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Friday, 13 October 2017

No Better Replacement 4


Chelsea is standing by my locker. Obviously, my hope of being a loner is completely ruinednow that Sophie’s here.

“Hello Chelsea.” I point to my locker that’s directly behind her, “that happens to be my

“I know that Natalie, that’s why I’m standing in front of it.”
“Of course.” I cross my hand on my chest and wait for her to speak.

“I wanted to remind you of something,” she brings out two photos and shows them to me.

Reluctantly, I take it and stare at it, there’s me and Chelsea, gigging and looking at the

 We were holding hands. The second was of me, Chelsea and Jake, I was in the
middle and we were all smiling, Chelsea’s arms were across my shoulder and her smile was the widest.

I hand them back to her, “I have these, what are they supposed to mean?”

“We were friends Natalie, remember you helped Jake and I hook up when we were
sophomores? We used to hang then, you used to complain about how everyone preferred Sophie to you and I always tell you that I didn’t.”

I remember, we used to talk once but I never exactly considered her as my friend, I didn’t want to hurt her, she was looking pretty emotional already.

 “I remember.” I shove my hands in the pocket of my jeans and wait for her to react.

“Good. I want us to be friends again, please? I mean no harm, I swear, I just don’t get why everyone’s falling over Sophie and I know that you don’t and I want us to not, together.”

“what is this really about? I know Chelsea Reagan doesn’t exactly give speeches till she wants something.”

“I don’t want anything. It’s just, during your mom’s funeral, I saw you crying there and I
wanted to be there for you, you know, be a friend.

 But I couldn’t cause I knew we’ve not
been talking and you might probably tell me off so I decided for us to be friends again.”

“Sure, now can you leave my locker, I’m running late.”
“See you later, friend” That was a very weird thing to say and she felt it too, “see you later”

“Are you signing up for cheer leading?” Sophie’s staring at the list and has been for a while.

She was a cheer leader before so why hesitate now?
“I dunno, it’s kind of blah now, I think I’ll try the drama club or the school paper, I’m sure they’d need my help.”

“I’m sure they would.”
“What about you?” she starts walking and I follow her, we had the next class together,
“what club are you in?”

“You know I don’t do clubs.”
“You were in cheer leading,” she reminds me.

“Yeah but that’s just because you convinced me to join. You gave me no choice whatsoever.”

“You always have a choice Lee,” she waves at a junior, “why are all the guys in this school looking totally unattractive? It’s revolting, even Connor, he’s not as cute as he used to be.”

“Probably because the guys in Oxford look way better,”
“Probably.” We enter into the class and find seats as Mrs. Point enters and greets the class.

Sophie gasps when she notices Mrs. Point wedding ring, “Miss Point is married?”
“Yup, it’s Mrs. Uh; I don’t know her new surname. Everyone still calls her Mrs. Point,”

“That man has got to be really blind”
“Blind? Or he’s just madly in love with her.”

“You can relate.” She gives me a look,
“Tucker’s not in love with me, listen to Mrs. Point,”.

At lunch, Tucker’s there waiting for me. When Sophie sees him, she points to a table filled with cheer leaders, Lila Stone, Freya Jenkins and Samantha Bloom are all at the table.

 The only senior cheer leader missing was Chelsea, their head, although Lila thinks she’s the head sometimes and they’re always clashing. “I’m going to sit with them, I don’t want to intrude on you and Tucker.”

“That’s ridiculous, if we didn’t want intrusions, we would have eaten out” as seniors, we had a rare privilege of eating out.

“Still, I’ve got to catch up with the girls, tell Tucker I say hi.”
“Fine,” I leave her and sit with Tucker, he’s really quiet today.

“Something wrong?” I ask him
“Nothing’s wrong,” He plays with his sandwich
“You’re not eating, something is definitely up,” I observe.

“It’s nothing, really. I just miss my dad that’s all.”
“Well, I’m sorry about that.”

“Don’t be sorry. It’s just, this loner thing is really getting to me and I don’t seem to have any friend, I can’t keep hanging with my mom every time, it’s driving me out of my mind.

Yesterday, she was talking to me about ladies underwear and women politics.”
“What’s wrong with ladies underwear?” I tease.

He lightens up a little, “of course you’d say that.”
“Well, if you’re feeling so bitter, you can hang with Nate, Sophie, Jake and I after school.”

“That would defeat the whole loner thing, wouldn’t it?”
“Well, being a loner is not as easy as you thought it’d be right? Now you know how I feel.”

“Yeah and I feel sorry for those loner Goths at my old school and I feel more sorry for you, I wonder how you’d gone through all that.”

“Well, I had my mom and when she left, I had you. Like you were her replacement?”
“Replace your mother? I don’t think I like that, sounds kind of cheesy.”

“I know, you can’t even talk about ladies underwear, you definitely are not mother-like.”

“Yeah, definitely not.”
“You could hang with me you know. Anytime you need me, just call I’d come over. Any

I nod, “any time.”
“Okay,” His face finally lights up, “I’ll take you up on that offer.”


Dad calls Nate and I downstairs one evening. “I’m going to Spain on a business trip, it’s going to take a while. Would you be okay by yourselves or you’d want to stay at Aunt Dory’s?”

“We’re okay here,” Nate and I say together and dad nods.
That night when I’m lying on my bed, staring blankly at my ceiling, the door to my room creaks open and dad walks in, “Hey, you up?” he whispered and I sit up

“Hey dad, what’s up?”
He sits on my bed, “Are you really going to be fine? I mean you seem better these few days since Aunt Dory and the kids came, how am I sure you’re going to be fine till I come?”

“Dad, Aunt Dory, Sophie and Jake make me happy, but the real reason I’ve been happy these past days is because I met someone, and he’s really great.”

“He? Sounds interesting”
I’d never talked to Dad about guys, it was always Mom and now that she wasn’t here, I had to talk to him.

“Well, his name is Tucker, I don’t know his surname, he’s new.”
“He’s new? Where’s he from?”

“He moved with his mom from Beverly hills, his dad died and they wanted to get away from the stigma”

“I know how that feels but we have our life here and I wouldn’t move for anything.”

“so, he makes you happy?”
“Yes dad, anytime I’m with him, I’m happy.”
“Has he popped the question?”

Okay, that was just so dad, “dad please, you can say ‘asked out’ jeez, no one says pop the question anymore. Well, except we’re getting married.”

“Fine, has he asked you out?”
“Not yet but when he does, I’ll let you know.”

“Just be careful and don’t let anyone hurt you okay? When I get back, invite him for dinner.”

Instantly, I throw my arms round his shoulder, “Come back soon okay?”
“I will. Be good, I’ll call you all the time.”
“I love you Dad”

“I love you more,” he places a firm kiss on my forehead, put off my light and quietly walk
out like he walked in. seconds after dad leaves, my phone starts ringing and I jerk up in shock. It was Tucker. Of course.

“Tucker?” I say after I’ve caught my breath
“Why are you whispering and why were you so quick in answering, like you were waiting for me to call.”

“I wasn’t”
“That doesn’t hurt at all.”
“I’m sorry, my dad was just here and I didn’t want him to know my phone was ringing.”

“Well, I’m taking you up on your offer; I need you here, right now."

I check my phone for the time. “You’re kidding right? It’s frickin’ eleven, in the night.”

I emphasize ‘in the night’ so he can get it
“I’m not kidding.” There’s an uncertain silence, then he speaks again, “please come, I’d take you back home.”

“I’m not exactly saying I’m coming but if I was, how would I even get there?”
“It’s no biggie, I could come get you.”

“You roam around this time of the night?”
“I wouldn’t use the word ‘roam’ but night adventures aren’t exactly new to me.”
“Well that’s comforting.”
“Are you coming or not? You offered Natalie.”
Now when he put it that way, how could I say no?
“Fine.” It’s silly but I’m opening up my closet and taking out my favorite jeans but when I
realize how stressful they are to put on, I settle on sweats instead and throw on a sweater
over my tank top. Minutes later, my phone buzzes with a text from Tucker: I’m there. I key
lock my door and open up my window. Okay so I used to be a rebel once, bite me. It wasn’t
hard climbing out the window, there was a tree just by my window so I jump some feet to
the tree and climb down. Tucker’s Lexus was parked in the street and his headlights were
dead. When I get to the car, I open up the passenger side and sit. “You really had to call for
me in the middle of the night?”
“Yup,” he start the engine and starts backing out and I looked back at my house to see if my
dad or Nate heard something and came out but the house was quiet and dark. When we get
to Tucker’s, I tiptoe out of his car
“Why tiptoeing?” Tucker takes his normal steps
“I don’t know, is your mom up?”
“She’s not home and even if she was, you wouldn’t have to tiptoe.” He leads me to the front
door and unlocks it. We step in, then he locks it behind us. “Hope you’re prepared to stay
the night?” He starts walking up the stairs but I don’t follow him. He turns after a while,
“What am I doing here Tucker?” He walks back to where I’m standing and takes my hand.
“I just want you here Natalie, is that so impossible to believe?”
I want to say yes but I decide not to. So I let him lead me to his room and when he points for
me to sit on his bed, I obey.
“I’m really glad you’re here.” He sits by me, “Tonight has just been really lonely you know,
thoughts running through my head and I remembered your offer the other day at lunch and
I decided to take you up on that.”
“It’s okay.”
“Yeah.” he’s quiet for a while and I take a while to stare round the room and admire my
work. He follows my gaze, “the room’s good right?”
“Yeah, it’s good. Your designer has got awesome taste.”
He laughs, “Yeah, she does and she’s beautiful too.”
“Oh, lucky her.” Silence again.
“Do you want to watch a movie? I think I’ve got some DVDs somewhere,” he looks nervous
as he rummages through his drawer. “Hey, do you like horror movies? Well, of course you
do. You read suspense.”
“Uh, yeah but I don’t exactly watch horror movies at night.” With an impulse, I go to where
he’s standing by his table and place my hand on his shoulder, “you okay? You’re acting
really weird. Is something wrong?”
He stops but he doesn’t say anything, he just stays still and I start to feel creped out. Then
he finally speaks but his voice was coarse somehow, “I’m fine”
Okay, now I was scared. I want to retreat back to his bed but he grabs my hand
“Please, don’t be scared.”
“Okay, are you about to confess to be that you’re a vampire or something?”
“I’m not a vampire.”
“Then, what’s this about?”
“Okay, you can let go of my hand now.” I struggle out of his grip and when I succeed, he says
something that stops me from walking away.
“I think I’m falling for you Natalie.”
“What do you mean falling for me?”
“I mean I can’t think of anything else but you. Like, my mother’s getting tired of hearing me
talk about you all the time.” He looks at me and continues, “Truth is I’ve never felt this way
before about anyone.”
Did he just profess love? “Did you just profess your love for me?”
“Yeah, pretty much.”
I take a bold step by tiptoeing and kissing his lips briefly,
His lip twitches up, “Well, we’re almost the same height; you didn’t have to tiptoe.”
“I know that, it’s just more dramatic, I guess. Go away, you ruined everything” I pretend I
was angry and turn away from him but when his hands appear wrapped around my waist
from behind, I couldn’t help releasing a smile, “don’t be mad okay? I like you and I think
that was dramatic.”
“That sounds forced, but I guess I don’t mind,”
I feel his grip on my waist tighten and a cold chill run up my body. Chills I haven’t felt for a
while now.
With a swift motion, he turns me to him, hands still on my waist and our faces just
centimeters apart. “I don’t want to lose you,”
“What are you talking about? You’re not going to lose me.”
“You don’t understand, I want you to be mine, I want you to be my girl, I want it official. I’ve
never had a girlfriend so I feel this should be right”
Girlfriend? “You want me to be your girlfriend?” suddenly, his image pops in my head. An
image I’ve wanted to block out and I’d succeeded but not right now, I could see him. Sandy blonde hair, blue eyes, fit body, perfection from head to toe. Henry Warren, the only guy
I’ve ever loved. But an image appears again. A guy in a green sweatshirt that approached
my table that first day at the cafeteria. Another image appears of me walking into school
with him wearing my jacket. Tucker might not be Henry but I’ve grown fond of him too. The
term ‘girlfriend’ was scary but in a way, I wanted it.
“Ask me well, ask me officially, call my name, and my surname.”
“I don’t know your surname.”
“It’s Rivers.”
He smiles and got on his knees, “Natalie Rivers, prettiest girl I know, will you be my
“First of all, I’m not the prettiest girl you know, then, kneeling down is just so dramatic.”
“You wanted dramatic.” He stands and takes my hand, “for real though, will you go out with
The chills again, I couldn’t help it. I nodded and he moves close to me, smiles and cup my
face in his hands. “I’ve wanted to do this since I met you in that cafeteria,” then he kisses

Kissing him made me remember Henry but kissing him made me realize I’d gotten over
the jerk.

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