"Oh, jingle bells, jingle bells, Jingle all the way, Oh, what fun it is to ride, In a one horse open sleigh, Jingle bells, jingle bells, Jingle all the way, Oh, what fun it is to ride, In a one horse open.." The music cut off abruptly and it took December a moment to realize that it was her mother who'd stopped the music, therefore stopping her own singing. "Hey! I was singing that!" December protested, jumping down from the bed that she'd previously been dancing on.
"Yeah, trust me, me and about every other person in a ten mile radius know that you were singing to that. But, it's not anywhere near Christmas. You can't sing a Christmas carol in February." Her mom replied, rolling her eyes at her daughter.
"Why not? I'm in the mood for 'Jingle Bells' and I sounded pretty darn good, if I do say so myself." The younger girl said, sounding somewhat like a petulant child.
"I have to disagree with you there. You sounded like a tone-deaf whale dying a very slow, painful death."
"Wow, mom. Thanks for ruining all my hopes and dreams! When I'm a thirty-year-old loser who still lives with you, I hope you'll look back on this moment and realize how everything could have been different if you'd only respected my tremendous talent." December said, pressing the back of her hand to her forehead and pretending as if she felt weak.
"Well, you aren't at all dramatic. Anyways, since I ruined your plans for the future, you better get a good education to make a new plan. If you don't leave now you're going to be late for school. I would offer to drive you but I really need to get to work and the school's in the opposite direction." Her mom explained, looking apologetic that her daughter would have to walk in the cold.
"It's okay! I like walking. I usually do that anyways." December chirped, flashing her mom a smile and twirling her dress around. She stood with her sock-covered feet on her tip-toes and mimicked a ballerina pose before curtseying to her mom and skipping down the stairs. At the front door, December slipped on her gray low-tops and prepared to start her trip to school.
"Coat!" She heard her mom call from upstairs. To her, it was amazing how her mom knew that she'd almost forgotten her coat again even without having seen it for herself. December smiled to herself before slipping on her thick, purple pea coat over her dress and walked out the door.
It was an exceptionally warm day for February. It was still really cold, but much warmer than would be expected. The sun streamed through small patches of clouds, the individual rays beaming downward and making patterns on the ground. December hummed 'Jingle Bells' to herself as she pranced through her yard and made her way to school.
The walk was pretty much the same as any other day, though instead of shivering she was shaking with excitement. The day before during lunch, Harrison had winked in December's direction and told her that he had a surprise for her and would give it to her the following day.
There was very little that the girl loved more than surprises and Harrison knew that. This is why he had hyped up the surprise by telling her that there would be a surprise, but not what it was. The entire day, December had asked questions and begged for hints, but Harrison only shook his head and grinned, glad that he could have such an effect on his 'short-little-friend' as he called her. Her desire to know what the surprise was made him that much more anxious to give it to her. It wasn't a huge deal, it was only a little thing, but he wanted her to like it.
When December arrived at school, she rushed straight to Keegan's bench. He sat there as usual with his hands stuffed into his pockets, but recently he started smiling when she would join him. Whereas he used to completely ignore her presence, she was sure that she was growing on him. "Good morning!" She sang as she took her seat beside him.
"Morning." he replied in his low voice, "Oh, and happy Valentine's Day. I didn't get you anything, 'cause that would be a little weird, but ya know…" Keegan shrugged as he let his sentence trail off. December noticed that he did the whole 'not finishing a sentence thing' a lot lately.
"Oh! I completely forgot it was Valentine's Day! Darn, I wanted to get you, James, and Harrison a card or something." The girl said, sounding a little disappointed.
Keegan laughed, "It's okay. I know James and I won't mind and Harrison is always too busy passing out flowers to every girl he sees to notice."
December smiled at that, it seemed like that would be a very Harrison-like thing to do. The boy was simply girl crazy. He literally fawned over almost every girl that passed by and went on a few dates with different people in a week. "Speaking of Harrison, do you have any sort of idea what that surprise is? I really, really, really want to know right now." Keegan grinned at how she bounced in her seat as she spoke.
"I don't have any idea what he has planned. And even if I did, what makes you think I'd tell you? You're excitement is too cute to watch for me to ruin it." Keegan said. It took December a second to realize what had just happened. Keegan Parker had called her cute and didn't even do the awkward thing he sometimes did where he took back what he'd just said. No, he'd called her cute as if it wasn't even a big deal, like he said it all the time.
The rest of the day was fairly uneventful until lunch. December raced through the halls, more eager than ever to see her friends. Lunch was when Harrison had said he would give her the surprise. She was running so fast that on more than one occasion she ran into some unsuspecting person and had to yell an apology over her shoulder as she kept going. At the last moment, she had to swerve to one side to avoid being hit by a door that swung open into her path.
By the time she finally reached the cafeteria, her breath was coming in ragged gasps and her throat had a dull burn in it. Nonetheless a bright and enthusiastic smile was plastered onto her flushed face. She slowed her pace to a brisk walk as she made her way to the table she, Keegan, James, and Harrison usually sat at before taking her seat beside Keegan. James and Harrison were sitting on the opposite side of the table, and James was looking at December with one eyebrow raised questioningly, no doubt wondering why she looked as if she'd just outrun a pack of starving wolves. She certainly felt like she'd just outrun a pack of starving wolves.
"What's up?" Harrison asked, stuffing a huge bite of sandwich into his mouth.
"Nothing," December replied in her sing-song voice.
"It definitely looks like something's up. Like maybe you're excited about something?" Harrison asked in a teasing tone.
December decided to play along with the charade. "Nope," she said, popping the 'p'. "Nothing to be excited about." She could hear the excitement in her own voice however and she knew the boys caught it too.
"Oh, that's too bad. I
was going to give you your surprise now. But since it's no big deal or anything, I guess I'll just hold onto it." Harrison said, as he shrugged, continued to eat his lunch, and pretended to ignore the appalled look on the girl's face as he joked with her.
"No! I'm sorry, Harrison! I was only kidding. I'm really, really, really excited. I ran all the way here and I hate running." December said in a pleading tone, worried beyond belief that she'd insulted her friend.
Harrison's mouth twitched up at the corners as he debated whether or not to keep the act up for a little longer or just give in and let December have her surprise, the latter eventually won out after much consideration.
Harrison reached into his backpack, which was sitting on the floor next to his feet, and unzipped it. He pulled out one long-stemmed red rose that was bent at an odd angle and crushed slightly from being crammed into his bag along with his textbooks. He handed the rose to December who was beamed and jumping up and down in her seat excitedly. "Thank you, thank you, thank you!" She exclaimed as she took the flower from her friend's hand. "It's really pretty, Harrison! I feel bad that I didn't get you anything."
He grinned, glad that she seemed to like the small surprise. "Nah, it's okay. You can make it up to me by telling everyone that I'm God's gift to women."
"Deal!" December agreed quickly, smiling down at her recently acquired flower.
James was amused by the display and he rolled his eyes as Harrison went on and on about all the things December would have to do to make it up to him. Most of which included absurd compliments.
Keegan glared across the table at his goofy friend, wondering why he felt angry at Harrison for giving December a flower. He couldn't understand why his fists and stomach were clenched so tightly of their own accord. Keegan just did what he normally did when he experienced a feeling he didn't know how to describe, he ignored it the best he could and walked away.