"Class dismissed." Professor Hammond ended the lesson, standing up to grab his jacket from the back of the chair. "Don't forget, you all need to produce a piece that captures the beauty of nature in its most rarest form. It's gonna count towards your final mark. Extra credits for thinking outside the box, so no slacking off. Enjoy spring break guys." Mr Hammond winced at the end, as the sound of scraping chairs filled the room.
My best friend Emma, twisted her long, blonde curls into a bun, securing it in place with her HB pencil. "Hey, Hell's Bells, please say you're coming with me to my parent's condo this weekend," she put on her pretty please voice and fluttered her eyelashes at me. "The party is gonna be lit, and Chris and Sean will be there," she clenched her fists together in excitement.
My eyes winced. "Can't. My mom wants me to go visit her and her 'new family,′ up at Bear Creek this holidays." I cringed as I said 'new family'. Who knew my mom would turn out to be the impulsive type that'd just marry a guy she only met three months ago? "What?" Emma whined. "But I need you, you're my wing woman," she said, pouting and giving me the puppy dog eyes.
"I'm sorry, Em, if I could get out of it, I would," I really would too. I had no desire whatsoever to go traipsing through the forest in some stuffy mountain man cabin when I could be living it up with Emma in her parent's luxury condo. Especially knowing that I could be cosying up with Chris, who I'd had my eye on for months.
"Well, at least you can work on the nature project for Professor Hottie," Emma said, fake swooning. Ok, so our art teacher was a hot guy in his early thirties. That's not the only reason I was taking his class, I actually enjoyed painting. "What's in Bear Creek?" Emma asked inquisitively.
"Mountain men, forest dwellers, bears," I snorted with amusement. We walked over to my car talking about random things. Mostly about how hot Mr Hammond looked today and wondering why he wasn't married yet.
"Bye, Hell's. I hope they at least have WIFI." Emma teased.
I shot back a sassy smirk as I waved and got into my car. I tipped my head back to lean on the headrest and exhaled. They better have WIFI. I really hoped there was a television or something because I wouldn't last five minutes otherwise. I had visions of Mom wearing a lumberjack shirt and rigger boots, chopping logs out back with an axe and roasting woodchucks over a campfire. I shook the image from my mind before I suffered permanent mental trauma.
I liked my home comforts. I enjoyed taking selfies and posting on Instagram and watching Gossip Girl on Netflix with a tub of Ben and Jerry's. I wasn't looking forward to spending the next couple of weeks out in the sticks. Good job I planned ahead. The trunk of my car was filled with snacks, so at least I wouldn't have to live on forest creatures. The thought utterly repulsed me.
I'd been driving for hours and it had started to get dark. Thank God for GPS. I didn't know what people used to do before the invention of the satellite navigation system. Fine, they used maps, but that wasn't a skill I picked up, and besides, I couldn't multitask. I couldn't try and map read and drive at the same time. I'd probably crash into a tree. I got more and more apprehensive the higher I drove up into the mountains, certain that the satellite navigation system had sent me on a wild goose chase. But I breathed out a relieved sigh the moment I saw the cabin.
The lady voicing the sat-nav made my evening when she announced that, 'I had reached my destination.′ I parked up and looked up through the windshield, drinking in the view of the two storey wooden dwelling that looked way too elaborate to be a mere hut in the woods. I was eating my words and I would have to force feed myself an extra large helping of humble pie. It looked as though logs had been carefully placed on top of one another to form the walls.
In fact, it looked like a work of art. I exited the car deep in thought as I wondered whether Mom's new husband, Jack, had actually built this cabin with his bare hands, or whether he'd bought it from someone else.
I twitched my lips in appreciation. If I had to admit, Bear Creek didn't look too shabby. Mom came rushing out through the front door with a squeal. "Helen, honey, come here. I've missed you so much." I dropped my bag as I wrapped my arms around her. We stayed like that for a few moments while we both contemplated what we would say to each other. So, she married a guy she barely knew, she must know that this would be cropping up in conversation at some point.
"Do you want some tea, coffee, a beer? You're old enough to drink now. You're growing up so fast." She was word spewing now; she always did that when she got nervous.
So, me being the cheeky girl I was, I decided to test my luck. "Got anything stronger than beer?" I said, wiggling my brows.
She looked at me, cocking her head to the side with that amused, yet, stern look. I opened the back driver's side door to pull a carrier bag off the back seat, and pulled out a bottle of vodka, wiggling it in front of me with a half smirk.
I'd brought three bottles with me and a crate of Coca-Cola to go with them. I know, I was a vodka and coke girl. I never said I was classy.
"You didn't think I'd show up empty handed now, did you?" I flashed Mom a mischievous grin.
Mom rolled her eyes. She was acting like a responsible parent right now, but I could guarantee that she would be helping me to knock back that stuff later.