Chapter 6 - Unwanted
CHAPTER 6 - UNWANTED
"Thanks for the ride." I mumbled, trying not to blush. Kyle smiled, nodding: "Anytime." Of course, he didn't mean it, was just being kind, like always. The afternoon together was nice, I mean, we worked on the fairy tale, yes, but we also chit-chatted a little and he isn't just cute, but also really funny and ... well, I felt at ease, ok, despite some blushing now and then, but I felt at ease. Opposite to Eric, Kyle talks. A lot. I mean, the boy is pretty loquacious, but nice in his blabbing.
I smiled at his response anyway, trying not to blush, which I have been trying all the afternoon, and stepped out. Kyle waved goodbye as I walked towards home.
"Mom! I'm home!" I yelled once inside, but no one responded, so I walked to the kitchen, finding both her and Paula sitting at the island, chatting about I don't know what, considering they quieted down when they saw me.
"Hey, kiddo!" Paula greeted me enthusiastically, raising her glass of red wine. I grinned, nodding. "Hi, Paula." I reached my mother and pecked her cheek as she was playing with her own glass. "How was today, sweetie?" She asked me. I shrugged as I reached the fridge to get some water. "Fine. I talked to Jamie." Mom smiled as she asked: "Oh, how's she doing?" "Fine. Says she hopes to be able to come over soon." I replied. Her smiled widened: "Oh, that's great. I miss that crazy redhead."
I grinned as I sat down next to mom and chatted with Paula a little. As far as I can remember, she's always been my mother's best friend. She was the first one to welcome us when we arrived here, but they were in college together.
Paula is a native here, never wanted to move in, better said, she had her experiences but then decided to come back home. She got married when I was 12, but divorced three years ago, for I don't know what reason. They never had children, so no problem. By then I thought it was a pity, because I found Ray, her ex husband, funny, but then, I was just a child and he'd play with me at times, giving me that male figure I never had in my life, well, technically I've had it, it was my uncle till we were in New York, he keeps acting like he's my real father and calls to check up on me, but of course, he's got not only Mike, his wife's son, but also little Julie, who they had five years ago.
"So ..." Paula started at some point, placing a hand on my thigh, once mom stood up to go check the whatever she had in the oven "Your mama tells me you're engaged in a project with some boys ..."
If I had to describe you my mother's best friend, I'd have to say she's like a blonde and older Jamie. Seriously. This woman doesn't have a filter. She just talks and talks and talks and is nosy ... really nosy.
Seeing me a bit embarrassed, she grinned, better squeezing my thigh. "Are they cute?" My cheeks beet red at her question and her grin widened. "Oh, they are, aren't they?" She implied. I bit my bottom lip as mom, sitting down again, scolded her friend for embarrassing me, but grinning. Paula defended that she was just curious and asked if I liked one of the boys, so my cheeks beet crimson and she squealed, clapping her hands, saying she knew there was something. Mom gave me a surprised look, silently asking me why didn't I tell her. "It's ... just a crush ..." I tried to defend, but Paula was gone already.
She started babbling about my having to exploit this project to be closer to my crush and maybe make him fall, because this was an incredible chance and blah, blah, blah ... things my best friend has told me already. Seriously, Paula and Jamie are incredibly similar, to the point that when I was little I wondered if they weren't actually mother and daughter. They do know each other because they've been frequenting our house much of course, and they get along, but they aren't even related, which was odd for me back then.
Anyhow, I argued that I'm not really Kyle's type, but Paula obviously wasn't of the same opinion ... "Oh, that's nonsense. Boys don't have a type. They just like to be surprised. Trust me, I know something about the male universe." She told me, winking. I rolled my eyes while mom chuckled. "Paula, I wouldn't want my daughter to end up with a record of failed relationships ..." She commented, giggling, but gaining a dirty, even if amused, look from her best friend.
Paula, for what I know, recovered quickly from the divorce and has been trying to date men, but never succeeding, apparently, also her relationships before Ray have been a complete disaster. Mom and Paula started arguing, reminiscing their past relationships.
I don't know about my mother's men before my biological father, she never really told me about anybody, but considering she met that man in her first year of college, I guess she didn't really have many boyfriends. Or that's just my assumption, because I've never really seen my mother with a man.
Suddenly, at the mention of a Landon, they remained silent and mom looked flustered while Paula apologized. I looked in between them, but none of them talked and they immediately changed subject, now talking about the weather and then about dinner.
Slowly, awkwardness faded and everything became normal again, but still ... I kept wondering who was this Landon. Mom never told me my so called father's name. Could it be ...
"Mom, who ... is Landon?" I asked once Paula was gone and my mother and I were alone, sitting on the couch. She stood up, gathering bags of chips and everything we ate while watching movies and her voice was strained when she answered: "Go to sleep, Natalie. You've got school tomorrow." That's an indirect way to say 'I don't want to talk about it' but I wanted to know, so I pressed ... "Mom, I'm 18, I can handle it." I stated, standing up and following her to the kitchen, where she threw our garbage in the dustbin. "Is it him? This Landon ... is it my ..."
"Go to sleep, Natalie." She repeated as she cleaned up the kitchen. "But mom ..." She gave me a reprimanding look that allowed no talking back so I just sighed and threw my hands in the air, giving her my goodnight as I backed up.
I can't believe she still doesn't want to tell me. I at least deserve to know who my father is, don't I? It's not like I want to meet him or anything, if I've ever had a father, that was uncle Peter, my mother's brother, but I'd like to know at least my biological father's name. Be it only to know who to curse sometimes.
Yes, I know, I said I didn't miss a father figure, and I don't, I mean, she's been the best mother I could ever have and uncle Peter is always there for me, even if he's got his own family, but ... well, growing up knowing you're the only one around without a father, it feels ... a bit lonely.
Till they lived here, Jamie's father was nice to me too, like I was his own, because, after all, Jamie and I have been friends since I arrived here that I was five and we stuck together since then, so I was often at their place and she was often here, so I was ... well, part of the family too, to the point that even Josh, her brother, always said he considered me a sister, a sister he would have much preferred to his real annoying one, he often joked, but still ... this thing that I never had a father, it has been an issue for me for a while.
Then I realized I didn't need a male figure, I already had one, even if he's in New York, but I would like to know who is my father.
I took a shower and prepared to go to bed as I mulled over the thing. I don't need a father, not anymore, and if I really need a male figure to look up to, I've got uncle Peter, but sometimes I can't help but think about it ... even if he's been a real father to me, even if distant physically, I can't help but wonder how it would have been to have a real, real one.
I'm unfair maybe, I mean, uncle Peter has been wonderful to me, and I couldn't have asked better, but sometimes I realize that despite everything, I don't have somebody to call dad, I just ... don't. And it's sad.
Lying on my bed, I tried to look at the bright side of it: I've been lucky. My mother is super. My uncle has been the best father figure I could ask for, and while I've had him close only till I was five, he's never neglected me, he calls twice a week to check up on me and ask for updates and I know he's gonna take the first flight and come do the third grade to the whatever boy I'll decide to date as soon as he knows, I know he's gonna be glad to accompany me to the altar if I'll ever get married ... but ... always but ... there isn't anybody I can call dad, my eventual children won't have a grandpa, like I never had either and ... well, honestly, even if it shouldn't, it hurts to know that this man has never even wanted to see me, meet me, all these years he's never tried to reach me, know about me ... he simply never wanted me. I was just an unwanted consequence.
That's it. I was unwanted. I was an incident. I only spoiled my mother's youth. If she'd never had me, she wouldn't be a stuck in a little town, directing a cheap hotel, working her butt off every day. If she'd never had me, she'd be in New York or even in Europe, her dream was Paris, she'd be a famous artist, not just a hotel manager.
Tears prickled behind my eyes as I hugged my pillow. Sometimes I feel like she would have been so better off without me ... she says no, I am the light of her life, and I know she's truthful when she says that, but I also see the gloom in her beautiful eyes when she thinks of how her life could have been so different.
Her family was never rich, even college, she paid it off with student loans and by working in a pub. My grandmother helped her the most they could throughout the pregnancy, just like Paula and uncle Peter did, so she did manage to graduate, pay back her loans and even have something to restart somewhere else.
She never told me, but I have the fair suspect we moved in also because New York was just too expensive. Besides, back there we lived with uncle Peter and I'm sure she wanted to give him his space, after all he'd been looking after her and then us for years, even while being three years younger than her.
We've never had real money problems, I mean, while not being rich, my grandparents weren't poor either, they were just able to get to the end of the month without too much troubles, but could never afford luxuries of course. I said were because my grandpa died much before I was even born, so I only know what mom recounted me, and my grandma ... she left us when I was 15.
I was so down when she died ... I cried for days, not even caring about going to school with bloodshot eyes. After all, I was invisible, nobody in that school, except for Jamie, cared if I cried. Although, there was an exception ...
I'd been crying for three days in a row already and since I didn't sleep either, I looked worse than usual, yet ... when the fourth morning I reached my locker, I found a white envelope in it, and when I opened it, I found a very sweet message I still remember. Actually, I still keep it in my nightstand ... stretching and arm, I reached for it and pulled out the white envelope. It still makes me smile ...
It breaks my heart to see you so sad, Natalie. Your hazel eyes are too beautiful to be bloodshot. Your smile is too charming to be gone for so long. Even the sun cries for you. So smile, Natalie. She is always going to be in your heart, so she'll never be completely gone. And I'm sure she'll look after you even from Heaven. Smile, Natalie. I need your smile to light up my day, just like the sun needs you cheerful to shine again. Smile. And the world will have a reason to exist again.
I never knew who placed it in my locker, actually, nobody knows about it. Not even Jamie. I tried to look for this anonymous sender, but I couldn't find a single clue, so I gave up. I wondered how could he (or why not, she) know about my grandma, it was a little bit creepy, but I didn't think much of it ... the gesture and the message itself were just too sweet.
The thing about the sun crying for me ... I still vividly remember that, just like even the sky missed my grandma, those days it kept raining, even if we were in May already.
Lying on my back again, I, unconsciously, placed the letter on my heart. Whoever wrote it, never knew how grateful I was for it, I was never even able to thank him (or her). I never thought it could be a secret suitor, I just thought it was someone who'd seen me so miserable those says and maybe even pitied me.
Although, the part about that whoever needing my smile to light up their day did make me think it was a boy ... it was absurd for me to think there was somebody ... admiring me from afar, somebody that didn't have the guts to approach me or just wanted to remain anonymous.
I never received messages again, but I preserve this one like a real treasure, because for a moment it made me feel like I wasn't that invisible after all.
Whoever it was, must have had a very sensitive soul, because his words were so beautiful and even his handwriting was neat and ... elegant. Even if written by a teenager. Well, I assumed it was a teenager, because to be able to slide it in my locker, it had to be someone that came to my school.
Unconsciously, I smiled. Maybe I lost the chance to find someone special.
Amazingly, I was up early this morning. But for a simple reason: I fell asleep still holding that letter and it wasn't even 11 pm, so it was easy this morning to wake up, and that's a first, before the alarm went off.
So I took my sweet time getting ready for once and even really thought over what to wear, but since my wardrobe is quite limited, considering that with the allowance my uncle insists on sending me I buy books other than clothes, if my mother didn't drag me to the mall every six months to renovate my wardrobe, I'd still have clothes I've worn since freshmen year. Therefore, I ended up wearing simple dark blue jeans with a yellow sweater and usual snickers, but ... I decided I'd let my hair cascade down my shoulders.
"You look nice." I heard my mom saying while I was gazing at myself in the mirror. I turned around and I saw her smiling.
"I'm sorry for yesterday." She apologized, coming to me, with a small smile. I sighed, my shoulders slumping. "No, I am sorry ... I shouldn't have pushed you to talk." I admitted truthfully.
For how much I really want to know, I know it's a delicate topic for her and I shouldn't have been so insensitive. Mom shook her head, sitting at the edge of my bed and gesturing for me to do the same, so I sat beside her and she placed a hand on my thigh. "I know you have questions, Natalie. And I should have answered to them much time ago, but ..."
"No, I get it. It's hard for you." I cleared my throat. "You were ... probably in love with him ..." I commented, although lowly, not really sure I wanted her to hear. But mom cracked a smile, even if partly sad, as she gazed into my hazel eyes that mirror hers so clearly.
"I was, yes." She admitted, lowering her glance. "I was young and he was charming ... I believed in his promises. Never knew they were all lies." She sighed.
I've never seen her this sad and I hate myself for doing this to her. She never mentioned him over all these years. The most she's told me is that I shouldn't think about him because she abandoned us, so didn't deserve our thoughts.
I wrapped my arm around her shoulders, my temple brushing hers, and she reached for my hand, her smile getting a little bit brighter.
"I've always warned you against boys." She said, squeezing my hand. "You had a reason." I commented lowly and she nodded. "Yes, I had. And I'll still demand you pay the maximum attention, Natalie."
"Because people lie and men deceive." I filled in. She shook her head. "Because it's easy to get hurt and I don't want your heart to be broken like mine was." Mom corrected and I half smiled. "You always said getting hurt was part of life." I argued, even while hugging her better. She reached for my hand on her shoulder as she half smiled.
"It is. But I wouldn't be a mother if I didn't at least try to save you from it." I grinned at that, kissing her cheek. "I'll take my chances. Even while remembering every single one of your lessons." I stated. She grinned, nodding, as she hugged me, wrapping her arm around my waist, so that we were now glued to each other and we both smiled.
I really shouldn't be so selfish. My mother has given everything for me and what do I do? Whine because I don't have a father like everybody else. I have her. The most incredible woman in this world. She's amazing, to say the least. And I should thank God for having her, not whining because I have just her. We're fine like this. Just fine. Although I know she'd feel better if she had somebody besides her family to love her. If she had someone to love other than us ...
We remained silent till mom spoke, warning me once more: "This boy you like ... just be careful, ok?"