Winter break passed quickly, a little too fast for my
liking. Felicity stayed with us right up until Christmas before her mother came
to our house to talk things over. They worked everything out, and while Mrs
Normandy was still a little uneasy about the whole thing, she loved Felicity
and wanted her daughter at home for the holidays and especially while she was
going through a difficult time.
I didn’t see much of Phillip as his family took off for a holiday to Canada for Christmastime. He Skyped me a few times, and of course we spoke on the phone, but it wasn’t the same as having him around.
“Miss me?” he murmured in my ear as he sat down next to me at our usual table in the cafeteria. I grinned and watched him slide into the seat next to mine, placing a small rectangular box on the table in front of me as he did so. He leaned forwards and kissed me sweetly, before leaning back and draping an arm over the back of my seat, his hand twirling my hair through his fingers while the other supported his cheek. He looked so healthy now. Back to his old self. And oh my god was he wearing a leather jacket?
“Miss you? Unlikely.” I snorted. I curled my hands around the box like you would around a cup of hot tea. Phillip sighed.
“I was hoping you would. Why can’t we be a cute, nauseating couple like normal teenagers? Why do you have to ruin it with your maturity?”
“I’m sorry I’m ruining our relationship.” I smiled.
“You should be.”
“Please forgive me.”
“I’ll think about it.” Phillip grinned at me, eyes sparkling with humour. I glanced down at the box.
“Your Christmas present.”
My mood instantly deflated. I hadn’t gotten him anything. “I thought we agreed; no presents.”
“So why did you get me one?”
“It’s part of the boyfriend code.” He stated, scooting closer to me.
“Phillip…now I feel bad for not getting you anything.”
“You’re cute when you feel guilty.”
I glared at him and he rolled his eyes.
“Shut up and open it, you stubborn thing.”
I frowned at him and undid the white ribbon on top of the blue box before I lifted the lid. Inside on a slim silver chain hung a small spinning wheel charm. I looked at him.
“Really? A spinning wheel?”
“Yeah.” He said. Phillip shifted forwards and licked his lips. “It’s to remind you about your grandfather and the farm and how much you wanted to save those animals he gave up on. It’s to help inspire you to become a veterinarian.”
I blinked at him and then smiled. I was humbled that he remembered that story. “Thank you. It was sweet of you. I feel bad for not getting you anything.”
“Give me a kiss and we’ll call it even.” He said. I did.
“How was your holiday?” I asked as I fastened the necklace around my neck.
“It was good. We went skiing and snowboarding. Mom made a snowman.” Phillip adjusted the charm so it lay against my collarbone. “We stopped over in New York to watch the ball drop on New Year’s Eve.”
“That would have been awesome.”
“It was. Although not having anybody to kiss wasn’t that great.”
“You didn’t kiss some random girl?”
“Are you kidding me? If my girlfriend found out she’d kill me.” Phillip grinned and I laughed. “So what did you do for winter break? Was it weird having Felicity there? How is she by the way? I forgot to ask.”
“She’s good. Her mom actually came and took her home before Christmas actually. They worked everything out. She’s got a bit of a foul temper now because she has to waddle everywhere. She can’t hide it anymore and people have been pointing at her and staring. I keep telling her to ignore them but she won’t listen to me.”
“She bites people’s heads off?”
“Yes.” I sighed. “I understand her frustration though. Society mostly looks down on abortion, but when she chooses to keep the baby she still gets judged because she’s a teenage mother.”
“It really isn’t fair on her.” Phillip stated. “Is there anything I can do?”
“No, but you’re a sweetheart to ask.”
“What’d you get for Christmas?”
I played with my necklace. “Well my parents got me a hundred dollar gift card for Amazon, and dad bought me a packet of sour sweets.”
“You like sour candy?”
“I like any candy really. I have a terrible sweet tooth.”
Phillip sat back in his chair, a strange little smile on his face. “Now why doesn’t that surprise me?”
“Apparently I’m in the lead for Prom King.” He said suddenly.
My shoulders slumped and I sighed. I didn’t really care about this sort of thing. “I really wish I wasn’t nominated. I don’t want to be Prom Queen. Felicity or Melanie can have it. Can you drop out?”
“No, you can’t. Trust me I’ve tried.”
“I really hate these things.”
“Because they’re popularity contests. It’s not about celebrating people’s achievements or their grades or anything like that. It really sucks.”
“Well, if you’ll notice, Melanie is nominated and she’s on the honour roll and is class president. You’re on the honour roll yourself and Felicity runs the school newspaper.”
“She used to.” I interrupted. “Mr Williams kicked her out because of her ‘predicament.’” I used air quotes.
Phillip blanched. “You’re kidding me.”
“Nope. He said and I quote, ‘because of your predicament and all the stress involved I think it’s best that I relieve you of your post on the newspaper.’”
“That’s absolute bullshit. That’s not fair.”
“She went to the principal but nothing has been done. I think the teachers want as little attention focussed on Flick as possible. To preserve the reputation of the school no doubt.”
Phillip ran his hand through his hair in that way that makes my breath hitch. “Well it seriously sucks, but in a way it’s a good thing. Less things she has to worry about right?”
“Well yes and no. She doesn’t have to worry about running the paper and tiring herself out, but then again by not running the paper she won’t be able to put it on a college application.”
“She ran it last year didn’t she?”
“She took over after another senior came down with glandular fever in January. She’s been running it for less than a year so technically it’s not applicable.” I frowned, a sudden and terrible thought coming over me. “You being away from the football team for so long doesn’t affect you trying to get a sports scholarship, right?”
“I’ve been on the team all through high-school and thanks to your tutoring, my grades are better than ever in biology.”
“Speaking of, we should get to work.” I said, turning to the books in front of us. Phillip groaned.
“Do we have to?”
“Yes. Exams will be here sooner than you think and I don’t know about you, but I want to be prepared.” I hated thinking about exams. They made me feel so anxious. Like my heart was going to beat its way right out of my chest.
“Can’t we go for a walk instead?”
“It’s freezing outside!” I protested.
“Please?” he pouted and I gave in. We packed our things and head outside. I shivered in the cold despite having a scarf and winter jacket on, and Phillip wrapped an arm around me and pulled me to his side.
“Are you happy now? We’re outside.” I joked.
“Yeah…” Phillip trailed off and I looked at him. His forehead was creased as he frowned and he looked distracted. I nudged him with my hip.
“What is it?”
He looked down at me and held my gaze, eyes dancing over my face like he was searching for something, but then he shook his head. “It’s nothing.”
“No, tell me.”
“It’s just that my mother wants to meet you.”
Okay, that made no sense. “She’s known me my whole life. Our mothers are best friends.”
“I meant properly. As my girlfriend and she hasn’t had a conversation with you for ages. She wants to get to know you better.”
I bit my lip, feeling nervous. I wanted to say no, but when I looked at his hopeful face I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. “Sure. When?”
“This weekend?” he asked. “You could come around for lunch and we could study for a little while after.”
“Alright.” I said, “That sounds like fun.”
Our conversation was interrupted by laughter. We both looked over and saw Felicity and Josh sitting together, both smiling. Felicity was sitting on the bench facing him, hands resting under the curve of her protruding belly while Josh moved his hands around animatedly, like he was telling a wild story.
“They look like they’re having a good time.”
“Josh likes her.” Phillip stated. Well that’s a surprise. I knew the two of them had been hanging out more thanks to me and Phillip, but I didn’t know Josh and Felicity were that close.
“Yeah. He was talking to me about it over break. He wants to take her to prom.”
“So why hasn’t he asked her?”
“He’s afraid she’ll say no.” Phillip frowned. “In case she has feelings for her baby daddy still.”
“Matt? No way. I mean, he’s started sending her money so she can buy things for the baby, but other than child support he doesn’t want anything to do with her or the baby.”
“That’s kind of shitty.”
“How do you mean?”
“Well, money doesn’t replace having a father. He should be there for his kid. He’s responsible for bringing that baby into the world just as much as Felicity is, and he should man up and do something about it.”
“At least he’s sending money. She didn’t ask him for anything.”
“He would have had to pay child support anyway if she chose to take him to court. One DNA test would prove he’s the father and then he’d be stuck for the next eighteen years.”
“What would you do if you were Matt?”
“You mean if I got my girlfriend pregnant accidentally? Is there something you need to tell me Rhea?”
I blushed crimson even though I knew there wasn’t any reason to. “Pregnancy requires sex, Phillip. Just answer the question.”
He grinned. “I’m only joking, love. Well, I’d like to think that I’d try my hardest to be there and support my kid and be a good dad. Kids don’t really know or care about money, or jobs or anything like that. When they’re young, all they want is love and attention. That’s what’s really important and that poor kid isn’t going to have a father.”
“Felicity will make a good mom.” I stated. “I’m sure of it.”
Phillip nodded. “I agree.” He reached into his pocket. “Speaking of Prom…”
“We weren’t talking about Prom. We were talking about Josh and Felicity.” I gestured to where they were sitting, and watched as Felicity threw her head back in hysterical laughter and put her hand on Josh’s arm, grinning.
“But I mentioned how he wanted to take her to Prom.” Phillip pointed out and he produced two tickets from his pockets. “And I realised I haven’t asked you yet.”
“Uh...ask me?” I questioned. “I just assumed we were going together anyway?”
“Rhea will you please stop stomping on my romantic moments? First the necklace and now this – ”
“Okay, okay I’m sorry.” I grinned. “Please continue.”
Phillip sighed and then smiled at me in the most charming way possible. I almost melted to the ground right then and there. “Rhea, would you do me the honour of accompanying me to Prom?”
“I would love to.” I replied. Phillip handed me my ticket and I tucked it into my wallet for safekeeping. He grabbed my hand in his own and we continued our walk through the snowy grounds.
“Your hand is freezing.”“Sorry.”