I lay on the bed looking up at the glow-in-the-dark stars stuck on the ceiling. Mum had helped me put them up there when I was 7, and I had memorised their constellations in the subsequent 11 years. I remembered looking up at them with gritted teeth as I lost my virginity to Matt two summers ago. I'd miss them when I went to uni next month. Maybe I could put some up in my halls? But they had all these stupid rules about sticking stuff on the walls. Maybe I could feign ignorance if it didn't specify ceilings? Probably not worth risking my damage deposit.
I tried to sleep. It was going to be a great night, I just knew it, but I was knackered from staying up too late reading Steven King’s The Stand, and getting woken up by my little sister wanting to watch the Lion King with me at 6 o clock this morning. I'd miss her too, but I couldn't bloody wait to be able to get up when I wanted, eat what I wanted, dress how I wanted.. I had started packing already – cool clothes in one pile to come to Bristol with me, everything else in another. Guess which pile was bigger? I wondered if my loan would come in early enough to go shopping before I moved.
I gave up. Reaching for my headphones, I rummaged through my CDs to find to my favourite. We'd made it the day after our leavers’ day, me, Lucy and Sev. Hungover, reminiscing about the day (and the years) before, and chatting about what was to follow.. It was packed with the classics which had seen us through secondary school together – Placebo, Nirvana, Counting Crows, Greenday, Pumpkins, a bit of Chilis and some Incubus.
Right. Make-up. I didn't go in for much by way of colours. Thick navy eyeliner and black mascara – my trademark look. That'd wake my eyes up a bit. And what to wear? I rummaged for my home-flared combats and paired them up with my Cure t’shirt. Cool. Headphone wire down my front, discman in my pocket. Sorted.
‘Shoulders toes and knees, I'm 36 degrees’ I sang, no doubt horribly out of tune, but fuck it. Mum was taking Louise swimming and dad wouldn't be home for hours.
Heading downstairs I booted up the computer and went to make coffee while the Internet struggled to connect. A giant mug of super sweet and super strong Nescafé, most of which I had drunk by the time MSN had loaded up. Sev was online
‘I’m heading to the park’ I typed. ‘Wanna come’
‘Be there in half an hour’
Sitting on the bench, surreptitiously skinning-up in my handbag, I noticed cider George approaching.
‘Hello cupcake’ he grunted, breathing his sour, apply breath at me
‘George’ I nodded, hoping he'd read the signs and piss off
‘You got any cider’
‘No, sorry…. Listen, I gotta go’ I jumped to my feet and started walking, just as I saw Sev cresting the hill. Thank god for that. I trotted over, spliff forgotten and disassembled in my bag. I didn't look back, but I felt a gentle tug of guilt. Poor George. He'd always been there, drunk and stinking, and he always would be. Linking arms with Sev, we skipped over the hill, our whole lives ahead of us, leaving George alone, cider-less, nose pocked and swollen from years of drinking, eyes rimmed red.