I shook the memories away as I pinned up the last picture. Luke was still a good friend, no matter what our history together and I knew that he would be there for me, no matter what.
Next out of the boxes were my books that I piled on the small bookshelf above the desk at the end of my bed and when I ran out of space there, began stacking them on the windowsill. Everything else went under my bed apart from the brand new laptop my mother had given me as a going away present, which was sitting on my desk.
“Looks like that’s everything,” my mum said, taking a step back to look at my room. “I can’t believe we’ve managed to fit it all in.”
“Yeah,” I muttered in reply. It was sad that everything in my life could fit into one half of a small room. It showed I didn’t really have much.
“Then that’s probably my cue to go.” My mother turned to me, tears in her eyes but her teeth gritted to hold them back. “Give me one last hug before I leave?” I did as she asked, wrapping my arms around her as she stroked my hair. “Be a good girl,” she whispered in my ear. “And call me every week so I know that you’re alright.”
“I’ll be fine,” I replied. “I know I’ll be fine.”
“But that doesn’t stop me worrying. Just promise me you’ll call.”
“I promise,” I replied reluctantly, pulling away and straightening myself out. “Do you want me to walk you down to your car?”
“No, I can find my way. You stay here and meet all your neighbors. “ My mother gave me one last kiss on the cheek before leaving me alone in my room, staring at the walls. I had no idea what to do. I didn’t want to start going around and knocking on other people’s doors introducing myself but sitting alone in my room didn’t hold much appeal for me either. Just as I was beginning to wonder what decision I would make, there was a knock on the door and a head popped in.
“Hello?” A deep voice called. “Can I come in?”
“Yeah, sure,” I replied, shaking my head to focus. “Hi.”
“Hey,” the guy replied, smiling cheerfully as he strode into my room. “I’m Owen, from the room next door. I thought I should come by and introduce myself.” I looked up at him, taking in all six foot something of him, his broad shoulders and muscular build towering over my height of five foot two and petite frame.
“I’m Vanessa,” I replied, waving my hand a little stiffly, not knowing why I introduced myself with me full name. “Everyone calls me Nessie.”
“Like the Lock Ness Monster,” Owen laughed. “Sorry, I bet you get that all the time.”
“Yeah, just a bit,” I replied, laughing. “My best friend, Alex, always used to joke about me being a friendly monster.”
“Where’s he now?”
“She,” I replied with great emphasis, “is at university near London.”
“That’s a long way away.”
“I know, she said she’d keep in touch but she’s one of those people who makes lots of friends really easily, I wouldn’t be surprised if I slipped into the background.”
“I’m sure you’ll make just as many new friends as Alex.”
“I hope so,” I replied, smiling nervously. “So has your room mate arrived yet? Mine seems to have been and gone.”
“I think I saw her leave earlier. She didn’t have any parents with her, I don’t think.”
“What does she look like?”
“Quite tall, really long blonde hair; I don’t think I’ve ever seen hair so long. Slim, I think she had green eyes but she only looked at me for a moment so I’m not sure if I remember right.”
I groaned inwardly. The girl Owen had just described to me was the perfect image of a popular girl, one who had loads of friends and got all the boys.
“What’s with the face?” Owen asked when he saw how unenthusiastic I looked. “She seemed really friendly.”
“I’m sure she is,” I replied. “I just know her type, that’s all; the perfect girl. I’ve had enough of those to last me a lifetime.”
“You never know, she might surprise you,” he said, shrugging his shoulders. “Want to come through and meet the rest of us? We’re all sitting in the kitchen. I think Darren is putting on the kettle.”
“Yeah, I’d love that,” I said, picking up the key to my room and taking it with me so I could lock the door behind me on my way out. One of the pieces of advice everyone had given me before I went to university was to always lock my door whenever I went out. I didn’t want anyone stealing my stuff.
When I entered the kitchen there were five other people sitting around the table in the centre of the room, some cradling mugs in their hands, and another two standing by the counter making fresh cups for the newcomers.
“I’ve found another one,” Owen announced as he entered the room. “Everyone, this is Nessie, she’s in number three.” There was a series of waves and hellos from the rest of the room as Owen directed me to a chair in between a girl with bright blue streaks in her hair and a guy who appeared to be trying to grow a beard.
“I’m Joanne,” the girl with the blue hair said, holding out her hand for me to shake. “Nice to meet you. I’m in number five at the end of the corridor with Natalie.” She pointed to a blonde girl at the other end of the table who waved shyly at me. “This is Olly,” she said, nodding towards the guy with the half beard next to me, “and he’s sharing with James. Darren is the one with the ginger hair and he’s in with Owen who you’ve met. Freddie is over there in the superman t-shirt and he’s sharing with Eric who is standing next to Darren.”
My head was reeling with all the new names that Joanne was bombarding me with. She was clearly trying to present herself as a leader but she was only managing to confuse me beyond belief.
“I’m sure I’ll manage to remember all your names eventually,” I said, laughing. “I have a terrible memory so forgive me if I forget.”
The rest of the room laughed along with me, the tension breaking as we all settled down for a chat.