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The short goodbye

It started with a knock on my door. I lay in bed, staring at the sunlight dancing on the ceiling. I hadn’t got back from work until after 11pm the night before. Laden with Tesco bags, I was faced with Henry snogging some girl called Flora from Wimbledon High in the kitchen. The party hadn’t died down until five. It was 10 O’Clock.

‘Sas? Sorry. Are you awake?’

I threw my body off the bed and came to the door. ‘Hi Lil, sorry, I’m awake. I’m just lying in bed looking at the ceiling. How are you doing?’

She gave me a slight smile. ‘Fine. I’m… fine. Can I… ah, have a chat when you’re up and dressed downstairs?’

‘Yes, sure,’ I said noticing the shy cigarette resting by her side.

When I went downstairs, there was a new cigarette resting between two of Lilac’s slim fingers.

‘Everything OK?’ I asked. She gave me a faint smile.

‘Things are going to get nasty around here and I don’t think it’s fair on you. I’ve loved having you around. In fact, you’re my favourite ever lodger. Lily will tell you that,’ she said, stopping to take a drag. ‘But I can already feel how stressed I’m getting and Henry’s exams aren’t for another two months.’

‘No, I understand,’ I said, winded despite empathising. What now?

‘I know Shark Attack has said he’d be happy to have you stay for a while. He has a house by the water. It’s a really beautiful house. And Big James has also said you could go and stay with him and his boys. So you’ve got plenty of offers. They’re good guys.’

‘Yeah… I’m not sure.’

‘Why? Because they’re men? Does that make it different?’

‘A bit. I know they’re nice and everything but I’d prefer to live with a woman. I think I’ll talk to friends and have a look around first.’

Friends weren’t moving or looking to move. I looked around. A box room in St John’s Wood. And then Crazy Yank’s three-storey house by the Thames. Two weeks later, he came to pick me up.

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