As I promised, I waited for Summer outside of the main building. I just couldn’t be in the same room as Hansen and smile and be happy about Christmas, I had to control too much anger, and I wasn’t that good at it. Anyway, it didn’t matter if she took half an hour or two hours, I would wait for her.
How did she do it? Be so selfless, I mean. For example, that morning she was a mess, and out of all people (me included) she didn’t deserve to feel that way. I guess she has a decent guardian angel, unlike me. I would actually say that if I had to have a guardian angel it would be her. Despite all the shit I put her through, she still stayed, and even better than just staying, she was somehow trying to help me. She was doing what she could, and I knew that if I told her what was really going on in my life, maybe she would do an even better job, but the consequences were too big, too destructive.
As I also promised her, I didn’t smoke, but I had already stopped long ago, although she didn’t know. Since I almost killed her and myself, every time I picked a cigarette the guilt would consume me like a fire burning inside me. It was a constant reminder of what a fuck up I was, not to mention an irresponsible.
After lunch ended, a bunch of students left the building in a pack. I moved to the side very casually so I wouldn’t be seen. Summer was one of the last ones to leave and she brought a slice of apple pie just like I asked her.
“So was it good?” I asked her.
“Yeah, I guess. It would be much nicer if you had been there, but it’s okay,” There was no malice is her voice, only an innocent honesty which fascinated me.
“Do you still want to go to London?” I finally asked. In the inside I hoped she said no, but at the same time yes. She didn’t deserve to waste her Christmas locked in a prison, but if Hansen found out what we were planning he would probably lock me forever in a dark room and let me there to die.
“What will happen if Mr Hansen finds out?” she asked looking at the ground.
“He won’t, and if he does I’ll deal with him,” I assured her, although I wasn’t that confident.
“But what if-”
I cut her off “Do you want to go or not?!”
She sighed “Only if you want to.”
“Then we’ll go,” I said. Her eyes shone at once, and her smile was breathtakingly beautiful.
“Okay, I just have to go to my dorm and I’ll be right back.”
Before I could say a word, Summer ran to Hall A, avoiding everyone in her way.
The profile, my mind kept playing over and over again.
I ran as fast as I could to my room. This trip to London wasn’t part of my plan and it could ruin everything, though I really wanted to go. I was so expectant I didn’t know what to do, and I was running out of time to think. I had to put the profile as soon as possible where it was.
Once I reached the porch of the building, I pushed some girls aside.
“Hey, watch where you’re going!” I heard one complain. I just kept running until I reached my dorm and closed the door. I went straight to my bed and pulled the papers out. It was now or never, and I had to be fast or Harry would start asking questions on why I was taking so long and he couldn’t even dream I was doing something like this.
I traced the name “Harry Edwards” and took a deep breath. Did I really want to do this? Did I want to invade his personal life without his consent? Did I want to put in jeopardy our still fresh friendship for a selfish want of mine?
I knew what I was going to find there, but was I ready? If he trusted me he would tell me, I knew that. How would I feel if he stole my profile and found out where I came from, who were my parents, what was my background…?
Do it, don’t do it, said the voices in my head. I knew this would literally be the only chance I got to find out who Harry really was and what secrets he was keeping, and I wanted to do it, I really did.
“No,” I whispered as myself “I can’t do it.”
I hid the horrible thing underneath my bed. I was not going to disrespect him like that, not him. Whatever he was hiding, he would tell me if he wanted to, if he had anything to hide that is. I would hurt him so much if I had done that, I would lose him and he wouldn’t trust me ever again.
I left my room and suddenly a weight was lifted off my shoulders, but I still had a bomb under my bed, I could still be caught and Harry could still find out, so I had to keep acting.
I casually walked outside as if nothing had happened. Harry was waiting in the same stop I left him minutes before.
“You ready?” he asked. I nodded and we walked to a taxi parked outside entrance of the school.
Once in the taxi, I noticed Harry couldn’t stop still, which meant he was nervous. I was also quite on edge, but for other motives. What if Tom and his gang appeared and took Harry and I to a basement or a dark street? It would be really easy to spot us since we were wearing the uniform. We just had to make sure we were always within a crowd of people and hope for the best.
Twenty minutes later the taxi came to a stop and we hopped off. We had arrived.
All my senses came to life as I stepped on the pavement. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing; the streets were all decorated in vibrant colours and were packed with people dressed with big and warm clothes. Laughs could he heard, Christmas carols echoed from every street, the engines of the cars following the melodies, making the scenery somehow beautifully disorganised yet comforting. I could smell cakes coming out of the oven from the nearest bakery, not even the smell from the pollution could obfuscate such intense smell. My mouth was longing for something sweet and this was my chance to buy more lollipops. We weren’t that far from the candy shop, so I grabbed Harry’s cold hand and guided him through the crowd.
Summer took me to her special candy shop where she bought a lollipop, the red and white circular stripes intertwining. I also took one for myself, and we walked out of the store with them in our mouths, happily content. We looked like little kids, but anyway, we walked with no destination through the streets packed full of people and saw the street shows, that were all related to Christmas, obviously. There was this jazz band that was playing literally every Christmas song in the entire world and people were giving them coins as they passed by. There was this man dressed up as Santa Claus that was listening the children’s wishes and Summer went to sit on his lap as well. It took me about ten minutes to stop laughing.
“Oh my God, I can’t believe you did that!” I told her between laughs. “Are you what? Ten?”
“Me neither!” she laughed hysterically.
Everything was perfect, and I couldn’t remember the last time I was so happy for doing such mundane thing. Despite my relaxed demeanour, I constantly had a feeling that Tom would jump out of nowhere, that he was watching from afar, waiting for his move.
Summer noticed my uneasiness and told me it was time to go. I didn’t protest and we went back to the place where the taxi had left us and waited for it to arrive.
“I hate this,” I told her, kicking a rock at my feet.
“You hate what?” She asked.
“He has the hook on me, Tom I mean,” I explained “He is stopping me from doing the things I want and during the whole time we were downtown I was always worrying and thinking about him-”
“But nothing happened,” Summer interrupted my train of thoughts. She pointed at the road “Look, the taxi is here so we’re leaving now. If I were you I would be more worried about Mr Hansen and then Tom.”
I didn’t say anything and just got inside the taxi once it came to a stop. I had to admit, if it wasn’t for Summer, I was still inside my room being sorry for myself and my life instead of enjoying that day, and I owed her that.
-Six days later-
Although that was the last day of the year, the school wasn’t doing anything special, which was absolutely awful. When I still lived with my parents, New Year was an amazing celebration. Since my parents didn’t have brothers or sisters, it was only the three of us, but we had so much fun. It was pretty depressing to see everyone join their little groups to celebrate instead of everyone celebrating together, but it was what it was.
Harry and I agreed to meet at the entrance of the forest that led to the destroyed stables ten minutes before midnight. At that time, we weren’t allowed to be outside, but since this was a “special day” (words by Mr Hansen) we were allowed to be outside until half past midnight.
I walked in the dark with my flashlight illuminating my path and soon enough I had reached the spot. Harry was already there, sitting on a snow-cleared bench.
“Finally you’re here,” he said as I sat beside him.
“Yeah, just in time,” I told him. “Did you bring a watch?”
“Of course I did, what moron wouldn’t bring one?” he looked at it “Five minutes to go, but we can start getting ready.”
Harry put his hand inside his pocket and took out a tiny tawny coloured bottle the size of a normal pencil case.
“What is that?” I asked in bewilderment.
“Good old scotch!” he said with a devilish smile as he opened it.
“Where did you get it?” was the first of many questions that popped into my mind.
“Remember when we went downtown and I said I was going to the bathroom?” I nodded “I didn’t actually go to the bathroom.”
“You lied to me?” I put my hands on my hips.
“Oops!” he said, sarcasm clear in his voice “Possibly one of the questions you are going to ask next is why did I buy scotch instead of champagne. After all, champagne is what we are supposed to drink to celebrate, as society says, so I’m going to spare you the talk and go straight to it: A, the champagne was much more expensive than the scotch and B, a large champagne bottle didn’t fit in my pocket, I would have never smuggled it in.”
“That was like, my last question!” I protested. Was he actually being serious?
“But it is the only one that really matters,” he said. Then he looked at the watch “Twenty seconds to go!”
I rolled my eyes at how he was going away with it, but ignored it as we started to count the seconds in descending order.
“...Three, two, one...” we said in unison.
We fell silent. We looked at each other and smiled.
“Happy New Year Summer,” said Harry as he looked at me straight in the eyes.
“Happy New Year Harry,” I said back.
Harry then took the bottle to his lips and drank. Then he passed it to me. “Uh, no thank you,” I said.
“You have to be kidding me... C’mon, don’t be such a saint.”
“Wow, you really overestimate me if you think I’m a saint,” I took the bottle into my hands “How does it taste?” I asked him.
“Well...” he started “It’s quite strong, but you’ll like it.”
Bravely, I took the bottle to my lips and tilted it. I swallowed the brown liquid and immediately regretted it. It was so strong my throat felt like it was on fire. I passed the bottle to Harry’s hands and started coughing violently. He just sat there, laughing hysterically.
“That is horrible!” I somehow managed to say.
“You say that because you aren’t used to it,” he said and laughed some more at my expense, but somehow I didn’t feel embarrassed or awkward, just silly.
I laid my back on the bench, my head resting on the hard wood with the top of it touching Harry’s thigh and looked at the starless sky while Harry drank his scotch which wasn’t pleasing me. I didn’t want him to drink too much.
“You know, if someone finds out you have it you’ll be in serious trouble,” I warned him, staring up at the sky, reaching for any fireworks in the distance.
“What trouble?” he asked rhetorically. Okay, maybe Mr Hansen didn’t have that much power over Harry, but still.
“But I will get in trouble,” I told him as I tilted my head backwards to look at him. He looked down at me and smiled as he spelt the word okay.
“But,” he said much louder “I will save it, so don’t tell anyone.”
“Why would I do that?” I asked him.
“Good point,” He said, crossing his legs on the bench and looking at the sky. We stayed like that for a few minutes before he broke the silence.
“What do you think will happen when school starts?”
“I don’t know,” I said with sincerity “But I will miss this.”
“This,” I said as I gesticulated with my hands “The silence, the peace, the doing-whatever-we-want, spending time with you.”
“You can still spend time with me,” he said and looked down at me.
“I know, and I will,” I assured him “But not like this, you know?”
“Yeah, I know what you mean,” he said. There was silence again.
“Summer?” Harry called in a low voice.
“Last week,” he started “When I was pissed off after the phone call, it wasn’t actually because of the phone call.”
“Why were you mad then?” I was confused about why he was telling me this, but I did not interrupt him.
“There was no phone call,” he admitted in a low voice. “Hansen didn’t let me.”
I got up from my laying position and sat next to him “What, why?”
“I don’t know,” he shook his head and swallowed, making his Adam’s apple rise and fall “I was pissed because- because he was giving special treatment to you.”
“Oh,” I said “Well, if it helps, my parents were the ones to phone the school, I didn’t ask him or anything,” I lied. Matter of factually, I was not sure if Mr Hansen had phoned them or if my parents did. Either way, a small white lie wouldn’t hurt him.
“Okay,” he said and looked at my lap “I was not mad at you, I was just jealous I guess.”
“Jealous?! Harry, I’m the last person you should be jealous of!” That was completely true. It was actually amusing to hear the words “jealous” because no one was or should be jealous of me.
“I know I acted irrationally, sorry, I didn’t want to scream at you,” he said.
“It’s okay Harry, you didn’t have to tell me if you didn’t want to,” I said. Then I felt a desire to hug him, so that’s what I did. Although he smelt like scotch, it felt nice to hug him that way. I wasn’t hugging him because I was glad he apologised, but because he told me the truth.
“It’s almost time,” he said and broke the embrace.
I looked at my watch too “Yeah, you are right.”
“I can walk you to your Hall if you want,” he offered.
“No, it’s fine, I don’t want you to be late for curfew,” I told him.
“Curfew is no problem for me, but if you insist...” he said, “Then I guess it’s goodnight.”
“Goodnight Harry.” And with that, we parted our ways in opposite directions.