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  1. #1
    College life and personal challenges IC thread

    College life and personal challenges IC thread

    Amanda "Mandy" Parker

    Mandy's Apartment

    A few days before everyone gets to travel home for their holiday break - around 7:30 p.m.

    As it had become tradition since she had started making friends in her university, Amanda Parker, more commonly called Mandy by her friends and family, was hosting a small dinner party. Mandy had come from a comfortable home, and her parents had wanted to make sure she had a good life while away from home, so they had helped her find and rent an apartment to live in while she was going through college, so she would have her own space.

    Amanda knew she had it good, and was extremely grateful for everything she had. She had great parents, a brother she adored, great friends and a boyfriend she planned on marrying some day, should everything work out as expected. She was also going to college for a career she really wanted, and doing some side jobs for experience. Life really couldn't get much better right now.

    That was why Mandy always felt the need to gather her friends at her place. Sometimes it was to celebrate a birthday or something, and sometimes, like today, it was simply for them all to have dinner, watch a movie and chill before parting ways to go home for the holidays. She also knew Joel was facing a rough time with his grandfather being sick, and wanted to help him spend time around friends and just relax, or talk about his troubles if he felt like it.

    As of now, Mandy was still alone in her apartment. The girl was in the kitchen, preparing everything for a lasagna, as she had been wanting to make one from scratch for a while, and, after testing the recipe a few times, considered it good enough. Wine was cooling in the fridge, and Mandy hoped they would have a pleasant evening to help everyone relax.

    As soon as the lasagna was in the oven, Amanda set her kitchen timer and went into the living room, picking up her phone and setting it to text everyone she had invited over for dinner.

    'Hey, babies. Dinner will be ready in a few. Hope you're hungry - we're having lasagna. See you guys soon'.

    After reading over her text, Amanda sent it and went to the kitchen for a glass of wine. She filled one up and went back to the living room, drinking and checking Facebook on her phone to pass the time up until her friends showed up.

  2. #2
    Nicole Hossler

    Nicole Hossler was excited. It was almost Christmas! She loved Christmas, it was her favorite holiday. She already had all her Christmas shopping done and all the presents wrapped. She couldn't wait to see her family. She missed her parents and her younger siblings. Even though she was only a few hours away from Galveston. Christmas was always a big deal in the Hossler house. Even once all the kids stopped believing Santa Claus. On top of presents and good food, they would bake cookies and watch Christmas movies. They would horribly attempt to make a gingerbread house that would end up falling apart two hours later. It would be lots of fun.

    Although, she realized it wouldn't all be joy back home. Her boyfriend, Joel, was from her hometown. They had went to school together, started dating in high school. His grandfather was very ill and they would be visiting him too. Nicole wondered if this would be Joel's grandpa's last Christmas. She hoped not. He was such a nice man, treating her like a granddaughter. But...Things weren't looking better for him.

    Nicole held Joel's hand as they headed up to Mandy's apartment. She had bag of presents for her friends. Nicole loved to give gifts and planned to give everyone gathered Mandy's place a present. She wouldn't be seeing any of them, other then Joel, over the break. She didn't even care if they didn't have any to give her in return. Christmas wasn't just about presents, although that was a fun part of it.

    "Let's have fun tonight."

    Nicole said to Joel. She knew he was having a hard time. He wasn't his usual happy self. Not that she blamed him, she knew how important his grandfather was to him.

  3. #3
    Joel Huffman

    We'll be there soon.

    Joel Huffman had texted Mandy back when he and Nicole got her message. He wished he could share his girlfriend's excitement this year about Christmas, but it was hard. Normally, he loved Christmas as much as she did. But that was before his grandpa's health had taken a turn for the worse the weekend after Thanksgiving. Grandpa had been fighting cancer on and off for the last year and a half. The doctors thought they got it all the last time but then it came back. The damn thing always came back. This time, though, they weren't as optimistic.

    Joel knew it was bad when his grandma called him yesterday and told him that the doctors suggested Hospice. Hospice was where they sent you when you were going to die. When there was nothing they could do but make you feel comfortable. No, Joel wasn't ready for that. He wasn't ready to lose his grandpa. Homer Huffman wasn't just his grandfather. He was basically his father. For a boy who grew up without his father, Homer Huffman had stepped into that role, never complaining. Being the father figure that Joel had needed. Joel wasn't ready to tell him goodbye.

    He looked over at Nicole. She was so excited, she loved this time of year. He really hoped if the doctors were right and if Grandpa wasn't going to make it, he lasted until the New Year. 'Please, Grandpa, if you got to go....don't die around Christmas. Don't ruin Christmas for her....or me,' Joel thought. He squeezed Nicole's hand and gave her a small smile.

    "We will."

    Perhaps being around friends would distract him from what he was going to face him when he and Nicole headed home for the holiday break. He had told Grandma they'd talk about the Hospice stuff when he got home. He wondered if his mom would come around. Or was she too busy with her latest boyfriend. It was hard to know with her. The one good thing Sharon Huffman had done was realize she wasn't going to be a good mother and left him in the care of her parents. At least his grandparents had given him a good childhood.

    Pushing thoughts of his family out of his mind, Joel knocked on the door to Mandy's apartment.

  4. #4
    Mandy Parker

    Mandy was also very excited about spending the pre-Christmas moments with her friends. Christmas was about family, and Mandy considered her friends a part of her family. Coming from a small town, Mandy loved spending time with people, and making friends was something that came easily to the girl. Dating came easily too, even though she was still keeping 'single' as a general status. Unlike Nicole and Joel, Mandy and her current guy - some guy from her course named Phil - weren't involved in a serious relationship. He wasn't even going to be around for dinner tonight. Not that he hadn't been invited, but he was too busy with some last-minute shopping. Mandy had been bummed for a few minutes, but she had been pretty quick to get over it.

    When Joel sent her the text letting her know they would be there soon, Mandy replied with 'Great' and carried on sipping her wine and checking Facebook.

    After sending a quick message to a friend from her home town, Mandy put her phone on the couch and went in the kitchen. After checking the oven, she went in her room and picked up the bags with the gifts. Like she did every year, Mandy had two gifts for each friend. One was the 'prank' gift, and one was the real one. This year, she had chosen a joined prank gift - literally. She had gotten an oversized T-shirt and had the words "together forever" printed on it as a gift for Nicole and Joel. The real gifts were a set of snowflake earrings and necklace for Nicole, and, after much thought, she ended up choosing an illustrated collection of Joel's favorite books. It had cost her some, and taken some time finding the full collection, but Mandy was happy to get the books, and money wasn't a problem. And she felt Joel could use some joy right now, with the problems his grandfather was having.

    When she heard Joel knock on the door, Mandy called out from her room. "Coming!", she called out, rushing to the door and opening it up. She would step back to let both friends in and close the door. "Merry early Christmas!", Mandy greeted both Nicole and Joel in a cheerful intonation. "How are you guys?", she asked, getting her phone off the couch and placing it on the coffee table so her friends could take a seat.

  5. #5
    Nicole Hossler

    Nicole thought meeting up at Mandy's place was a great idea. It would be fun to have an early Christmas with Mandy. Especially since she'd wouldn't be seeing her friend over the break. She'd be seeing Joel during it because they came from the same town. Hopefully it would be a good Christmas when they got home. Especially given how sick Joel's grandfather had become. It made Nicole sad just thinking about it. The doctors kept saying that Homer Huffman didn't have much longer. That his family need to treasure what little time he had left. It was sad to think of losing anyone, but over the holidays...That made it even worse.

    Nicole hoped tonight would distract Joel a little from the situation back home. Let him have some fun, not just worry about something he sadly had no control over.

    "Merry early Christmas!"

    Nicole replied with a grin when Mandy answered the door. She followed Joel inside and set the bags down.

    "We're okay. It's not too bad, the wind just makes it a little chilly."

    Nicole replied as she took off her coat and took a seat.

    "So what are we having for supper? It smells delicious."

    She looked around and asked.

    "Is your guy joining us tonight?"

    Nicole knew Mandy was seeing someone but it wasn't as serious as her and Joel's relationship was. Still, if this Phil treated Mandy well and made her happy, then Nicole considered him a friend. Nicole had even gotten him a present. Not that she knew him very well. Just a small gift set of cologne.

  6. #6
    Joel Huffman

    Joel's plan was to try to just have tonight and not worry about anything. Although that was easier said then done. After all, he was naturally worried about his grandfather. He remembered him as strong man. Someone who had rarely been sick, who could pull splinters out of his hands without wincing. It was horrible to see him like this...That a disease was crippling him. Joel hated cancer. He hated it with a passion. He hated what it was doing to his grandfather and what the disease did to other people's loved ones.

    Enough about cancer, he thought, as Mandy opened the door. It was almost Christmas. It was a happy time. He gave Mandy a smile and followed Nicole inside.

    "Merry early Christmas."

    Joel said, mimicking his girlfriend's greeting but not with the same amount of joy. With everything going on back home, this year's Christmas didn't feel as merry. He nodded his head about the weather and said.

    "Thanks for inviting us over. Who is else is coming?"

    He asked as he took off his coat.

  7. #7
    Amanda Parker

    Mandy was really happy that Nicole had managed to get Joel to come over. It would be just dinner, a drink or two and some chatting, but it would be good for all of them. They wouldn't have the chance to meet over the holidays, since she came from a different town from Nicole's and Joel's, and would spend her time there with her family and a couple days with Phil. They would meet up afterwards, but Mandy still wanted to have that time with her friends before parting ways - and knowing how bad the situation with Joel's grandfather was, she wanted to give him some relaxed moments, as well as send a little something to the man as Christmas gift and a card with a few kind words. While she didn't know him well, it felt like the right thing to do for a friend and his family who were going through a difficult time.

    Smiling when Nicole mentioned dinner smelled delicious, Mandy waited for her friends to get comfortable. "I begged enough for mom to give me her lasagna recipe", she confessed, shaking her head.

    When Nicole asked whether or not Phil was joining them, Mandy checked the time in her phone. "I'm not sure. Looks like he got the wrong gift for one of his sisters, and is going on a chase around town to get the right one", she remarked, trying not to laugh. "I have no idea how he can be so book smart and so scatterbrained all at once".

    Hearing Joel's less than cheerful greeting broke Mandy's heart. She knew how much he was suffering, and she wished she could do anything to help. "You're welcome", she replied kindly. "Well, not knowing how long Phil will take on his goose chase, we'll either be three or four", she replied, taking a moment to take her friend's coats and hang them on the living room wall.

    Once the coats were in place, Mandy smiled to both her friends. "I guess I'll feed you guys before handing out your gifts. This way, if you hate them, you'll still love me because of the food... hopefully", she joked. "What are you guys having to drink? I have wine and there's Coke and Sprite in the fridge".

  8. #8
    Nicole Hossler

    Nicole was glad she she was able to convince Joel to come. She was worried about his grandpa and she knew how close Joel was to the man. Homer wasn't just his grandpa, he had basically his father. Nicole couldn't even imagine what that felt like. To know there was nothing the doctors could do...It would be horrible to deal with any time of year but Christmas...It just seemed to make it worse. She hoped tonight would help Joel get his mind off it a little.

    Nicole smiled at Mandy when she said had her mom's lasagna recipe.

    "I'm sure you did it justice."

    If it tasted half as good as it smelled, Nicole was sure it would be a good meal. She nodded her head when Mandy said that Phil might not make it.

    "Oh guy, I hope he finds it. That's why I get most of my shopping done before Thanksgiving. It's gets too crazy this close to the holiday."

    Nicole laughed at Mandy's suggestion about food.

    "That sounds good to me."

    She replied and grabbed herself a Coke from the fridge.

  9. #9
    Joel Huffman

    Joel was trying his best to have fun tonight. But it was not easy. He couldn't help but think of about his grandfather's health. Every day that passed, Joel felt was getting closer to Grandpa's last day. Something he never wanted to happen. He had told Nicole he would try to have fun and Joel was going to try his best. Even if it was a little hard. He gave Mandy a smile.

    "I'm sure you did it justice. And I wish Phil luck. The stores are crazy this time of year."

    Since he had met Nicole, he had picked up on her habit of shopping very early for presents. It much less stressful that way. Joel debated getting some wine but knew he'd want something stronger and he and Nicole would have a long drive home tomorrow. So, instead, he grabbed a Coke as well to drink and took a seat.

  10. #10
    Amanda Parker

    Amanda smiled when Nicole said she was sure she had done her mother's recipe justice. She really hoped so, but, from the smell, it seemed as though everything was fine.

    On the topic of Phil's late, almost out of time shopping, Mandy shook her head and rolled her eyes. "Tell me about it. I've had most of my shopping done online in advance, no way in hell I'd go into a store this time of the year. Serves him right, though. Maybe he'll actually make sure he's got everyone's gifts in advance next year".

    With that out of the way, Mandy excused herself. "If you guys excuse me for a moment - I'll just see if I can grab Phil and figure out whether or not he's gonna be able to join us. No point in keeping you guys waiting if he's coming around later, after all".

    After these words, Mandy stepped into her room for a quick call. It didn't last long, and Mandy's expression when she came back into the living room was already enough of an answer. "Looks like it's just the three of us for now", she stated, shaking her head and trying to sound upbeat. "Oh, well, more food for us all, right?", she joked, despite the fact that she had made more than enough for them all to go for seconds and for it to be enough left for Phil.

    "What do you guys wanna do? Would you like me to bring the whole lasagna out, or would you prefer that everyone just goes in the kitchen and fixes their plate?", she asked, not really minding either way. Mandy was usually pretty chill when her friends were around, and liked to make everyone feel as though they were in their own home.

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