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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13. The Countdown

When I come off the phone with Liam, part of me feels at peace. He's actually forgiven me so now I have one less thought keeping me up at night. But another part of me feels more alone than ever. Maybe hearing his voice made me realise everything I really have left behind.

 

I look down at my phone as it starts to buzz while a message reading 'one new voicemail' flashes across the screen.

 

My heart starts to beat faster as my hand hovers over the 'view' button. It could be him, it could be Harry. But part of me doesn't want to hear what he has to say. Not because I'm angry or upset with him but because I'm scared. I have no idea what he's feeling right now and part of me doesn't want to find out. I feel like if I listen to the message then everything will change and I don't think I'm ready for that.

 

I lock my phone and put it back into my pocket, deciding to just ignore the voicemail. It might not be him anyway but right now I don't want to find out.

 

I spend the rest of the night doing everything I can think of which will distract me. I watch T.V and then a few DVDS until I can't keep my eyes open any longer. When 'The Notebook' comes to an end I barely make it to the bedroom before collapsing onto the bed and falling asleep the second my head touches the pillow.

 

~*~

 

It all comes back at once; my very own montage of life moments playing before my very eyes.

 

I see myself and Harry growing up. Each year we get older and I watch myself fall even harder for him. Then suddenly I'm 16: it's this Christmas. I watch myself throw all of my belongings into my suitcase in a distracted state, and then see the train pull away. But as the train becomes a tiny speck in the distance, I'm watching from a different set of eyes.

 

I watch as I throw things around Harry's room, not stopping until every glass item is simply a pile of shards on the floor. And then I sink down to the ground and stare intently at the smashed glass, but it's not my reflection I see: it's Harry's.

 

And just as quickly as my train sped out the station, the world passes by as a blur before suddenly stopping and focusing on a grown woman walking down a familiar street in London. I watch as two children skip ahead of her, a girl and a boy gazing into shop windows with such amazement. Snow falls softly and silently from the sky, sparkling in the glow of the fairy lights.

 

A man joins the woman and the two children, a small smile grazing his lips but the woman barely notices him. Her gaze is fixated on a silver plaque hanging in one of the shops' windows.

 

My eyes focus on a single tear rolling down the woman's cheek before slowly zooming out, showing me the woman's face for the first time. And the woman is me.

 

~*~

 

 

I shoot upwards so that I'm sitting upright in bed as my breathing comes out in quick, short breaths. My hand move swiftly up to my cheek, touching the fallen tear.

 

It felt so real, the dream. I can still hear the laughter of the children, my children in my head and I can feel the same grief that my adult-self felt. But what did the plaque say...? What caused me so much heartbreak?

 

I squeeze my eyes tightly shut trying to view the silver plaque but it's not use; all I see is darkness.

 

The sound of the doorbell ringing forces me back into reality and away from the dream, and my future self and the silver plaque that caused an ache in my heart.

 

I cautiously walk towards the front door, wary of who it might be. If it's one of my dad's friends they'll definitely tell my dad that I was here, and not in fact at the Lodge. And what if it's my mum? What if she somehow found me and is going to drag me back home to London?

 

I open the door slowly, my eyes landing on a plump old man stood on the doorstep with a parcel. Oh, it's just the postman.

 

“Sign here.” He says bluntly, clearly unhappy to be working on New Year's Eve.

 

I do as he says and sign his check-board before retrieving the parcel which I assume is a late Christmas present for my dad.

 

“I hope you have a good day,” I call after him but he only grunts in return. Well, so much for Christmas spirit.

 

I look down at the small parcel/envelope in my hand, the parcel that's addressed to me and not my dad.

 

Who knows I'm here? Only my dad and his girlfriend, Jasmine...no, Jessica! No one else knows I'm here...do they? Why else would a parcel addressed for me arrive?

 

I peel open the envelope carefully and slowly, wary of what's inside and worried about breaking whatever it is. I look into the brownish envelope and pull out a necklace which had been stashed in one of the corners of the envelope.

 

When I examine it closely a gasp escapes my lips. It's from him, it has to be. My finger traces over the engraved words on the envelope charm. 'Love you always.' My heart starts to race as I spot the small yellow piece of paper that is peeking out of the parcel. I gently pull it out and my stomach drops as my eyes land on the familiar note. He sent me the post-it-note from the fridge, the one that made me link everything together; the infinity necklace, the silver charm, the post-it-note and now another necklace.

 

Just the sight of the simple word, the sight of 'always' makes something in my brain click. And then my dream comes back to me, and I see what the silver plaque says. It reads:Only in the eyes of love you can find infinity.”

 

The woman I saw – who I assume is my future-self – was married, and she had two kids. But as I stood there in that frozen street, all I could feel was emptiness. I – the woman – wasn't happy. Butterflies didn't flap violently in my stomach when my eyes laid on my supposed husband. I didn't love him. I was still holding onto The Lodge and the perfect Christmases we had there; I was still holding onto Harry and the idea of our infinity.

 

Seeing that quote, and feeling that emptiness, has made me realise that no matter what happens, no matter who I marry, I will always hold onto Harry and everything we shared. And now I finally understand the concept of 'always' and all the hints Harry sent me. Because I've realised that my love for Harry is infinite and it always will be.

 

I spend the rest of the day pacing around the apartment and debating one hundred and one things inside my head. Do I listen to the voicemail or do I just ignore it? Should I just call Harry or should I wait and see if he calls me? Should I get the next train back to Holmes Chapel or should I wait it out here?

 

By around 11:30pm, I eventually decide that I shouldn't do anything yet because in my current state of mind, I'll probably do something that I'll regret. I should just wait until the new year because that's when you're meant to do new things and become a better person or, in my case, a braver person. Instead, I turn on the T.V and sit down as The Perks of Being a Wallflower plays on the screen. But I still can't focus on anything, that is until I hear a quote that I've never took much notice of before. And in that moment, I swear we were infinite.”

 

I quickly change the channel to the BBC, ready for the New Year countdown that is starting in about ten minutes. But the words keeps circling around my head. “And in that moment, I swear we were infinite.”...“Only in the eyes of love you can find infinity.”... “Love you always.”

 

“That's it,” I say, picking up my phone and pressing play on the voicemail before I can talk myself out of it again.

 

I hear Harry take a deep breath before he begins.

 

Hey, Sum. So...I guess you're really gone? I mean, I've checked every room of the house a dozen times and I went down to the lake and yeah, you're not there. I don't know where you are but I do know that it's because of me that you left.

 

I guess I just called to say I'm sorry... Sorry for being an absolute prick to you all of these years. Sorry for driving you away and for treating you like shit when all you ever did was stand by me. I'm sorry for making all of this so hard and complicated when it could have been – should have been - so simple. I could've just told you how I felt and let you love me, and I could've been happy. But for some reason I didn't think and I pushed you away and I hurt you and I hurt myself.

 

I'm not expecting you to forgive me, either, because I know that I've really lost you this time. You leaving has given me the biggest wakeup call I've had in years. It showed me that I can't keep playing these games and I guess it made me realise that-”

 

I hear three, short knocks on the door so I wipe the tears that had fallen and make my way to the front door, my phone still playing Harry's voice into my ear.

 

I don't deserve you and...the one thing I really need to tell you is I lo-”

 

I swing the door open and look up into the green eyes in front of me. My phone slips out of my hand and crashes to the floor but I barely hear the collision; I'm too shocked. The muffled sound of the T.V calls out '10...9...8...7'.

 

“You're here,” I manage to choke out.

'6...5...4'.

“I'm sorry, maybe this was a mistake. You probably don't want to see me...” He stutters.

'3...2...1...”

“No,” I say before I take his face in my hands and close the gap between us.

 

I press my lips to his as the sound of fireworks exploding rings from the distance and from the T.V.

 

And in this moment, I too swear that we are infinite.

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