Chapter Forty Three: The Avoidance Theory
Natalia ran in to the house. Dashing up the stairs to see if Derek had been telling her the truth or just trying to get a rise out of her. She left her bag at her room door before rushing in to the room across from hers.
Sure enough, it was empty. Derek had been telling her the truth. It was as though Dallas had never been there.
Natalia walked along the length of the room. The book shelf was bear. The study table that had once held his scattered notes was clear of any paper. Natalia didn't bother to check the closet, it would probably be as empty as the rest of the room...and as empty as her heart felt at the moment.
Natalia sat on the bed, stunned. He had really gone. He had stayed true to his word and left her. She grabbed a pillow off the bed. Holding it to her face, as tears rolled down her cheeks.
It was when she sniffled, she realized something. The pillow smelled just like him. His scent was around the room. The cedar wood tones from his cologne had infiltrated the fabric. Tears streamed down her face, as she breathed in his scent. Inhaling deeply. Surprised that there was any trace of him...any sign that he had in fact existed and stayed in the house.
The pain in her heart was now unbearable. Her eyes were blinded by tears.
Natalia couldn't stand to be in the room any longer. She put the pillow back in it's place, and crossed the room. Looking at it one last time, Natalia closed the door.
She wiped the tears from her face with the back of her hand. Picking up her school bag and entering her own room, she closed the door behind her. She had only placed her bag on the chair when she noticed something. There was an envelope on the desk.
Natalia's heart pounded harder and harder. She picked up the envelope and sat on her bed. It was slightly weighted. Natalia opened it carefully, and pulled out the note. Her vision was already swimming through tears.
'I'm sorry for everything. I'm sorry you didn't think we were something worth fighting for.
I will always love you, Natalia.
The note read. Tears spotted the note. She couldn't tell if they were his or her own.
Natalia couldn't stop from the flood of tears that followed. She shook out the remaining contents of the envelope.
It was the key locket he had given her. The one she had placed on his pillow after she had ended things. It fell into her palm. Cold steel met her warm skin. The finality of what she had done, finally hit her.
Natalia flung herself on to her pillows as sobs racked through her.
Dallas and Derek sat on the floor of his room, opening boxes. Cans of Coca-Cola lay scattered around them. There were boxes of pizza near the doorway.
“So will you be going to school?” Derek asked, as he opened a box of books, and began taking them out.
“Yea, I don't think my parents would have given me this place if I was only going to play.” Dallas grinned.
Derek laughed. “True.”
“So which school?” The question had been inevitable. Dallas looked at the box of clothes he had been sorting through.
“York.” Dallas told him, not meeting Derek's eyes.
“Are you going there for...?” Derek asked, taking a break from taking out books.
“It's okay...you can say her name. I won't bolt.” Dallas said trying to lighten the mood. Derek just stared at him.
Dallas was quiet. He knew Derek was watching him to gauge his expression.
Keeping his face blank he answered. “No...I'm going there because it's close to my place.” He said to Derek.
Derek didn't look like he believed him. “So you're not going to go for her...so why go to York?” He asked.
“The campus is right in the middle. I mean I can go to practice or the games, go to my classes at night and then come home. It's like a half way from both sides.” Dallas told him.
“You could've just gone to Ryerson. It's right there a few bus stops from the BMO field.” Derek told him, snidely.
“Yea, but it's a long way away from here and I don't want to move to the downtown area. Besides...you know I never liked Ryerson. We visited the school for a tour and you didn't even like it there. Even Gabe disliked going there...remember how much he complained about the distance between buildings and stuff. Especially in the winter.” At this Derek chuckled, remembering their conversations with Gabe.
“Besides York gave me a more homely feeling. The classes fit in to my schedule.” Dallas defended himself.
Derek held up his hands, in defeat. “Alright, alright. Although I still don't believe you.” Derek told him.
Dallas sighed in exasperation. “I'm telling you, I'm not going for...her. I'm not even going to see her...all my classes are at night between seven to ten.” Dallas said to Derek.
“Okay.” Derek said simply, letting go of the subject at last.
“So how is living in Vaughan? Isn't their motto 'The city above Toronto'? I was reading The Toronto Star, it said 'The City Above The Law'! Quite catchy if you ask me.” Derek changed the subject.
Dallas laughed at that.
“It's actually nice living here. Everything is pretty close by.” Dallas told him, referring to Vaughan Mills Mall, and the Auto Mall, and the several grocery stores that were at walking distance.
They continued to talk as they put Dallas's things in order.
Natalia had not gone in to Dallas's old room, since that day. The locket and letter had been stashed somewhere in her closet so she wouldn't see it. The teddy bear he had won for her at the fair had the same fate. The two were probably in the same place.
Natalia came home from school, completely drained. Going through the motions of life were exhausting her. She avoided anything that reminded her of him. She lay on the bed, not in the mood to do anything. It was a while before she got herself up. She walked over to her computer.
Natalia booted her computer, and sat down at her desk. Turning on the speakers, she waited until she could login.
Once she had put in her password, she went directly to her i-Tunes. The program started up quickly. Natalia searched through the list trying to find something that wouldn't remind her of...she stopped herself from thinking of the name.
Every song, every album she had on the computer was a constant reminder. She was furious with herself. Finally, Natalia decided on 'Beat Again' by JLS. She turned up the volume to help drown out her thoughts.
She had gone through a lot of songs since...Natalia shook her head, trying to clear it, as she listened to the live version of 'Set Fire To The Third Bar' by Snow Patrol and Cheryl Cole.
~ Their words mostly noise, Ghosts with just voices, Your words in my memory, Are like music to me, I'm miles from where you are, I lay down on the cold ground and I, I pray that something picks me up, And sets me down in your warm arms... ~
She had all but lost track of how many songs she had listened to. Nothing could drown out the thoughts that ran rampant in her mind.
~ If only tonight, If this is all I got, If I can't have your love, I won't get back up this time. If only tonight, I'll race you to the sun, before the morning comes, if I can change your mind. It's only tonight, and tomorrow you're gone, and we're just a song, singing along... ~
Listening to 'Only Tonight' by JLS, she heard a knock at her door. Natalia thought it was probably one of her parents, telling her to lower her music. She shut off the speakers, before opening the door.
“Alright, alright...I'll turn it-” Natalia stopped, as she saw who was on the other side of the door.
Derek stood there waiting for her to let him in.
“You're not Mom...” She said in confusion.
“No, I'm not. So will you let me in?” Derek asked, giving her a questioning look.
Natalia stood aside, and let her older brother pass her, before closing the door.
Derek sat in her chair, while Natalia wound up sitting on her bed.
He looked through her i-Tunes playlist. “So, squirt. How's school?” He asked.
“It's fine. Why?” She asked. This was clearly not a check-up-on-Natalia's-school-grades sort of visit.
“Just wondering what my little sister has been up to.” Derek replied.
“Right...so you came to ask me how school is? I told you it's fine. Is that all?” Natalia asked a little forcefully.
“My, my...aren't we pushy today.” Derek commented.
“Derek...what is it that you want?” Natalia asked, irritatedly.
Derek was quiet. He looked at her. “I know you broke up with Dallas. I just wanted to ask why.” He said, voicing his concern.
“It was nothing.” She told him, why couldn't he just let her forget about the whole thing.
“Alright.” Derek muttered.
Derek had never been one to give up. So it was a surprise to her, when he left her room without another word. She stared after him. Odd...she thought.
Natalia sat back at her computer. This time she clicked on 'Enigma' and tried to push away her thoughts as she played the game.
“Natalia! Come on!” Natalia walked carefully through the clearing.
She heard the voice calling her again. She couldn't see him. It was dark. She heard his laugh.
Thankfully, the path had been lit by the moon. She followed it, finally seeing the shadow in front of her.
Natalia smiled despite herself. He was right there. Not very far from her.
Natalia quickened her pace, in order to catch up to him. In her haste she tripped on something and fell.
“Dallas!” Natalia screamed, hoping he would double back and help her. But he didn't hear her.
Natalia tried to brace for impact, but it never came.
Instead the feeling of this constant free fall grew. The light of the moon soon disappeared. Natalia kept falling, deeper and deeper, into the dark pit. Her despair growing with each passing moment.
Everything was going by so fast, she could feel herself start gaining speed.
Natalia screamed, as thought she was about to hit rock bottom.
Natalia jerked awake. Tears streamed down her face. She was covered in a cold sweat. Natalia was shaking like a leaf. She tried to wipe away the tears, but more fell. She didn't know how to stop them.
She lay back down on her pillow. This time she did not sleep.
Natalia had lost count of how many nights she had stayed awake. Each time she closed her eyes, she would dream of him, his voice calling her, her falling down the same path. The feelings of despair bubbling up once again.
She glanced at the clock. The red numbers glowed in the darkness. It was two in the morning. She stifled a yawn.
She would not sleep.
Natalia clambered out of her bed and headed out of her room. As a child there had been only one place to go when she couldn't sleep.
Walking slowly and noiselessly down the stairs to the main floor, she carefully walked down the stairs to the basement. Her eyes had gotten used to the darkness.
Natalia went in to Derek's room.
She sat on his bed. Shaking his blanket covered arm. “Derek! Derek! Are you awake?” She asked her sleeping brother.
“Natalia...” Derek groaned as he turned to face her. He brought out his other hand to glance at his watch. “It's two in the morning, Lia!” He exclaimed.
“I know.” Natalia said, sounding helpless. “What's wrong?” Derek asked sitting up slightly, squinting at her through the darkness. “I can't sleep.” She told him, frustrated with herself.
“Why?” Derek asked, laying back down on to his pillow. “I don't know.” She told him, trying to avoid the answer.
“Natalia...I know you broke up with Dallas...tell me why.” He told her.
“I can't...” Natalia's voice was breaking. “How do you expect me to help you, if you won't let me?” Derek asked, sounding annoyed and sleepy.
“I'm sorry.” Natalia told him, and truthfully she was. She wished she could tell him...but she couldn't bear to think about it.
“It's okay.” Derek said to her. She could tell he was about to fall asleep again. “I'm sorry I woke you up...go back to sleep Derek.” She told her older brother.
“Anytime, squirt. Go to sleep.” He said to her. His voice was kind.
Natalia watched as her brother pulled away the covers.
“Come on, you need to sleep. You have school in the morning.” He told her, his voice filled with sleep.
Natalia lay beside him. It reminded her of when they had been children. Even then if Natalia had nightmares she would sleep next to Derek. Nothing seemed to touch her when he was there. Nothing dared to touch Derek.
Derek threw the covers over her, kissed the top of her hair, and turned over. “'Night, Lia.” He called from over his shoulder. “'Night, Derek.” Her cheek rested against her brother's broad back.
Sure enough, Natalia fell in to a dreamless sleep.
"This extract remains the exclusive property of the author who retains all copyright and other intellectual property rights in the work. It may not be stored, displayed, published, reproduced or used by any person or entity for any purpose without the author's express permission and authority."