I, Natalie Taylor, have had the worst day of my life.
Let’s start at the beginning. It all came to an ugly head at that party I went to with Frankie at his best buddy’s house in Westfield. I really hadn’t planned on going, but Frankie’s persistence wore me down, the way it always did. His buddy made junior partner in his law firm and was celebrating his promotion. Frankie didn’t want to disappoint him and wanted me to go, so I told him that I’d go if we could just drop in and drop out. He agreed.
But I should have known better.
His friend was nice enough.
“My girlfriend is a Christian, too.” I guess Frankie must have told him my dad’s a pastor. His girlfriend was some type of model or had been one. Super skinny, miles of long shiny blond hair, perfect teeth and nails and everything—her plastic surgeon must be excellent. Lots of people, high fashion, loud music, crowded dance floor, the works. She looked familiar. I could have sworn that she was on one of those Instagram selfies, you know, the pouty one with the freely adapted Bible verse on it. “I praise you because I’m wonderfully made. Your works are wonderful…”
“Would you like something to drink?” Frankie’s girlfriend Brittany is asking me.
“Oh, well, I mean I don’t…” …mean to be staring at the face work, I wanted to add. But my face was doing a whole lot of talking on its own (like it always does) and didn’t need any help.
“Is my makeup…?” I could see panic written all over her perfectly made-up face.
“Yes, no…to be honest…” I hastened to reassure her.
Frankie’s girlfriend is looking at me almost in tears.
“No, really. You look wonderful. Just like…” I’m hoping she’ll supply a name where I’ve drawn a blank.
Fortunately, her lookalike best friend arrived. “Blake Lively!”
“People say we look like Blake Lively!”
“Hmm…Yes! Yes!” I’m seeking the nearest exit.
“Wow. What a buzzkill.” Brittany’s best friend says in a loud whisper to her as they turn and leave.
I’m always the buzzkill. This is probably because I’d usually rather go home and eat pizza and watch House Hunters International. Not that I could admit this to any of Frankie’s fashionable friends.
I guess I should have known better, but you know how things never dawn on you until you’re right in the middle of them? You’re thinking, this is not good, but I’ll be okay, and then things turn out worse than you imagined.
“Have you seen Frankie?” All I want to do is find Frankie and go home.
And that’s when I realized that Frankie was gone, for who knows what reason, and I was stranded. No ride home.
“Mom, can you pick me up?”
Suddenly I feel like I’m way back to 13 again, crying in the bathroom at Katie’s birthday party because all the girls were making fun of how I watch football and don’t like going to their sleepovers, and why am I so weird.
“I need a ride home.”
I didn’t have to explain. It’s a noisy ride home, and I’m telling her what happened and that Frankie pretty much bailed. Not that this worsened my mother’s opinion of him. I know he tried at the beginning to put his best foot forward, the way everyone does because I’m a pastor’s daughter. The other foot has proven less impressive.
“Natalie, I’m really sorry…” Hearing Frankie’s voice, and my resolve to break up with him, dissolves.
“No problem, Frankie. Everything’s fine.”
Nothing is fine! But when he’s good to me, I can’t get over how amazing he makes me feel.
“I’ll make it up to you, Nat. I promise.”
I’d always dreamed of visiting Europe, but meeting Frankie had chased away all those dreams. He wanted me to stay, to be near him. “Nat, I can’t imagine life without you. You can’t just leave me.”
So I had waited.
Now I’m pouring over articles on “Signs of a Toxic Relationship” and “How to Get Over Someone You Love” and ticking off the boxes as I read. What I need is a new…something. A new life. A new scene. A new start in a new place with endless possibilities. I’ll travel the world, eat chocolate, meet eccentric people, and attend soccer matches.
Something beside this daily…blah. Because that’s what my life is—boring. And when it’s not boring, it’s just confusing and full of heartache.
So I, Natalie, know exactly what I want to do.
I’ll see Europe! I’ll find a job with an international airline in San Francisco. Gwen lives there, and why have a sister in San Francisco if you can’t take advantage of her gorgeous Bay Area home? An exciting, adventurous life awaits me, and I’ll live the glamorous existence most people only dream of living.
What could possibly go wrong?