When I set step into the crowded hallways of the high school building, I felt like I’d just stepped through a time portal making everything appear in slow motion. Every student I walked past as I headed towards the first class of the day was moving sluggishly slow. The usually loud chatter that ricocheted off the plain walls were absent, replaced by the soft droning of people whispering and releasing heavy sighs as they lingered about their lockers and made way for class. Yet, there was one thing I picked up on that explained the behavior. On the faces of each and every student was a blissfully satisfied expression and I knew in that moment of clarity - this was just the after-shock of Thanksgiving break.
The four days had passed by in a breeze. Following Thanksgiving dinner with the extra company of Damien, the next three days had spent spending what little time I had for grabs with dad and trying to convince him to stay home from work. I knew there was a lot being piled upon him but the selfish side of me came out more than it had before, demanding more of his time. Of course, it didn’t work, as much as he wanted to stay back too. Instead of enjoying the days off school with dad, I ended up spending the remainder of it completing all my homework assignments and finding solace in the entertainment that I could derive from texting the gang. Nick, however, had been so kind as to pick up on what I was upset about without me even openly saying it, and did something to boost my spirits. And boost it, it did.
I felt like the only one happy to be back at school as I skipped (actually skipped) all the way to the English Lit classroom. Nick was the first to notice as I came prancing into the room, humming happily under my breath. Waving at me from behind his desk, he shot me the world’s biggest grin, amber eyes twinkling at the sight of me happy.
“Look at you all chipper. Now, I wonder why that must be.”
I returned the smile and before even greeting the other two, launched myself at Nick who stood up and out of his chair to catch me. My arms wrapped around his waist as I laughed and squeezed him tighter in my hug, feeling one of his hands rest on the top of my head and pat it affectionately.
“Thank you so much. Honestly.” Looking up at him with starry eyes, I continued voicing my gratefulness. “You have no idea how much I needed it.”
“No problemo kiddo,” Nick said, doting on me the way my dad did sometimes. He didn’t let go of me as I stepped back, and neither did I, having one arm still wrapped around his waist with his casually around my shoulder. Facing the other two, I greeted them happily, “Morning fellas.”
Damien, of course, was the first to pounce on us with an extra dose of curiosity than needed. “What’s going on? Am I missing something? How come Nick’s getting all the Makyla-love?” Leo, however, was more civilized...or perhaps, trying to cover up his lack of interest on the topic. “Good morning Makayla. Nice to see you in high spirits this early in the morning,” he responded before going back to leaning against the wall and staring out the window at the sky.
I rolled my eyes. Typical. Finally letting go of Nick, I detached myself from him and set my bag down on the top of my desk to unpack what I needed for class.
“So?” Damien prodded me on the hip, taking a step closer till I could feel his back pressing against mine as he loomed over my shoulder, trying to get a look at my face. “What’s going on? What could Nick have possibly done to merit an early morning hug session from you?”
“You want to know the secret?” Nick teased Damien who shot him a glare, no doubt feeling envious.
“N-Not exactly,” Damien answered. “I just want to know what happened is all.”
Nick’s taunting would have earned him a more than ‘friendly’ punch from Damien if it hadn’t been for Mrs. Hammond entering the class and telling us to settle down. The lesson started and the classroom soon settled into a state of silence as every student’s attention was on the whiteboard and Mrs. Hammond’s lecture. I was flicking through my textbook and marking down some pages for future reference when I felt my phone buzz in my pocket.