Her hand shot out from under the covers, searching for the incessant ringing of her phone. She didn't know what time it was but December had an inkling that it was at some ungodly hour before dawn. Who would call her at this time?
Without looking at the caller, she put the phone to her ear and mumbled sleepily, "Who dis?"
A soft feminine chuckle greeted her as the voice flowed through the receiver. "Zach."
Despite herself, that name brought a shy grin to her lips. December was relieved to hear her friend's voice but also annoyed that she was woken up. She made a sound, a combination of a weary sigh and a chuckle. "Rae, I hope you know that you're not in San Fran now and there's a time difference separating us miles apart. It's not even dawn yet." December didn't know for sure but the room was dark and she guessed the sun wasn't even up yet.
Raven made a noise of affirmation. "I do, but I hope you know that it's not much difference here in Calgary. It's noon now, December."
December snapped her eyes open in the dark, her brows furrowed in concentration as the last hazy fog cleared her mind. Right, she's one hour ahead there.
She rubbed the sleep out of her eyes and glanced at the blinded shuts, noticing slivers of light peeking through it.
She chuckled sleepily. "Sorry, I'm not entirely awake. Besides, I wouldn't have known the difference between day and night with the blinds drawn shut." December yawned and stretched herself on the bed before saying, "Okay, I'm coming around now."
"Ah, the wonderful comfort of our dorm." December heard her sighing in bliss and she chuckled. They both knew of the cozy comfort of their room but she doubt Raven would choose the dorm over her own room. Nothing beats the familiarity of one's true, personal space.
"So, how's the flight? Cramped? And how's things over there?" She asked Raven, her phone against one ear while she tried to fluff her pillows and make her bed.
She heard her smile. "It was great, not the slight cramped space but being back home. I wished you didn't have to stay there alone, December." Raven sighed.
December smiled. "And what, be alone back home too? Besides, I'm fine. Believe it or not, I've actually hung out with some of our dorm mates yesterday."
She could practically see Raven's surprised look before the girl smiled. "That's wonderful. God knows you need to get out more and socialize." Raven laughed.
December grinned but she pretended to be hurt. "What, getting rid of me already? Such friend you are. And FYI, I do socialize."
"December, talking to fictional characters from movies when they don't do what you say hardly counts as socializing."
"Sure it does," She teased before adding, "What are you going to do for the rest of the day?"
"I dunno, probably help my mum with some stuff or just sleep in. I'm still sore from my flight."
December made a tsk sound. "You better rest, then. Have you heard from our friends yet? I know Serena and Weston have that family thing and Brooke and Caleb are back in their hometown but I have no idea what the rest of them are up to."
She heard Raven tapping on something as she hummed to herself. "Hm, well I've texted Jet but he hasn't replied to my messages and I couldn't get a hold on Max and Katya either. They're probably out of town or something."
"That sucks." December clucked her tongue. "Well my love, as lovely as this conversation is, I actually need to use the loo. We'll talk later?"
"What? Now who's getting rid of who now?"
She laughed. "Leave the dramatics to me and Brooke. I'm getting rid of you temporarily."
Raven chuckled. "Yeah, yeah. See ya when break's over."
After they hung up, December went about her business in the bathroom, refreshing herself in the process. Half an hour later found her checking her emails and surfing the net for new movies in the cinema, a half-eaten granola in her mouth. Figuring there wasn't any emails from anything that she subscribed to with nothing interesting to watch, she sighed quietly to herself. After finishing the bar and dusting off the crumbs, December plopped on the bed and stared at the white ceiling.
"Why do I feel like such a loser?" She muttered aloud. As she tried to think of something to do, her mind floated back to last night's events.
Right after the late hangout with Lily and the rest of them which lasted till 2 in the morning, December had stumbled into her room and crashed onto her bed without a care in the world. And she would have slept almost the next entire day – if it weren't for the weird dream she had of Pierre, though this time instead of accidentally jumping on him because she was scared, they were making out pretty aggressively.
That had prompted her waking up in a sweat with flushed face and she truly wondered if there was anything wrong with her, because of all people, she had to end up with Pierre in her dreams – whom she's still trying to process that they're actually friends now. Completely baffled and creeped out with herself, she took a long shower and then decided to busy herself with cleaning the room.
Despite herself, she still cringed whenever her mind brought her to the embarrassing moment where she not only hugged Pierre, but practically mauled him as she clung to him. What followed soon only made things worse for her.
"Uh…are we disturbing you two from having a good time?" Ramona had asked that question.
Puzzled, she had raised an eyebrow before looking at Pierre, not noticing until then how close their faces had been. It was then that she realized the awkward position between them.
If she weren't busy holding onto his neck, she would have wrung her own, she thought with shame.
Scrambling to get off from the unresponsive and shocked Pierre, she was flustered when she tried to explain, "No! I mean…it's not that we didn't have a good time," At that, their eyebrows had simultaneously shot up and she rambled even more. "NO! I mean, we didn't do anything…we were just waiting… and I-ugh! You guys just scared me, alright!" She huffed out, her face nevertheless still red from being embarrassed.
It didn't help that they had been smirking when she tried to explain properly, either. Honestly, why do I always get misunderstood?
They – and it was mostly Ramona, Felix and Oliver snickered at them while the rest either gave her pitying or laughing looks.
"I'm glad I amused you." She said flatly, evidently unamused with the whole situation.
She groaned internally and burrowed her face in one of her pillows, hugging it tightly to herself. Just thinking about that part had her cringing at herself. She had apologized to Pierre profusely for jumping on him afterwards and if she weren't too preoccupied with getting things right, she might have noticed the laughing glint in his eyes then.
It turned out that while December and Pierre had waited for them before going inside the building, their friends had been using the long way to get to where they were – they had to divert the guards away when they reached the place, with Oliver proposing they use some side doors to get in and Marsha volunteering to be the ghost to do the scaring.
Apparently the sounds they heard back in the hallway was them trying to scare the patrolling guards. 'Too bad it was her and Pierre who got spooked by it,' she thought to herself, shuddering silently when she remembered how afraid she was. And then she laughed quietly to herself when she remembered them telling her afterwards that they heard a very shrill scream echoing through the building which made them run away – to the opposite direction. It could also explain the loud sound of footsteps.
The way they described it to her made December almost regret not being there to see the commotion and the guards' reactions. On the other hand, spending time with Pierre wasn't so bad either. She sighed, recalling the night over before chuckling to herself; in a way, they all had an adventure of their own.
And, she thought to herself, she had found a friend in Pierre when they called truce that night. Knowing that made her heart feel lighter because she didn't have to be awkward around him anymore.
Still, sometimes she'd catch herself relieving those incidents, and it would make her feel weird thus prompting her to force them out instantly and did anything she could to block out the memory. She heaved out a sigh and got dressed, thinking she'd visit the very first shop where she met the boy who started to creep his way into her life and headed for the bus stop.
The store still looked the same except there were little to no people around. Odd, she thought, since weekdays never seemed so bleak to her.
She greeted Gabe who smiled at her before he continued counting off some stacks of CDs. Wondering where Lara had gone off to, she approached him.
Gabe looked up for his task. "Hey. What can I do for you?"
December scanned around before her gaze landed to him. "Where's Lara?"
He nodded to himself and continued the task. "Went out a while back. Said she'd got some family emergency." Then, he looked at her curiously yet with concern too. "What's the matter?"
She shook her head. "No, it's nothing. I texted her on my way here but she didn't reply. Thought we could hang out today."
He clucked his tongue and grinned. "Ah. Well, maybe it's on silent. Try calling her later."
She nodded and thanked him. She didn't know what Lara was going through, but she hoped everything would be alright.
She walked along the aisles and mindlessly touched the music discs, all the while eyeing anything that might catch her attention – when her shoulder bumped into someone. A quick memory of the incident with Pierre sprang to mind and she almost jumped back, an automatic apology ready on her lips.
But as she looked up, the words stilled on her lips as she met with a pair of amused cobalt eyes.
Max laughed quietly. "You seemed surprised."
December closed her mouth and blinked. "That's because I am. When did you get back?"
He put back a CD in the shelves before turning back to her with a more amused expression on his face. "When did I ever leave?" he teased before adding, "I'm staying with my cousin here."
She tried to search her memory of him saying that to her, nodding in realization when she remembered him telling them at the cafeteria before the unexpected break. December smiled sheepishly. "Oh right, sorry." When she glanced at his hands, her curiosity got the best of her as she smiled at him. "What do you have there?"
Max held out the two CDs in his hand to her to see. "Some classical music. It's for Katya, actually."
"I see." She nodded at him, then decided to teasingly say, "You sure it's not for you?"
She was momentarily taken by surprise when Max smiled, a full grin on his face. For a brief moment, she felt something shift within her, though she didn't know what.
She composed herself as he said, "Maybe a little Tchaikovsky for me. But Katya listens to these more." He gestured to the ones he had in his hands.
December nodded and tilted her head slightly. "Huh. I guess you do looked like someone who'd listen to Tchaikovsky." The she grinned at him when he chuckled.
She came to the store in hopes to hang out with Lara but instead found Max, and seeing as the girl wasn't there, she might as well spend some time with her friend whom she didn't think would still be around here. Before she had the chance to ask him, Max's phone rang.
He gave her an apologetic look before answering the call. December looked elsewhere as to not seem as though she was listening in to the conversation - not that she'd understand any of it since it was in Russian. The call had ended quickly and this time, Max looked extremely apologetic to her with a hint of…frustration?
December didn't dwell on it.
"Ah, sorry but I must leave now." He said to her.
She smiled at him and guessed, "Katya?"
She laughed. "Well, I guess you'd better go, then. Don't want her to hunt me down."
Max chuckled, though his eyes softened as he said, "Katya is not that bad once you get to know her."
She laughed. "It's kind of hard to believe that she's your cousin. If she's related to Pierre, now that, I could see." December added lightly as she grinned at him.
If December had paid a closer attention to Max's expression, she would have realized that it would have been the wrong thing to say.
The sun was scorching hot and December cussed herself for not wearing something lighter than her long sleeve t-shirt and cargo pants. It was three in the afternoon and so far she had nothing to amuse herself with.
After leaving Max to his own affair, she walked downtown and entered a bookstore, browsing books to hopefully find something new to read. She found one, only to realize that it cost more than what she currently have with her – and even a student discount wouldn't cut it.
With a dejected sigh, she decided to just walk aimlessly down the streets, having half the mind to either go back to the dorm or walk around more and hopefully bump into someone she'd know from school. It seemed that with each step she took, her mind reminded her of how much of a loser she was without her friends to hang out with.
She stopped walking.
Never before the realization that she was without friends and feeling like a loser stung like it did in that moment. Sure, she said those words before without any real intent but just realizing that now with the absence of her friends and most of the times her parents, she suddenly felt…
Pathetic and alone.
In the midst of people walking past her, December could feel herself getting smaller and smaller, and all the insecurities she thought she'd kept at bay hit her at once.
Not wanting to begin the self-hating fest, she was glad when her phone broke her out of the trance and without checking who the caller was, she answered.
Her brows furrowed before she blinked at the sound of a familiar voice.
Her mother's soft yet cheerful voice should have made her feel happy – ecstatic even for receiving a call that was so seldom. But all she could feel was numbness.
"Yes, it's mummy. Who were you expecting, honey?"
'No one,' she thought glumly to herself. It was true, she hadn't been expecting any calls from anyone - her friends were busy but she understood that, her parents were often out of the country and she also understood…
Okay, you needed to stop with the pity party, she told herself.
"How pathetic of me," she murmured to herself and began walking again. Trying to muster a little bit of life into her voice, she said, "Nothing, mum. So, to what do I owe the pleasure of your call?"
Alright, you've got to stop sounding so bitter right now, her mind reprimand her sharply.
It was quiet for a moment before her mother said, "Is everything alright, honey?"
"Yes!" She quickly said, feeling the guilt seeping through her for letting her mother suspect anything and then cussed herself for sounding eager. Then, in a calmer voice, she said, "Everything's fine, mum. I'm doing alright, don't worry. How about you? And dad?" She added eagerly, desperate to get away from the topic of her wellbeing.
Her mother laughed. "Your father and I are doing well too. We've got a surprise for you, honey."
She was now heading towards a bus stop when she heard her mother's gleeful tone of voice. Even though she hadn't had an aversion towards surprises, there was an unsettling feeling within her when her mother said that, and she had no idea why.
Still, she was curious about her mother's surprise.
"What is it?" She asked weakly.
"Oh, take a guess."
"Uh," she wrack her brain for something then said, "You've got another promotion?"
She heard her mother chuckled. "Oh sweetie, that doesn't sound bad actually, but I'm afraid you're wrong about that." A pause. Then she continued, "We're coming home, honey." Her mother said with such elation.
December froze on the spot, her hands stilled as her mind tried to process the words her mother said.
…we're coming home…
No, it must be my mind playing tricks on me. After all these years?
…honey, we're coming home…
Am I dreaming now? I must be.
…We're coming home, honey.
"Sweetie, say something. Are you alright?" Her mother's voice of concern reached her.
"Are you really coming home?" December couldn't help the hopeful tone in her voice.
"Yes. Oh, you're surprised, aren't you? This is why I tell your father that we should have called you yesterday." She sighed before continuing, "We're actually on our way home from the airport now. Where are you? Are you still at the dorm? We'll come pick you up. We'll have a family reunion."
Family reunion…? Now?
"Mum! No, I-I'm not at the dorm. But, uh, I'll be there."
"You're sure you don't want us to pick you up?"
She nodded vigorously and exclaimed a little too enthusiastically, "Yes! Don't worry about me. I'll be there in a while."
December couldn't believe it. After all these years and she'll finally see her parents at home. The deflated feeling she felt earlier was quickly replaced with a yearning to meet her parents after three years of not being able to.
December couldn't help the grin on her face; she was ecstatic now.
After all, she was finally coming home.ns 18.104.22.168da2