Hurdles

Our relationship. It wasn't sonnet inspiring, the story of it won't make thousands want to listen. But it was complicated and it was special to us. It was certainly more than I bargained for from just seeing a boy with a football helmet across the room.

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20. Twenty

It's my last day in England but our flight doesn't leave until half five that evening so I'm spending the day with my friends, just hanging around and talking. Not surprisingly, Harry comes up in conversation.

"So is there anything going on between you?" Jaclyn asks. 

"No." I say, avoiding eye contact. There technically isn't but I still feel like I'm lying because I'm honestly not all that sure anymore. 

"Seriously?" she says, sounding disappointed. "We've only ever heard you shouting at him over the phone and your selfies on Instagram and we still think you two belong together."

I laugh, shaking my head. "Nah."

"Has anything ever happened at all?" Nicole asks. I pause. I don't want to tell them and have it feel like I'm telling them just to show off or whatever but that's not what it's like. I just feel like I should tell them because they're my friends and there isn't really anything I wouldn't tell them. 

"I mean, he kissed me." I say and they all gasp so hard it makes me laugh. "It was nothing though."

"What do you mean nothing?!" Kylie demands. "It's everything!"

I laugh again, trying to keep it casual but my stomach is doing flips remembering the whole thing. "Really, it was just a kiss. It wasn't going to work out, he acted like it never happened afterwards and we got into a huge argument about it."

"What?" Jaclyn says, looking devastated. "How could it not work?" 

"He was in a relationship before, it got really serious and then ended badly." I shrug. "I don't really know. He just doesn't want to be in a relationship and I'm happy to respect that."

"You're stronger than I." Nicole says and then the conversation moves on once more before it's time for me to go.

I feel so sad to leave them, way sadder than I thought I would. It's just the thought of me leaving and them just carrying on like normal. Being here has reminded me how much I love being friends with them and how much I just love being around them and now I don't want to leave that. I don't really have a choice though so we hug goodbye eventually and then I'm back on the plane to Austin.

After a really long flight and then drive back to the house, we get there mid afternoon but in my mind it's like three am and I just want to go to bed. However, I am very happy to see Harry sat on the bonnet of his car as we pull into our street. I take all my bags inside and change quickly before going back out to find him. He smiles when he sees me, getting off the car and approaching me as I reach him, pulling me into a hug. 

"Hey!" he says. "You're home."

"I'm home." I say, pulling away and smiling at him. I'm sad to see he still looks kind of down, dark circles under his eyes but there is a little smile on his face anyway. "So are you sat on the bonnet of your car for any reason?"

He laughs. "I knew you were like five minutes away, I wanted to say hi."

"Well hi." I laugh too. 

"So, do you want to come in and hang out for a bit?" he says. 

I'm exhausted and so sleepy but I feel like Harry's still feeling down and I want to hang out with him anyway. I agree and warn him I might fall asleep so we just sit and watch movies and we're not doing anything in particular but somehow I still feel like I'm having fun. What I do realise is how he said I'm home and I agreed. I have to admit, it's starting to feel more like home here than in England and that's a little scary to me but exciting too.

"So." I say at one point. "Are you okay?" 

He looks at me, a little smile on his face but there's a sadness behind it. "Define okay." 

"What do you mean?" I frown and he sighs, shrugging. 

"I don't know. I just should be fine, you know? I've got a great life, I've got great friends and family, a roof over my head, a good education. I have nothing to be upset about other than the fact I'm stressed about things."

"That's a valid reason to be upset." I tell him and he shrugs. 

"It's just stupid isn't it? I'm literally stressed because I'm stressed. I just need to snap out of it." 

"You're only human." I remind him. "You're going to be in a bad mood from time to time. You've just sort of got to let it happen and then you'll be fine again in no time."

He sighs, smiling at me. I can't help but be aware of how close we're sitting and how close our faces are to each other's and it makes me a little nervous but I'm also surprisingly comfortable too.

"What?" I say, laughing a little. 

"You just make everything seem very simple." he says. "You just made all my problems not seem that bad, just like that."

"That's what I'm here for." 

I think it's the longest day of my life. From all the travelling to being at Harry's all day and then I'm finally home and seriously ready to collapse into bed when Dan phones. I consider ignoring him but I have been wanting to talk to him. I've lost count of the hours I've been awake now, what's ten more minutes going to be? 

"Hello." I mumble down the phone. Now I'm actually in bed everything's catching up to me. "If I stop talking, I'm asleep."

He laughs. "Okay. How are you little Alice? It's been a while."

"It has." I agree. "I'm good thanks, how are you?" 

"I'm good." he says too in his usual cheerful tone. "Have you been to see Harry?" 

"Yeah, why?"

"Because he didn't shut up about you while you were gone." he chuckles. "Seriously. Didn't shut up. In the locker room, 'how long until Alice is back?'. Driving home, 'what time is it in England right now?'. At a movie, 'guys Alice would love this!'."

"Really?" 

"Yes. I think the kid's in love with you to be honest." he says and I laugh. 

"Nah." I say, feeling kind of awkward now. "Alright, I can't keep my eyes open. I'll see you on Monday at school?" 

"Yep." he says. "Or at yours and Harry's wedding, whatever comes first."

"Shut up!" I say and he laughs. 

"Alright, see you." 

I find that whole thing hard to believe. Not that I think Dan is lying, it's just surreal. Harry who used to be so out of my league, suddenly involving me in his life so much. That thought both confuses me and makes me so happy at the same time. And it's not just Harry, it's the way Dan just calls me because he wants to talk and the way Jesse or Alex will send me videos they think I'll find funny. I think Harry was right earlier. This really does feel like home now.

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