Hi, Hey, Hello!
Happy Sunday folks.
‘Let’s have another round tonight’
‘Time check!’ Paul was always loud, but he got louder once he had a few drinks in him. The decibel level of his words surprised Linda mainly because she had zoned out completely and forgot that she was even in a fairly crowded pub surrounded by her friends.
‘8:30.’ Came the mellow reply from Jake as he dropped his watch bearing arm back onto the table in front of him.
‘Right, the night is still young. What is everyone having?’ Paul wasn’t any quieter, but he had stood up meaning that Linda’s eardrums were saved the loud noise. There was a hum in response before Paul left the table and headed over to the bar.
Marissa dropped down into Paul’s vacated seat and rested her head on Linda’s shoulder.
‘How is it only 8:30? It feels like the middle of the night.’ She moaned and Linda laughed quietly, jolting Marissa’s head slightly.
‘Because we’ve been here since 2 and drinking all afternoon is tiring.’
‘I could quite easily just fall asleep right here on your shoulder and it’s not even all that comfortable.’
‘I don’t know what has been happening at this table for the last hour.’ Linda admitted.
‘Not a lot. Paul and Luca are in an accidental drink off that will have no winner. Sasha and Naomi…well I haven’t seen their hands for a while and I’m scared to look at them for too long just in case. And Jake is being Jake ya know?’ Marissa’s eyes slipped shut and she sighed contentedly when she finished speaking.
‘What have you been doing then?’ Linda asked, looking down at Marissa’s profile.
‘Watching it all. Drinking. Slowly slipping into a state of tiredness for which sleep is the only cure.’
‘Pretty sure sleep is always the only cure to tiredness. The most effective one at least.’
‘Yeah, but you heard Paul. The night is still young. And if I fall asleep now then I’m going to miss him talking shit and that’s always a fun time.’
‘Does it not always follow the same formula?’ Linda scoffed.
‘Well yeah, but it’s always fun isn’t it?’ She tilted her head up to look at Linda’s eyes and smiled when Linda nodded.
‘So when do you think he’s going to start getting philosophical then?’
‘How many drinks has he had? Like 4? 5?’
‘I think 4, but like I said I’ve not been paying attention for the last hour or something.’
‘So let’s say 5. This would be his 6th. I’m saying it could happen before 9.’
‘Oh goodie not long to wait.’
‘No, not long at all. How are you anyway? Why the zone out? You need to get out of here or something?’
‘No I was just thinking, this is all going to change soon. Things aren’t going to be the same come September and it’s kind of scaring me.’
‘Well of course things are going to change. We all fly the nest in a few weeks. Gonna get a new group of friends and places to hang out in new cities. Gonna master the art of sitting in lectures with a hangover and be productive while we’re at it. It’s supposed to be the time of our lives.’ Her voice took on a somewhat overdramatic tone and her hands flew around as she spoke.
‘Is that not incredibly depressing?’
‘What?’ Her eyes flicked back up to Linda.
‘That the next 3 or 4 years are going to be the “best years of our lives”. Apparently we peak by 21. Is that not depressing?’
‘Yeah, but they won’t be though. I mean every one says that they will but they also say at the same time that it’s not the end of the world if they’re not.’
‘Is that therefore not a contradiction?’ She countered.
‘Yeah, I guess? Why are you so focused on that though? It’s a few weeks away still.’
‘Because I am not like you Cissa. Or like Paul or Jake. Or any of you guys. I don’t do well with new situations. I have talked myself out of actually going to uni so many times now because I can’t fathom the idea that I’m going to do okay there. I’ve practiced the speech I’m going to give my parents to make them understand the choice that doesn’t even really make sense to me. I won’t know anyone Cissa. At all. I will be a massive fish out of water. And I’m scared I’m gonna drown. It took me years to get comfortable with you lot and I’ve known you pretty much my entire life. And now I’m expected to go a new place, in a new city and thrive? I’m expected to make friends and have fun and all that other stuff that is supposed to happen when you’re at uni? I don’t think I can and that terrifies me.’ Marissa lifted her head off Linda’s shoulder and twisted to look at her properly just as Paul dropped two glasses in front of them and sat down on the other side of Marissa.
‘Okay first of all, stop talking yourself out of it. You got into Oxford and you’re going to kill it. Second of all, that is a normal thing to feel. You think I’m not terrified. I love you guys and I am so used to seeing you dickheads almost every day it’s probably going to feel like I’m missing a limb when we all split up. It may never stop. And I know it’s harder for you and what I’m saying is maybe the most useless thing you’ve ever heard, but also, we’re not going anywhere. Yes we are all going to be apart physically, but phones exist and don’t you dare think for a second that I will not be blowing yours up all the time with stupid shit.’
‘You’re right that was kind of useless. But thanks for trying.’ She smiled at Marissa gently.
‘Just take it day by day ya know? Start small. Really small. Talk to someone that lives in the same hall as you. Say hi to someone who sits near you in a lecture. Just hi. Talk about what you know in tutorials. You have some great things to say, you know literature and yeah I know that everyone there is probably going to be in the same boat, but you got there to. Your brain and your passion got you there too. So talk about what you know. Baby steps. That’s all you need. The smallest steps you’re comfortable with, but don’t stay static and don’t walk backwards.’ She squeezed Linda’s knee gently.
‘I get what you’re saying, but you know my brain doesn’t work like that right?’
‘Yes I do. I’ve known you since we were 4. I sat next to you at break times for days on end in silence while you read a book. It took us nearly two months to have a garbled small child conversation. And even after that, we didn’t have another conversation for weeks. I invited you to my 6th birthday party and the second you arrived I led you to my room and left you with a colouring book.’
‘I still have that colouring book in my room you know?’ Linda interrupted.
‘Yeah I do, I found it the other day when I was looking for a bra.’ The pair shared a smile.
‘But you’re not the norm, you’re the exception. Jake and Sasha took ages to get used to me.’ Linda protested.
‘We are a group of 7, 2 people took a while to adapt and accept, that leaves 4 who didn’t. That’s the majority. And yeah I know it’s scary and all, but there is hope. Don’t go into this thinking that there is no hope. And if worse comes to worse I’ll meet you in the middle and we can hang out in London. All the time. Call me and I’m there, no questions asked.’ Marissa smiled and loosely linked her fingers with Linda’s.
‘Don’t say things that like that, or I’ll have no choice but to hold you to them.’ Linda warned.
‘Part of me wants you to call me every weekend. I’m shitting myself.’
‘You should follow your own advice Cissa.’ She squeezed her fingers.
‘I’m very good at not practising what I preach. You know me.’ Linda laughed and Marissa dropped her head back down onto her shoulder.
‘Have you ever thought about how weird it is that we as a group of people were drawn to one another and elect to give a shit about the well being of each other even after all these years. I mean 14 years and we don’t appear to be showing any sign of stopping. How fucking weird is that?’ Paul called out and Marissa rolled her eyes fondly.
‘Oh here we go.’ She whispered to Linda.
‘Bang on time.’
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