The nightmare before Christmas
'Well what do you think?' Gran looked at me with an eager face whilst I processed the mass of colours sitting in a box on my lap.
'Erm..well this wasn't what I was expecting.'
I gingerly picked up whatever it was in an attempt to take in every element of my Christmas present.
'I knitted them.' Gran said proudly.
'Yeah I can see that. How creative! Honestly this is brilliant.'
Gran's smile grew wider which only made what I had to ask next more painful.
'What are they?' I asked tentatively.
Gran tutted at what she obviously thought was my stupidity.
'Clearly they're Dungarees.'
'There all the rage nowadays according to Margaret. You know Margaret don't you? She's the one that has a parrot called Percy. Carry's it around everywhere she goes. She even got papped outside an Aldi with it.'
I only just managed to stop myself laughing at the thought. Who knew exotic animals and Aldi qualifies someone as enough of a local celeb to take photos of.
'I don't know Margaret but she sounds interesting though.' I said before glancing back down at my new multi coloured dungarees.
As Interesting as Margaret sounds, I don't think Gran should take fashion advice from her. It looked like the dungarees were inspired by Percy the parrot.
Now that she's said what they are, I can kind of see it. A pair of multicoloured knitted shorts with two loops to secure on your shoulder. Actually, the longer I look at them the more they look like a shopping bag.
'Are you going to put them on then?' Gran said pulling me out of my thoughts. My eyes widened horrified at the thought.
'I'm a little cold for dungarees right now but I'll try them on later.' Thank god for the snow outside saving me.
'I love them though, thanks Gran.' I got up and gave Gran a hug.
'Yeah you're welcome. Now more importantly, did you bring the goods?' The sweet Grandma and granddaughter moment was over as she pushed me away and made a beeline for the shopping bag I'd left by the door. Of course, Gran was more excited at the prospect of me smuggling things in for her than actually seeing me. She makes out this place is Fort Knox, not a care home.
'Yes I brought it.' I sighed before taking the bag out of her greedy mitts. I pulled out a box of family sized hob nobs and a bottle of gin that had been collecting dust on the liquor cart at home.
'Both of these are against you diet plan though.'
'Diet smiet.' Gran scoffed. 'I want biscuits! And anyway, it's Christmas, the season of giving so they can't take them away from me.' She shuffled over to a chest of draws where she hid the gin and biscuits under what looked like underwear.
'So tell me, apart from the funny accent that you seem to have picked up that means I can hardly understand what you're saying, how's America treating you?'
I rolled my eyes and chuckled. Gran seems to be the only person who thinks I've picked up a bit of an American accent and every time I've seen her since I've been back, she's made out like I'm speaking Spanish. Convenient that she understood me perfectly when I told her I had biscuits and alcohol.
'I really like!' I said as I got cosy on the sofa. For a care home Gran really had a good set up here.
'I love living with Lindsay and Simon and I've made some amazing friends. Plus, I have a boyfriend now.'
'Ah yes the boyfriend. You're just like your Mum, American boys loved her too.' Gran tutted.
'Now tell me, does he have any brothers old enough for me?' Gran cackled.
'He doesn't no but if he did, they still wouldn't be old enough for you.' I joked but gave her a warning look.
'What about here? No good-looking guys?' I asked wiggling my eyebrows.
'God no. They're all old. I want a toy boy!'
I shuddered at the thought. No granddaughter should ever have the image of that in her head.
As much as Gran and Nora would bicker constantly, they both had the male crazy gene. I guess from stories I've heard from Lindsay and Hilary, Mum was too.
I ended up staying at Grans for a couple of hours. I told her all about life in America and she filled me in on all the gossip in the care home. I didn't have a clue who any of the people she was talking about were, but bitching about others seemed to bring her joy so I let her continue. By the time I was exiting onto the street outside it was lunch time and I was hungry and cold. God knows how Gran thought dungarees in this weather was a good idea but I guess the snow on the ground didn't concern her.
I was about 10 minutes away from my house when I clocked him. He was walking towards me looking down at his phone as I rounded the corner. I was just about to make my escape but of course he saw me.
I turned back around and saw him waving enthusiastically at me. I smiled but internally I groaned. Adam had messaged me again yesterday asking to meet up but I made the excuse of being busy. I felt bad for lying but I knew it was probably for the best, however fate had other ideas. That or my so-called guardian angel, that had been gone all morning but conveniently made an appearance now, was playing at something.
'God I forgot how fit he was!' Nora said with a growl.
'He's somehow more gorgeous in the daytime, dickhead.' I guess she was annoyed about the whole dating her now ex best friend thing.
'Hey.' I said when I was standing a few feet in front of him.
'Where you off to?'
'I'm just walking back from my dad's house. I'm Mum's burden this week.' Adam said rolling his eyes. Adam's parents are in the middle of a messy divorce and doesn't he know it. Sadly, they were the kind of parents that would use him against each other, yet they didn't really care about his well fair. There were so many times when Adam would end up coming over to stay at our house because one of them was away and had forgotten about him. All of a sudden I felt bad for dodging his messages.
I gave him a sympathetic smile.
'Still not any better at home?'
'Not really. Sometimes it's like I'm the adult and they're kids.' He said shaking his head.
'Where you off to?'
'I was about to head home actually. I've been to see my gran.'
'How is she? Same old outrageous self?' He asked laughing.
'Definitely. Actually, I think she's getting worse. She's become a curtain twitcher now, she sees herself as the MI5 spy at her care home.' I laughed making him smile.
'Why does that not surprise me?' The hint of sadness he had at the mention of his parents was now gone, replaced with a grin.
'Maybe because of the time she tried to convince you to make a website for her to use as a gossip column for conversations she overheard in the supermarket.'
'You're right, that's probably it!' He laughed.
'Hey are you free to go for a coffee? I know you said you were busy but it would be nice to have a proper chat.'
'Omg say yes. I wanna hear what he's got to say.' Nora urged from my side.
From Adam's hopeful face to Nora's annoying voice I didn't really stand a chance did I.
'Sure, I don't see why not.'
So that's how I ended up in a Costa sitting opposite my sister's old boyfriend and a ghost. Not exactly how I thought I'd spend my last day in England.
'Excuse me, is this seat taken?' An elderly man glanced hopefully at what looked to him like an empty seat at mine and Adam's table.
'Oh erm no?' I replied awkwardly as Nora glared at the old man.
'I'll just sit on the floor then shall I?' Nora huffed but moved just in time for the man to take the chair away.
'So tell me about this boyfriend of yours then.' Adam said as he handed me my order and sat down.
'Been stalking my Instagram have we?'
'Hey, I like to check up on you every now and then. Make sure you're ok.' Adam shrugged his shoulders as I rolled my eyes.
'Harrison's amazing.' I couldn't stop the grin that erupted on my face even at the mention of him.
'I've never met anyone like him before. Plus he's helped me, more than I think he realises. I'm really happy.'
'I'm glad you're happy, it suits you.' He said softly before taking a swig of his coffee.
'To be honest I was always surprised you didn't have a boyfriend before.'
'Well look at you. Plus you're not exactly a horrible person.'
I smiled but I suddenly felt a little awkward.
'I guess I just wasn't as confident before.' I replied shrugging.
'Ok now it's your turn. Sophie?'
'Oh god I was waiting for that. I know Nora's probably somewhere pissed at me.' If only he knew she was in punching distance.
'I'm mean..you do you but also, what? I didn't even think you were friends with Sophie.'
'I'm not. I mean I wasn't. We just bonded over..' Adam looked me dead in the eyes before looking out of the window.
'We're not actually boyfriend and girlfriend. We've been seeing each other, that's it.'
'That's it?' I mimicked.
'I know it's hard to believe but it is. I'm not ready for that.' I watched as he wrapped his hands around his mug almost self-consciously.
'Adam can I ask you something?'
He looked up at me and nodded.
'Why did you want to meet up with me?'
Adam took in a breath as if to say something but stopped himself, only to shrug his shoulders and look me dead in the eyes.
'Look I know it's hard to believe but I do genuinely care whether you're happy or not. We didn't get to talk after the accident and it always played on my mind that I wasn't there for you. I know we were never really that close or anything but I felt like I was disappointing Nora because I didn't even reach out to you.'
Well I wasn't expecting that. I took a sip of my hot chocolate, more as a way to buy sometime before answering than of thirst.
'We all had our own things going on. To be honest straight afterwards I was pretty much in my own little world trying to process everything, so if you had reached out to me, I likely would've just brushed you off. It's better this way, we've seen each other months later and we can just share happy memories.'
This seemed to make Adam feel better as he smiled and reached to squeeze my hand. Both Nora and I glanced at his hand on my own bemused. Almost instantly I pulled away but my mistake was not saying anything.
Thankfully my phone buzzing in my pocket gave me the out I needed after things suddenly felt weird. Taliah's name popped up on my screen along with a message asking where I was.
'Times up?' Adam asked.
'Yeah. I need to get back and start packing.'
'You go back tomorrow?' Adam asked as we got up from our table and made our way over to the exit.
'I do yeah. It's an early flight so I've got to get my packing done before going out tonight.'
'Well as we're on borrowed time I'll walk with you.'
'Oh you really don't have to.' I said a little alarmed.
'Sorry..that made it sound like I was going out of my way. My mum lives a couple streets along from you so we're actually headed in the same direction.'
'Oh ok. Sure.'
So that's what we did. Thankfully the walk back was a little more lighthearted. We reminisced on old stories and before we knew it we were standing outside of my house.
'It was good to see you Adam.'
'It was good to see you too Evie.' Before I could stop him, he wrapped me up in a bear like hug. 'Have a good flight home.'
I started to pull away from our hug and before I realised what was happening Adam's lips were on mine. I jolted back instantly, stumbling on a cracked paving flag but thankfully managing to stay upright.
'What the hell are you doing!?' I screeched.
Adam stood stock still as his wide eyes looked at my own.
'I..wh..I don't know why I just did that.' He stumbled out.
'You just looked so like her then.' At least he had the decency to look just as confused as I was.
'Evie I'm so sorry I didn't mean to.' He reached out to me but I jerked away.
'Don't call me that.' I managed to say through gritted teeth.
'I think it's best if you go home.' I practically shoved my way through the garden gate only to come face to face with a hurt, confused and angry sister.
'Evie, I mean Eve, I think we should talk about this!' Adam said as I ignored him and gaped like a fish at my heartbroken sister.
'Nora.' I managed to whisper.
'Adam just GO!' I screamed. He looked alarmed but after a few seconds did as he was told, retreating back down the road.
I turned around to look at Nora but she was gone. I blinked away blurry tears as ran up the steps and opened the front door. Almost instantly Taliah was there wrapping me up in a hug. At that point as I tried to process what the hell had just happened; I couldn't hold the tears back anymore.
'Taliah.' I hiccupped.
'Yes baby girl.' Taliah said as she stroked my head in an attempted to calm me down.
'You were right! I'm so stupid, I should've listened to you!'
'You weren't to know hunny.' She said in a soothing tone.
'You weren't to know.'
So that answered my question. She'd seen the whole thing.