I’m organising my things, in a ramshackle, desultory fashion – trying with habitual lack of skill to make sense of new space and old stuff. The blandness of over-worn, promiscuous student accommodation – thin synthetic carpet and tired emulsion paint with just a hint of grease. Through the open, low threshold ground floor window, a girl swings her legs through and sits. “Hi! I’m just trying to get this done. Is it OK?” She busies with her iPad, frowning slightly.
“Sure,” I say. I place the postcard from Angela on the desk, then find myself struggling to pick up the cheap multivitamin tab from the floor near the girl’s feet. I glance, up, mildly flustered. She must find me somewhat off balance. The blasted thing is in bits and powder – broken when I pushed it through the foil of the blister package. Fragments cling to the slight sweat of my fingers as I transfer the dregs to the egg cup on the desk.
She looks up, apparently satisfied. “Sorry – just sorting my new timetable. Pfff…”
“What are you studying?”
“Yes – my friends all say so, but then ask what use it will actually be. But the whole history of how the earth has formed and changed, I love it.”
I’m no longer on my knees, but stand awkwardly, charmed yet discomfited by this casually uninvited guest. “Um, so you’re not in first year?”
“Oh no – fourth. It’s going to be busy”
“I can imagine. This is my first. First day, actually.” I feel vaguely annoyed with myself at revealing my ‘new boy’ status.