We were to meet at a café less than seven minutes away from the lazy boy’s dorm room, which he shared with ‘some sports fanatic’ who I was left to know nothing more about.
Steve’s words were buzzing around irritably in my head:
“It’s easy to spot once you’re off the high street, just take a right- or is that a left…? No, definitely right- And walk through the uni gardens (don’t worry, they’re always open to the public) and then under the archway…”
He had just kept spouting out information at me, it had taken me several times to ask for him to repeat himself before he had actually heard.
And now here I was, walking under an ornately carved archway that split off into three stone walkways. Which had Steve said to take? Left, no right…or was it the one centrally in front of her?
As I spun round, helplessly flicking through my options, someone tapped on my shoulder. It wasn’t that the tap was especially hard but it startled me out of my skin.
I turned quickly to see a young woman, around 20, probably a student living there. She was tall, with a dyed black bob and many, many piercings upon her ears; golden hoops dangled, and brightly-coloured neon pink, blue, and green chains sat further up the ear. She also had a silver stud on her nose and a lip-ring. It was a rather savage look, but the girl’s voice was soft and full of kindness, as were the large violet eyes.
“Oh… I didn’t mean to startle you, lady…” Her lips and the black lipstick upon them formed a lovely ‘o’ shape as she spoke.
“No, you didn’t, don’t worry,” I smiled politely.
The girl laughed, tipping her head back so that the multi-coloured shapes ‘clanged’ and ‘dinged’ together.
“I did, and you’re not the first. But, because you’re one of the nicest people I’ve startled in a while, I’ll apologise. Sorry about all that.”
She shuffled about, brushing black-painted nails over a grey skirt. I also noticed that she was wearing a black net top. She coughed to draw my attention back to her face. The nose was small and softly shaped, and the high cheekbones always seemed to be coloured, despite a great amount of what looked like chalk spread finely over them.
“Anyway, were you lost, lady?”
“No, no, I was…um…” I stumbled on how to reply. It hit me that I must be lost then.
“Hmm?” The girl’s eyes seem to grow even wider.
“I was looking for the café on Burnham Street.”
“Which one?” She laughed again, causing me to blush. I knew I’d forget it, so I’d scribbled the name down on one of my palms. I must have looked very odd, peering down at it.
The girl grinned.
“Ah, yes. Follow me.”
She turned left, and trudged down the pathway, her silver-studded black boots making more of a clunk than mine, and her strides were at least double mine too; I had to run to catch up a lot of the time. One more turn onto a busy street and then, four metres forward.
“And here we are. That didn’t take long, did it?”