feeling a bit dizzy. My
head fell back and I stared up at the ceiling, I thought about
going to sleep, Mr. Daniel's wouldn't be able to see me from over
here, but I had the irrational fear that I would start snoring.
That would be beyond embarrassing.
"Bored?" Seth asked giving me a strange look. I continued
counting ceiling tiles.
"Extremely." I replied. I saw him roll his eyes and turn back to
the monitor. Forty six, forty seven, forty eight…
"Are you counting ceiling tiles?" He laughed.
"How'd you know?" My head snapped up. Since when was Seth a mind
"You mouth what your thinking when you're concentrated." He
"Oh…seriously?" Okay, that was sort of embarrassing.
"I'm very serious."
"That's humiliating." I hit my forehead with the palm of my right
"Nah, it's a cute habit you have, don't worry about it." He
patted my head and smiled.
"Thanks." I said sarcastically. The bell finally rang and I
hopped up from my seat and walked out of the room, Seth at my
heels. Hannah was standing by my locker like she said she would,
a baby carrier in her hands.
"The baby's coming with us today?" I looked at the doll that was
'asleep' in the carrier.
"Yeah, Jeff has a test today and the teacher doesn't want the
baby in classroom." She sighed.
"Just make sure it doesn't cry." Seth said.
"Hey, she is a she not an it." She glared at Seth and then patted
the doll's head. I rolled my eyes. "How do you stand this
child-hating boy?" Hannah stabbed her finger at Seth.
"Hey, hey, I never said I didn't like kids. Just crying plastic
ones annoy me." Hannah rolled her eyes.
"Sorry Hannah, but this time I have to side with Seth. I'm not a
child-lover. Yes they're all cute and stuff, until they poop
their pants and start crying at two in the morning because
they're hungry. And it's true, toddlers can say the darnest
things, but then they start dripping with gross goo and start
mouthing back I'm gone. Children just aren't for me." I shoved my
books into my locker and began walking towards the stairs with
Seth. She stood there for a second, a look of distaste on her
"You two are horrible." She muttered but followed us.
It was true; the new pizza shop was like heaven. After it had
cooled down enough to the point that when I took I bite I could
actually taste it, it was amazing. I placed both my hands on my
bulging stomach and sighed in contentment.
"That was delicious, by far my new favourite restaurant." I took
another sip of my Sprite.
"Mhmm." Hannah mumbled as she licked her fingers. Seth opened his
mouth, about to say something, but quickly closed it and looked
down at the table, his cheeks turning pink again. My eyes darted
around the room until I found Amy walking through the restaurant
door, the bell clanging loudly as it shut closed. I giggled
quietly and leaned over the table to pat his head. He looked up
at me and glared. Hannah turned and stared at me blankly.
"What's going on?" She asked as she picked up the doll and
cradled it in her arms.
"Remind me to never bring you anywhere you have the thing with
you, this is embarrassing." Seth laughed in agreement.
"You never answered my question." She disregarded my comment.
"I have no idea what you're talking about, Hannah. You make no
sense." I stared at her confused. Seth look up at me again and
smiled his thanks.
"Whatever, oh, ew! Okay, well I'll be back. I'm starting to agree
on you with babies being gross, Natalie." She held the baby at
arms length as she rushed towards the girls' washroom.
"Oh that's gross." Seth gagged.
"Now you're going to explain to me about this
I-go-pink-everytime-I-see-whats-her-face tonight, don't even
think about getting out of it." I hissed.
"Ugh, fine, you're so annoying sometimes!" He groaned.
"Thank you, and so are you." I sat up happily and smothered a
burp as it tried to escape my lips.
The rest of the day want by quickly, Seth, Hannah and I stopped
by a coffee shop before going back to school so that I could get
my caffeine fix and then the rest of they day went by in a blur.
I only got one question wrong in my math homework, which pleased
both Seth and I. And soon I was on my way home.
"So, since when have you liked Amy Lincoln?" I began, looking
over at him. His face turned hard.
"I don't like her-" He started.
"Oh don't even start with that, Seth." I cut him off, "People
don't turn pink and look at the ground when they don't like a
girl. She never used to have that affect on you before; she used
to be just another pretty brunette, but now. Now she's the pretty
brunette." He rolled my eyes.
"I don't know when it happened. Just, I don't know…she's nice,
and cute." He shrugged his shoulders.
"Awh, you're so cute." I slapped his shoulder.
"And this is why I didn't tell you." He groaned.
"Huh? What, what did I do?"
"You go all, you're so cute, Seth, you guys would be adorable,
awh, you're just so…so, yuck." He attempted to mimic my voice.
"First of all, my voice doesn't sound anything like that. Second
of all, you guys would be nice together; sorry that I'm a girl
and think things like that are cute." I held up my hands in
"It doesn't matter, she would never go for a guy like me and soon
I'll be over her."
"What do you mean? Why wouldn't she go for a guy like you?"
"Because Amy Lincoln is Amy Lincoln, and I'm…well me."
"You suck at explanations. And what does that matter? She would
be lucky to get a guy like you, Seth Peters!" He rolled his eyes
but let the conversation drop.
"I'm picking you up tomorrow, right?" He asked as he pulled up
into my driveway.
"Yes please." I opened the door and batted my eyelashes. He
laughed and pushed me out the passenger side door.
"See you tomorrow then."
"Yes, see you tomorrow, lovey." I laughed and ran to the front
door before he could say anything else.
I had the house to myself until six o'clock when Phil would come
home from work. The answering machine light was blinking when I
got in. I pressed the play button and began scouring the
cupboards for a snack.
"Hey Natalie, its dad, I'm going to have to stay late at work
tonight, I'll be home around seven or seven thirty. We have left
over Chinese food that you can have for dinner, sorry. I'll see
you later." A long beep followed after the message.
Okay, correction, I had the house to myself until seven thirty. I
grabbed a bag of chips and filled a glass of Orange Crush, walked
over to living room and sat down on the couch and began flipping
through the channels on the TV looking for something good to
watch. There was nothing good on at the moment so I stopped on
the nature channel. I didn't know that I had fallen asleep until
the ringing of the phone startled me awake. I looked up at the TV
screen, my vision blurry with sleep; it was on a pimple cream
commercial. The phone rang loudly again, echoing in the kitchen.
I stood up quickly; the blood rushing to my head stopped me
momentarily as I waited for all the black spots to vanish.
"Hello?" I answered when I finally got to the phone on the last
"Oh yeah, hey it's me. Guess what!" She shouted excitedly in the
"You're going to make me def?" I shouted back sarcastically.
"Sorry. Now guess!"
"You got rid of that annoying doll?" I rolled my eyes and
strolled back over towards the couch.
"You suck at guessing." She grouched.
"Sorry, you woke me up." I mumbled.
"Can you tell me what the big news is or do I going to have to
try and guess some more?"
"Fine I'll tell you." She sighed, saddened by the fact that I
didn't like her little guessing game. "I got three tickets to the
private viewing of Star Trek, and guess who I'm inviting?" She
didn't give me a chance to guess, "You and Seth! Isn't that
amazing? It's Next Friday at seven o'clock!" I could see her
dancing around in a circle in her room as she told me her good
news. I started a little dance of my own.
"Seriously? That's amazing! Have I ever told you how much I love
"I'm amazing, I know!" I could hear her clapping her hands in
"Well I have to go and call Seth now, see you tomorrow." The line
went dead. I smiled happily and pressed the end button and placed
the phone on the coffee table. I checked the time, six
forty-five, Phil would be home soon. I switched the TV off and
picked up the worn out book I had borrowed from Seth. Dracula by
Bram Stoker, I was only at the beginning of the book and lately
school and work had been getting in the way of my personal
reading time. I was two pages into the second chapter when there
was a light tap at the door. I sighed in frustration that, yet
again, I had been interrupted, and got up to answer the door.
I looked through the peek hole but didn't see anyone, I quickly
checked through the curtain but again no one was there. I could
feel my eyebrows knitting together in confusion when I finally
turned the doorknob and opened the door. Maybe my imagination was
playing tricks on me, or possibly the fridge or some appliance
was acting up again. I was about to close the door and go back to
my reading when I heard a small whimper coming from the porch
step. My eyes widened and my mouth popped open in complete and
utter surprise. What in the world…?