The Christmas I Turned Pretty

'After a long and boring three-hour drive, our car is finally driving down the familiar snow-covered streets. I gaze out of the car window at all the little shops I know so well. We are finally back in Holmes Chapel. Back home.'
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Summer spends every year longing for the winter or more specifically, Christmas.
Every year she spends two and half weeks in The Lodge with her family and the Styles'.
But this year everything is different.
This year, Summer has turned pretty.
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Inspired by Jenny Han's book 'The Summer I turned Pretty'. Cover (c) Shilo

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15. The Alternative Ending

[Alternative ending following from the end of Chapter 12]

 

30th December

 

 

“I forgive you. I should never have made you feel that worthless, Summer. You didn't do much, really and I had no right to be as angry with you as I was. It isn't your fault that you love Harry. Maybe if we'd met a few years ago or a few years in the future even, then maybe things would have been different...But this is how it is now, and there's nothing that I can do to change that.”

“Liam...” I say shakily. “I wish things were different- I wish... I just wish I hadn't left Holmes Chapel without solving things. I wish I could see you and- I don't know. I just wish I could change everything.”

 

Liam is silent on the other end for a few seconds, and then he finally speaks up, his voice filled with sadness.

 

“I wish I could change things too, Summer. But you're gone now. In more ways than one; you've left and you're never going to love me like I want you to. And I've accepted that. It hurts but I've accepted it.”

 

I hold my breath, trying to feel the amount of love I do for Harry, but for Liam. I want to be able to forget everything that ever happened between Harry and I. I want to squeeze my eyes shut and let the butterflies flap their wings as Liam speaks softly down the phone. I want to be in control of my feelings, for once. But I don't think I'm ever going to get what I want.

 

“Look, I have to go. We're having a New Years party tomorrow and my mum is doing all the decorations today because she's overly-organised, but-” He hesitates slightly. “thanks for calling Summer. Really. Thank you.” And then he ends the call, leaving me even more unsure and confused.

 

I should feel happy that Liam has forgiven me, relieved even. But I just feel empty. Hearing his voice has made me feel even more guilty and even more angry with myself.

 

I suddenly start to get overwhelmed with the feeling of regret; for leaving The Lodge, for running away, for leaving Liam. Maybe if I was still there – if I saw Liam again – I could forget about Harry and cut away all of the strings he has attached to my heart, the strings that have made me into his puppet.

 

Because did I really try with Liam? Whenever I was with him, Harry didn't even cross my mind. It was only when I was away from him that I thought about how I would never get over Harry and blah blah blah. My mind absorbed itself on the idea of Harry and I, that I let it get away of anything with Liam, except of course when I was actually with him.

 

Only now, when I'm so far away, do I realise that all of those moment I had with Liam – when we went ice-skating in Altrincham, and shopping in Manchester, and the feeling of his lips on mine when he kissed me under a blanket of stars at the festival – they were perfect. They weren't tainted with self-doubt, or confusing looks, or mixed signals. They were filled with simplicity and happiness. Because that's how Liam makes me feel: like everything is so much more simple and clear, like I'm special.

 

I realised all of this a while ago, after spending the day with Liam ice-skating, but back then it wasn't a no-brainer. It was a constant debate in my head, never ending with a clear solution. Something in my brain still favoured Harry over Liam but only now has it hit me how much I've lost by once again letting Harry win.

 

~*~

 

Liam's P.O.V

 

I finish the phone call with Summer with a stabbing feeling in the pit of my stomach. I thought I had moved on, accepting that she would never love me as long as Harry was in the picture. But I haven't accepted it. I haven't moved on. Because just the sound of her voice has sent a wave of sadness hurtling towards me, threatening to drown me with my crushing heartbreak.

 

'She's just a girl, Liam. Just a girl. Get over it already. Stop being such a soppy idiot, and move on.' I tell myself harshly.

 

But Summer isn't just a girl, not to me. She's everything I could have ever wanted, everything I could have ever dreamed of. She's gorgeous, and endearing, and gentle, and funny, and geeky, and stupid, and perfect. She makes everyone feel like they're special, like they're worth something, just by the way she looks at you when you talk. She could break my heart with one sentence, and mend it with one word. Because for me, she's the one I love as much as she loves Harry, as stupid as it sounds because I know I haven't known her for nearly as long. But I fell fast and I fell hard, and I know that my heart is just as much stolen by her as hers is by Harry. And I was never angry, well not with her anyway. I thought that being angry was better than being sad but I never needed her to apologise; I had forgiven her before she had even broken my heart.

 

“Liam!” My mum calls from the bottom of the stairs. “Liam hunny, will you help me hang these fairy lights? I'm not tall enough.” So I do. I spend the rest of the night hanging decorations, and listening to cheesy Christmas songs, and laughing with my parents. And I'd like to say I spent the whole night not thinking about Summer, but that would be a lie.

 

~*~

 

By the time it's New Years Eve, our house has been completely transformed. Fairy lights are strung carefully round the banister of the stairs, as well as along the old wooden beams that line the ceiling; recycling bins have been placed in every room in the hope that the dozens of bottles of beer that are likely to be drunk won't be left scattered around clumsily; party poppers are in a bowl at the front door for each guest to collect on their way in, and the fireworks have been secured outside, ready for the countdown.

 

As a flood of adults I don't recognise shuffle into the house – some already drunk – I move sheepishly into one of the more quieter rooms. The house quickly becomes full, each room packed with mingling adults, drunks, and people attempting and failing at singing karaoke.

 

When I look around me, all I see is happiness. Everyone is dancing, and singing badly out of tune, and laughing, when all I feel is lost. Even standing in this massive sea of people, I still manage to feel alone because she isn't here and that's all I care about.

 

People behind my surge forward, causing me to stumble into the main room where, gradually, people are beginning to file outside in anticipation of the fireworks and the countdown. I hold back, staying in the now empty foyer and finally being able to have a moment to myself.

 

All night I've been letting old women drag me to the karaoke, and faking smiles, and making small-talk with random family members I've only met a handle of times and, even worse, guiding drunks to the toilet before they throw up the finger food my mum had prepared. And every time I've said 'Yes, I've had a lovely Christmas, have you?' I've never once been telling the truth, yet everyone believed me, because when people ask you 'how are you?' they don't really want to know. They don't want to hear about your heartbreak or the aching feeling that just won't go away no matter how hard you try. No, they just want to hear something like 'yes! I'm great! How are you? Isn't this such a lovely party!'. And that has made me feel even more alone than ever.

 

As the crowd of people gradually begins to chant the countdown, I squeeze my eyes shut and let myself wish. I wish that the new year will be better than this one. I wish that my heart would finally heal. I wish that things will get better. And as I'm about to wish for something I know will never come true, the doorbell rings.

 

7...6...”

 

I swing the door open, and as her snow-covered brown hair whips around her petite face and her caramel eyes meet mine, I let myself stop wishing.

 

“I'm sorr-” She begins.

“No, don't.”

 

5...4...”

 

“Please, don't.” I say.

 

3...2...”

 

“Don't say anything.” I take a step closer.

 

1...”

 

And I lean in and kiss her, hugging her shivering body against mine. I kiss her like I'll never kiss anyone ever again. I kiss her hard, and softly, and roughly, and gently. I kiss her because I can, because she's here, because all of my wishes came true.

 

Happy New Year!” The crowd cheers out as fireworks light up the sky but they're barely audible because all I can hear is our ragged breathing intertwined.

 

“I'm so sorr-” She tries again.

No,” I say firmly, hugging her tighter. “I'd already forgiven you. I'll always forgive you, Summer.”

 

And as I hold her against me, as if she is an extra vital limb on my body, I feel myself smile – a real smile – for the first time all night. Because Summer is here with me – really here and not distant like she normally is – and that is all I've ever wanted since I first saw her, upside down and throwing up on her brother.

 

“Ahh Liam! There you are!” An elderly, distant family member says. “I haven't seen you all night! Have you had a good Christmas?”

“Yes, I've had a lovely Christmas, have you?” And this time, I'm finally telling the truth.

 

 

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