Chapter 31

"What do you think?" Kim asked me, holding up two dresses. "Red or green?"

I looked at each dress individually, then at her slender figure. The red dress was strapless and mid-thigh, whereas the green dress was spaghetti-strapped and broke off just above her knees. We had been going through her wardrobe for about an hour now, and I couldn't take it anymore. After a bit more scrutinizing, I gave her my decision.

"Go with the green one," I suggested, spinning around in her desk chair. "It goes better with your eyes."

She slipped out of her jeans and T-shirt and quickly pulled on the green, frilly dress. After turning around in front of her mirror a few times, she got that iffy look on her face. "But you said guys were coming to this shindig."

I continued spinning in her chair. In case you haven't caught on yet, the shindig she was referring to was my family Christmas party (yes, a Christmas in December party). Nothing extraordinary had happened since my return from London, and things had gotten back to normal in the blink of an eye. School. Homework. No boyfriend.

Amy and Claire had called a few times, trying to get me to take Nigel's infinite calls, but I was already about 5 steps ahead of them. I had blocked his number the second I was in the comfort of my own room. Now that we're all on the same page, I'll return to the present.

"Yes Kim," I sighed. "But they're all 10 years old or younger. And the oldest one is hardly your type."

"How old is he?" she asked, intrigued.

I sent myself spinning another time. "18."

"Ooh, an older guy! What's his name?"

"Eric."

"Eyes?"

"Blue."

"Hair?"

"Blond and curly."

"Sport?"

"Track."

"Brain?'

"Existent."

"Height?"

Shit! I knew this would come up. She was not going to take this news well! The dude could audition for the role of one of the seven dwarves! I bit my lip and sent myself for another spin. I was already getting dizzy, but it was a good way to pass the time. Kim had caught on to my quietness though.

"Height?" she persisted.

"I don't really remember," I fibbed. "I haven't seen him since Easter." Okay, the last part was true. The first part though? Not so much. I knew darn well just how tall he was! Or wasn't, I should say.

Kim took off the green dress and wriggled into the red one. Admittedly, it was a little too tight on her. The green one fit her much better! "Well, how tall was he then?" she asked.

"Geez Kim," I chuckled. "I didn't measure him!"

"Well, compare him to the guys in our class. Whose height is he?"

I pretended to put on a thinking face but kept quiet. She changed back into her jeans and T-shirt but continued talking. "Is he like...Nathan's height? Rick's height?"

I couldn't help but stiffen as she said Rick's name. In case you're wondering what happened with him...well...nothing happened! I wasn't exactly expecting him to ask me out, but I was curious to see how long his metamorphosis would last.

It didn't.

On the third day of school Kim informed that she had gone into the storage room at work to get a pack of napkins, only to walk in on Rick and Rachel having a make-out fest! My poor friend was just about mentally scarred for life! But then again, it didn't really come as a surprise to me. Not that I'm used to hearing stories about people making out in storage rooms, but because we all saw it coming. Rick and Rachel had been all flirty-flirty the entire school year of grade 11 and they were bound to end up together at one point or another. They had now been on and off for the past 3 months. And I thought my relationship had been twisted!

At that moment, Kim's cell phone emitted that annoying "You have a new message" sound. She quickly started frantically ransacking her cluttered desk, finally fishing it out from underneath her History textbook. I wasn't sure whether the message was good news or bad news. The expression on her face had never been so hard to read.

"What happened?" I asked her.

"Oh nothing," she quickly said, stuffing the phone in her back pocket. "It's just one of those meteorological alerts. A snowstorm is supposed to be settling in, as if I didn't already know that. I was expecting sunshine and summer weather for Christmas!"

I was a little confused, but smiled nonetheless. Kim had always had a unique sense of sarcasm. Before I could even comment though, she quickly got back on track. "So, how tall is he?"

"Okay, confession time," I said, waving the incident out of my mind. "The kid's a total midget."

The hanger she was holding literally dropped out of her hands and into her hamper. "Midget?" she squealed. "You have a midget cousin?"

"Second-cousin," I corrected. "He's from my mom's side of the family. They're not exactly very tall. My dad's family are the big friendly giants."

"Yeah, we definitely know which side you take after," she muttered.

I grabbed a paperback novel off her desk and chucked it at her, laughing. "I am not short!"

She dodged the book, letting it fall somewhere in her jumbled closet. "You're below average," she giggled.

I rolled my eyes and transferred my butt to her bed. "Yeah, by 1.6 inches."

"Maybe you should date Shorty Cousin. Is he adopted?"

"KIM!" I grabbed one of her pillows and was about to fling it at her when she put her arms up in defence, nearly collapsing with laughter.

"I'm kidding!" she gasped. "Geez. One bad relationship and now you think guys are the most useless creatures on the face of the Earth."

"That's because they are the most useless creatures on the face of the Earth. I bet even fruit flies have a more significant role!"

Kim buried herself in her closet, trying to find her missing hanger. "You can't marry a fruit fly though," she stated.

"And it's too bad that I can't swat a guy to death and flush him down the toilet!"

Kim finally dug out her hanger and started swinging it as she turned to face me. I kept the pillow ready in my hands, in case a fluffy shield would be required. "Now Sophie," she said, calmly. "Violence is not the answer. Don't you think the poor boy has suffered enough?"

I looked at her, stunned. This was the first time she'd mentioned Nigel in months! I seriously thought he'd be history by now. "What are you talking about?" I asked her.

She stuffed her dresses in her closet and put her hands on her hips. "I'm talking about the fire-breathing dragon under my bed," she said. "The one that has a broken heart that isn't healing because you stomped on it with astronaut boots and you aren't even answering his phone calls!"

To make a point, I slid off her bed and checked for her little pet. "I see no dragon under there," I said. "I think it flew away. You know, back to London!"

Kim came over and helped me get back up. Her hazel eyes were serious and the smile had long left her lips. "Are you really happy with the way things ended?"

I took a deep breath and set my jaw before replying. "Yes," I said. "I did what was best."

"That's not what I asked you."

"Things ended the way they were supposed to and I am happy with that."

Kim narrowed her eyes, studying every inch of my face. "Are you really?"

"Yes Kim," I was almost shouting. "It was months ago and I'm fine with it now. Yes, it was hard at first, but I've realized how stupid I was being! He was just a guy, and he'll always be just a guy! "

"Sophie, he wasn't just a guy and we both know it! I heard the way you talked about him. He didn't sound like just a guy!"

"Yeah, the way I talked about him was yelling about how much of a terrible person he was! What could you possibly get out of that?" Well, okay. Rephrase that. She could get a lot out of that. Just not anything good!

"Sophie, no one who can talk about a guy for over an hour, truly hates him," she reasoned. "If you really hated him, I wouldn't be getting an earful about it every time he came up in a conversation."

I rolled my eyes in frustration. "So what's your point?"

"My point," she sighed, "is that I don't think you're completely over him. You need closure."

"So he should've showed up at the airport!" I yelled. "Since he didn't, I'm assuming he didn't care! I don't want closure with a guy who doesn't give a hoot about never seeing me again!"

Kim got an "aha" look on her face. "So this is why you don't want to talk to him! Sophie, did you ever think that maybe there was a perfectly reasonable explanation for him not showing up?"

"Oh yeah?" I snapped. "Like what? People don't just say they're gonna be somewhere and then not come!"

"Well, maybe something came up," she said. "Like, maybe he was about to walk out the door when his breakfast started acting up and he had to take a giant dump and missed the bus!"

I gave her my most unimpressed look. I wasn't in the mood for humour.

"Or maybe there was terrible construction going on and the bus skidded into a ditch!"

I continued staring.

"Or maybe he took a nap and overslept and-"

"KIM!" I screamed. "ENOUGH! I don't want to talk about this right now. Or ever! Okay? What's done is done! The past is the past! Can I please move on with my life now?"

Kim put her hands on her hips and planted her feet firmly into the hardwood floor. "Sophie, you know you're not going to be able to live this down that easily! You may think that now because you're caught up in the moment, but in a few days, you're going to start replaying this whole thing in your head and realize that I'm right! And when that day comes, I'm going to be the one getting a 'what if' speech, and I don't want that! I want you to get the ending you deserve because if you don't, you're going to be a miserable ass and I'm going to have to put up with it!"

Alright, that was the last straw! If I didn't get out now, I wouldn't be bursting a single fuse...I'd be bursting all 10 of them! "You know what Kim? You're the one who wanted me to break up with him in the first place. Remember that? 'He sounds like a sweetheart. It's too bad you have to break up with him in like, 3 weeks'. Who said that Kim? Huh? Who?"

Kim sat down on her chair, avoiding my eyes. "I didn't want you to break up with him. I just figured that your relationship wouldn't have lasted anyway."

"Exactly!" I burst out. "It wouldn't have worked and we both know it. So let's just drop it, okay?"

NO!" she yelled back. "I also told you to let him down gently. But what did you do? You crushed him to pieces and left him to reconstruct himself on his own. At least call the poor guy and listen to what he has to say."

"Why?"

"Because you can't just break someone's heart and walk out of their life forever!"

Okay, that was it! I had no idea why Kim was suddenly bringing this up now, and I couldn't care less. "I have to go," I told her. "I have homework."

"School's out," she reminded me. "It's Christmas Eve."

"I have a project that's due on the first day back to school," I grumbled, which was true. My book report really was due on that day. I was already almost finished though, and I had no intention of working on it that day, but I needed an excuse to get away. "See you later," I told her.

I collected my coat and boots, and walked back to my house. About 5 minutes into my walk, tiny snowflakes started falling from the sky, settling themselves on my hat and mitts. Inches of snow were already blanketing the roads and roofs and I was glad that we were finally having a white Christmas. It was only around 4:00PM, but the sky was already starting to darken and people's Christmas lights were turning on. I usually would've stopped to admire this beautiful winter wonderland, but at that moment, there were about a million other things on my mind. Kim and I rarely fought, so this was something worth getting worked up over. She hadn't mentioned Nigel in months! Why was she bringing him up now and making me second guess my actions when she had suggested that I break up with him?

Then, it hit me.

Why was I second guessing my actions? Our relationship was never going to work out so we broke up because that was the sane thing to do, he said he'd come to the airport to say good-bye, didn't stick to his word, I came back to Ottawa, case closed. Right?

So why was I suddenly feeling like crap again? I told Kim I was happy with this ending because it had ended the way it was supposed to. But was that really the ending I wanted? Because I sure as hell wasn't feeling too thrilled about it just then! Should I finally call him to hear what he has to say? Would I look like a pompous idiot if I did? Maybe he had already moved on and forgotten all about me. Heck, maybe he had even gotten back with that Audrey pig! Whatever, I didn't care. I didn't want to care and I didn't need to care!

I also didn't want my thoughts to swivel back to Kim's weird text, but somehow they did. Metrological alert, my Aunt Petunia! I felt like there was something she was hiding from me, and I had every intention of finding out what it was!

The next day was Christmas day. My morning started off with delicious homemade waffles with maple syrup and a variety of berries for breakfast, and then it was time for present unwrapping. My mom and I had put our money together to get my dad a new GPS, and for my mom I got that little black dress from Melanie Lynne that she had been ogling for months. After my parents unwrapped the other presents they'd gotten each other (clothes, cosmetics, etc), it was time for me to open my presents. I started with the smaller items. I got a couple of Wii games (Mario Kart and Mario Party 8), a few mystery books, as well as a really cute red, black and white plaid skirt. When it came down to the largest gift, I literally had to use both hands to pull it out from underneath the tree.

"Oh My God," I grunted. "What did you put in here? Bricks?"

Both my parents started laughing. "How'd you guess?" my dad teased. I gave him a look that clearly said "if this is seriously a brick, you'd better go and find yourself a very sturdy helmet." I tore away the Santa Claus wrapping paper and gasped so fast that I started hiccupping.

"Oh"- hic- "My" –hic- "God!" I opened the box and took out the Macbook I had been dreaming about for months! It was white, with a 15-inch screen, and the Apple symbol proudly sat smack in the middle. I lifted the lid and ran my fingers over the perfectly spaced keys. For a few moments, I forgot all about my dispute with Kim and my awkward relationship with Nigel. "You guys are the best," I told my parents, giving them both a big hug. "This is going to make school work so much easier!"

"It had better," my mom said. "School purposes were the only reason we got it for you in the first place."

"Take good care of it," my dad warned. "These things don't come cheap."

"I will, don't worry."

Our family party was starting in about 5 hours, which meant that we really had to get a move on. My mom tackled the remainder of the cooking and I started decorating the house while trusting my dad with a vacuum and a few home organizing techniques. I knew we couldn't be guaranteed that all our crap would be put back where they belonged, but they'd hopefully at least be out of sight.

I pulled up my Christmas Mix playlist and plopped my iPod into its dock, blasting Jingle Bell Rock loud enough for our neighbours to hear it. If I was going to recreate Amy and Claire's Christmas in July decorations, I would need a little musical reinforcement.

The scent of delicious gingerbread cookies soon wafted towards my nostrils, but I forced myself to keep working. I grabbed another silver garland and wrapped it around the banister, pasted a Rudolph gel sticker to our kitchen window, and then stuck a whole "Santa going down the Chimney" scenario to our living room window. If our guests should feel the urge to take a peek outside, they would have to settle to sticking their heads out front door!

Recalling the fiasco of Christmas Party past, I threw the mistletoes into another box and hid it in the farthest corner of our basement. I did not particularly want to get stuck under there again!

After throwing on a few more garlands, wreaths and random Christmas things, I directed myself to my room and started getting ready. More heavenly smells filled the house from my mother's excessive cooking, and the vacuum could still be heard, whirring its way around our dining room. I took a quick shower, curled my hair, put on some lip gloss and a little red eye shadow, and stationed myself in front of my open closet. As I scanned its contents, something else caught my attention.

My cell phone proudly sat atop my nightstand, taunting me to pick it up and dial the numbers I somehow still perfectly recalled: Nigel's cell. I took the phone in my hands and looked at it as if I was a time traveller from the middle age, seeing the contraption for the first time. Should I call and say Merry Christmas? Should I not call and hang on to the little dignity I had left? As I sat and tried to sort my thoughts, the thing I never thought would happen, happened.

I realized Kim was right.

I did want to fix things with Nigel and get closure but at the same time, what was the point? It's not like I would ever see him again. And the situation wouldn't have the same effect over the phone.

Ugh! If only he'd have showed up the airport like he said he would, I wouldn't have been in this mess! I wished he'd just magically appear and I could just blurt everything out and then I wouldn't have a guilty conscience for the rest of my life.

That's when the doorbell rang.

I checked my watch. 4:26PM! Our guests weren't due for another 34 minutes, and I was still in my bathrobe and fuzzy slippers!

"Sophie, could you get the door?" my mom yelled.

Shit! There was no way I was answering the door looking like a human snowman!

"I can't!" I yelled back. "I'm not even dressed!"

"Well your dad just left to pick up Aunt Clara, and I'm having issues with the turkey!" she hollered back. "Get...the...door...NOW!"

The doorbell rang again. Déjà vu much?

Seeing as I had no other choice, I reluctantly made my way down the stairs. When I reached the living room, I realized that my iPod had switched to All I want for Christmas is You. Talk about weird coincidences!

As I walked to the door, I involuntarily started singing along to the song.

I don't want a lot for Christmas/ This is all I'm asking for/I just wanna see my baby/ Standing right outside my door/Oh I just want you for my own/ More than you could ever know/Make my wish come true...

I hit the chorus with all my might. "All I want for Christmas is..."

The second I swung the door open, I saw him.

Nigel!

Standing right outside my door!

Confused and star-struck, I meekly finished my sentence. "You?"