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Strum: Chapter Five
I found myself a few weeks later sitting around Spencer’s dinning room table, with Ben, Chasity, and obviously, Spencer. There was a plate of cookies in front of us, made by Mrs. Anderson, who was nothing like Spencer, although she had the same bubbly and happy attitude.
“So,” Said Chasity, pulling out a pen and piece of paper. “What should we call our band?”
“The Yellow Hot Banana Peppers!” Said Ben, laughing. We all joined in.
“What was your name before when Valerie was in it?” I asked them.
“The Foreigners. What about yours?” She asked me.
“The Pickles.” I admitted, kind of shyly. The name had sounded cool at the time, but now it was just stupid.
“That’s cool!” Ben said. Making me feel less like an idiot. “I like the simplicity.” He smiled at me. I returned it.
“Hey! We should totally be the Avatars!” Shouted Spencer.
“Spence, we’ve done enough fooling around, let’s get serious here!” Said Chasity.
“I was being serious!” He protested.
“Spence, just shut up.” Chasity continued. “Anyway, Nat, do you have any ideas?”
“What about, plain old ‘Strum’?” I said.
“Strum? Strum. Like strumming, like guitar speak?” Asked Spencer, liking the idea one of his instrument terms being the title of our band.
“I like that!” Said Ben, smiling at me. I smiled back again. It was very difficult to not like this boy. Too difficult for me.
After eating three delicious peanut butter cookies, then downing a glass of milk, I was totally filled. We had, decided on Strum, and had planned our first band practice in a week, in Spencer’s attic. It was the only place we could fit, and plus, no one wanted to leave the cookies.
I pulled my backpack over my shoulder and headed out Spencer’s door with Chasity, and Ben.
“So, Natalie.” Ben asked, as we walked down the street. “Did you have a boyfriend in Arizona?”
A chill went through me, more like butterflies in the stomach, really. I guess you can call it excitement.
“No.” I replied. “Never got around to it.”
“Natalie.” Chasity whispered in my ear. “This is our street.” She pulled at my arm.
“Yeah, uh, we have to go, Ben.” I said, turning away. “Go on AIM tonight though, okay?” For some reason I just wanted to talk to him.
He smiled. “Alright, Nat.”
As it was just me and Chasity walking down our street, which we just happened to share (!), she kept giving me sidelong glances, with the faintest trace of a smile.
Finally, as she kept looking sideways at me, and finally, I snapped at her. “What!?”
“You told me you didn’t like him!” She laughed. “That was sure a lie, wasn’t it?”
“No, I didn’t say I didn’t like him, I just said, I didn’t know yet.”
“But now you do?” She smiled.
“This is my building, sorry, got to go.”
I got into my apartment, and found Mom already sitting at the small table. She was holding a letter. There were tear streaks on her face. Probably another part rejection. I walked over to her.
“Hey Mom, it’s alright, there are other auditions,” I said, rubbing her back.
“No,” She sniffled. “It’s not that. Here.”
She handed me the letter. It was from my … aunt? It read:
I know we haven’t talked in a while, but I have some unfortunate news for you. I received word from a local California hospital yesterday. They told me of a death. The death of my brother, Ricky. The father of your daughter, and your ex-husband. I am sorry to bring this news upon you. But when I was looking through his office, I found a letter, addressed to you, which was never sent. Here is an excerpt:
“My dear Jolie, the biggest mistake of my life was leaving you and our precious child. If I could come back, I would, but I fear you don’t love me. What I am trying to say is: I still love you!
See? I wish you could have talked to him before he passed, and maybe things would have worked out. Anyways, I hope you don’t become to depressed, and remember all the good memories you two had.
I looked down at Mom. There were still tears streaking her face. You could tell she had been crying for a while, and she seemed really put down.
“Mom, did you love him?” I asked her, expecting her to say ‘Of course!’.
She brushed the tears from her eyes. “Natalie, I was foolish when I was young.”
“What do you mean?”
“I have never told you this story, hon.” She paused. “I think its time.”
We were both seated at the kitchen table. Mom had a coffee, and I had some cocoa. Mom had seemed to have closed up, but I was determined to get this “story” out of her.
“Okay, so …” Mom trailed off.
“It’s alright Mom, just go on.” I soothed.
“Okay.” She gulped. “When I was a reporter, a while ago, you know, a journalist, I had to do an article on a man named Hank Dubois – ”
“NO WAY?!” I yelled. “Hank Dubois? He is like the best rockstar of all time!”
“And well,” She continued. “I kind of stayed at his house a little later than I was planning, and well we got off the topic of the interview, sidetracked, you could say, and-”
“But wait,” I interjected.
“He was - he was your father.” Mom said, kind of resigned.
“Wait, you, he - you were married to him?” I asked, horrified. Mom looked really put down, but I rushed on. “What happened?”
“Well, I wasn’t totally thrilled with the big rockstar life he was so intent on. After I found out I was pregnant, I wanted to calm down, so we, him and I, could raise you quietly, with no press intruding into our personal lives.”
“And he didn’t like that idea?” I asked, understanding her thought.
“No, he couldn’t even imagine giving up his career for a week, let alone a paternity leave!” She replied.
“So you broke up.” I was disappointed.
I stood up abruptly. “Goodnight.” I said. Mom seemed really hurt.
“Nat, I was young.”
“Of course.” And I left, slamming the door to my room.