Status: will update when possible!

Come Live With Me

Chapter 3

I woke up in a state of intense hangover, my stupid head throbbing intensely. I checked the mirror to make sure it wasn’t visibly inflating while I sat up. It was 12pm and I was absolutely disgusted with myself; I was still in the same clothes as yesterday. An afternoon of college was not going to be enjoyable. Thankfully I’d thought ahead and remembered that today was a half day starting at 1.40pm, so I had about an hour or so to get clean and ready before walking to college in time.
I scraped my honey-blonde hair into a scruffy, unwashed ponytail, making sure none of it was touching my face and transferring its dirtiness. I smoothed some moisturiser over my face, slicked some mascara on and brushed my teeth, before getting my mother’s breakfast ready and laying it out for her to wake up to. I squinted through the crack in my mother’s bedroom door in our one-floor flat. She was still sleeping, knocked out by the pills I had apparently remembered to give her last night. I sighed and set off for college, feeling unready to brace the cold weather without even a painkiller for my headache.

The day passed painfully slowly; hours of English and Psychology lessons through which I tried to concentrate and failed miserably, getting absolutely no work done. A day of speaking to nobody just tipped the iceberg – it was affecting me so much for some reason today, even though I was used to being quite an introvert. I mean, I would gladly speak to people, but boys seemed to avoid me and girls either looked me up and down, almost sizing me up, or didn’t bother with me. I’d had friends and messed around with boys before but since mother got ill, I kind of... shut myself away to help care for her. Nobody else would do it, and she was all I had. Mr Sanders was discussing hyper-textuality in online articles by the time my head decided it had had enough. I packed my things away and put my hand up meekly.

“Sir, is it okay if I leave early? I’m not feeling so great...” I asked my teacher, feeling like I looked as green as a Granny Smith apple. He looked me up and down, taking in my pale appearance.

“You do look a bit peaky, love. Go on, I’ll sign you out.” He said, giving me an empathetic smile and using the term of endearment he saved especially for me, for some reason.
I rushed home, feeling like bursting into tears after the worst day I’d had for a while. Nothing particularly had really happened out of the ordinary to make me feel down, I just felt really depressed, sick and exhausted. Mother was awake when I got home, sitting at the kitchen table staring into space – a familiar sight.

“Where did you go last night? Go off with some guy did you, you little whore?” My mother said monotonously, to the window more than me, insulting me with the typical comedown terms she always used. That was one negative side-effect; she never knew exactly what she was saying when she hadn’t had a pill for a while – it reminded me of Judy Garland’s decline somewhat, in that she was just completely ruined but couldn’t stop using what the doctors were giving her because of her other health problems. It hurt as usual, as I tried and failed not to add it to the long list of reasons today had been shitty.

“I... I can’t remember; it doesn’t matter anyway. I’m home now and you need to take a bath. I’ll put the water on to run.” I mumbled, just wanting to go to sleep and get rid of this hangover. I sat and watched the bathtub fill up, calling her in when it was done. She could do the rest herself, I just needed to deal with the technicalities.

Entering my room disheartened with the day, I looked around and searched for the satchel I realised was missing.

“Shit!” I exclaimed as I searched ruthlessly for the bag I knew I had brought with me to the supermarket the night before – the satchel that contained my purse, credit cards, all of the benefits money my mother was given... Speaking of, where was the bag of groceries I had bought? I grew so tired that I just sat on my haunches and cried, sobbing out the day’s stresses in lonely desperation.

I checked my coat pockets to see if I had put anything in there that could tell me anything about last night; some pennies, lint, a scrap of paper...
I pulled it out, reading the writing on it; a mobile number with the name ‘Ben’ above it. A wave of terror washed over me all of a sudden, jolting me out of my tired self pity as I worried if I had slept with someone while drunk. I couldn’t even remember where I’d been drinking, let alone how I was served underage or how I got home... or who I went home with.

I added the phone number into my contacts and decided to press the green call button, nervously awaiting an answer from some faceless male.

No answer. I called again, desperate this time, my nerves growing ever more intense.

“Hello?” a smooth, baritone voice answered politely. I swallowed hard, clutching at my mobile with both hands, unsure of what to ask the man.

“Um... hello... Ben?” I asked cautiously, biting my lip and waiting.

“Jennifer! I was wondering when you would finally call – I was worried you never would. I suppose you want to know who I am, why my number is in your pocket, what happened last night...”

“Yes, all of that please.” I said nervously, not used to talking to boys – not having the time, in all honesty. Though, this person did sound a lot older than what I would class as a ‘boy’.

“Well, my name is Ben; I met you last night in The Prince of Wales pub and brought you home. You were in a state, a real bad way. I couldn’t leave you alone in the rain – it seemed like you had something on your mind, so I gave you my number in case you wanted to talk at all.” The beautifully voiced man admitted, waiting for my reaction.

“Oh goodness...” I breathed, crunching my eyes together and shaking my head.

“It was quite cute really. I tried to talk to you but you kept telling me off. It was a nice break from what I’m used to.” Ben replied, chuckling down the phone. I covered my eyes with my spare hand, embarrassed beyond compare.

“Well, thank you Ben. I’m so sorry for the state I was in and however rude I was to you. I can’t remember a thing.” I confessed, feeling so ashamed of myself.

I heard a page turn in a book from down the phone. “Don’t apologise, it was adorable” he reassured me, the hint of a smile in his voice.

I hesitated before asking my next question, unsure of how to phrase it or how it would go down, regardless of the answer. “Did we... did anything... happen?” to which Ben replied with a deep, throaty laugh.

“No, my intentions were strictly honourable, Jen. Though don’t get me wrong, you are a beautiful girl.” Ben answered charmingly, as I sighed in relief, thanking God that my virginity was still intact.
“It sounds like you’re pleased we didn’t sleep together?” Ben asked cheekily, slight mischief in his voice.

“I don’t even remember you, what you look like, what I did or said... I’m completely embarrassed and I can’t even remember who you are! I’m so sorry!” I said, shaking my head as I started to wander around my room.

“Well, goodbye Ben. It was nice to hear that I didn’t do anything stupid last night except get blind drunk and go home in some stranger’s car” I smiled, relieved but also amazed at how irresponsible I was for doing that. I was about to hang up when Ben interjected.

“Hey, Jen, maybe we could meet up for coffee sometime?” He asked, unexpectedly.

“But I won’t know what you look like.” I replied breathily, a smile on my face, realising this guy was interested in me somewhat. I wasn’t used to boys actually telling me, however subtle. I had to admit; it felt good to finally be taken seriously and outright noticed. Maybe it was because this man was older that he had no reason to mess around and waste time.

“I’ll find you. I definitely remember what you look like.” I smiled at his subtle compliment.

“If it’s any consolation for not remembering your face, you have a pretty voice.” I told him shyly, to which he chuckled. I smiled down the phone, trying to think of something to say to him but finding nothing. I heard another voice from his side of the conversation.

“They wanted me to pass on that you’re needed again, Mr Cumberbatch.” The other male voice said. I noted down the interesting last name in my memory.

“Okay, I’ll just finish up on the phone, won’t be a second.” Ben replied to the male voice politely. “Sorry Jennifer. I’m at work at the moment and I’m needed. Shall we say Louise’s Coffee House, 3pm tomorrow?” He asked, somewhat hopefully.

I hesitated, biting my thumbnail in nervousness. “Can we make it 4pm? Only, I have college until 3.30”. Ben paused for a minute and cleared his throat nervously, before answering.

“Yes, that’s fine. I’ll see you then. Hope your hangover isn’t too bad. Goodbye Jenny.” We hung up together, with me still slightly confused, not really knowing what to expect tomorrow.

You don’t know until you try, I suppose. And I did want some excitement in my life.