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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12. The Realisation

Summer's POV

 

The train gently eases its way into the station as I stand up from my seat, stretching my dead legs and grabbing onto the handle of my suitcase.

 

The platform is practically deserted seeing as it's 2am in the morning. Myself and a few other people are the only ones walking down the lonely streets. Most are probably returning home from a stressful job that requires them to commute home in the early hours. Or maybe they're coming home from an exotic holiday which explains the late hour of their return. I'm coming home too, I guess. Not my home in Holmes Chapel or my actual home in London, but my dad's home in Birmingham: the only place where I thought I might actually be wanted.

 

I catch a taxi to my dad's small but stylish apartment and decide to let myself in rather than waking up my father. As I had expected, the silver key is stashed inside the ageing flowerpot just like it always is.

 

I walk into the apartment and find it completely spotless; there's no mess anywhere, which is very unusual for my father. He's practically a pig when it comes to tidiness.

 

“Dad?” I call quietly into the apartment.

 

I make my way into his bedroom and find it completely empty. I then proceed to check all of the other rooms in the apartment and find them empty too.

 

Where on earth could he be at 2am in the morning? He should be right here at home.

 

I decide that my best option is just to call him and find out where the hell he is. After four rings he finally picks up.

 

“Sum? Honey what's wrong? Why are you calling?”

“Daddy...where are you?” I say shakily. I collapse onto his large bed, my exhaustion finally catching up with me.

“I'm in- I'm in Hawaii...didn't your mother tell you? Jessica and I-”

“Hawaii? Jessica?”

“Yes, Hawaii. Jessica - my girlfriend - and I went away for Christmas... I did tell your mother and she said that she'd tell you... And I definitely didn't expect you to call me! I thought you'd be having a great time at The Lodge.” He says nervously.

 

I grab onto his pillow and bury my head into it, inhaling the comforting scent of my father but despite the slight comfort, tears still slip from my eyes.

 

“Y-yeah I am having a great time!” I force a smile onto my face as I somehow manage to choke out the words. “I just called the house phone and you didn't pick up... I just wanted to say Merry Christmas!”

Merry Christmas? Sweetheart, it's the 30th of December! Are you sure that you're all right? Has something happened? Is it to do with Harry?”

No!” I say sharply. “I mean, no. Everything with Harry is...fine. I'm having a great time. I just missed you,” I add on in a whisper.

“Well, if you're sure...” He says hesitantly. “I can always come home if you need me.”

“No, don't be silly! Have a great time with- with Jessica.”

“I'm always here for you Summer, you know that, so don't hesitate to call me, okay?”

Yeah of course dad... I-I love you.” And with that I end the call, not being able to hold in my tears any longer.

 

My sobs come out loudly but the pillow absorbs most of the sound. I cry until no more tears will come out, until there's not enough oxygen for me to sob any longer. I remove my head from the pillow and gasp for air, staring up at the blank ceiling. My eyes start to slowly close as my mind starts to drift away. And before I know it, I'm out like a light but not before seeing Harry's piercing green eyes staring at me.

 

~*~

 

When I wake up the clock reads 12:00pm but I make no effort of getting out of bed. I just want to lie here forever, drifting in and out of sleep and never having to face any of the problems I have apparently created. I re-close my eyes but no matter how hard I try, sleep won't take over me. Although my body still feels exhausted, my mind is wide awake; thousands of thoughts and questions refuse to stop begging for my attention.

 

Has Harry read my letter? Does he hate me even more? Is my mum mad at me for leaving, or is she glad? Have I hurt Anne and my brothers? Have I made my dad worried and ruined his holiday?

 

I assume that Harry has read my letter. I mean, it would have been pretty hard for him to miss it: I had placed it right on his pillow. Does he hate me even more? That I don't know. It's always hard to predict how Harry will feel or be affected by something so that's probably the question that's going to keep me up tonight and several nights after that.

 

My mum probably will be mad at me. After all, she has always hated me doing something without her permission. But she'll probably be as equally glad that I'm gone. Then maybe the remaining five days at the Lodge will be as relaxing and stress-free as she wanted them to be. Unless she's planning a witch hunt to find me... but that is highly unlikely, it's my mother after all.

 

Have I hurt Anne and my brothers? Probably. Anne has never liked drama. She just wants everyone to be happy at Christmas, seeing as it's the only time in the year that we see her. But this year I've ruined that for her because it's not just me that's unhappy, everyone seems to be. My brothers, on the other hand, are probably slightly hurt because I didn't leave them anything to explain and they do worry about me with things like this. But I think they'll still be bitter at all the damage that I have caused.

 

I probably have made my dad slightly worried but I'm pretty sure he bought my act and still believes that I'm having the time of my life at the Lodge...when in fact I'm moping about in his apartment feeling sorry for myself. And I'm going to continue moping about in his apartment and feeling sorry for myself until the 4th of January, until my family comes home from the Lodge. Then I'll have to face my family and all our unsolved issues, and I'll have to go back to the hell of school but this time I won't have anything to look forward to... This time I won't be dreaming of a winter romance that will never happen. Because that's the truth; it never will happen, and the sooner I start to realise that, the better.

 

I wrap myself up in my dad's surprisingly soft duvet and pad into the lounge, my bare feet making a 'slap' noise on the wooden floor. I curl up on the brown, leather sofa so that only my head is peeking out of the ivory duvet; the rest of my body is hidden and warm in the safety of the cave-like bundle of duvet.

 

I turn on the T.V via the remote control but once again my thoughts prevent me from focusing on anything other than them. I change the channel numerous times but it's no use; I can't concentrate on anything else.

 

I decide that maybe talking to someone will help stop me from going crazy due to my over-active brain. But who? Who, out of all of the people I know, wants to talk to me? Not Harry, not my mother, not my brothers, not Anne and it'll be the early hours in Hawaii so I can't call my dad.

 

I pick up my phone to search through my contacts for someone who actually isn't mad at me and may want to talk to me.

 

I scroll quickly through but I abruptly stop as my eyes land on one name. Liam.

 

He won't want to talk to me...will he? I never got to fully explain to him about this whole mess. Yes, I stupidly told him how I felt about Harry but I never actually apologised or told him how much his friendship meant to me. It's worth a try, isn't it? If he doesn't pick up then I won't try to call him again but maybe he will pick up, and then I can tell him everything I wanted to before he slammed the door in my face.

 

Before I can talk myself out of it, I hit the call button and chew nervously on my fingernails as the sound of ringing floods into my ear. After what feels like an eternity, he finally picks up.

 

“What?” His short, sharp response catches me off guard. I knew I had upset him and made him mad but part of me thought, or more like hoped, that he might have started to forgive me slightly.

“I-I'm sorry, I don't know why I called you,” I say, gulping as tears quickly fill my eyes.

“Yeah, neither do I.”

“Actually,” I say with a new found confidence. “I do know why I called. I called to tell you that I'm sorry. Really, truly sorry, Liam. I never intended for any of this to get this far; I never intended for any of it to start, in fact!” I take a deep breath and continue. “Please, just hear what I have to say. And then when I've finished you can hang up or yell at me or you can say nothing at all. Just please let me say this first. I really need to, Liam. Please.” I wait silently for his response.

“Okay,” He sighs. “But be quick, I need to help my mum out with decorations for tomorrow.”

 

Right, here we go. Just say it, Summer. Just tell him everything on your mind.

 

“When I first met you... I thought we could have something. I thought that you'd be the one that would teach me how love is meant to work. I thought you'd show me that games aren't needed and mixed messages aren't what love is about. And you did show me all of that. You showed me that someone could like me without confusing me or making me want to scream at the top of my lungs but cry and laugh at the same time. But for some reason my heart still held on to Harry.” I hear a scoff from Liam so I quickly cover my tracks. “No, I'm not saying that you weren't enough to help me get over Harry. I'm not saying that at all. I guess what I'm saying is, I've been used to the way I love Harry, and all of the emotions that come with it, for years. And I don't think that anything or anyone is going to be able to change that.

 

I'm not enough for you, Liam. You deserve someone who won't treat you like I did. You deserve someone who will love you with all of their heart instead of loving you with half of it. But I'm thankful that you let part of me fall for you because you really were an amazing friend to me. You were there when I needed you and I will always appreciate that. So I just- I just want you to know how sorry I am.”

 

I take a deep breath as I anticipate his response.

 

Will he just hang up? Will he snap at me and tell me that no matter how sorry I am it will never change what I did to him?

 

“Okay,” He says after a minute or two.

 

Okay? What does that mean?! 'Okay, but I'm still pissed off with you.' 'Okay, I forgive you.' 'Okay, but you're still a bitch.' There are so many possibilities!

 

“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.”

 

I'm quite taken aback by his response. I never expected him to listen to what I had to say, let alone actually forgive me. But my heart still breaks at his words. Maybe if we had met at a different time things would be different. If I'd met him before I fell in love with Harry maybe it would be Liam that I'm in love with now. Or if I'd met him in the future when I was no longer under Harry's spell then maybe I could have given him all of my heart fully.

 

But I didn't meet him years ago or years in the future; I met him this year, making it a Christmas that I will definitely never forget, for mostly negative reasons but also because of some positive reasons. Because this year I broke away; I flew the nest and left the Lodge. I just wish that Harry had come after me.

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