‘It won’t be the same in Durham without you Loz.’
‘Why Durham? Why can’t you come to Reading University with me?’
‘I told you, it doesn’t do my course and I need to be away from the in-fighting, but at least your dad has allowed you a mobile phone.’
‘Mum persuaded him – said if I were stuck in Reading, and if there were a train strike, I could ring. Let them know why I was late. It’s like a police state at home. I’ll be fucking glad when I’m at uni all day.’
‘I didn’t think you would go for psychology. It’s a bit overboard isn’t it?’
‘It wasn’t my choice, just like going to Reading wasn’t my choice, but let’s leave it at that.’
Legs attached to the groove in the wood, Steve hung his head over the side. ‘What ya talking about?’
‘None of your beeswax Steve.’
‘Probably talking about university again – they’ve got boring on us.’
Laura laughed as Steve lost his footing and tumbled on to the concrete.
‘No sense no feeling.’ Laura handed her water bottle to Steve. ‘This might help with the pain.’
‘Well it’s a clear liquid anyway.’
The bottle accepted he drank some of its contents.
‘Hold it Steve, that’s got to last me that has, I’m not made of money.’
Steve plonked himself next to Julie and planted a kiss. ‘Why you got to go to Durham anyway?’
‘Don’t you start, we do have mobiles you know, and you can ring me.’
Snuggled up to Julie, his arms were wrapped around her. ‘I won’t be able to get close if you’re in Durham.’
Todd fed up with being alone on the roof of the shelter, jumped on the floor and sat next to Laura. His arm fell around her shoulder like a limpet, and he kissed her full on the lips. ‘Well at least Loz has the right idea. She’s only going to Reading. There will be plenty of opportunities to see her.’
A large swig was taken straight from her bottle. She leant over and kissed Todd back – not because she liked him – but she liked the feeling of his lips on hers. It made her feel loved.
A few weeks ago, at one of Steve’s parties, she had nearly allowed him to go the whole way, but Julie popped her head around the bedroom door and told her it was time to go home.
‘Come on you too, come up for air won’t you,’ Julie said, offering a cigarette.
Laura looked around but took a cigarette all the same.
The freedom, all be it brief, of living the life she wanted to lead, gave Laura the confidence to be herself. She didn’t want it to end and decided to go to the parties on her own.
Todd had convinced her she would be safe in his hands.
‘We’ll have to get you to try a proper cigarette one of these days,’ Steve said.
‘Proper cigarette,’ Laura said, and blew the smoke into her hand.
‘Don’t you dare Steve, that ain’t fair on Loz.’
‘Loz has just drunk vodka out of a water bottle, she ain’t innocent anymore.’
‘That’s completely different, you know how I feel about you smoking that wacky baccy, it messes with your head.’