[Note From Frolic: We are so excited to announce our Festive Four Stories! Every week in December we will have a new short holiday story from 4 of your favorite authors. This week we have Wattpad superstar Jordan Lynde!]
“Did you go back to get me a Christmas tree?” I asked Amalia the next morning as we headed to our physical anthropology class. “I texted Joon about it last night and he never texted me back.”
“Texted him about what? What Christmas tree?”
I eyed her for a moment. Judging by her blank expression, I figured she didn’t have anything to do with it. She wasn’t a very good liar. “I think Joon put up a Christmas tree in my apartment.”
“Yeah, he said he left his charger in my apartment and disappeared for like three hours. I’m pretty sure he got the exact one I pointed out last night too. He even decorated it.”
“I should have thought of that! Joon is really one-upping me as your best friend right now.”
I nudged her in the side. “No. I didn’t even want a Christmas tree.”
“Are you going to get rid of it?”
“No way! I didn’t mean it like that. It made me happy. With everything that’s been going on, I convinced myself I wouldn’t be happy, but seeing that Christmas tree made me realize I shouldn’t be like that. I’m going to face things head on.”
Amalia hooked her arm into mine. “Good idea. Not to ruin your little epiphany though, but Evan’s back.”
I tensed. “I know. I’m prepared. I think.”
“Want me to curse him out?”
“No. We’re too mature for that, right?”
“We are,” I told her, laughing. “I bet he’ll just ignore me.”
Any hope of that happening went out the window when I realized he was waiting for me outside the classroom door. “Hey,” he said as we approached, blue eyes darting nervously between Amalia and myself. “Can we talk?”
“We have class,” I said.
“It’ll only take a second.”
I gestured for Amalia to go ahead. “Be right in.”
“Two minutes,” Amalia said to Evan as she brushed by him. “Then I’m coming back out.”
His lips formed a scowl. “What do you think I’m going to do?”
“Can we really know?” she responded with a shrug before closing the door behind her.
He rounded on me. “What did you say to her?”
My jaw dropped. Was he seriously getting an attitude with me? “You know what? I don’t want to talk to you.”
“No, Nell, wait.”
“Make it quick.”
“I don’t actually want to talk here. There are too many people around us. Although I guess you’re going to tell your little pals no matter what, aren’t you?”
I grit my teeth together. “Of course I’m going to tell them. They wanted to know why we broke up. I’m not going to lie about it.”
“You told them I cheated on you?”
“Yes. I have nothing to be ashamed about. That’s all you.”
“Listen, that wasn’t me who texted you those pictures that night. That girl I was with saw pictures of us on my phone and—”
“Yeah, I’m not listening to this,” I told him, shaking my head. “Are you hearing the words that are coming out of your mouth? You had your other girlfriend break up with me for you? I literally have no words. Don’t talk to me again.”
Evan grabbed my hand. “Nell, no. We weren’t doing anything. Don’t be like this. It’s our sixth anniversary this month. December is our thing. Can’t we fix this? I don’t want to do Christmas without you.”
I ripped my hand back. “No.”
“Come on, my parents already started shopping for your gifts.”
“You didn’t tell them we broke up?”
“I’m not the one who broke up with you!” he cried.
Instead of answering, I shoved my way inside the classroom, heading straight for a seat next to Amalia. My heart hammered in my chest. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to cry or scream. Everything was a mess. He didn’t break up with me? What? His jet lag had to be terrible, why else did he think that kind of excuse would work?
I groaned inwardly. How was I supposed to focus on class?
Amalia placed a tiny gift onto my desk. And when I say tiny gift, I meant absolutely minuscule. It was a box maybe an inch big, complete with wrapping and a bow. My confusion momentarily won over any other feelings. “What’s this?”
“Joon told me to give it to you in class today.”
I opened the tiny box and dumped out its contents. Two miniature origami cranes fell out as well as a slip of paper. On the second day of Christmas, my best friend gave to me: two origami birds that you can hang on your Christmas fir tree.
“What is it?” Amalia asked, peering over.
“What is he doing?” I said, picking up one of the cranes. “How can he fold these so small?”
Amalia read the slip of paper. “Is he doing twenty-five days of Christmas?”
“Isn’t it supposed to be twelve?”
“He’s really serious about getting you back into the Christmas spirit, huh?”
I placed the cranes back into the box and slid it into my pocket jacket for safekeeping. “I guess so. He doesn’t have to though.”
“Does Joon have to do anything? Remember the time I broke my foot and he carried my books everywhere even after I got off crutches? Although I am curious to see if he’ll really keep this up for twenty-five days.”
I pulled out my phone to see if he’d texted me back yet. Nothing. I shot him another text about the cranes before putting my phone away as the professor started the lecture.
Evan tried to flag me down after class, but Amalia and I hurried away from him to the cafeteria. Even though it wasn’t lunch time yet, I wanted to eat my feelings away.
“Are you going to give him a chance to explain himself?” Amalia asked as we claimed our usual spot.
“No. I don’t care what kind of reason he has for those photos. There’s not one I would accept.”
“Good. You don’t need someone like him in your life.”
I swallowed thickly. “Yeah.”
“People always give second chances, but a cheater doesn’t change. He’s not guilty about doing it, he’s guilty about being caught. It’s not worth it.”
“I know. I always told myself that if someone cheated on me I wouldn’t give them a second chance. I’m not changing that. When I was dating Evan I didn’t even find anyone else attractive, you know? How could I? Evan was everything I wanted.”
Amalia gave me a few sympathetic pats on the hand. “The best retaliation to a cheating significant other is being happy without them. Find a better guy.”
“I’m not dating ever again. I’ll never trust another guy.”
“Ouch,” a new voice said from above me and Joon appeared at my side, half his face hidden by a fuzzy turtleneck.
“There you are! Why haven’t you texted me back?” I asked, forgetting my flippant statement.
He gave me a half-frown, pulling out his phone. “Oh, you texted me? I’ve been busy.”
“Busy doing what? Decorating my apartment?”
“Amalia told me you gave her those cranes to give me.”
Joon pouted at her. “Amalia.”
“Was it supposed to be a secret?”
“You weren’t very subtle about the tree,” I pointed out.
Joon laughed. “You’re right. In my defense though, I didn’t expect it to take so long.”
“What are you up to?”
“Making sure you enjoy Christmas like you’re supposed to. We can’t let one idiot ruin something so special to you. You’re going through a tough spot, so the least I can do is help you through it.”
“In the form of twelve days of Christmas?”
He nodded. “Technically it’ll be twenty-five days.”
“Come on, you don’t have to do that,” I told him. “I’m really happy with the Christmas tree. I really appreciate it. You don’t need to do anything more than that.”
“Nope. I already have everything else planned. This is why I didn’t want you to know it was me.”
“Because you’d try to stop me like this. You’re going to have hard days, Nell. I’m doing this so you can be reminded to be happy. Get ready. The countdown is just beginning.”
I watched him warily for a moment, but warmth spread through my body. “There’s nothing too crazy, right?”
He merely shrugged in response.
On the third day of Christmas my best friend gave to me: three French macarons.
“These remind me of Evan,” I said miserably.
Joon’s forehead scrunched up. “Damn, I didn’t think this one through all the way.”
I bit down on it with more force than necessary.
“Never mind,” he grinned.
On the fourth day of Christmas my best friend gave to me: four deviled eggs.
“These reek,” I gagged as Joon deposited them on the table at the dining hall.
“Oh, yeah. Sorry about that. I’ve had to carry them around with me since my eight o’clock.”
Amalia poked at the Ziploc bag as I closed it. “Are they still good?”
“Well the good news if they aren’t and you get sick it gets you out of that quiz you have to take on Friday, doesn’t it, Nell?” Joon said.
“We could give them to Evan?” Amalia suggested. “Or use them as a ward. He’s been dogging Nell around like crazy. He can’t take a hint.”
“I might not eat these,” I admitted.
Joon shrunk in his seat. “Oh. Okay.”
Oh no. I couldn’t do this to him. Holding my breath, I opened the eggs and popped one into my mouth.
On the fifth day of Christmas my best friend gave to me: five ring pops.
“Where did you even find these, Joon?”
“The internet, duh.”
On the sixth day of Christmas my best friend gave to me: six Cadbury cream eggs for eating.
“I learned my lesson from the deviled eggs incident,” Joon announced as he placed the golden foiled eggs in front of me. “These are— hey, what’s wrong? Are you crying?”
I somehow managed to unclench my jaw so I could speak. “They’re in a relationship.”
“How do you know?”
“Facebook. She tagged him in a post.”
Joon scoffed. “Seriously? And he was trying to tell you he didn’t want to break up? What a straight up scum bag.”
“He must have realized I wasn’t going to talk to him about it and went for the easier one of us. It’s barely been over a week. This sucks.”
Joon scooted the container of chocolate eggs closer to me. “I knew my plan would work out. Eat one of these. Chocolate makes you feel better.”
“Nope, eat one. It’s dark chocolate. It’ll make your brain create serotonin which will make you feel happier.”
I cracked a smile and took it from him. “Pfft, you nerd. Fine.”
“Well? Did it work?”
“Maybe,” I said, cover my hand with my mouth. “It tastes really good.”
“I don’t know if it’s pitiable or adorable to watch you eat a chocolate egg while crying.”
I laughed. “It’s probably just really sad. I need to stop crying.”
“It’s okay, crying is okay. Take your time. Hopefully the next days will cheer you up.”
“I told you. Twenty-five days of Christmas. Today’s only day six.”
“You’re really going to do twenty-five days? Why waste your money?”
“Nah, I’m not wasting it.”
“…What’s tomorrow?” I asked, curious.
He cocked an eyebrow. “You’ll have to wait and see.”