9th December 1977. The beginning of Winter holidays. Everyone was frantically packing their suitcases and trying to find their belongings. It was even more chaotic than the bathroom in the morning. The girls in general were hysterical. They were running up and down the corridors of Hall A screaming “Did anyone see my hair-dryer?!” or “Did you see my trainers?!”. Aunt Marge looked like she was going to faint any minute as she tried to help the younger girls sort their things out.
I was in my dorm staring out the window. I could see in the distance some people already at the gate with their suitcases, ready for the bus to take them to the train station. They all seemed overjoyed to leave Hudson and to finally see their parents after so long. Lucky them.
“Can you help me close this Summer?” asked Anna. She was sitting on top of her bursting suitcase and was trying to zip it, struggling greatly due to amount of clothes she took.
“Sure,” I climbed onto the bed and sat on top of her suitcase, mimicking Anna’s actions. Somehow we managed to close the it and, after making sure it wouldn’t explode, we went to help the other girls find their things. Amanda, as I expected, was the most disorganised from the four of them and was freaking out.
“I can’t find my Art book! Where is it?!” she huffed in frustration.
“This happens every time,” Lottie sighed as she brought one of her bags to the floor, making a loud noise due to its weight.
“I’m really going to miss you guys,” I finally said the words I was avoiding.
“Don’t be sad,” said Amanda “We’ll be back sooner than you think!”
“I’ll be here for an entire month!” I exclaimed.
“But you won’t be alone,” said Anna “There are other kids that will stay here, mainly younger ones, but they are nice, you’ll see.”
After that, the five of us gave a tight hug.
“Oh, and don’t forget to write,” Lucy said “I want to hear all your complaints!”
“Trust me, I won’t forget,” I guaranteed.
Someone knocked at the door. Aunt Marge’s head peeked in and told us that the bus was already outside.
The girls picked up their huge suitcases and walked out the door. If I escorted them outside I knew I would start crying in front of everybody, so I didn’t move. Before the door shut, Anna opened it again. I thought she forgot something, but the room was completely empty, except for my drawer which was half full and my bed which had books and folders on top of it.
She gave me a soft smile “I know it’s bad luck to say happy birthday before your actual birthday,” she said “But happy birthday!”
She remembered, she was the only one that remembered that my birthday was in eight days. She closed the door and I only noticed I was crying when I tasted the salty tears.
The room was empty, I was empty. What now? I thought to myself. I didn’t want to stay there alone, I wanted to go home. I wanted to hug my parents tight and I wanted my bed and my old friends. Hudson would never be home, it was a school for rich kids, and I would never ever fit in that category, never. It didn’t matter how much I lied, how much I pretend to be someone I was not, their way of life was so different from mine, and those walls were a constant reminder of it.
I was sitting on my bed and the door of Anna’s drawer was open. I looked in the mirror. My face was red and my eyes were puffy. Pathetic. I was crying because I wasn’t going to see my parents, like a five-year-old.
But I missed them so much it hurt. It was like I lost them, and I couldn’t do anything. It felt like someone was squeezing my heart and forcing me to feel the pain.
Why are we allowed to feel? Yes, feel in its literal sense and simplest form. Why can’t we be spared of all the pain and grief, why do we need to go through it? Is it a way for us to learn, to become wiser? Is it to test us? No, that’s bullshit. Why are we so vulnerable in this mean world, why are we so small and fragile? How come a simple action wreck me in such a way without my consent? Why should bad things happen? Didn’t God want to see us happy? Doesn’t he exist for us to believe that there is someone out there that will protect us no matter what? So why does He allow feeling to even be a thing?
Hours seemed to go by and I was still locked in that room, the weak sun going down with every passing moment. It was almost time for dinner, but the last thing I wanted was to eat, not to mention that I would be eating with people I didn’t know and I didn’t want to know. Just the thought of the awkwardness and the thick air and the not-looking-into-anyone’s-eyes made me nauseous. But I had to go. I had to drag myself to hell and somehow come back alive.
I didn’t even bother to get a jacket, I just dragged myself through the hauntingly silent corridors of Hall A and exited the building. The cold was unbearable, but I didn’t care. It was not snowing at that time, so I managed to get to the building dry.
I didn’t see anyone at first, so I walked idly to the canteen. I opened the door of the large space that was usually full, but I only saw dozens of kids, none of them my age, no teacher in sight. They were all dispersed through the canteen in groups of two or three. The most perturbing thing was that there was no sound, no loud laughs or happy faces, everything was calm, too calm for a school canteen.
After getting my food, I sat at a long table alone. I wasn’t going to sit with anyone that I didn’t know, that would be useless and just too awkward. I just wanted to swallow that food quickly and get back to my dorm.
After a couple of minutes, the room went even more silent than it already was. I lifted my head and I was taken aback. Harry had just walked through the doors and went to get his food. Why was he there?
My mind was racing with questions. He walked through the room and took a seat on the same table I was, just a few seats away, like he had done that other morning. He didn’t look at me, or give me a smile, or anything.
I couldn’t take it anymore; the silence was killing me. After some moments, I cleared my throat and asked, trying to sound as indifferent as possible:
“So, you are also stuck in here?”
He looked up at me slowly, as if he was reluctant or suspicious “Unfortunately,” he said in a low voice.
There was a pause.
“Why are you here? Shouldn’t you be with your family?” he asked, looking down at his food.
“They are working abroad,” I simply said. He wasn’t going to get more information than that, just like everybody else, “And what about your parents?”
“It’s none of your business,” he answered bitterly. He didn’t have to be so rude, I just asked him a simple question. What was I even doing? Trying to have a normal conversation with him? Going to Mars would be more attainable.
I got up and pushed my chair in.
“Where are you going?” he asked as I lifted my tray from the table.
“To my dorm,” I said, matching his previous tone.
“Because I need to sleep.”
“It’s eight thirty.”
“I’m tired!” I said a little louder than I intended “And why are you so interested?”
He said nothing. I walked in a fast pace to the door and I left the building.
It was going to be the longest holidays I ever had.