Hey story fanatics! Well, here it is! The final Christmas story, though it is sort of on the sad side compared to the joy you feel on Christmas Day itself. However, I hope you all enjoy this and remember, just go where your imagination takes you and new worlds will reveal themselves. Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year everyone!
A Christmas Rose
A single snowflake fell onto the windowsill of the Lee residence, as Hannah Lee quickly roused herself out of bed, her body still sore after yesterday’s ordeal. As the steaming hot water ran over her body on the shower, the bruises were clearly visible, and she winced upon seeing so many of them. When one finally disappeared, more would pop up in its place; sort of like cutting the head off a hydra. After drying off her hair and throwing on a few comfortable-looking clothes from the floor, she hurriedly tied her hair up into a messy bun. It wasn’t worth checking her appearance, seeing as there weren’t any mirrors in her room.
Down in the kitchen, she was met with a plate of bacon and eggs and a card from her mom laying next to it. Scoffing, she crumpled it up, knowing it was an apology on her mother’s absence due to work. It was always money over everything, even her own daughter of whom she casted to the sidelines. Once she finished, she halfheartedly began to pack her books into her bookbag, inserting a pair of earbuds into her ear, and locked the door behind her as she stepped into the harsh winter air. By this time, several snowflakes were falling, covering her head. For this, Hannah was glad she didn’t live too far from her high school, especially because she was starting to shiver. However, she knew what was waiting for her the moment she entered those doors, as it has for the past year now. A shove against the lockers, a trip, or a punch, it was all too familiar by now, and although she could fight back, she didn’t dare to. All her life she’s been dreaming of making it to Maelle Maine’s University, a prestigious school which only accepted those that managed to keep a GPA above 4.5 and who have never been in detention, suspended, and definitely not expelled. For most students, it was definitely hard considering most students didn’t bother abiding by the rules, certain that their parents would pay for them to attend the next best university.
It was only 10 minutes before she reached the gate, squeaking as she opened it and let it go. She only made it about 10 steps into the school itself, when she received a hard shove. As she slammed into the lockers beside her, a clammy, cold hand grasped her neck, making it harder for Hannah to regain her breath.
“Well, well, well, you’d think she’d get used to this now don’t you boys?”
She glared straight into the eyes of Nathanael Greene, a notorious playboy and her long-time oppressor. A good punch to his face would teach him a lesson, but his entourage would surely come after her with whatever means possible, endangering her chances to go to the university.
“Let me go Nathanael, class is starting soon.”
She reached up to loosen his grip around her neck, but he only tightened it, causing her to choke. By this time, she was reaching up with both hands, desperately trying to get him to let go, but he didn’t budge.
“Listen here sweetheart, I’ll let you go when I want to, and right now, I’m just not in the mood. Try agreeing to go out with me and maybe I’ll consider letting the rest of your high school go without a hitch.”
“Screw you Nathanael and your pathetic group of guys who couldn’t bring a girl on a date even if they all tried.”
Before she knew what was happening, her neck cracked as she was jerked back violently, then slammed into the lockers again. She crumpled to the floor, dazed once more as she heard the group chuckle and retreating footsteps.
“Better watch out next time Hannah! I guarantee you won’t be this lucky next time,” Mason yelled, though his voice seemed far away, very far away.
Suddenly, she felt two arms embracing her, helping her stand up. At first, she was limp, not used to the strange sensation of someone holding her to assist and not beat her. She opened her eyes slowly, not wanting to risk a terrible headache considering she still had a test for AP Chemistry today. To her shock, she came face to face with Mrs. Hellis, her AP Chem teacher.
“Hannah, you okay dear?”
Her eyes reflected such concern that Hannah didn’t have the heart to push her away. Instead, she half-heartedly nodded, not knowing what answer she could give that would convince Mrs. Hellis.
“Mhm, and I’m not the toughest teacher around. Let’s get you to the nurse’s office.”
“No, no it’s fine Mrs. Hellis. I can go there by myself, considering I’m used to this now. Heh, people were right when they said high school was hell.”
“If you’re that against me going with you, I’ll let you have your peace. However, we have a lot to discuss about and I expect you to come to class after you’ve treated your injuries.”
With that she walked off, her heels clacking against the marble tiles as it remained deprived of life except for Hannah standing there dumbfounded. For the 56 steps it took to get to the nurse’s office, she must have repeated about 56 cuss words, one for each step of the way. Was this it? Were her chances blown in attending the university, even though she didn’t even get a chance to defend herself yet? She soon reached her target and acquired an ice pack, though all it did was numb the pain of her head, and not her heart.
Hannah cautiously opened the door, expecting to see a cross Hellis with arms folded across her chest, and a pair of demon eyes staring straight at her soul. Don’t blame her, anyone can have a creative imagination, even though they’re in high school. However, all she saw when the door closed behind her, was a sweet woman grading her papers, though she could’ve been filling out a form on Hannah’s recent encounter.
“Um, Mrs. Hellis, you wanted to see me?”
“Yes, come closer dear.”
It wasn’t until Hannah made her way to the front of the desk that Mrs. Hellis abruptly stood up, as she rushed to Hannah, throwing her arms around her. With this, she stumbled, grabbing the desk for support. She wasn’t used to this, not at all. For as long as she could remember, she rarely had anyone hug her, unless they were preventing her from escaping.
“Mrs. Hellis, what are you doing? I can’t say I’m used to this… Do you mind letting me go?”
Slowly, she left her arms from Hannah’s waist, and instead, held onto her shoulders. Her blue eyes met Hannah’s brown ones, sympathy flooding through them in waves. It was a hard sight to look at, so all she could do was stare at the calendar hanging directly behind Hellis.
“Believe it or not Hannah, I’m here to help you. I can’t believe none of the other teachers have stepped up, and I feel ashamed to not have noticed that you, one of my best students, was being bullied.”
“It’s fine Mrs. Hellis, not even my mother has noticed,” Hannah commented with a smirk.
Unfortunately, it was all but true, in which all her mother managed to do was rid her bedroom and bathroom of mirrors, though it was only after she had busted her hands on them. Suddenly, the bell rang, as it brought her back to the present. Hastily, she gave Mrs. Hellis what she hoped was a reassuring smile, and rushed to class.
First period was hell, seeing as though she was still discombobulated from earlier. Every once in awhile, she would glance up to see her Calculus teacher staring at her. It was definitely uncomfortable for her, and she tried to avoid meeting his eyes as best as possible.
“Miss Lee, can you come up to the board and solve this problem?”
She looked up to see y=(x3+7x-1)(5x+2)written on the board, as she immediately began to cuss internally. This was obviously planned she thought, as she walked up to the board. Luckily, she still got the lesson down even though she felt as though her head was going to split, proven when she wrote down an answer onto the board:
“You’re correct Hannah, now please sit back down,” the teacher mumbled.
Like the miraculous thing it is, the bell rang just as she reached her desk. The periods blurred by, especially lunch, in which she often spent in the library doing homework. Soon, 7th period arrived and for the first time, she was uncertain to enter a classroom. Unfortunately for her, she happened to be sitting next to Nathanael as well. She didn’t know which situation was more uncomfortable honestly.
“Class, we’re going to be doing a seating change today,” Mrs. Hellis suddenly announced, as the whole class groaned in unison. Most were already seated with their best friends.
“What if we already like our seat Hellis?! I’m sure Hannah just loves sitting next to me right?”
Hannah looked up to Nathanael smirking at her, though a dangerous message was hidden beneath his supposedly kind tone. Meanwhile, most of the girls were swooning over Nathanael and Hannah, considering Nathanael has never been attached to any girl quote like her before.
Underneath the chatter, she managed to pick up, “Who does that stupid chick think she is? Nathanael is obviously mine.”
The whole class fell into silence, everyone’s eyes trained on the she-demon in front of them. No one dared to speak while Hellis listed off everyone’s names as she went to every desk. Soon, everyone was assigned a seat, except for Hannah.
“As for you Hannah, you’ll be sitting next to me from now on. Now before you object, I would honestly have to say that you’re one of my best students ever and I certainly need help grading test responses. I must say, some of them are pathetic, like many of your attitudes here.”
Hannah caught the glance towards Nathanael once Hellis ended her mini rant. However, she didn’t mind the jeers and mockery of her fellow classmates if it meant she would no longer have to sit next to Nathanael. The class went by fast enough, especially since Hannah already went through this lesson during her time in the library. After class, Hannah was just about ready to leave, and with her earbuds plugged in, she attempted to make her way out the door. However, a firm hand gripped her shoulder, though it felt gentle and familiar.
“Now where are you going young lady?” Hellis asked. “Please don’t tell me you’re walking home in this weather. For heaven’s sake it’s like a blizzard out there!”
“Uhh, there really isn’t anyone that can pick me up Mrs. Hellis. I’ll be fine.”
“Nonsense, you’re coming with me Hannah and that’s final, or the next grade you get will be an F.”
Threatened, Hannah succumbed to following Mrs. Hellis. The car ride was definitely uncomfortable, with Hellis constantly going on about the other teachers refusing her email on helping Hannah. However, she didn’t pay much attention for it, considering many of the families would threaten to sue her teachers if their precious sons and daughters were to be told off for bullying. Instead, she allowed herself to shut her eyes for a moment, in which she would need the rest to be able to finish her homework later.
Hannah awoke with a gasp. It wasn’t like her to fall asleep so peacefully since she would always be creating some sort of death scene for herself. Though it was her goal to attend Maelle Maine’s University, she couldn’t exactly bear to live anymore if this was to be her life from now on. Lonely, depressing, painful, it was all too much for her to bear. She shook her head vigorously, determined to have these thoughts later, but for now, she had to find out where she was, and fast. All she could remember was Hellis driving her home, but this was obviously not her home. Grabbing the lamp on the bedside table, she cautiously made her way downstairs, where a whirring noise seemed to originate from. She made her way into the kitchen, her hand slightly raised to break the lamp on someone’s head if she needed to. However, all she saw was Mrs. Hellis covered in flour with an almost spotless black apron tied around her waist.
“Hannah, good of you to join us now! I’m almost done with this cake and my son will be home soon! Why don’t you go freshen up and come down for dinner later?”
Hannah didn’t want to disobey her, especially after seeing what’d she do if she got mad. Therefore, she ascended the stairs again, entering the room she was recently in. She took the time to scan her surroundings, in which it was a pretty large room considering Mrs. Hellis only lived with her foster son since she told the class she has and will never acquire a husband.
Still exhausted, Hannah took up on that shower, turning the knob onto the red side. She hissed as the hot water rain down her body, but she soon melted into its warm embrace. As she stepped out of the shower, she realized a mirror was there, in which she was looking directly at it. Fear and resentment ran through her as she stared at her own reflection. Fear, because she didn’t know whether she could contain herself and the hate she always held for herself didn’t help matters. She ran her eyes over her own body, noticing how her hair still remained healthy even though she hasn’t had it cut in over 3 years. However, she was definitely lacking in the weight department, and she always wondered how she hasn’t fainted yet.
“Hannah! Dinner’s ready! Hurry and eat because I know you still have homework to do!”
Mrs. Hellis’ voice echoed throughout the house, but luckily, it only took Hannah a short time to dress and she quickly made her way downstairs. There, Hellis was sitting with what she assumed was her foster son. As she took her seat at the dinner table, she managed to get a closer look at him, and the first thing she noticed were his eyes. Though they were her favorite color, there was a soft, yet intimidating tone to them as well. His physical features were amazing, his muscular arms fitting perfectly with his slim figure. She knew she had to be wary of him, considering she’s never truly trusted anyone, though a part of her just wanted to bury herself against his chest.
Hannah sighed as she finally closed her textbook and shut of her laptop. Dinner with Hellis and her foster son, who she found out was named Avery Wilson was rather fun, yet it was rather serious. Mrs. Hellis had insisted for Hannah to meet with her during lunchtime and to promise her she would treat her as a second mother, especially after she heard Hannah’s was on a business cruise for a month. Meanwhile, Avery was taking a year off college since it was undergoing renovations and she couldn’t help but notice the looks he gave her, and she found herself giving similar ones back. It felt weird for her, so she was glad when Mrs. Hellis finally drove her home. Hannah glanced at the clock and determining that it was too late to sleep anyway, she reached for her phone instead. Though it aggravated her on how she was so weak to actually do it, she found herself pulling up Avery’s name on her contact list. Before she had left, they exchanged numbers in hopes that Hannah would be able to get help if she was stuck on an assignment. However, she knew she was now calling for a whole different reason.
“Hello? Is something wrong Hannah?” Avery’s groggy voice drifted into her ear, as Hannah cleared her throat and uttered what hopefully didn’t seem as a desperate voice.
“Hey… I just sort of needed someone to talk to. Do you mind?”
“Of course not. Anything specific you want to talk about?”
“Not really… Hey Avery, have you ever been picked on before?”
“I can’t say that I have. You know, mom told me you were experiencing some trouble at school and from what I’ve heard, you’ve been through a lot. I find talking about my problems helps rather than holding it in.”
“I…” she paused, not knowing whether or not she should reveal her problems. He was technically still a stranger to her as well.
With a shaky hand, she hung up the phone, immediately regretting the decision, but what could she do now? A few hours later, her alarm clock rang and she was glad it did since she was getting tired of studying. However, it was much better compared to meeting up with Nathanael again. She stared up at the beam of her ceiling, wondering whether she could tie her bed sheet into a knot, effectively hanging herself. It was tempting, but she would give it time. Perhaps a happy ending would come for her yet. For now, school was her priority.
“Now sweetie, you should appreciate being with me,” Nathanael purred, kissing her neck and nibbling on her ear.
“Nathanael, please stop,” Hannah whispered, tears streaming down her face.
It was pointless to scream, seeing as though he had shoved her into the janitor’s closet and if anyone were to find them, she would be in trouble as well. It would be her word against his, and he certainly has more charm to wiggle his way out of trouble than her.
“You know what, this is boring me. Let’s see what you have underneath Hannah.”
It didn’t matter as he was already tugging at her jacket, trying desperately to get what he desired with over as quickly as possible, all while Hannah was sobbing. Suddenly, the door slammed open, as it hit the wall with a thud.
“Now who the hell are you to disturb us…”
Nathanael barely finished his sentence as he whipped around, expecting to see a wannabe student that happened onto the closet at the wrong place in the wrong time. However, he came to look at Avery, glaring at him with a stare that was similar to his mother’s the other day.
“Get off her unless you want to go against me, and don’t even think about threatening my future here. Unlike the others, I’m not part of this school anymore.”
By this time, Avery had easily lifted Nathanael off the ground by his shirt, but tossed him aside a moment after. Hannah rushed to embrace Avery, silently begging him to rescue her as she tightened her grip on his sweater. With that, she swept her off the ground and carried her to the nurse’s office, leaving the gang of guys screaming after them. Hannah, still heartbroken over what could’ve happened had he not gotten there on time, desperately held onto Avery, continuously sobbing.
“Class, be sure to finish page 489 and 490 in your textbook. Also, the chapter 8 test will be next Wednesday, so come prepared then!”
Hannah had insisted on going to class after the morning bell rang, even though Avery seemed adamant on getting her home. As she made her way to the front gate, she was surprised to see not hear Hellis holding her back, although she didn’t mind. Peace was long overdue for her. She promptly stopped in her tracks, as she eyed Avery leaning against his car. Upon meeting her eyes, he broke into a smile as he slowly approached her.
“Hey, mom’s working late today, so she asked me to pick you up.”
She stood there awkwardly, not knowing what to say, especially since she hasn’t been able to thank him yet.
“Uh, so how’s your shirt?”
“It’s dry now.”
They stood there, both uncomfortable, until finally…
“Enough of this, we’re late for something. Come on!”
He grabbed her hand, dragging her to his car, as they sped off into the wealthier part of the city.
Surrounding them were bustling streets and shops that seemed to endlessly line the streets. After what seemed like forever, they finally arrived a restaurant, decked out with lights that hung from the entrance. It definitely looked flashy, but she appreciated Avery’s gesture since it’s been quite a while since she last ate out.
“Hannah, I think I’m falling for you…”
The night was a blur after they ate, yet that one sentence rang in her ears loud and clear. The moon casted a light upon them, as if it accepted seeing them together, but Hannah was at a lost for words. Was it the wine that they had so cleverly snuck into the park and drank that prompted him to say this, or was there more? She looked up to him as he gazed down at her with his twinkling blue eyes.
He embraced her once more saying, “I don’t expect you to feel the same way yet, but I’m just putting that out there now. Hannah, I think I’m falling for you.”
Tightening his arms around her, resting his head against the crook of her neck, as she stood there, struggling with her emotions and how she truly felt about him.
5 months passed by relatively quickly and all Hannah could feel was undeniable love for both Hellis, whose first name was Jean, and Avery. Avery was her first in most everything: her first love, her first kiss, her first friend that actually brought her to a concert, and many more. However, her love for Avery came second to her love for Jean, who treated her as if she was her daughter. The guys hardly ever got close to getting their hands on Hannah, especially if Hellis was nearby, which was often. If not, Avery was there to protect her. For once, life wasn’t so bad, and Hannah could see herself enjoying every step of the way. Until one day…
“Okay, everyone, the tests are being passed out, so I don’t want to hear any talking.”
As Hellis walked past Hannah, she could make out a wink as she handed her the test. It was their final test of the semester and Hannah had managed to hold the top position in the class. Just then, a gasp rang out.
“Mr. Caines, what is that white bag?! Hand it over right now!” Hellis was standing over Alex Caines, yet another notorious playboy.
“Screw off you old hag. Forget you ever saw that and walk away.”
“I’m not repeating myself Mr. Caines. Hand over the bag now!”
“I’M WARNING YOU HELLIS! GET OFF MY CASE OR ELSE!”
“NOW MR. CAINES!”
All of a sudden, he whipped out a pistol from his backpack, firing 4 times directly at Hellis, who immediately crumpled to the floor like a wet paper towel. With a look of horror in his eyes, Caines directed the pistol to his head, and fired.
The sound of the sirens still echoed behind her as Hannah trudged home, her hands stained with the blood of whom she considered her second mother. The medical officials had insisted on holding her back for her to calm down, but all she could do was hold onto Hellis and sob until her heart ached. Avery was there too, but his cries could not compete with Hannah’s, even when he held her against him. Was this what her life would be? An everlasting cycle of lost and despair that would only continue. The thoughts cycled through her head as the sleep she most definitely needed never came.
School was different that day for everyone, as many students had ditched their classes. However, it was not because of a field trip or a hot new movie in town, but rather a girl. As the rope scratched and burned against her wrists, Hannah could only shrivel and cry as she received hard blows against her naked body. Though the flagpole offered some relief to the burning hot pain, it soon faded away as the crowd continued to cheer on the abuse.
“Get that witch Nathanael! Show off your strength Kyle! Beat her until she’s unconscious Charles!”
By then, blood was running down her forehead and into her eyes as she could hardly utter her prayers for a savior. Without Hellis, there was only Avery who had been caught up with buying flowers for Hellis’ grave. Right then, the sound of sirens approached the school as the professors and headmasters rushed to the scene. Laughing, the kids scattered about, knowing that even if they get caught, their parents would bail them out anyway.
“Oh honey, you’ll be alright soon. Just hang in there,” an unknown voice said as they reached out to hold Hannah’s shoulder.
By that time, Hannah found herself succumbing to the pain, as the ever welcoming darkness enclosed upon her.
“You have one new message on December 25, 2016.”
“Hey Hannah, I’ll be with you soon I promise! Just please, hang in there for me. Please! I love you.”
The phone beeped as the voicemail ended, but Hannah was too engrossed in her drawing to respond to it. The floor created the best canvas possible, she thought, as she briefly admired her work.
“All it needs now is a bit of color.”
As she whispered that, she grabbed her phone, sending a farewell text to the person who always showed kindness and came to her rescue. However, the time he couldn’t, was the time that really sent her over the edge.
Avery, I’m sorry. The words rushed through his head as he sped along the road, and prayed that what he read was simply because she broke his gift to her, or even a break-up one. For once, let my thoughts be wrong.
He started to approach a red light, but seeing it turn green, he quickly sped up once more.
Suddenly, he heard a honk as a pair of headlights blinded the right side of his face, glass shards cutting into his flesh. The echoing screech of metal against metal penetrated his ears. He screamed as his car broke through the fence, but it was only the sea that heard him as it crashed against the rocks where his body laid.
It took a few days for the neighbors and school to realize something was wrong when they didn’t see Hannah attending classes for a few days. At the end, when the police eventually broke down the door, the first thing they saw was the rose. A horrific sight that was: that red, red rose.