Carrot Cake

For breakfast, he ordered a slab of carrot cake, coated in thick, creamy icing, and a small mug filled to the brim with a fresh, well made latte. He ate it with a plastic fork, off a ceramic plate, and glanced around at the slowly filling cafe.

‘Hello.’

‘Hi, hi. Yes, hi, Arianna.’

‘Peter?’

‘Pete, but yes, hi.’

‘Pete. You look different.’

His hair was bleached in places from the sun, and the tops of his cheeks and his nose were red, browning. He seemed thinner. His face was sharper, his arms almost scrawny. He wore a bright green polo shirt, and on his wrist was a ring of pasty white against the browny red of his forearms, where he must have worn a watch. Why did he take it off, then?

She sat down in front of him, her clothes pristine, sharp edged, and her hair cut short and straight, not a wisp out of place, despite it being loose around her face.

Her face was clear, symmetrical. She was neither pretty nor ugly, nor was she plain. She just was.

‘Arianna. You don’t.’

Neither of them smiled.

‘Right.’ Arianna pulled a small black folder from her neat bag. It looked as though it fit inside perfectly, neither too big nor too small. He eyed the folder and the bag, then scratched his neck irritably.

‘Let’s get cracking.’ Pete said, and he shoved the last mouthful of oozing carrot cake into his wide mouth, his cold, blue eyes on the folder that Arianna was now sifting through. He swigged at his latte, and then pushed his plate and cup away, folding his arms on the table and leaning forward as though he were at a social gathering, and about to enjoy himself.

Arianna glanced up at him, then quickly down when she realised he was looking at her.

‘Right,’ she said again, ‘right.’

‘Right.’

Arianna pulled out some documents. She leant over, her straight brown hair falling over her face, and pulled a pen out of her bag, which nestled by her gleaming high heels.

‘You will need to sign here,’ she pointed with the end of the pen, ‘and here.’

‘Right, yep.’ Pete pulled the papers towards him, and as he did the bottom part of the paper rubbed against a glop of carrot cake icing on the table, smearing the underside of the crisp paper.

‘Right.’ Arianna said, noticing, and she made the slightest of grimaces. Pete did not notice, as he signed his life away.

‘Right,’ and he slid the papers over to Arianna again, leaving a trail of smeared cream across the table as he did so.

‘Ok.’

‘You okay?’ Pete took another swig of his latte, eyebrows raised in question over the rim of his mug.

‘Yes, I’m fine.’

‘Going to Spain?’

‘No.’

‘Oh.’ he paused, then raised his eyebrows again at her, when she didn’t fill the silence between them.

‘It fell through.’

‘Why?’

‘Company decided to send someone else.’

‘Well. Too bad. I’m great. Had a court hearing last week, for punching a man in the face.’

‘Oh.’

‘Yeah. Punched him because he was abusing his girlfriend.’

‘Okay.’

‘He deserved it. Right twit. I don’t regret it. And I was feeling terrible because I’d lost mine.  And there he was shouting at his, while he still had her. Fuckin’ prick. Mind you, I wasn’t that great to you myself, was I… so.. What’s wrong?’

‘Nothing.’

‘You’re peaky as fuck.’

‘I fainted. At work.’

Pete sat back, and swallowed.

‘Good.’

‘That’s not nice.’

‘You deserve it.’

‘Okay.’

‘Yeah, you deserve it.’ Pete pursed his thin lips, nodding a little, and his eyes were full of anger when he looked at her.

Arianna stood up.

‘Okay, then.’

‘Call me soon.’ Pete looked up at her, and despite his cold, cold face full of hostility, she could see the desperation in his ocean blue eyes.

‘Yup.’ Arianna walked away quickly, her sharp, pointy heels clicking on the wooden floors of the cafe, the sound swallowed into the loud babble of voices that took over the cafe as she got further away from him.

Pete watched her go, picking absently at the crumbs on his plate. She exited the cafe, then stood outside for a second. He frowned as she put her face up to the sky, her shoulders rising deeply then falling, before walking across the road. She didn’t glance back once.

His shaky fingers, the nail beds black and grimy, pulled a cigarette and a lighter from his pockets, and he stood up to walk jerkily outside the cafe, where he lit up and took a deep drag, closing his eyes against the bright sun of summer on his face.

 

 

Love Letters #5

This love in tinged in darkness, I’m afraid.

I stand alone, in an empty bedroom. My clothes are strewn all over the floor. I can’t tell if I am in love, or if I am afraid.

A crumpled letter is gathering damp from my sweaty palms, clenched around it so tightly that I cease to feel where my clammy skin ends and the paper begins.

My hair is a black, scraggly mess, and my frame feels small under the weight of the large black hoody that shrouds my shoulders, several sizes too large for me. My feet are like lobsters, spread out flat on the varnished floorboards upon which they stand.

If I could go back in time, I would. I would change everything.

His face looms in front of me, long and hard, his nose so sharp it could slice cheese. His lips so thin they ceased to exist when he smiled, baring his teeth that were gapped and tinged in brown.

Dear Cecelia,

You broke my heart. You are an evil, horrible girl. How could you do this to me. How dare you. I won’t let you leave me, Cecelia. I will hunt you down. I will knock on your door and take you away. I will report you missing and find you that way, and drag you away with me, kicking and screaming I don’t care you will love it. You belong to me, only me. You hurt me so much I punched a man in the face for shouting at his girlfriend. How dare he shout at her, how dare he, when my girl left me. Come home, Cecelia, please. Come home to me, come home to where you belong.

I don’t belong to you. I belong to me. I don’t belong to anybody. And why should I stay with somebody who treated me so horribly for so many months? Somebody who forced me to do things I didn’t want to do, who preyed on my naivety and innocence, when you knew so much better. Somebody who lied to me and made me lie? Your girl? I am not your girl. I never was, you lying scumbag. Kidnap me? You think any sane person would be enticed to go to somebody who threatens to kidnap them, and who calls them a hundred times a day?

If this is your kind of love, I don’t want it. This is no love.

Come home? You aren’t home. You are cold and barren and terrifying, with your threats and your tempers and your blackmail. You are loneliness and depression. You are fear and hatred. You are misery and fury. You are not home. You could never be home.

I belong at home, yes, millions of miles from you. I wish you were dead. I wish your brain were ash, I wish you would get run over by a car and be mutilated by ten lions before I ever set eyes on you.

The sun is setting. The room is cloaked in dark twilight, the gentle light of street lamps  outside filtering in through the net curtains. My clothes are shadowy mounds on the floor. My heart palpitates as my breath becomes loud and shallow.

Stop writing to me.

831a24cb6237bf53abc3bc12edff7a78.jpg

 

 

The Girl Next Door

She wasn’t overly mysterious and unique, nor was she a wondrous being of intelligence and originality. She was just a regular human, like you or I (assuming you are a regular human, that is).

I didn’t know much about her because she didn’t like to talk about herself and her doings too much. She listened more and asked questions, nodding like she understood when we spoke to her.

People told me they could confide in Amelia, for that was her name. She had an open mind, they said, she didn’t ‘judge’.

What does that even mean, she didn’t ‘judge’?

Everybody ‘judges’. First impressions are judgements.

But apparently Amelia didn’t. Amelia with her short curly hair and her massive brown eyes which she kept hidden behind rectangular glasses. They were rickety and old; I’d seen her wearing them since we moved to this house eight years ago. Her style was regular. She wore dresses sometimes and sometimes she wore long maxi dresses to get the post; wildly patterned. I think she did the paint herself. Reds and blues and turquoises and oranges and yellows and pinks all spattered on sometimes in wild patterns which I knew were created by folding the dress in sections and dipping the folds in dye.

That told me she did art.

Sometimes she wore jeans and a white T-shirt. Or a girl shirt.

Once she came out with purple hair and when she noticed me gawking she laughed and touched her curls, not self-consciously, mind.

“Paint.” she said, grinning back at me as she walked down the path and out of her gate. I noticed her red ballet shoes.

“You going dancing?” I shouted after her.

“No.”

I do art. Well, I try to anyway. I try to copy those realistic portraits they used to paint of people back in the day when they didn’t have cameras. It was such a palaver to have your likeness captured that they didn’t just pose in any old thing, they wore their best clothes and looked nice for the occasion. Now you can take photographs in your pyjamas and it’s alright because you have plenty of other photographs where you look nice enough to want to show to your grandkids.

So if Amelia does art, then I might have something in common with her. We’ve never properly spoken, Amelia and I. We are just friends; not even that, though. I think we are acquaintances. We don’t pass pleasantries, except by way of a smile here and a passing joke.

I don’t think we’ve ever actually been properly introduced. The first time I saw Amelia was the day after I moved in. She was hanging on her gate and swinging in and out.

Neither of us said hello. We looked at each other for a long time, and Amelia carried on swinging.

“I have three kittens,” Amelia said, after a while of staring.

“I have a dog,” I told her, “and a goldfish.”

We were ten.

Since that day we only spoke on passing.

Our mums were friends.

“Amelia’s mum is coming round for a cup of tea. Tidy up the lounge, will you?” my mum said a week after we’d moved in.

“Who’s Amelia?” I said.

“The girl next door? Didn’t you know? I saw you talking to her yesterday.”

We talked. We just didn’t introduce ourselves.

“Nice dog.” she’d said.

“Thanks.”

“You know, my dad’s allergic.”

“To what?”

“Dogs.”

Then we played I Spy, and then her mum called her in for tea.

The years after that we saw each other frequently, and spent a lot of time in each other’s company, but we never spoke. I don’t know why we never spoke.

She would come around and we’d watch after school cartoons, and then mum would give us both our snack and then off she’d go. Then as we got older she’d come around and we’d play video games. We communicated in grunts and signals. It was comfortable companionship.

Once she knocked on my bedroom window late at night. My room is on the ground floor of my house, so its pretty accessible. It was raining outside, so she was slightly damp. Her face was forlorn as she climbed in through my open window and closed the catch. she went and sat on the chair in the corner of my room, took the crocheted colourful blanket knitted by my mum, and snuggled up in it.

“You okay?” I ventured.

Her big brown eyes behind the rectangle glasses only stared sadly at me; she said nothing.

I carried on reading my book, and she fell asleep. In the morning she was gone, the blanket folded neatly on the chair.

Like I said, she was nothing special. Or different. She was a human. I was a human, and although we never spoke, we had a connection.

I don’t know if she knew we had a connection, but I felt it. Strongly.

 

 

Dear Aurelia

I hope everything goes well for you. I hope you find the right things to say, when you need to say them. I hope the blank piece of paper is filled with your squiggly handwriting, and that you can open your mouth when the opportunity presents itself.

I hope you can protect yourself from the demon that calls himself your husband. I hope his long legs get trapped in a machine with heavy metal spikes spinning swiftly, and he has to get an amputation.

I hope he smokes his lungs to dust and chokes on the remaining ash.

I hope his hairline recedes until he is as bald as he is disgusting. Very bald.

I hope one day you start growing properly again, and your fingernails reach their full scratching potential. I hope you always wear the right clothes and eat the right foods. I hope that your children become a source of happiness to you, and grow up to make you so proud.

I remember the first day I met you, your hair was yellow like freshly picked corn.

I remember all the compound ladies touching your golden locks, but you buried your face in your hands and cried and cried for your mother. I remember when you looked at me you were terrified, but I held you and wiped your face with my apron and told you to hush, else they would sell you.

They would never sell you, not somebody as fine as you were. Fresh faced young beauty, your dress a rag. No, they wanted to clothe you and feed you and make you a queen, a celebrated woman.

I remember when you married him, and it wasn’t for love or for money, but because your belly was swollen with his child. His demon child, I called it at the time but when you gave birth to little Teddy I couldn’t put his fat little body down, and I had never seen you smile before little Teddy came along. You were so happy you made me cry.

I remember when he slapped you so hard you flew against the wall and slipped down, unconscious, and little Teddy ran over to you screaming at his father, who wiped the smear of alcohol from his thin, revolting lips and grumbled about his cold dinner, which he ate callously while Teddy and I put you to bed.

I remember the birth of Lilly, and how she screamed and screamed and screamed for four months straight, and one day he couldn’t take it anymore and pushed her off the bed. Thankfully there was a pillow on the floor and she was safe, but that was the last straw. I took you to my little house, then, you and your poor shivering little children, and we all huddled under the sheepskin while he pounded at the door.

Soon he gave up pounding.

“They’re all yours, Peggy,” he roared through the door, “may they be the death of you!”

Teddy with his firm little face and his knitted brows. Lilly with her hair like spun gold, long and silky, just like yours. And tiny little Emily, who had never met her father, and hopefully never will. Kind, sweet Emily with her gentle voice singing you to sleep at nights when the tears flowed freely. Gentle Emily with chubby hands on your flushed cheeks, telling you she loves you.

I want to tell you that you are strong. I want you to know that you aren’t alone, and there are so many who love you. I want you to feel the love of the small family you have created, and your strength in numbers. I want you to see your Teddy protecting you, your Lilly losing her temper with the children in class telling her she was fatherless.

“I’m not fatherless. I’m motherful.”

I want you to remember that I remember everything. I will always remember. And to never  be afraid to speak.

Mother-and-Children-in-an-Interior.jpg

Bernard Gilbert

Was a fine young man with a full head of dark hair that sprung up in waves. His eyes were large and dark and soulful, and had tempted many a doting young girl into a heartbreaking fate.

“I woke up like this,” he would mutter, mussing his hair in front of the mirror. His lips were slim red lines, the top lip protruded a little, giving him the look of a small overbite. So small. Unnoticeable, even. To Bernard Gilbert, however, it was like a giant, mutant cliff under his nose. He hated it.

Bernard Gilbert had long fingers.

“All the better to play the piano with,” his mother said kindly.

Bernard Gilbert did not play the piano. He didn’t play the flute, either. In fact, he didn’t play anything. He had never ridden a bike, nor read a decent book. He didn’t like maths, he thought historians were boring old farts, and he had a special place in his heart to hate on linguists. He thought science was interesting but had never read anything scientific in his life, save once when he was languidly flicking through a Biology book in the hopes of capturing one keen and pretty medical student in his sticky web of lies and deceit.

“I love you and your medicinal brain,” he crooned into her small ear.
“You’re sick,” the pretty medical student whispered back, hating herself for succumbing to his transparent charm. He wasn’t very clever either, she noticed. He had all these big words but they were empty when she tried to take them apart. He spoke nonsense, and quite often misinformed nonsense.

But oh, those eyes. He had a way of saying just the right thing at the right time and making her weak at the knees.

“So cure me,” he murmured, “I’m sick for you.”

She wanted to cure him. She wanted to be the one who changed him. So she tried, and when he left she slumped in a bony heap at the bottom of her bed and cradled her bony knees and didn’t brush her hair or teeth for three days straight. Then she got up and wilfully avoided romance for the next ten years until she met a nice back haired doctor who looked a little like Superman and fell head over heels for him and thankfully Superman loved her back and they got married and had three children and she never looked back once.

Bernard’s mother was doting and motherly and she loved her terrible son dearly. She thought the world of him, because he was so good to her. He visited her every weekend, bringing her flowers. He fixed all her house fixtures and offered to pay her bills.

Mrs Gilbert had no idea that her son was awful to women, and turned his nose up at things.

When Bernard was with his mum, he was the polished little big eyed boy she had always known.

She would sit back happily with her sewing and sometimes her crossword and smile to herself, “Yes,” she would think, “My boy is a fine young man with a full head of hair. He shall get a great job and meet a nice spouse and have some delicious little children. My work is done.”

Bernard Gilbert was a boring, pretentious sod who only watched selective films and wore massive glasses to create the impression that he was creative and intelligent when really all he was was lazy, an arsehole, selfish, self absorbed and judgemental.

But he was good to his mother. So maybe he could be redeemed in some way. We’ll just have to find out. I think it should be through a hobby, that he redeems himself. Maybe he just needs to pick up a book, or a plough, or the hand of an old stranger. Oh, I don’t know. Maybe he never redeems himself. Maybe he is doomed to live alone forever, shunned by society for his selfish ways.

What do you think?

il_214x170.646326691_a0vg

 

How not to murder a romance.

7ebe48e69c655cd30be46e7275723246

I want to write a romance (the younger version of myself would vomit at these words.. Sorry, younger Len. It had to happen) about a young boy and a young girl who are neighbours. They both have the attic rooms of their respective houses, and their windows are two dormer windows poking out of the same roof (semi-detached houses).

I wrote a screenplay about this for an assignment. I think the younger me resurfaced though and rained a vicious tantrum over this story, coating it in morbid drama. The young boy decided to kill the young girl, and he went about it in the most cruel way possible. There was absolutely nothing I could do to stop it. No matter which way I tried to turn it, the act was inevitable.

He seemed so nice at first, did George. He was caring and sweet and so charming. Perhaps that was his downfall. I was sad that it had to come to that.

I think I am not cut out to write a decent romance.

I don’t want to write romance like the erotic fiction section in the library. I don’t want to write chick flicks either, about domestic goddesses and frenzied young ladies who ‘don’t believe’ in love until a handsome, dashing bad boy comes and whisks them away against their will and they can’t help falling for him.

I don’t want that.

I want to write a coming of age story about a small girl with the weight of the world on her shoulders. A girl who meets all sorts of odd characters, not because she is a novel girl, a story book girl, but because she goes out of her way to talk to people, and learns that everybody is a character. A girl who leaves an impression wherever she goes, not because she is beautiful or possesses magic powers, but because her mind is a beacon; a vast ocean of imagination and creativity and intelligence.

I want her romance not to whisk her away, but to creep up on her playfully and poke her on the shoulder like an old friend.

I don’t want scenes of her doing intimate things, I want scenes of exploration and chatter. Scenes of life in ways we have never experienced.

I don’t want George to murder her. I want another young man to come along and steer her ship with her.

I want her to go back to her house and stand at her dormer window and look out at the city in the sunrise, her hair flying about everywhere. The Phenomenal Girl walks along the street, road reading, her hair decorated with an array of colourful cloths, her rainbow socks poking out over a pair of old boots, and she looks up to see my protagonist and waves her book at her. The Red Lady shakes her carpets out of her windows and calls out to my protagonist that it looks like rain today and not to let the sun deceive her. A man in a patchwork topcoat raises his hat to her, and waggles his bushy eyebrows. He can’t talk. I want the girl to look to her right at the empty dormer window next to hers.

I don’t want to know if they live happily ever after. I don’t want to know how many children they have. I just want to write about the connection between two fantastic minds. I want to know how the boy sees her fiery thoughts, and how he catches them before they escape. I want to know that the girl isn’t oblivious to love. I want her to welcome it

like,

an,

old,

friend.

I don’t want to know what she looks like, I want to know what adorns her mind.

Is she white? Is she brown? Is she yellow? Is she red? I don’t care. She is her. In fact, I don’t want any description of her features whatsoever.

Insert Feature Here.

She can be anybody you want. She can be you.

But how do I write all this without murdering her before the story has even begun!?!?

More Aurelia

amazing-beautiful-behind-ginger-girl-Favim.com-275822_originalWell, as we have established, Aurelia had made a friend at sixth form college. A friend who would eventually lead her into the arms of darkness, but a friend nonetheless.

She did have other ‘acquaintances’, but that is all they were, acquaintances. There was one particular young lady in her tutor class, who was remarkably friendly. She treated her like a sister, even though they barely knew each other. Aurelia thought she was on the odd side of matters, but she enjoyed the fact that somebody had taken enough interest in her to treat her like a sister, and so Aurelia complied.

They found out that they both had somebody in common, and so a friendship developed.

However by that time Aurelia was already trapezing on the edges of doom. Then a Chris appeared in her life. She didn’t much care for this Chris fellow. But he was somebody to talk so, so she felt as though she might as well hang on to him. Plus he was sort of likeable in a “I shall agree with everything you say because you’re awfully clever” sort of way, even though she wasn’t clever at all. He was just the sort of fellow who made her seem clever, because he wasn’t terribly bright himself! Odd, that.

He was awfully fond of milkybars, as it happened.

This was also the time in which her relationship with a Liam had reached its eighth month. She found this annoying, but also interesting. Boys, to Aurelia, were just another liability to be dealt with.

Liam did not seem to think the same of Aurelia. He was perfect. His raven hair was perfect, his bright green eyes were perfect, his scent was perfect. His voice was beautiful, his height was just right. He bought her roses and chocolate and took her on long bike rides. He had stubble. Aurelia loved stubble. He was kind and sweet and generous and apart from all of that, he had no personality because he was as made up as could be. Made up? Isn’t that SAD? Who would make up a boyfriend!? Well, Aurelia would. It was a tad sad, but Aurelia felt she had to do it, because she noticed that when she told other males that she had a boyfriend, they tended to stop flirting with her and start being friends with her. Which is what she preferred. Some didn’t, of course, because some are shameless b******s, but she learnt to deal with that. Aurelia, thought Aurelia, was being recklessly her own carefree, meticulous self. Until, of course, she broke up with her imaginary boyfriend. That was when the trouble started. But for now, folks, that is quite another story.

Boys, and their feelings, as I was saying, were just another liability to Aurelia.

She had more interesting things to worry about, like the strange, beautiful scent that lingered around the bend on the black railinged walk on her way home from Sixth form. It was so haunting, in that she was absolutely fathomless as to its origin.

She spent hours hunting around the area (which was littered with some sort of interesting vine), to find the glorious smell, to no avail. It was on a wintery evening, when she was returning home from the cinema with her sister that she found the source of the scent. Far away from the bend, her sister was listening to her ramble on about something or other with a very resigned air. Aurelia was a chatterbox, at best, and there was simply no stopping her when she started.

As they approached the bend, both sisters stopped short, Aurelia’s hand a warning brace on her sister’s arm. For there, in the bend, at the spot where the scent usually haunted Aurelia’s nostrils, stood a lone fox, staring at them.

They stood like that, for a few moments, fox and humans, startled into stillness, before the fox turned and darted in through the black railings by the side of the bend. Evergreen trees grew over the railing that separated the bend from a grassy oval of green to the left of the bend. To the right of the bend was a beautiful white house with a very Narnian lamppost outside it, lit in this winter evening to give off the eerie, yet comfortable glow that accompanies the feeling of emptiness one feels when a normally human inhibited place is void of humans. In front of the house, the curious vine tumbled all over the pathway, littered with little white flowers. Aurelia had already discovered that these little flowers did not exude the beautiful smell she had so often experienced.

Now that the setting is clear, I shall proceed with my narration.

Once the fox had darted away, Aurelia and her sister resumed walking. As they walked on the spot where the fox had been not moments before, Aurelia stopped, turned her face skywards, and sniffed. As if on cue, her sister did the same.

Looking to their right, to see if they could catch a glimpse of Mr Fox, in the soft glow of the lamppost, both sisters saw the closed petals of small, pointy purple flowers pointed slightly downwards, facing the black railings behind which they grew. Reaching a cold hand through the railing, Aurelia plucked one, and brought it to her nose.

She turned to her sister, feeling the rapture on her face and in her eyes. He sister smelt it also, and they beamed at each other. For they had discovered the source of the smell that laced Aurelia’s wild and fanciful dreams.

The Other Girl

salvador-dali-seated-girl-from-behind-anna-maria-1359663591_orgHer name was Aurelia.

She was five foot four, with a mass of thick, dark brown hair that bounced and shone in a million wide ringlets. Her hair shone in chestnut waves when the sunlight hit it. She was secretly proud of her hair, truth told. Her eyes were her other secret joy. They were large, round and brown. Her eyelashes weren’t as long or thick or luscious as she would have hoped them to be, but they were hers and she reckoned she rather enjoyed them as they were.

She was just the average seventeen year old girl, slightly on the chubby side of affairs, trying to make her way in the world. When she got along with people, she really got along with them. However, she’d then spend the walk home from sixth form cringing about how loud she’d laughed, or how silly she’d sounded, or how daft her statement about sentimentality had been.

Friends? Oh, she didn’t have those. No. No friends at college. Now don’t get her wrong, she wasn’t your characteristic, general type of loner. Oh no. She did spend a lot of time in the library, yes. I believe her two years at sixth form college were the years she read the most, actually. A total of four hundred and seventy eight books, I reckon. She was very self conscious, and sometimes she thought she probably looked a little bit nice, but when she got home and stood in front of the mirror, her lumpy tummy would gaze back at her and it was simply awful. She made friends with a girl in her Sociology class. It was the sort of friendship built up on laughs, for she was sure they had nothing in common.

The girl was, at first, quiet. Reserved. She smelled funny. That’s what Aurelia thought. It wasn’t exactly a bad smell. It was just an odd smell, really. Like an old piece of plastic mingled with some toast and a flick of cheap perfume. Just a whiff, mind. Her hair was thick, though. Thick and curly and always pulled tightly back into a thick and long ponytail. She’d wear a blue coat dotted with large white polka dots during winter, and it was always tied around her chubby waist. Pretty? Yes, she was pretty. She wore glasses and had luscious lips, darker in colour than the average lips. She was striking, in an odd way. And she laughed a lot at the things Aurelia would say to her. Lenora secretly liked this; finally, somebody at college liked her! They took to sitting next to each other in Sociology class, and even started walking home together, although when they reached the main road, Aurelia would turn right and the girl would turn left. Sometimes the girl would ask Aurelia to take the long way round to the main road, because their conversation was too interesting to stop, even though it didn’t consist of anything intellectual.

It was mostly peppered with laughter and gasps of shock (from Aurelia) at the terrible things this girl would tell her about the married man who picked her up in his car and took her out to the park.

This was the beginning of Aurelia’s spiral into misery. I think she was so relieved to have found a friend that she simply ignored the fact that this friend was full of negative and awful tales that would simply pollute Aurelia’s mind. Aurelia’s mother told her she didn’t like the sound of this girl. But Aurelia was adamant that this girl was her friend, and her mother just didn’t know her to see the good in her.

What Aurelia was not aware of, of course, was the fact that people use other people rather a lot these days. And she was just as susceptible to usury as the next naive person.