Short Stories

Appearances

“So where you from?” The girl in front of me asks.

“Midlands,” I say. I’m so nervous that I’m almost shaking. Luckily she hasn’t noticed. This girl is my new neighbour and I’m not sure she and I are going to get on. Not in the least is the simple fact she is sucking on a lollipop and wearing the shortest skirt I’ve ever seen. Back home I’d have walked in the opposite direction and laughed about her with my friends. But here I am stuck – destined to be her next door neighbour for the next year. So I smiled. “Where are you from?”

“Oxford.”

“Cool,” I say, lame I know but what do you say?

Silence, and it is fairly uncomfortable. In fact the only thing that draws my attention is a guy working on the halls of residence across the way. He is hammering something, fixing something I guess.

“What are you studying?” she asks suddenly.

I drag my gaze away and look at the blonde perfection next to me. “English lit. You?”

Her eyes went round. “Same here… Oh wow! We can help each other with work and everything…”

My smile sticks. “Great… Sounds fun.”

She doesn’t notice that I’m not over the moon about this news but prattles on for a while. I turn back to the view. He’s older than me but I can feel the insistent tug of attraction. He’s mighty fine, as my mate back in the marsh would say.

“Don’t bother with him,” she says, and then she leans through the open window and screams across to him. “Loser! Thick as pig shit!”

I raise an eyebrow. “He probably isn’t.”

She just sniffs. “All handimen are. They work with their hands because their brains are nothing but slush.” She waggles her french manicure to emphasis the point.

I shake my head and get out of the room. I’m definitely thinking about a transfer to a different halls. It only takes me a minute to reach the guys position.

“Hi,” I say. Butterflies are screaming around my stomach. The guy has turned and is looking at me. Not a bad look, but an impersonal one. “I’m sorry,” I mumble.

“For your friend?” he asks, and straightens up. He is easily a head higher than me and built well. My mouth goes completely dry and he gets this smirk on his face. The kind that tells me he knows exactly what effect he is having on me. That gets me angry.

“Not my friend,” I bite out. “I’ve only just arrived and if I had a choice I’d move.”

I turn to storm off but he grabs my arm. Pulling me around he smiles, and this is one that reaches his eyes. “Don’t.”

“What?”

“Swap halls.”

“Why?”

His grin broadens. “Because I only look after this one.”

Oh man… “Okay,” I say looking at the floor. I look up at the window and I see her looking down and my shoulders slump.

“Don’t worry.”

I look back at him. His eyes are the deepest green…

“She won’t last.”

“How do you know?”

“Because tomorrow she will find out that I am her tutor.”

My eye widen.

He shrugs. “I do this for extra money, I’m studying my Phd.”

“You might not be her tutor,” I say.

“I am.” He leans in close and breaths into my ear. “As I’m yours Julie.”

“Jewel,” I say automatically, totally distracted by my reaction to him.

“Now, wave.”

And we both stand there and wave up at the girl above. She stares down and scowls, eventually disappearing into her room.

This story was inspired by the daily prompt – if I had a hammer.

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