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Eight - Christmas Present

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Haley

A week to Christmas, and it has already begun to snow. When I arrive in class on Monday, I'm bundled up in layers of warm clothing that my dad forced upon me. Ever since I got that pneumonia back in Freshman year, dad has been overly concerned about keeping me warm, sometimes to the point of suffocating me.

"You make a pretty snowman," Dray attempts to compliment me in his corny way, blocking my path to my seat in the front of class.

 I roll my eyes and elbow him in the ribs to get him out of my way.

"Come on, why do you play so hard to get?" he whines behind me.

"Why do you act so desperate?" I call back sarcastically, taking my seat. 

The teacher calls us to attention and everyone settles down. Just as she begins to hand us our sheets for a pop quiz, Xavier shuffles into the room and takes his seat beside me. I glance his way just as he looks towards me, and our eyes meet for a brief second that is unfortunately interrupted by the teacher slamming the test on my desk. I glower at her as she moves to the next desk.

With a sigh, I begin my quiz, internally hoping that Xavier knows at least some of the questions on the test. He's not so good at calculus, and we haven't studied this topic because of his double shift at work. Still, Xavier is the first person to hand over his quiz and leave the class, making sure we don't get a chance to speak, as always. When I leave class and find Nancy and Odette in the café, he's not there either.

"So, do you want to go Christmas shopping or what?" Odette asks me.

"When?" I ask, gazing around subtly to find the familiar grey-eyed boy who knows how to vanish into thin air. 

"After school, we can go to my place and then to the mall," Odette suggests.

"Uh, I can't." I sigh, unable to find my object of interest.

"Why not?" Nancy frowns.

"I have to be home by eight."

"Your curfew is ten," Nancy reminds me.

"Yeah but ... I'm grounded," I blurt out, unable to think of a better lie. 

"Grounded? For what?" Odette asks.

"I didn't do the dishes," I lie.

"And how long are you going to be grounded?" Nancy asks.

"Senior year," I say before I can stop myself, instantly regretting it.

"You're grounded for the entire year because you didn't do the dishes?" Odette says incredulously. 

"Drop it, you can't fool us." Nancy rolls her eyes.

"Fine, I'm not grounded the entire year but I am grounded for now," I change my statement, frustrated. "I just have to be home by eight."

"Okay, we can go to the mall first." Odette shrugs. 

"Sounds good," I agree, inwardly sighing in relief. "Let me just tell my dad so he doesn't wait."

As I pull out my phone from my bag, I'm vaguely aware of the exasperated looks on my friends' faces. They always tease me for how much my dad still pampers me, calling me 'Daddy's little girl' and mocking me for not being independent like all the other girls around. I don't see what the big deal is. So what if my dad is closer to me than my friends'? I don't have a mom, nobody complains about that. People just always have a problem with something.

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