Next morning, I woke up with no motivation whatsoever. The dorm was cold, not just in temperature. I lifted my heavy blankets and pulled myself out of bed. I had no idea what I was going to do that day, possibly just sit in the community room and read until the sun went down. Lovely.
After I put on my uniform I opened the door. Yes, we had to wear our uniform every day, but it didn’t bother me. The corridor was dead silent and the temperature even lower. The only sound came from my footsteps on the old wood. I looked around. I saw no one.
I went down the stairs and at last I saw a rather small girl with her hair in a ponytail coming out from a bathroom.
“Huh excuse me,” I asked and she turned around to face me “Do you know what we are supposed to do now, or where to go?”
“I’m not quite sure,” she said “Is this your first time spending holidays here?” she asked. She had an American accent that suited her facial features.
“Well, then you should know that most of the times you can do whatever you want, nobody is invigilating us,” she approached me “I’m Genevieve by the way, ninth grade.”
“Summer, eleventh,” I said awkwardly “Are you here alone?”
“More or less. I have some people from my year but I don’t know them very well, you?”
Just before I could answer, some girl called Genevieve and she looked at me “Gotta run. See you around,” she said in her American accent which I found quite peculiar. With that I as once again left alone. At least I knew someone, apart from Harry of course.
I went to the canteen really quickly and grabbed some butter cookies and headed to the community room which was empty – as I expected – to see if there was anything that I could do to entertain myself, which to my disappointment, there wasn’t.
I played solitaire with a deck of cards, I seamed my socks which had holes in them, I even drew a picture but I was already bored to death and only one hour had passed. Then I remembered there was a little radio on top of a shelf that we would usually use to hear the news at night, but I could also listen to music with it. Only then I remembered that there would be only Christmas songs being played, and I just wanted to forget it was Christmas so I didn’t even bother to turn it on.
Then I heard a noise coming from behind me. It only naturally startled me because I was the only one in the room. Again, I heard the same noise. It appeared as if someone was throwing tiny little rocks at the window. I moved towards it and looked outside. For my surprise, Harry was standing there with a bunch of rocks in his hands. He was about two meters down, so I could see him clearly.
“Hey, do you mind?!” I said as I opened the window, a gust of cold air blowing in my face.
“Oh, I’m sorry,” he said “I thought nobody was inside. You see, I always come to this place and do this every day,” he tried to explain himself, but I knew very well what he was doing.
“No, you don’t,” I retorted, “I think you are bored and you came here to find company.”
“Maybe,” he said as he kicked some snow with his hands in his pockets “Or maybe that is what you want but you can’t admit it,” he smiled mischievously.
Maybe. But I wasn’t going to admit that to him.
“I think we are both pretty lonely,” he said and looked at his feet “Why not be alone together?”
“And what do you suggest we do?” I asked him.
“Why don’t you come down so we can talk about it?” he said from the bottom of the window “I don’t like to shout.”
“I’ll be down in a minute,” I said as I slowly closed the window.
“Wait! “He shouted and I looked down at him again “Are you seriously going to exit through the door when you have a perfect exit right here?”
Was he serious? “Are you saying I should jump? Harry, this is like two meters high- “
“Oh come on! That’s nothing! You have jumped from way higher than this,” he said. He was right, and from that height I could see the floor and there was snow on the bottom, so it would make the fall smoother.
I picked up my long grey overcoat that hung on the wall and put it on. I opened the window a little bit more so I could climb onto the windowsill.
“C’mon,” he encouraged me. I counted to three, closed my eyes and I pushed myself off the window. I crashed onto the floor in less than a second, my feet completely covered in thick snow.
“See,” he said, “Was it that bad?”
“Oh please, shut up and help me get up, will you?” I was struggling to free myself from the snow since my overcoat was too heavy.
Harry held his hand and I grabbed it with my right one, completely forgetting that it was still recovering. I winced, but didn’t let go.
“Are you alright?” He asked me after I gained balance. I harshly let go of his hand and held my wrist, taking a step backwards due to our proximity.
“Of course” I said firmly, not wanting to show weakness. He was, after all, the one who caused my injury, so I wanted to show him it didn’t bother me. I looked at my bandage “It’s healing fast, thanks for asking.”
“I was going to ask, but I’m glad,” he simply said.
We walked in silence side by side with no destination. The warm air coming from both our lungs turned into a white vapour that surrounded us like a white cloud.
“Do you usually come outside?” I asked him after a while.
“Yes I do,” he replied, “I prefer it in winter though.”
“Winter is definitely the best season,” he said looking at me.
“What? No way, summer is the best!” I threw my arms in the air.
“Oh, so that is why you are called Summer?” he laughed.
“How could my parents know that my favourite season would be summer?”
“I don’t know, that’s why I found it strange,” he explained.
I laughed out loud at his conclusion. That side of Harry I had never seen, and I had a feeling nobody else either. He was being incredibly polite and funny. Strange. Maybe he was just in a good mood. If I was him and everybody detested me, I would be very happy if they all disappeared and left me alone, like that exact moment.
Summer and I walked around the snow-covered buildings and through blankets of white. How long ago had I done that with anyone? One, maybe two years? It was a foreign sentiment, but I was enjoying it. How she agreed to walk with me was a total mystery. I mean, she was probably the person I caused more harm that year, yet she was there and wasn’t judging and was being quite nice to say the least.
When I talked to anyone rather than Hansen and teachers, I had to make a huge effort not to be rude, but with her it was different. I didn’t have to pretend anything, because she didn’t see me like everybody else. Maybe it was because of what happened in the infirmary, or perhaps she was truly good at heart. Whatever it was, she was the only person that was treating me like a normal human being.
She was making most of the talk, but I didn’t mind. She was explaining me in full detail why summer was “with no doubt” better than winter.
“...And you can go to the beach and ride your bicycle whenever you want, not to mention ice-creams, I absolutely love ice-creams,” she went on and on until I completely lost track of what she was saying. I just stared at her and looked at her features. Her cheeks were colourless from the cold, contrasting the intense colour of her lips. It was the first time I noticed she had hazel eyes, but instead of being dull, they were shining and were full of emotion, full of life.
Suddenly she stopped in her tracks “What?” she said, looking at me. She must have noticed I was staring. I smiled from ear to ear.
“Your happiness is contagious,” I said with honesty. She smiled back, and for some moments we stayed in silence.
“I better go inside,” she said “It’s getting quite cold.”
“Yeah, me too.”
“I’ll see you at dinner then,” she said and walked away.
“Bye,” I stupidly waved at her. Maybe it wasn’t going to be such a bad Christmas after all. It wasn’t my ideal one, but at least I wouldn’t spend it alone like last year.