David groaned. He was awake. He’d stayed awake most of the night listening to Joni Mitchell on repeat, wishing he had a river he could skate away on. Skating. He groaned again. He took Silas skating and that hadn’t worked. He rolled over and put his head under his pillow. Everything was cold. He rolled over and the side of the bed he’d just been on had frozen over already. Why were student houses always so cold?
The screen of his phone screamed at him in the dark attic, the plants all leaning closer to see if he had any messages.
18th December. 16:45. Nothing.
He groaned again and turned the phone off. He could probably get back to sleep. It was Sunday and he had nothing to do. Everyone was going to the SnowBall tonight but he didn’t have a ticket. His stomach groaned and he knew he had to get up and face another day.
The house was unusually quiet. The girls were all either at work or at Virgil to get stuff done before the night. It was dark, all the lights were off including the Christmas tree save for the blinker on the coffee machine. He pulled out some coffee pods and stopped. The coffee pods. He groaned again and chucked them into the back of the cupboard. He cracked some eggs into a pan and grated some cheese and just stood, watching them cook.
After scranning the saddest breakfast in the world, he started deep cleaning the house. Dust had donned itself atop every doorframe. Dirt had tracked its’ way from the door and up the stairs leading to one of his housemates room specifically. It was only after scrubbing the roof of the bathroom with a mop sprayed with mould-killer that he remembered the front of the front door hadn’t been washed ever. He trudged down the stairs. In front of the door lay three envelopes: an Octopus Energy billing statement (the price of wind had gone up…again), a Domino’s voucher booklet that promised no one else had the exact same vouchers and a blank white envelope with only the word David written on it. There was no stamp or address so it had to be hand delivered. It could only be from one person, David thought, and he opened it.
I’m sorry. I’ve written this so many times and that’s all I can think to begin with. I shouldn’t have avoided you, or said you weren’t enough or not been honest. I am sorry.
I have a reason for being to scared to try again. I thought I’d done all this before: the meet-cute, the guy, meet his friends, fall in love. That didn’t have a happy ending. For the last year I’ve been happy to stay in the dark. Love. Romance. Whatever it is. I didn’t have a reason to risk it.
You are the sun. It’s cheesey but it’s true. You’ve lit up my world and I can see what I’ve been missing. I’ve got a reason and that reason is you. I can’t lie and say I’m not scared but, even if I fall, I know where I’ll land. I’ll try not to make it a habit.
I want to know you. Do you still want to know me?
David felt faint. He hadn’t expected this at all. He slowly walked up the stairs to his room and grabbed his phone. He did nothing but stare at it. He read the letter a few more times.
That reason is you.
David opened Snapmaps. Silas was still home. Good. He had a plan.
David had never felt more confident. Silas had given him the green light. He was stepping down the street after a fresh shower and shave. He’d only chucked on a rugby shirt and jeans but he felt invincible. He was on the cover of every magazine. He was on the top of the Olympic podium. He did it. He came to Silas’ door and knocked. And waited. And waited. Snapmaps had shown Silas was still home but that was ten minutes ago. He looked again and was aghast: Silas was halfway up Bathwick hill. The Snowball.
David turned to walk home when he overheard familiar cursing coming from around the corner. Like a vision from a fairytale, in a deep royal blue that made the sea seem shallow, Cara strode round the corner. Clamouring through her white clutch she almost didn’t notice David by her door.
“Cara,” David spoke first. “Why are you here?”
“Why are you here? It’s my house” Cara laughed, then raised an eyebrow. “Oh. Did you see the letter!”
“Yes, why aren’t you going up?” David asked.
“Do you know what day it is David?” Cara opened the door, David shook his head. “Happy Hannukah David.”
Cara had ran back from the bus stop to light her menorah. Today marked the beginning of Hannukah. Instead of lighting the far right candle she spent the majority of her afternoon reciting Christmas songs and watching Christmas movies.
“I hate to say it but I’m so bad at my faith. I love it but,” Cara waved David into the living room and placed the menorah in the centre of the table. “I have an entire google calendar to remember everything. That’s still not enough.” She stopped, holding the matches in her hand.
“When are you going to the ball?” David asked.
“So many questions David! After I light this, have you got a ticket?”
“No,” he realised he wasn’t dressed for it too. “It’s a stupid idea. I’ll just wait for Silas.”
“No!’ Cara crossed the table. “I have my boyfriend’s suit. He didn’t need it in the end. You’re about the right size,” she looked him up and down. “Just do this with me.” David smiled.
“I still don’t have a ticket!” he said.
“Oh I have a plan for that as well.” A grin spread from Cara to David. Her phone buzzed. “It’s time!” Cara walked back across the table and struck a match, lighting the candle, filling the room with light.