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Wednesday, 11 October 2017

No better Replacement 3


“I know what you’re going to say Nate, don’t” he follows me inside and locks the door behind him, “you do?”

“Yes, I do, so spare me the speech”
“That’s not going to happen, sit” he points to the couch.

“You can’t order me, it’s not like you’re my older brother, we’re twins”
“Sit” he’s still pointing at the chair. I didn’t want to get into a fight with him, so I sit.

Then, he goes “I would ask where you’re coming from but that’s quite obvious,”
I shrug and look round the living room but not at him.

“I won’t say this again Lee, stay away from Tucker, guys like him play girls.”
“Guys like him?”

“Uh-huh. Oh, because he’s acting undercover with you, you think he’s not a jock?”

“You don’t know him Nate,”
“Let me guess, you do?”
I look away, not wanting to answer his question.

“I might not know him,” he continues “but I know he’s a guy like me and guys always want to play girls.

When he sees Sophie, do you think he’ll still talk to you?” My heart shatters at that, and I couldn’t help losing it there in front of him.

“How could you
say that to me?” I run up to my room and slam the door, locking it as much times as I could.

My knees gave way and I knelt in front of my bed and just cried my eyes out. The fact that my own brother thinks Sophie is better than me, stung. Really bad.

He’s knocking on my door and it’s just annoying me more, “go away Nate, just get lost.”

“Look, I’m sorry. I don’t want you to get hurt Lee”
“Well, that’s exactly what you’ve done. You’ve hurt me and I would never forgive you for what you just said, never!”.

“Fine, I’m sorry. Please, just open the door.”
“No Nate, just go, just leave me alone.

Mom’s gone and ever since, I’ve not been able to smile, I finally meet a guy who gets me for me and you’re taking him away from me, I hate you and right now, so does Mom.”

“Okay, you’re not allowed to say that,” I feel his voice breaking and I know he’s crying too.

He doesn’t knock again but I know he’s still there. I put my ear on the door and I hear him sniffing. I quickly open the door, “Nate,”
“I’m sorry.” He sobs, “I didn’t mean to say that Lee, I didn’t mean to hurt you.

I’m hurting too you know, I just…I don’t want you getting hurt. I know it sounds cliché but it’s the truth.”

“I know that Nate, I guess I just couldn’t believe my own brother would say such a thing.”I sit beside him by my door,
“I just really wanted you to let go of Tucker, that’s why I said that.”

“I miss mom,” I cry on his shoulder and he pats my hair, “me too.” We cry and fall asleep there, on the cold floor.

The next day in school, I avoid Tucker and when it was lunch, the only place I knew he could find me, I go to the library instead and eat there.

Sophie called me that evening with a
big announcement
“Hey, guess what? Jake’s back and we’re starting school next week. It’s going to be perfect!”

“Of course.” I was terrified. But I was thrilled too, no matter what, Sophie was my cousin and my best friend and I loved her, regardless of everyone preferring her to me.

So I was thrilled to have my best friend back in school and terrified that Tucker’s going to prefer her to me.

I avoided Tucker for the rest of the week, believe me; I’m good at being invisible.

it’s Saturday and dad had gone for his Saturday’s golfing with his friends. I’m up in my room when Nate comes in, all dressed, “I’m meeting Jake and we’re going to Chelsea’s.

He still has a thing for her.”
“Good for him.” I say after a long yawn, then I drop the book I’ve been reading since I woke up.

“Aren’t you going to shower or something? You look ridiculous,”
“It’s none of your business. Besides, I like looking ridiculous,” Nate does not like when I wink so when I did, he frowns.

Just then, the doorbell rings from down the stairs, “dad’s got
to be home really early” Nate runs down and I follow him.

When he opens the door, I’m shocked to see Tucker, standing there. I couldn’t help smiling, there was nothing Nate could
do, he was going out and Tucker and I are going to be home.

“Hello, new guy”
“It’s Tucker” I say behind him,
“Can I come in?”

Nate stares at him for a while, turns to look at me and I shrug, then he opens the door wide for Tucker, “Welcome to our home new guy.”

Tucker walks in, he’s putting on jeans and a plain white top. He looks good as usual.

What did I do to deserve someone like him? Maybe, like Nate says, when he sees Sophie, he’d stop talking to me but for now, he likes me for me and I couldn’t have asked for more.

When he sees me, he smiles “you look pathetic but I still want to hug you, do you mind?”

Knowing full well Nate is staring right at both of us, I shake my head, “I don’t mind at all.”

He comes closer and hugs me, “I’ve missed you so much, it’s like you just disappeared.

Wait!” he quickly withdraws, I raise a brow and so does Nate. Tucker brings out his phone,
“Here, type in your number, now”

I take the phone from him and type my number then give it back to him,
he smiles “Good,” then he draws me closer and hugs me again, his cologne, making me feel good, even though I knew I stunk.

Nate’s phone starts ringing and he picks it up, “sure, I’ll be there in a sec,” then he clears his throat and Tucker withdraws, smiling at me and me, smiling back.

“I’m going to meet Jake, you guys be good and Lee? He can’t go to your room okay?”
I roll my eyes, “sure” he stares at Tucker then at me and he finally leaves.

“Finally” I take Tucker’s hand, “come on, let’s go up to my room”
I was so happy Sophie had done my room cause it was an absolute mess before.

Since mom died, I’ve been lazy without a cause or maybe with a cause.

“So this is where Natalie sleeps,” he lays on my bed and I watch him familiarize himself with my scent. He holds up my comforter, “SpongeBob? Really?”

I laugh, “Bite me,”
“I just might Natalie,” He picks up the book I’ve been reading, “No place like home? Sounds interesting.”

“It is.” I sit on the bed and point down to the author, “Mary Higgins Clark, she’s like the
queen of suspense.”

“I’m glad you read suspense, not romance. I don’t want my friend to be a hopeless

“Believe me, I’m not hopeless,”
He nods. “where were you? The past three days, you weren’t in school, where were you?”

“I was in school”
He cocks his head and sits up, “you were?”
“You see, I can be invisible if I want to be”
He doesn’t laugh or smile like I thought he would, “you were avoiding me,” he says, rather than ask, then he stands, “do you really think avoiding me would keep me away from you?”

I stand after him and look him in his face, “Probably not, but you would leave, sooner or later, like everyone,”

“why would you say that? I’m not going to leave you, do I spell it out? I’m here now, am I not?”

“You are, but that’s just cause you haven’t met Sophie,”
He frowns, “Sophie this, Sophie that, can you see you’re the one living behind her, making your life all about her?”

“You don’t understand, it’s just how things are!” I’m yelling now.
He holds my hand, “Calm down”

“No!” I shrug him off, “I can’t be calm, I’m saying the truth I keep trying to convince myself but it doesn’t change the fact that she’s better than me, everyone knows that, including Nate.”

“And your mom?” That silent me and I hug myself, he shouldn’t have called mom or brought her into this.

I knew she didn’t think Sophie was better than me and she made sure to tell me that all the time.

“You see, your mom didn’t think so, and neither does your dad and I’m pretty sure Nate doesn’t and me too, all this fuss about her, I’m beginning to think I’d hate her.”

I soften a little, “No, she’s my best friend, you can’t hate her.”

“Fine, consider your mom, how she’d feel, knowing you’re condemning yourself, feeling sorry for yourself that Sophie’s better than you.”

He was right, mom didn’t like it when I compared myself with Sophie, she’d always get mad and tell me,

‘Natalie, you’re great in your own way, Sophie’s great too but I love you’ and she’d hug me and tell me if nobody liked me, she’d like me a hundred times’.

I couldn’t help it, I start crying. Standing in front of Tucker, I let my guard down and break down in front of him.

He draws me closer to him and hugs me so tight, I felt I was going to burst. He hugs me
for a long time and I cry on his shoulder and he pats my hair and I cry more.

I finally regain myself and stop crying.
“I’m sorry about that,” I say to his shirt, filled with my snort and tears.

“It’s okay,” he smiles, “means I’d take another of your shirt.”
“My shirt can’t fit your biceps, they’d rip it.”

He laughs and I do too, then I realize he’s staring at me in a really weird manner, so I take a step back and tell him I have to take a shower.

“But I like you like this” he pouts
“You don’t mean that”
“I don’t say what I don’t mean”
“Fine but I’m taking a shower.”

I show him the remote to the TV and shut the door, I didn’t want him to barge in on me naked, not that he’d barge, except he really wanted to see me naked, would he?

I drown the thoughts as hot water pours from the showers and I feel
warm and clean, not only because of the shower but because of the guy in my room.

The dreaded day came, Jake and Sophie went with us to school that Monday. As expected, everyone was happy to see Sophie; she hugged almost everyone in the school, even juniors
and some few sophomores who were freshmen when she left.

Sophie too was happy to see them. Chelsea doesn’t hug Sophie though, she just walk past her into school and my heart
warms a little, at least someone that isn’t exactly a fan of her.

We get through the first classes and when it’s time for lunch, I sit on my seat and surprisingly, Sophie insists on
sitting with me.

I got to admit, I was surprised, I’d thought she’d want to sit with her fans; the cool kids in school.

As expected, few minutes later, a tray appears and it’s Tucker.
“Hey,” he smiles at me then at Sophie, he says, “you must be Sophie, I’m Tucker.”

Sophie smiles and takes his hand, “nice to meet you Tucker,” Tucker is giggling, I really don’t get why but he looks at me and winks. I didn’t know what it meant but I giggle back.

Sophie stares at me, then at Tucker, “You didn’t tell me you have a boyfriend, Natalie. You left out the most important detail. I’m hurt,” she pouts. Even her pout, is cute.

“He’s not my boyfriend. He’s more my loner friend.”
“Loner friend? That doesn’t make sense.” She’s silent for a while, “I don’t get it.”

Tucker starts laughing and I join in, then he says, “You don’t need to understand it, it’s just our thing.”

She stares at both of us again, “of course it is” she starts eating and we join her, Tucker and I talking about the meat loaf and how its unusually sticky.

Tucker was really great, always
including me in the conversation. If he felt I was drifting off, he’d deliberately ask me a

It was really great. On the way home that day, Sophie’s asking “who’s Tucker?”
“Oh, he’s new. He’s in my AP bio class and he has a huge crush on Natalie or Natalie has a crush on him, I don’t exactly get it,”
Nate says, looking back from the passenger seat.

Jake whose driving acts really cool, “That’s nice, she finally sees someone she likes after hurting over that bastard. It’s great; if he really likes you then I give my blessing.”

I give Nate a look and he rolls his eyes, “I was trying to protect you,”
“From who, him?” Jake asks, then he says, “Don’t worry, Lee doesn’t need protection.

 I’m here, no one can hurt her.” I want to hug him but he’s driving so I sit.
Sophie smiles, “I think he really likes her, you need to see the way they were talking in lunch today, I was completely left out.”

“Serves you right, you’ve taken enough attention from her anyway.” Jake gives Sophie a tongue out and winks at me from the front mirror and I love him even more.

 Ever since we were kids, it’s always been like that, Jake was always taking my side and Nate and every other person took Sophie’s side.

“Well, I’ve got my news too, Connor was in my American History and he cornered me after class, asking if we could hang.”

“What’d you say?” Nate asks
“Well I told him I was still packing but maybe next week.”
“You’re not still packing,” Jake stares at her through the front mirror
Sophie shrugs,

 “It just sounded too soon, I think I’d watch him for this whole week then I’d make up my mind whether to go on a date with him or not.”

“Great, this week should be fun” Nate grins at Jake and he grins back.
“They’re planning something, I can feel it” Sophie whispers to my ear.

“We’re going to find out what they’re hiding, we always do.”

She giggles; “Of course” she takes my hand, “Together, we’re invisible.”

When we get to Sophie’s, Aunt Dory had made food and dad was there too. We ate together like a normal happy family.

Today was a good day, I thought as Dad drove us home that night, I didn’t even get sad over mom at all, it was good but it was scary too.

I didn’t want Mom to think I’d stopped thinking about her, so that night, I brought in all of her pictures
and made a collage, then hung it above my bed.

“I love you Mom” I kiss her cheek in one of the pictures where she was standing alone.

Then, when I’m about sleeping, my phone starts ringing and I quickly pick it up so it
wouldn’t disturb or wake others.

“Hello?” I whisper
“Natalie, it’s me Tucker,”
“Oh,” I relax, “hey you.”
“How’d your day go?”
“Perfect, thanks to you.”

“I told you I wouldn’t prefer your cousin. Remember at lunch when I was giggling?”
“It was because…it’s kind of silly.”
“Say it Tucker, you started it.”

“Well, Sophie is not as pretty as you said she was. When you explained her, I thought she was this beautiful goddess but she’s not as pretty.

Almost every girl in my old school is
prettier than her and, I’m not saying this because we’re friends but I think you’re prettier than her.”

“You can’t be serious,” he can’t be serious.
“I am.” I hear him breathe, “you see, blonde hair, blue eyes is just…pretty but black hair, dark green eyes you can’t stop staring at, now that’s beautiful. Natalie, you’re beautiful.”

Wow, my day was perfect and now it’s twice as perfect.

Mom used to tell me how beautiful I was but I never believed her up till now, I somehow believed Tucker and I think there’s a part of Mom inside him and that hole in my chest Mom had left when she died, was starting to fill up little by little.

I couldn’t exactly say Tucker was Mom’s replacement but there was no better replacement than him and I’m glad he was sent to me.

“Still there?” his voice jerks me back to reality.
“Yeah, I’m still here”
“You were thinking about your mother weren’t you?”

“How’d you know that?”
“You think about your mother a lot, it’s hard not to notice.”
“Goodnight Tucker.”
“Goodnight Natalie.”

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