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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1. The Lodge

Christmas. My favourite time of year, which is pretty ironic seeing as my name is Summer. During the Christmas period everyone seems so happy. Little kids run down the snow-covered streets, gazing into the windows of large toy shops. Their parents stroll casually behind, mentally taking note of what toys are taking their child's breath away. The normally grey pavements seem to sparkle with the soft blanket of snow that rests on them. Everywhere is lit up with dazzling fairy lights and the whole city seems to be more peaceful.

 

Well, that's what I imagine it to be like anyway. Because I have never in fact been in my home town during Christmas. Instead, I'm squished in between my two older brothers on the way to The Lodge just like I am on the 20th December every year. The Lodge is a holiday home we share with my mum's best friend and her son. It's a place where you can forget all the stress of school and just relax.

 

The drive, however, isn't nearly as magical as life at The Lodge. It's three hours of hell. My brothers always manage to get into some sort of stupid fight over something I don't care about. My mum thinks it's necessary to get us into the 'Christmas spirit' by blasting out cheesy Christmas songs that do nothing but give me a blinding headache. My bum may get unbelievably numb and my family may make me feel like jumping out of the car and walking all the way to Cheshire, but it's all worth it.

 

I get to spend a whole two and a half weeks with the most perfect people. Anne always makes the most amazing home-cooked food in the world and treats me like the daughter she never had. I finally get pampered and my mum actually starts to relax a little and have fun. And then who could forget Harry? Even though my brothers try to leave me out of their little 'gang', Harry always tries his best to include me. He has always done that – looked out for me when my brothers haven't.

 

The Lodge makes Christmas the highlight of my year. Throughout the school year, and summer, I count down the days until I can go back. Nothing compares to the weeks I spend there and nothing probably will. There are no boys like Harry in my school back in London. And my mum can barely cook ready meals let alone the mouth-watering dishes Anne manages to make almost effortlessly. The Lodge is my paradise and, if I could, I'd spend every single day there with Anne, Harry and even my own family too.

 

~*~

 

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.

 

It feels like years since I was last in the small village when in fact it has only been one year. But Christmas time is finally here and I get to have my two and a half weeks of perfection.

 

The car pulls up outside the large lodge; the lodge that my family has been spending Christmas in since forever. As usual, I can see Harry's and Anne's silhouettes through the frosty glass window and I can feel my heartbeat quickening at the realisation that I am really back at The Lodge.

 

My brothers practically jump out of the car and are quickly in Anne's warm embrace before doing some awkward guy hug with Harry. I am the last to get out of the car, trying to savour the moment because the second I step into that house Christmas is going to fly by and then I'm going to find myself stuck in London miles way from the one thing I really love the most.

 

I slowly step out of the warm car and into the freezing temperatures that are waiting for me. My gaze locks with Harry's as I my breath hitches in my throat.

 

It has only been a year since I last saw him. But for some reason everything seems different. His hair is a bit longer and it seems to be straighter than I had remembered, with some little curls still sprouting out of his head. His eyes have a new glisten to them, making them look even more green.

 

The person in front of me is not the Harry I have burping contests with. He isn't the person who grabbed me from my bed, flung me over his shoulder and carried me into the snow in the middle of the night. He isn't the person who is practically my third brother. He's a man.

 

I don't know how long we stayed like that; staring at each other but not saying a word. It was Anne who finally broke my trance by pulling me into one of her famous hugs – the ones that smell of cinnamon and all things christmasey. But it was quickly over as she hustled back into the house to carry on cooking whatever smells like heaven.

 

I then move towards Harry, his eyes never leaving mine. I stand there for a second taking in the new man who is stood in front of me but Harry quickly stops my inspection by pulling me into him. I hug back almost instantly, as if it is routine when in fact, it isn't. Me and Harry never hug. It just isn't part of our friendship. But I find myself standing there, holding onto Harry and taking in his masculine scent.

 

“I missed you, Sum.” Harry mumbles into my shoulder.

“I missed you too, Haz.” I whisper back, trying desperately to hide my blush in case anyone can see it.

 

And just as quickly as the moment – if you can even call it a moment – started, it is over and I am being flung over Harry's shoulder as he charges into the house.

 

“TIME FOR THE DUNK!” Harry yells into the house, causing both of my brother's to run into the room.

 

I scream in Harry's arms, trying to kick him as hard as I can. But it's no use; Harry has always been too strong for me.

 

If you were wondering, 'The Dunk' is a stupid tradition that the boys have. I, on the hand, hate it with a passion because it's me being 'dunked'. It's basically where Harry and my brother carry me up the wooden staircase and dangle me over the wooden banister that overlooks the large entrance to the lodge while my other brother waits at the bottom to catch me in case the idiots drop me. They hold me there for a few minutes until the mums eventually emerge from the kitchen and realise that all of the blood is rushing to my head, and they tell the boys to 'stop being silly'. But somehow it still happens every single year.

 

I've tried running away but they always catch me. I've tried hiding but they always find me. But most of the time I just accept my fate and let Harry throw me over his shoulder as if I'm a sack of flour.

 

“Boys please don't!” I beg as Harry runs up the stairs with me, my brother trailing eagerly behind.

“Sorry Sum, it's tradition.” My oldest brother, Will, smirks at me.

“Yeah, it wouldn't be Christmas if we didn't.” Matt adds from his position in the entrance.

“Oh shut up.” I huff at them. “It's only tradition because you like to see me distressed.”

 

All the boys laugh at my expense as I cross my arms over my chest, once again accepting my yearly dunking.

 

“Why can't we have a tradition where I laugh at all of you?” I groan as we near the top of the stairs.

“No.” They all say together. I seriously hate them sometimes.

 

“Ready?” Harry laughs as he steadies my body on the edge of the banister.

 

I quickly grip onto his torso with all of my strength, suddenly feeling the fear I feel every single year. The same questions circles through my head: what if I slip out of their grasp? What if Matt wanders off and isn't at the bottom to catch me?

 

“You promise you won't let me go?” I ask Harry, fear evident in my eyes.

“I promise.”

“1, 2, 3,” they chorus together. “DUNK!”

 

I feel my arms rip from Harry's torso as the upper half of my body starts to fall backwards. I let out a scream, just like I do every year, as I dangle upside down with my safety in the hands of my idiot brother and Harry.

 

“This tradition is shit.” I scream at them but all I get is laughs in return.

 

The doorbell ringing distracts me from the nauseous feeling that is beginning to erupt in my stomach. I really wish I hadn't of eaten all of those minstrels in the car.

 

Matt moves towards the door, no longer waiting beneath me in case I fall. The nauseous feeling quickly returns as I imagine my fate if the boys were to drop me.

 

“Hey,” I hear a male voice say. “My parents bought the house next door and wanted me to make friends or something...” Aw, he sounds nervous. And maybe this boy/man/or masculine girl can save me.

“Oh right, cool. You can come in if you want, we're just dunking my sister.” Oh shut up Matthew, trying to sound cool by mentioning how I may or may not be the weakling in the family.

 

I watch intently as a tallish boy, who looks around the same age as me, comes into the room. Even though I'm hanging upside down, I can already tell that he is fudging gorgeous.

 

His hair is a light brown colour and it is styled into a quiff. His skin is slightly tanned and he has the most gorgeous brown eyes I have ever seen.

 

I mentally curse as I realise that the first time I am meeting this guy is while being hung upside. And I'm wearing my messy, travelling clothes. And my face is red due to all the blood rushing to it. And-

 

My thoughts are broken as the nauseous feeling increases rapidly. I open my mouth to tell the boys to pull me back up but no words come out. Instead a hell of a lot of sick does.

 

So we can add that to the long list of reasons why this hot guy in front of me will never love me.

 

I feel my body being slowly hoisted back up over the banister, causing me to become unsteady on my feet. Harry catches me as I start to stumble while attempting to walk.

 

“Are you okay?!” Will asks, urgency in his voice. He may not always include me but he does get pretty protective and he does worry about me to an extent.

“I- oh my god!” The sickness I was feeling quickly drains away as I lay my eyes on my brother. “I threw up on Matt!” I howl.

“You think?!” Matt snaps at me, clearly not happy with the contents of my stomach in his hair.

 

Serves him right, though. Maybe next year he'll stick up for me and not let this stupid tradition go ahead unless he wants me to vomit on him again.

 

A second voice joins in with my laughter. And then a third. And another until we are all laughing apart from Matt.

 

“Matthew...” my mother says cautiously as she finally enters the room. “What is that smell?”

“Summer threw up all over me.” He wails like the little girl that he really is.

 

I see a smirk graze Anne's lips as she tries to contain her laughter. My mother, on the other hand, is not smiling.

 

“Summer, apologise to your brother.” She says sternly.

“It's his own fault! It wouldn't have happened if they didn't have this tradition!”

“It wouldn't have happened if you hadn't of stuffed your face with all those minstrels.” Will snorts. Well, I had thought he was on my side for once. I guess I was wrong.

“I don't care whose fault it is! Just help him clean up... all of you!” My mother snaps

 

God, I feel horrible for the beautiful guy who has had to watch all of our drama. In the space of five minutes he's seen a girl dangling over a banister, a boy being vomited on and a mother who has no sense of humour.

 

I groan as we all trail into the bathroom to clean up my sick that has probably embedded itself in Matt's hair and clothes. Sucks for him. And sucks for me because I've got to help clean it.

 

“I'm sorry you had to witness all of that.” I say to the hot guy whose name I still don't know.

“It's fine. I haven't had that much entertainment all winter.” He laughs softly.

 

I like this guy. He doesn't seem to be freaked out by my crazy family and that's a good sign. And he seems to laugh a lot which I like.

 

“I'm Liam by the way.” He smiles at me.

 

So he has a name. Liam. Now I actually have something to call him instead all of the adjectives for gorgeous people. Except, 'hot guy' sort of suits him.

 

“Summer.” I return the smile.

 

From that moment I knew it would be a Christmas I would never forget.

 

I thought that I would actually have someone on my side. And that I wouldn't have to trail after my brothers and Harry. I could have had a friend of my own. Someone who didn't dangle me over banisters or kidnap me from my warm bed in the middle of the night.

 

But maybe I didn't need someone to be on my side. Maybe I needed someone who was there all along...

 

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