“Natalia! Did you figure out what you’re going to wear tomorrow?” Clara asked. Natalia was in the library working on her calculus homework. “No…I’ll think about it tonight.” Natalia said distractedly. “Are you crazy!” Dawn exploded. “You’re going out with the most popular guy in school and you still haven’t decided what you’re going to wear for the semi-formal tomorrow?” Dawn raged. “Look, I need to finish the questions for homework…or I’m going to be lost in class tomorrow. I don’t think picking a dress is a life and death situation. So both of you calm the hell down.” Natalia told them angrily. “Since when does it matter what I wear?” Natalia asked them, rhetorically. “Since you decided to go with Raine.” Clara retorted.
Natalia sighed. This week had gone by with a rush. Everyone had reacted to her differently with Raine by her side. She didn’t like the way people stared at her in the halls.
There was a tap on the library windows, where Natalia had been sitting. She looked up to see Raine motioning for her to join him. Natalia was puzzled. Why does he want to see me? She wondered. Closing her books she left them with her friends in the library.
“Hey.” Raine greeted her as she walked out the library doors and stopped in front of him. “Hi.” Natalia said a little breathlessly. She still couldn’t believe he was going out with her. “Walk with me?” He asked her. “Okay, sure.” Natalia agreed.
As they walked through the halls, Natalia noticed that Raine was quiet. That is unusual…for him at least, she thought. “Is something bothering you?” Natalia asked tentatively. It seemed as though a while had passed before Raine answered. “Yea actually, there is.” Raine told her.
“Natalia, I think I need to tell you something…” Raine trailed off. “Okay, what?” She asked. They had walked back into the main hall. “I don’t think it’s such a good idea that we go to the dance together.” Raine told her. The entire hallway went quiet. Natalia couldn’t believe what she was hearing. People were watching her. “What?” She asked, trying to comprehend what was going on exactly. “I think we should break up.” The words echoed.
Dallas was waiting in the car. “Come on, come on. What’s taking her so long?” He muttered out loud. It had been ten minutes since Natalia’s school had ended. “Where on earth is that girl?” He wondered to himself. The trickle of students had lessened. Dallas was getting worried. He knew no one else would be picking her up. Her parents had left for vacation already, and Derek was at work.
Dallas waited another few minutes. That’s it, Dallas thought. He got out of his car and locked the doors. He ran into the school.
Dallas wandered through the halls calling out her name. “Lia! Natalia!” He called for her. She was no where to be seen. He checked the upstairs hallway, and then decided on going to the attendance office.
“Hi, do you know where Natalia Williams is?” He asked the secretary. “I’ll page her for you.” The secretary responded. He could hear the announcement. “Will Natalia Williams come to the attendance office. Natalia Williams to the attendance office.” The secretary turned to Dallas. “You can wait here, if she’s still inside the school she’ll come. Otherwise she probably left for home.” She told him.
Dallas waited. Five minutes passed, and then ten minutes passed. He thanked the secretary and left. As he walked through the halls, he noticed a gaggle of girls standing by one of the lockers. As soon as they saw him, some of them started laughing in a high pitched manner. A few even squealed. He smiled at them as he passed by.
Suddenly it hit him. They might know where Natalia is, he thought. Dallas doubled back. “Hello girls.” He said to them. “Hi.” Came the collective reply. A few of them batted their eyelashes at him. Dallas sighed in his mind. “Do any of you know where I can find Natalia?” He asked them. Some of them looked disappointed upon hearing this. “No, I think she went home.” One of the girls told him. “Did she take a bus, or did she walk?” He asked them. “I think she walked home. She was upset or something.” Another girl told him. “Why was she upset?” He asked, but the girls giggled and shrugged. “Thanks.” He told them as he left. One of the girls stopped him. “Do you think you could give us an autograph?” She asked. “You know what, maybe next time.” He told them as he walked away. He shook his head. Girls, he thought as he walked to his car.
Dallas’ mind returned to Natalia. He was worried. Where could she be? Dallas drove, his worries about her becoming paramount. As he drove in to the drive way he saw a set of footprints. They had to be hers. Dallas quickly shut off the engine and rushed inside. There was fresh snow tracked along the main entrance. He saw her shoes on the mats.
“Natalia!” He called from the bottom of the stairs. He waited, but there was no reply. “Lia!” He called again, but still it was silent. Frustrated he ran up the stairs. He knocked on her door. “Natalia!” He said. “Go away, Dallas.” Came her voice. “Where were you?” He asked from the other side of the door. “Some where.” Came her reply. “I waited for you, you could have told me that you were going to take the bus home.” He told her, harshly. “Yea, well I didn’t. I walked. Now go away.” She told him.
It was maddening having to deal with her sometimes. “Fine, suit yourself.” He told her. Dallas walked slowly down the stairs. What had upset her, he wondered. She could at least tell him what happened. I will never understand that one, he thought.
Dallas decided to grab something to eat. He went to the fridge and found some pasta. He heated it and ate at the dining table. It would still be a few hours before Derek came home. After eating Dallas went upstairs, as he was about to enter his room, he thought about trying to talk to Natalia again. Shaking his head, he decided against it. She wasn’t exactly the easiest nut to crack. There was no point in upsetting her further.
Dallas sat at his desk reading his books. It was hours later that he heard a noise. He must have missed it before. He was sure he had heard something. He looked around. Night had fallen. Outside his window the street lamps had turned on. Dallas stepped out of his room. He could hear light sniffling sounds from Natalia’s room.
He didn’t bother to knock this time. He let himself in her room. It was dark, the curtains had been closed. She hadn’t bothered to turn on the lights, or her reading lamp. He saw her sitting on the floor, leaning against the bed. Her head was cradled on her knees, her arms wrapped around herself.
“Natalia, what’s wrong?” Dallas asked her. She wouldn’t answer him. He couldn’t watch her like this. It hurt him. Why did it hurt, he wondered. He couldn’t remember ever feeling as though someone’s pain was his own. It was so very new to him. Why did she affect him this way? He put the thoughts into the back of his mind, and focused on the task at hand.
“Natalia, tell me what happened.” He told her softly. He sat down on her bed, close to where she was on the ground. “Shouldn’t you be gloating? Singing about how Derek told me so?” She asked him, lifting her head. She wiped her cheeks with her hand. “Why?” He asked her in confusion. “Because Raine decided he didn’t want to go to the dance with me.” She told him, her head was back on her knees. She was sobbing quietly.
As much as Dallas was happy that she was no longer with Raine, still a part of him was hurting for her. “He broke up with you?” Dallas asked quietly. “Yea, in front of the entire school.” She told him. He could see the outline of her body shaking. “It was so humiliating.” She whispered quietly. “Natalia, I’m sorry.” He told her. “No you’re not. You’re probably laughing at me silently.” She retorted. “Lia, I wouldn’t do that to you.” Dallas told her earnestly. Natalia didn’t say anything.
Dallas reached for her. He put his arms around her. She didn’t fight him. He put an arm under her legs and lifted her. He settled onto the bed with her cradled in his arms. Her head was against his chest. He leaned against the wall. When he felt his shirt getting wet, he put his arms around her, pulling her closer to him. His cheek resting on her head.
“Tell me what happened.” He said to her, gently. “He just told me that we shouldn’t go to the dance together.” She sniffled. “He said that I didn’t show him how much I liked him. That he thought I was like ice, because I didn’t let him get close to me…that I didn’t have emotions. All because I didn’t spend every minute of the school day by his side. He told me that he knew why everyone thought I was like some ice queen.” She told him. Dallas was angered at this. Why would Raine ask Natalia out and then break her heart this way?
“I wish he hadn’t said it in front of the school. How am I going to go to class tomorrow?” She asked Dallas, looking up at him for the first time. “You’ll go just like you go everyday, holding your head up high.” He told her. Dallas kissed her forehead. He wiped her tears away with his hand. “Did you even go to biology?” Dallas asked her. “Yes…everyone was whispering…it was completely humiliating. I wanted to kick him.” Natalia said darkly. “You should have…” Dallas muttered. Natalia laughed at this, it was a sorrowful laugh. “I would have been in trouble…and I don’t sink to their level.” She told him. She cuddled closer to him. “I know; I’m glad you don’t.” He held onto her tighter.
Never before had she let him get close to her. Now finally Natalia was beginning to let her guard down. Dallas seemed to fall for her more and more. The more he knew about her, the more he was captivated by her.
Dallas didn’t know how much time had passed, but he stayed with her. He gently stroked her hair. “Dallas?” Came her voice, softly. “Yea?” He asked. “Thank you.” She told him, burrowing her head closer to him. “Anytime.” He replied.
It wasn’t long before Natalia dozed off. Her breathing was deep and even. Listening to her, Dallas pulled a blanket over them. Soon enough he fell asleep, listening to her breathing, holding her close.
It was morning when Natalia woke up. She and Dallas were sprawled over her bed. He had his arms around her still. She looked up at him in wonder. He stayed with me all night? She couldn’t believe it. After all the snide remarks, and avoiding him; he had chosen to stay with her through the night.
Maybe he was the same person she had liked all those years ago…even now she knew he had a part of her.
Natalia gently crawled out from beneath his arms. She didn’t want to wake him up yet. He deserved a little bit more sleep, as she got ready for the one school day she was dreading.
Even though the semi-formal hadn’t gone according to her plan; since now she wouldn’t be going, at least she had her self-respect and her dignity. As much as she felt humiliated by Raine, she knew if he had used her just like any other girl…she would be feeling a whole lot worse.
She got out of her room quietly and headed for the bathroom. It was time to go and face the whispers, and like Dallas had told her, she would hold her head up high.
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