One week after the incident, Natalie began to attend classes again. She was still so weak that she needed a crutch to walk, and slept either sixteen or two hours a day with rarely an in-between. She looked like hell. Her entire body was covered with stitches, her shoulder was bandaged near her neck, her neck itself was still bruised, her skin was deathly pale and her eyes were red and puffy. The class were very silent on that day, as she was a fresh reminder of the horrors of that day. At least people weren't avoiding her out of fear anymore. No, now they were avoiding her out of pity.
Classes went well for her. Well, reasonably well. She was an 18 year old with the schooling of the average 16 year old, do she was two years behind on literally every subject. She had no strong or weak subjects. She worked hard at everything, glad of the distraction and chance to achieve something, but lacked the intelligence or talent to excel at any one area. She got Bs and Cs across the board in all the quizes and tests. She'd have to try harder to get As.
Well, there was one class she was struggling, but Natalie didn't think of it as a class. Power Training. It was hard to do well in power training when you were afraid to, and often outright refused, to use your power. Natalie's average power training class was spent sitting on a bench, and sometimes crying. She had come to resent that class. It was one of the things she had brought up with her therapist, who had suggested that she try to join in and not be afraid to use her powers, but that was largely overshadowed by larger areas of concern for her therapist.
Ever since the incident, Natalie had been racked with guilt over taking another two lives. It was affecting her sleeping, her diet, and many other aspects of her physical and mental health (during one health checkup she practically got yelled at for how little she was eating). But her therapy sessions were helping. Natalie had been told in her first week to find creative hobbies. Natalie loved to read, so had began writing. She wasn't a storyteller, or very creative, but she did have a lot of emotional turmoil in her head. Thus, poetry had become her solace. Though her poetry was often dark, it helped to get things out of her head and onto a computer.
Natalie hadn't talked to Keaton at all since the day after she got back, and that was mostly just them asking each other if they were okay. Natalie and Amelia talked a lot, as per usual. They weren't at the level of friends where they'd ever go out to lunch together, but they appreciated each other's company. Natalie wanted to talk to Lynn, to reassure her and support her, after seeing the look on her face that day, but could never bring herself to. She didn't think Lynn would be very comfortable with the situation brought up either. And Archie...She really liked spending time with Archie. They got each other. They could relate to each other. They'd made a pact to protect each other. They didn't see each other very much, though, and sometimes she avoided Archie. Sometimes she could also tell he was avoiding her. Natalie didn't think she had a crush on Archie, but then again, she didn't know what a crush would feel like, having never had one. And she hadn't have any close friends in her life either. She honestly didn't know whether this was a close friendship or a crush. It was one of them. She had been forcing herself not to think too deeply about the latter possibility. Her head was chaotic enough.
Today, in class, her stitches out, body healed, and fresh, ugly scars on top of her old ones, she sat. They had finally addressed the incident. No explanation. But at least they're not trying to pretend that it didn't happen. If that had stayed the case, Natalie might have started to think that Lynn and Keaton were onto something regarding the establishment being shady. Natalie didn't want that. She establishment was her one hope of becoming....well, sane again.
Natalie zoned out during the homecoming talk. She wouldn't be going. She would not wear a dress with her scars. The rest of the day, she just coasted. It was when she was on her way back to her room that her phone buzzed, and she checked it. It wasn't from Amelia, surprisingly. It wad from Archie, asking her, Lynn and Keaton if they wanted to meet at the mall. Natalie stopped in her tracks. She supposed this day would have had to come eventually, when the four of them met up as a group once again.'Sure. Where about?'
Natalie texted back.