a u r o r a
~This chapter’s song is Mistletoe by Justin Bieber~
7pm. The shift was over.
She’d barely managed to stay on her feet the full eight hours and the moment the minute hand hit the top she escaped into the backroom. Her body was completely drained, her breaks had been cut in half this shift due to the number of people who came to the restaurant.
Aurora hadn’t expected how busy the restaurant floor would be, but as December neared, she supposed it would be. It was one of the light bite places, quick and easy food for the guests before they went up the mountain for the rest of the day. And when they came back down? Another flood of people that were starved from a long day.
Most of her shifts were slow, hopelessly staring out of the window, taking plates, passing the orders onto the kitchen staff, finding places for people to sit, and daydreaming about skiing or snowboarding—not that she could do either.
Hundreds of people passed by each day, it was part of the reason she’d started to hate her job. All of them were doing what she wanted to try. It was a kick in the gut that she was in the Alps and would never get to experience a ski resort in its finest glory.
But she wasn’t there for a holiday. She was there to work. To work from the start of November all the way though to January. Aurora wasn’t ungrateful for the opportunity presented to her; all accommodation charges were free from being part of the holiday club staff—it was practically free money. And it provided the perfect distraction from Christmas.
Accommodation wasn’t awful either, they were so ridiculously nice that when she first arrived, she thought she’d accidently waltzed into one of the guest cabins—not what you would expect from free lodging, but she wasn’t about to complain. The staff area was right at the back of the resort too, being the furthest thing away from the slopes and guest cabins, hidden by evergreens, giving them privacy and silence from the constant buzz from guests.
They also had their own kitchens, massive communal areas with great roaring fires and shining TVs, table tennis and pool tables. Even the bedrooms had their own TV and bathroom.
The only downside was that the rooms were shared with one other person. Aurora’s hadn’t arrived yet and secretly she hoped they wouldn’t for a while. The roommate system was the only thing she dreaded since the moment she read the terms and conditions, which was after she sent her application off. For all Aurora knew, the anticipated roommate could be nasty or loud or messy—neither of which she could deal with. Not to mention the disruption it would cause to her studies.
All week she had been praying that wouldn’t be the case.
Untying the ribbon of her apron, Aurora hung the cloth on the hooks in the corridor and popped her head into the kitchen where the head chef was wiping the counters down. By now all the other chefs and waiters had finished for the day and Kirstie, the head chef, was on lock up duty. The boss of the catering department only ever left Kirstie in charge of the keys as she was the eldest—being in her mid-twenties—and the last time one of the other waiters had been entrusted with the keys, they forgot to take the money out of the till and left a few of the windows open.
It had been a very cold shift the morning after.
“Hey, Kirst. I’m heading off now, you okay here on your own?” Aurora asked. “I don’t want to leave you here if you’ve got a bunch more to do.”
Kirstie twisted her head to look at Aurora and smiled. “No, no. Go. You’ve worked your arse off today and you deserve the rest.” She waved the tea towel she was holding in a shooing motion. Aurora hesitated. She always felt guilty leaving Kirstie here on her own while she cleaned up everything the other staff couldn’t be bothered to.
“Are you sure? I really don’t mind staying longer, I don’t have much to do tonight anyway—”
“Go,” Kirstie cut her off with a warning look. “I mean it, enjoy the rest of the night. And I don’t mean studying either, you’ve taken a gap year for a reason.” She pointed a finger at Aurora accusingly before turning away.
Aurora sighed. There was no point arguing with Kirstie when she had already asserted a tone of finality. As far as Kirstie was concerned, and she had made this very clear, Aurora shouldn’t spend the entirety of her deferred year preparing for her degree in the autumn. Aurora thought differently. She wanted to be as ready as possible for the abundance of work so she would never get overwhelmed by it all.
“Thanks, Kirst. I’ll see you later,” Aurora called from the door and let it fall shut behind her with the voice of Kirstie saying ‘au revoir’ in reply.
The snow outside was a few inches deep and the pavements leading up to the staff area wasn’t shovelled. It wasn’t for guests, so she guessed it wasn’t a priority to the people running the place. By the time she got to cabin number five her jeans were soaked through, from the bottom to just below her knee.
Before entering cabins there was a rule that you had to remove your boots and hit them together, removing the snow and limiting the water you brought in with you. This meant that along with her jeans being soaked, so were her socks.
The room she was given also happened to be on the fourth floor, with no elevator. After climbing those stairs, Aurora was ready to take a hot shower and collapse in bed with a cup of tea. Sadly, that was an option. There was a chapter of the textbook just waiting to be read on the—
--in the hand of a girl sitting on the opposite bed to her own. “Hello?” Aurora said, paused in the doorway with her hand still holding onto the door handle.
She was tanned slightly, she looked naturally like Aurora did after a few days at the beach. She had caramel hair down past her shoulder and beautiful hazel eyes, in essence, she was stunning.
Yet, Aurora still found herself pleading over and over again in her head. Please don’t be a bitch, please don’t be a bitch, please don’t be a bitch.
The girl looked at her, then a smile beamed across her face. “Hey! Oh my God!” She jumped up from the bed--the textbook sliding from her lap and dropping to her floor—and tackled Aurora into a hug. Aurora stood frozen, not being sure on how to react to a stranger launching themselves at her when they exchanged so little words.
Slowly, her hands moved to return the gesture, her startled state thawing. Her posture was rigid and awkward, silently Aurora cursed herself. Way to go, brilliant first impression you made there.
Hugging a little tighter, the girl let go and stepped back, flicking her caramel brown hair over her shoulder. She held out her hand and sceptically Aurora shook it. The girl was overly friendly, but in a way, it was comforting. She would rather a warm greeting than a harsh, cold, stuck-up one.
“I’m sorry, have we met before?” Aurora asked, taken aback by the whole situation that she had a slight stutter. An annoying voice at the back of her head told her they had met somewhere previously and somehow the memory of the encounter was wiped from her mind, so she felt the need to double check. Just in case.
“Oh! No, we haven’t,” the other laughed. “I’m Camille.”
“Nice to meet you, I’m Aurora,” she replied and tightened the hair in its low ponytail as she finally moved further into the room. Camille was immaculately put together; it was making her uneasy.
“That’s such a pretty name. You even have the same hair colour!” Camille exclaimed and fell back onto her bed where she took the TV remote and started to surf through the different channels, though they were all in French. Camille scrunched her nose. “Bollocks, I don’t speak French,” she muttered under her breath.
Same hair colour? Oh. She’s talking about the Disney princess. “Yeah, I guess so.”
Camille sat up, clapping her hands together like she had the most amazing idea. She was certainly excitable. “We should definitely have a Disney movie marathon! We can get Disney Plus on this right?” She brought the remote closer to her face and examined the different buttons before shrugging and setting it back down. “How long are you working here for?”
“Until January,” Aurora replied, shuffling to the edge of her bed, bending down, and retrieving her dropped textbook. Subtly, she checked the cover and pages hadn’t been bent back, she might have just lost her cool if they had been. Luckily, they weren’t.
“Cool, me too,” Camille said and then her eyes flicked down to the textbook, instantly her face twisted into a guilty expression. “I didn’t mean to pry; it was just on your dresser and I was curious about the degree. Are you taking a gap year?”
“No actually, I deferred the year to work and build on my skills etcetera,” Aurora corrected and set the book in one of the drawers, out of reach from nosey roommates, and pulled out a set of pyjamas. They weren’t silk like most eighteen-year-olds preferred choice, but she favoured comfiness over ‘sexiness’. It wasn’t as if there was anyone to impress either, so what was the point? Her pineapple trousers and fluffy jumper that said SNOW QUEEN was more than enough for her.
“You’re not already getting into bed, are you? Come on Aurora, the night had only just begun!” Camille looked slightly offended as Aurora looked back at her, shutting the drawer.
“It’s been a long day, the night is normally when people relax and sleep, which coincidently is what I plan to do,” she replied, earning another offended look from Camille.
“But we’re in the Alps!” Camille exclaimed. “How are you just going to go to sleep instead of capitalising on this?” Aurora shrugged slightly and Camille crossed the room to sit on the edge of her bed. “At least come skiing tonight,” she begged.
“It’s been a long day...” Aurora started, being drowned out by Camille’s sea of begging.
“Please, please, please, please, please,” she repeated and wrapped her arms around Aurora. The real reason Aurora didn’t want to go was obvious, she knew nothing about skiing, snowboarding or literally any winter sports.
“Come on! It will be fun, I promise,” Camille pleaded, clasping her hands together.
“I really need to read this next chapter and I have an early shift tomorrow morning,” Aurora stuttered as she desperately tried to come up with excuses. She hated lying and was terrible at it. By the look on the other girl’s face, Camille saw straight through her and Aurora slouched in annoyance.
“That’s bullshit and you know it. The only plausible reason to not want to hit the slopes right now is if you don’t know how to ski, which is ridiculous because why else would you work at a resort.”
Aurora glanced down at her hands. Camille figured it out. It was embarrassing really because she was right. Why would someone who couldn’t ski come to a resort?
“Unless you can’t? Which is fine because I can teach you anyway, I’m an instructor here so it’ll be a piece of cake,” she rambled on, standing up and getting onto her knees, pleading more dramatically than before. “Please.”
“I really don’t know...” Aurora looked out the window where she could faintly see some of the slopes. It seemed like a one-way ticket into making a fool of herself on the first day of meeting her roommate. This was someone she would be spending two months with; did she really want to humiliate herself so soon?
“You’ll pick it up in no time and I have some proper clothes you can wear. You seem around my size too,” Camille went on, judging her size by looking her up and down. She walked over to her wardrobe and threw the doors open where Aurora was shocked to find everything neatly organised by colour palette. Not even she had been that precise with putting her clothes away.
Pulling out matching coat and trousers, Camille held them up beside Aurora’s body. “See! This is the perfect colour for you. Purple will compliment your green eyes.”
There seemed no point in protesting any more, Camille wasn’t taking no for an answer any time soon, and Kirstie did say to do something other than study with her night. “Fine,” she agreed, running a hand over her hair. “This is a one-time thing though.”
Camille squealed and jumped in her spot. “This is going to be a blast! You won’t regret it.” She shoved the clothes into Aurora’s hands and pushed her in the direction of the bathroom, nearly making her trip and fall.
All the while, Aurora had an impending feeling this was going to be a recipe for disaster.
“Camille, I’m really not sure about this,” Aurora said and wrapped her hands tighter around the rails of the ski lift, so firmly that her knuckles turned white. Camille looked sideways at her and rubbed her arm as if it would give her comfort from the height they were rapidly gaining. If the lift broke right at this very second, Aurora wasn’t sure they would survive the fall.
“It’s going to be fine, just remember to breathe,” Camille encouraged, one of Aurora’s hands came free from the railing so she could quickly wrap it around Camille’s arm. She tried to focus on her breathing, trying to calm herself down. Breathe in, breathe out. What’s the worst that could happen? She’d seen dozens of people glide down these very slope’s day in and day out, she’d seen hundreds pass through the restaurant, up the slopes and had yet to hear of anyone needing medical attention. The likelihood of an accident happening to her today was slim, but there was always that 0.1%...
At the top of the slope, Aurora was barely able to breathe, her heart was in her throat. If it weren’t for Camille basically dragging her off at the right time, she’d never had made it off the ski lift. She decided then and there that she wasn’t a fan of the fact the ski lift didn’t stop to let people off when they reached the top.
She stumbled a few feet before regaining balance to find Camille had put them at the top of a smaller slope, one that looked like it was used for practice, though a little to the left was the half way mark for one of the taller slopes.
“So, what you want to do is create a little wall to prevent you from sliding off when clicking your feet in,” Camille instructed and started shoving the edge of her ski into the snow. Aurora copied the action and then pressed her feet into the bindings.
As soon as she was strapped in, her hand darted out to steady herself on Camille who was there ready to catch her. “See! Easy. Now what you want to do is bend your knees ever so slightly, keep your body nice and relaxed. There we go.”
“I’m going to fall,” Aurora said with her hands digging deeper into Camille’s, refusing to let go.
“Everyone falls at some point and if you do, make sure to fall backwards.” Camille’s hazel eyes cast off, looking at something behind Aurora and when she turned to see what it was, there was a boy who seemed to be smiling at Camille.
“He’s cute,” Aurora said, nudging her roommate when she noticed the slight blush on her cheeks, something definitely not caused by the cold. “You should go talk to him.”
“I’m teaching you,” Camille smiled at her though Aurora could tell there was a longing to go talk to the guy.
“I’ll work it out. What sort of roommate would I be if I cockblocked you?” She shrugged.
“Are you sure? I feel like I’m stranding you,” Camille hesitated.
“Go,” Aurora said with force and pushed her in the direction of the boy but in doing so she fell straight onto her bum. This didn’t seem to help Camille in her decision who reached down to help her up. “Now you need to go before I embarrass myself even further.”
“You are the best roommate ever. Don’t wait up for me or anything, just in case.” Camille winked and jogged off to where the boy’s group were. Faintly, Aurora could hear the introductions and she could see how happy Camille was beside the boy.
At least Aurora hadn’t made a bad first impression, of some sort, though now she needed to work out how to get to the bottom of this slope.