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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2. The Dream

Age 12

 

“Who's there?” I asked into the darkness of my room.

 

I had sworn that I heard the old wooden door creak and some of the floorboards.

 

I pulled my duvet tighter to my chest in a source of protection from whoever the intruder was in my room.

 

“Shhh,” the figure hushed, putting a hand over my mouth to prevent the scream that tried to escape.

“Harry?!” I mumbled through his hand, somewhat relieved.

 

My heart carried on to race even though the idea of a stranger being in my room subsided.

 

Before I knew what was happening, Harry pulled me over his shoulder and was leading me out of my cosy bedroom.

 

“Where are you taking me?” I asked with a giggle as Harry tried to take me down the stairs without the floorboards creaking.

“You'll see.” I couldn't see his face but I knew he said it with a smirk.

 

As we left the warmth of the house Harry pulled my body from his shoulder round to his front so I was being carried in a baby lift. He cuddled me closer as the cold winter air whirled around us. And then he just walked. He walked for what seemed like hours until we arrived at the forest that me, Will, Matt and Harry always played in. But instead of stopping where we usually set up a camp, Harry kept walking further into the woods.

 

I clung on to Harry as tightly as I could, burying my small head into his body. I had never been a big fan of the woods but I was normally okay because we never went there at night. But now I was there in the middle of the night and I couldn't help but feel uneasy at the uncertainty of what was around us.

 

“Don't be scared,” Harry hushed me, cradling me tighter. “I know you don't like the woods but trust me, it's going to be worth it.”

 

And as usual, I did trust him. It was Harry after all. He could tell me anything and I would believe him.

 

“Nearly there now... so close your eyes.” I did as he said and fluttered my eyes closed. “Okay... open your eyes.”

 

I opened them slowly, still cautious of what Harry was about to show me. But as soon as they were open I didn't want to close them, even for a split second. What lay before me was the most beautiful sight I had ever seen.

 

I wandered over to the frozen lake that was hidden in between trees. I sat slowly down in the soft snow, still in awe of what was right in front of me.

 

I'd never seen this part of the woods before. Me and my brothers were certain that we had explored every inch of the wood (in the day may I add) but this part was completely uncharted.

 

“I've never seen this part of the woods! When did you find it?”

“A few years back,” Harry said while he joined me in the snow. “I sort of kept it as my special place.”

“Then why did you show me?” I was confused by Harry's secret place. If it was his then why was he showing me of all people?

“Because I knew that it would stay a secret if I showed you.... and it would become even more special.”

 

I stared at Harry for a moment, more in love with him then I had ever been in the whole of my life. Did Harry Styles, the boy I''ve been madly in love with since the age of six, just call me special?

 

It was so much to take in. I was so overwhelmed that I didn't notice the fact that Harry had started leaning in until his soft lips touched mine. He left an agonizingly short, sweet kiss on my lips before dunking a handful of snow in my matted hair.

 

We both broke into a fit of laughter as a snowball fight occurred. We ran round the frozen lake, in between the trees, never taking our eyes off each other as we lobbed snowballs at each other. Despite the energetic activity, I still couldn't take it off my mind... Harry Styles had kissed me. He'd given me my first kiss and it was even more perfect than I had dreamed it would be.

 

The snowball fight didn't last long due to the numbness that had started to take over both of us. Which wasn't surprising seeing as we were both just wearing our pyjamas. Harry carried me home and placed me back into my warm bed, as if I'd been there all along. To the mums and my brothers, I had been.

 

Before Harry left my bedroom, he turned around and looked straight at me and gave me one of his famous grins. He wasn't looking through me, he was looking at me. And in that short moment, I knew that my heart belonged to Harry Styles and whether I liked it or not (and I was not complaining) it would never belong to anyone else.

 

~*~

 

I stir from the dream that brought back the warm memory from my childhood. That night is one of my favourite out of all of the nights I have spent in The Lodge. And sometimes it comes back to me in the form of a dream, just like it did tonight, and I find myself back in my twelve year-old body in the woods with Harry.

 

After that night I had thought that all of my dreams would come true, or something like they teach you in the Disney movies. When a boy kisses you, he's meant to fall in love with you... right? That's what happened to Sleeping Beauty and Snow White and Belle and Cinderella. But all of that was wrong because it didn't happen to me. No, instead of my happy ending whereby Harry carries me off into the sunset or something cliché like that, I became even more invisible than I was before. Harry went back to the boys and I went back to tagging along. I never became part of their clan and I never became a fixed part of Harry's life like I had dreamed. And it has stayed like that ever since. After all, I am only in his life in the Winter. But back then I wanted to be in it in every single season. I wanted to be the girl that Harry would have water fights with, not just snowball fights. And I wanted to be the girl he would lie in the grass with for hours on end. I wanted to see him in Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter. But I guess he didn't feel the same.

 

My twelve year-old mind thought that that would be the night that changed everything and I guess it did change things... but not in the way I had wanted.

 

I creep out of the bed I've slept in since my very first year in the Lodge and throw on my coat. I tiptoe out of my bedroom, down the stairs and then out of the house, careful not to stir the light sleepers. I pull on my tattered converse and step out into the crisp snow.

 

It takes me a while to find it, seeing as I have only been there a handful of times. But as soon as I do find it, all of the fears that were starting to become too much simply disappear. I always find the same calming peace whenever I visit the frozen lake. It doesn't hold the same fear that the rest of the wood does and I can only blame that on the fact that the lake beholds so many happy memories which overcome my fear.

 

The frozen lake is the place where Harry kissed me. It's the place where I was told that I was special for the first time in my life. It is also the place which belongs to only Harry and I. It's not corrupted by my brothers or any other intruders. But most of all, the frozen lake is the place where Harry made his promise to me; a promise I will never forget.

 

My thoughts are interrupted by the sound of snow crunching behind me. My body tenses up as the images of hungry, wild bears pop into my mind.

 

If a wild bear or wolf or carnivorous animal kills me now I am so going to kill Harry for showing me this killer-infested lake.

 

“Sum?” His voice echoes through the fir trees.

 

It definitely isn't a hungry bear or a wild wolf. It is worse; it is Harry.

 

My heart stops beating as I turn around to face him.

 

Yesterday, when I got out of the car and saw Harry for the first time in a year, I was so happy. After all, I had been longing to see him all year. But after having that dream, which reminded me of the kiss and how my little fairytale didn't come true, I can't help but feel the same heartbreak I felt when I was twelve. It has brought back all of the hurt I have felt over the years and I can't seem to shake off the feeling of fear. It's not Harry that's scaring me but his power over my heart. He can crush my heart with one word and then mend it straight after with a single kiss. And that amount of power over my emotions scares the shit out of me.

 

“I couldn't sleep,” I reply slightly more bluntly than I had intended. “so I thought I'd come back here... I've always liked this place.”

“I can't believe you came here on your own. You've always been a little girl when it comes to the woods.” He tries to joke with me but I'm not feeling his comedic side tonight.

“And you've always been a little girl when it comes to spiders.” I shoot back.

“Touché.” He smirks at me.

 

He joins me in the snow just like he did that night four years ago. But this time I don't feel any of the lovestruck emotions. Instead, I feel the opposite.

 

“Remember the first time I showed you this place?”

“Yes.” I reply through gritted teeth.

 

I just want him to drop the subject because that night has already been on my mind too much tonight and I've practically relived it. And I don't want to go talking to Harry about how he made me fall even more in love or how he stole my heart that night. I want to forget it ever happened.

 

Harry's voice takes a softer, more gentle tone as he speaks the words I never thought I would I hear him say. “That was one of the best nights of my life.” He gulps slowly before continuing. “And I'd do anything to relive it.”

 

I stay quiet for a few seconds, which feel more like hours, before replying.

 

“You could have relived it you know.”

“What? How?”

“I would have come into the woods with you every single day at whatever hour if you would have asked. I spent every night of that Christmas waiting for you to sneak into my bedroom and whisk me off into the woods. But you never did.” I decide not to tell him about the part how I still do spend most nights at the Lodge wondering whether Harry will appear and make my heart race again. He doesn't need to know that.

“I-I...” For the first time in my life, I have made Harry Styles speechless.

“Sometimes I think that my twelve year-old mind made up the fact that you kissed me because when I think about it, it seems a bit too unbelievable....seeing as you spent the rest of that Christmas with my brothers and barely looked my way.”

“Sum-”

“But I was never going to be more to you than Will and Matt's clingy little sister, was I? After all, I'm nothing special.” And with that, I walk away.

 

I walked away from Harry, not the other way round. For once in my life I stood up to him and told him some, but definitely not all, of the things I have been wanting to tell him for years. He didn't manage to worm his way back into my heart and I became stronger than him.

 

Even though I am feeling strong and liberated, for some reason I can't calm my racing heart.

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