christmas eve

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f i v e

“Mom,” I laughed loudly. I looked at her blurred form, wondering if it was just the lack of sleep or if I actually needed glasses. I squinted my eyes to try to see her better. “You won’t guess what I was dreaming about.”

Her scheme moved until I couldn’t see her.

My breath hitched. Everything was a haze.

“I was stuck in college because of a snow storm, can you imagine?”

There was no answer, only silence. My brows furrowed.

“Mom?” my own voice echoed around my ears. I grimaced and turned, but there was no one. I was in my room at home, and it was as messy as usual. But everything was blurry.

“Mom?”

I took a step forward, stumbling over my own feet. My eyes widened, and I cried out as I fell, ready to crash onto the ground with a force of-

My body convulsed upward, and I gasped, clutching onto my blanket. The light around me blinded me, and I ducked in my head under the fabric. I breathed in the smell of my washing powder... the cheap one I only used in college.

My eyes opened, and I blinked up onto the ceiling. The tiny spots upon it had always reminded me of the star system. I breathed out shakily. I wasn’t at home. I sat up and didn’t even care as the world started swaying.

My gaze was immediately stuck on the windows.

Was it still snowing? I couldn’t see because my white curtain only let in the light. They weren’t see-through.

Brushing my blanket off of me, I slowly stood up. It took me a few moments, but then I walked up to the window and opened the curtains. Yes, it was still snowing. The white mess was plastered all over the campus, stealing almost all the color from the scenery.

I swallowed, pressing my hand against the cold window and sitting down. My feet were so cold that it felt like they were standing on ice. I pulled them under me. I was shaking.

I tilted my head to the side. It was so strange to see the campus so empty... usually, no matter what time it was, there were always people. I had always despised that there was never silence around here, but now, I was starting to miss it.

I sighed.

The snow would just continue falling, no matter how much I wanted it to stop. Mother nature was playing with me. Maybe this was karma... I hadn’t wanted to get home and see Arthur.

But now I was going to spend Christmas without my mom...

That had never happened before.

Every year, even before her new marriage, I had made sure to be there at least five days beforehand. She had always waited for me to decorate the Christmas tree and bake the cookies. And greeted me with that stupid Christmas hat when I came.

I had rolled my eyes at her back then, but now, I was starting to miss it. I was missing her.

I shook my head. Something wet dripped down my face, and my brows furrowed. I lifted my hand to my cheek, wiping away a tear. I breathed in deeply and watched as it dripped down my finger to my palm.

My hand clenched together in a fist.

I was so fucking pathetic. I sniffed and wiped my hands over my face, closing my eyes for a brief second. I breathed in deeply. This needed to stop. I needed to stop acting like a coward.

I was fucking nineteen and not a kid anymore...

I had brought this upon myself, and now I had to deal with it.

I recoiled when a ringing sounded through the room. I turned.

This was my alarm. Had I forgotten something? I rounded my bed and grabbed my phone from my nightstand. My eyes widened as I looked at the time.

It was eight-thirty.

Cade and I had talked about meeting each other around eight am!

I threw my phone onto my bed, cringing when it almost toppled to the ground, and rushed to my dresser. I threw its doors open. A hoodie and some trousers... that would have to do.

I changed quickly and ran my hands through my tousled hair. I didn’t have enough time to do anything about that. I sat down on my bed to put on my socks and shoes. I didn’t even want to know what I looked like. Now it was Cade that had to deal with that.

Standing up, I grabbed my phone. Only ten minutes had passed. Good.

Hopefully, he hadn’t left yet... he wouldn’t get that far anyway. We couldn’t leave the building.

Well, I was ready to find out now. I stumbled over my own feet and quickly recomposed myself. A pinch of pain echoed in my knees, but I ignored it as I reached the door. Yesterday night, when I had finally gotten back into my room, I had gotten a glance at the bruises.

But I had been too tired to care.

My eyes had fallen close right after my head had hit my cushion. But sadly, I had woken up two times in the night... I had dreamt of a man with a knife chasing me through the college.

It was so lovely what my mind had made of my fears...

I had really thought I’d die yesterday. There had been nothing funny about that, even though Cade had laughed at me. I rolled my eyes. The guy did not have any manners.

I locked the door behind me as I walked out. Now, I needed to hurry. I hated breaking promises and especially being late. How come I hadn’t woken up before? Usually, I would wake up around six...

I couldn’t do anything about my sleep schedule. My inner clock was great as long as I had to wake up early, but I could never sleep in. My friends called me crazy.

I was always the one that would sleep in early when we were in each others’ rooms, and it was honestly embarrassing. Just thinking, they continued talking while I was lying there like a drunk... A grin grew on my lips, and I felt my cheeks heat up.

I just couldn’t help it.

I rounded a corner and dragged my hand across the walls as I walked. It was so quiet. So strangely silent that everything felt surreal. A look to the side showed me that the snow had only intensified. The wind wasn’t as hard, but there was almost like a veil of white outside.

Only two days until Christmas now...

I bit my lip. I didn’t even try to hope that we would get out of here before that. If everything stayed the same, I would probably be alone in my room this year. But maybe if I found some alcohol, it wouldn’t be as bad...

I would have to see if we had some leftovers. I could remember that Neela had told me that we were out of it, and I could only pray that she had restocked. I wasn’t sure if I would survive without it.

Who knew what I would have to suspect from Cade? The thing he pulled yesterday could’ve only been the beginning of something worse. I didn’t want to know what would happen next. He would probably do something that would kill me.

I entered another hallway. Now, I just needed to walk through it and go through the large doors that stood on its end. If Cade wasn’t there, I’d have to search for him.

And I felt so fucking lazy today.

I sighed and gripped the door handle, pulling at it to open the door. I stepped inside and looked around. The hall seemed empty. My gaze drifted over the stone walls, the small fireplace, and the couches.

I squinted my eyes.

Had he-

No, there were his shoes and his legs. My brows furrowed.

He was hanging upside down on one of the couches. I could only see its back. My steps faltered, and I had to keep myself from laughing. What the hell was he doing?

A smile tugged at my lips. I shook my head and started walking toward him.

I wanted to know what this was about.

His foot continuously bopped up and down. I tried to be as silent as possible. Whatever he was doing, I didn’t want him to stop.

I crept up at him as he had done to me yesterday. When I stood next to his legs, I looked down on him and saw that his eyes were closed. I grinned. He was moving his head to a melody that only he could hear, his hands moving around the air as if he was drumming.

And I just had to ask loudly, “What the hell are you doing?”

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