Outside, there was no snow. Winter had arrived, but here, winter was just a reprieve from the sweltering heat and decay that was a trademark of Florida summers.
Patton looked out the window, watching the blades of grass in the yard sway gently in the cool breeze.
Logan was sitting at the kitchen table, which was placed in the middle of the room and seemed to make the room smaller than it already was. He was nursing a cup of tea in his favorite mug, and reading a biology textbook.
Patton sighed. "Why can't winter be frozen over?"
"Factually," Logan replied, "Florida is close enough to the equator that, even when earth is at it's furthest orbit, it remains in the sun's rays.
When Patton didn't respond, Logan blew on his tea as though it were hot, though he was drinking it fine earlier. He turned a page in his textbook, paused, then added, "I was merely attempting to answer your question with a logical answer."
Patton curled his legs under him, not paying Logan a glance. "I see."
He continued to look out the window, watching as one of their other friends, Roman, walked up the gravel driveway carrying a stack of mail. He went to the mailbox every day like clockwork, to see if any of his new collectible toy figurines had come. They were his obsession, ordering a new character for every new soap opera he fell in love with, which were plenty.
As he opened the door and stepped inside, he sung, "Patton, I have a letter for you!"
"For me?" He left his spot at the window, and walked over to Roman. The dark beige carpet was soft, tickling the bottom of his bare feet. Patton took the letter from Roman's outstretched hand, and gently tore open the envelope.
Logan left his spot from the table, and walked over to peer over Patton's shoulder. "Who's it from?"
Patton smiled, making the the dimple in his chin show. "It's from my aunt! She wants me to join her for Christmas. And she says I can bring you guys along!"
"And who exactly is this aunt?"
Everyone whirled toward the voice, which had come from the end of the hall that led to their bedrooms.
He stepped forward into the kitchen. He had a fringe, and dark circle under his eyes from an apparent lack of sleep. He was dressed in all black, and looked as if he was a middle schooler going through his emo phase.
Roman huffed. "of course the sulk had to arrive and ruin everyone's fun."
Virgil narrowed his eyes, jerking his head to flip his bangs out of his face. "Well, what Patton is so enthusiastically suggesting is that we go into the woods and stay with his aunt, who we've never met and for all we know could be a serial killer."
"Well, there's one way to spread a little Christmas cheer."
Virgil spun toward Roman, looking pissed. "Because all of you don't seem to care, I've taken it upon myself to protect you all, which you all shouldn't take to lightly."
"Well, you shouldn't be trying to act like a mother hen with her chicks. We're your friends, not your brood."
Virgil's eyes were like fire, his hands clenched at his sides. He might've done something rash, had Logan not stepped between the two of them. "Well, Virgil does have a good point. We don't know Patton's aunt, so maybe it would be best to read her letter to discern her intentions."
Roman turned to Patton, who was silently watching this argument unfold. "Patton, can you read us the letter?"
Patton unfolded the letter again, standing up. He cleared his throat, then began to read in his aunt's voice;
"My dearest nephew;
Merry Christmas! I hope you're doing well, and that your friends are treating you right.
It's been a little lonely since Rick passed on (God bless him), and I miss him greatly . You remind me so much of him!
We're having a special Christmas party that I would like to cordially invite you and your friends to, if you'd like to come. I have rooms prepared for you in my cabin "just in case"! If you don't come, I'll be awfully sad, though.
See you here!
Lots of Love,
P.S. There will be plenty of hot women at the party for your friends!
There was a small silence, which was broken by Virgil.
"Okay, ignoring that last comment, which was just weird, don't you think she was kinda... I don't know... trying to manipulate us with her emotions? And isn't is just a little that she already has rooms prepared for us, as if she knew Logan wouldn't say no? We didn't even tell her we were coming for sure! Yeah that's totally not creepy at all."
Patton looked hurt. "My aunt wouldn't try to hurt us! She's just excited, that's all..."
"I agree," Logan said. "It's not very likely that she's out to hurt us. If she's anything like Patton, she's just excited, maybe a little overbearing at worst. The fact that she lives in a log home is just coincidence."
"And she lives close enough to the town that we can run there easily," Roman added with a wink. "Well, maybe everyone except Logan. But they'd probably hear his girly screams."
"Not funny, Roman."
"But very true, Logan."
Virgil looked between the two of them , eyebrows raised. "Look guys, are we actually going to listen to the guy who loves every single flippin' thing on the planet? This guy wouldn't kill a mosquito. Are we actually going to trust him to describe is aunt?"
Roman snapped. "Unlike you, Virgil, we don't have trust issues. We all believe in Patton, and if you don't, that's your problem. "
Virgil shrunk back, shock lining his face. "I just..."
"No, Virgil. You should be happy Patton loves you, because no one else does!"
Virgil looked as if someone had punched him in the gut. He mumbled, "I'll be in my room."
"Don't forget to pack a bag," Patton called sincerely after him. Virgil glanced back at him, and slunk into his room at the end of the hall.
Patton walked to Roman, who was stewing at the same spot Patton himself had been at a few minutes ago, and put a hand on Roman's shoulder. "You were hard on him."
Roman turned and yelled in Patton's face. "Say's the guy who cries when someone so much as looks at him funny!"
Patton recoiled, tears forming in his eyes. He turned away, as if he couldn't stand to look at Roman. "It's just... I'm so used to fighting, and I don't want it to hurt your friendship, 'cause you guys are all I have left."
Patton turned to leave. Roman stood, grabbing his arm to stop him. "Pat, I'm sorry." Patton turned and looked at him. Romoan didn't let go of his arm. "It's just that... ugh, he gets on my nerves sometimes..." Roman paused, releasing Patton's arm. Roman paused, sighed. He flipped his hair out of his face. "You're right. I shouldn't have said that... goodness, he' probably really upset. I should apologize to him. "
"Yeah, you probably should." Logan commented back to his book and tea, which had turned cold.
Roman jumped. He put a hand over his heart. "My goodness gracious, Logan, you the scared the daylights out of me!" Logan and Patton laughed, and Roman blushed.
"Yeah, you should talk to Virgil," Patton said.
"I will," Roman said. Patton and Logan stared at him, and Roman uncomfortably shifted back and forth on his feet. "Well, not now! He's probably asleep."
"You better, or I'm... I'll get Logan to kick your behind!" Patton kicked out a leg and punched the air smiling playfully.
"Yeah, okay, Patton. Logan can barely open a bottle of water without asking me for help."
"Not funny," Logan said, crossing his arms. He rolled his eyes, smiling, and sighed, saying "I'm going to bed. Goodnight." He walked down the hall and entered the room closest to the kitchen.
"Yeah, me too, I'm exhausted, and we've got a long day ahead of us." Patton smiled, waved, than went to his bedroom, which was right next to Logan's.
Maybe I should apologize to Virgil, Roman thought.
He headed down the hall to Virgil's room. Roman's own room was directly across from Virgil's. He knocked softly on the door. "Virgil, are you awake?"
He cracked open the door, peering inside. The lights were off, and Virgil was lying in bed, facing the wall. Best not to bother him, Roman thought. He slowly closed the door, retreating to his own.
Virgil was awake. Sleep didn't come easily to him, and what Roman had said didn't help. His mind was racing. Why had Roman tried to come into his room earlier? He had pretended to be asleep, to give himself a bit of time to think before he confronted Roman, but he left before he could say anything. And though he wished he didn't, that Roman was an ass, he still wished that Roman had stayed.
Across the hall, Patton was also thinking about Roman, and what he had said. Was he really that emotionally unstable? He didn't want to think of it like that. He was happy. He needed to be happy, for others, but also for himself. If he was always happy, people would like him, which was better than the alternative... he was just your happy Patton...
And alone in their rooms, under the cover of darkness, where the most unforeseen things can happen, and the strongest are broken, Patton and Virgil cried, drowned out by the sounds of nights.
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