Extract from How it Ends by Sara Langham, submitted by Lucy Luck at Lucy Luck Associates.
I am waiting for Paul to arrive. He was meant to have been here at half past ten but it’s now nearly quarter to twelve and I’ve done everything I could possibly do. I’m completely ready to go. My bed has been stripped, my pictures unhooked, my boxes all stacked in the hall, and the last minute things I kept finding around have been stuffed in my old rucksack. I have said goodbye to every room. I have said goodbye to Claire. She woke me up at eight o’clock before she went to work. “Nina,” she called, as she banged on my door, “get up, I want to see you. I want to say goodbye properly. I’ve got to leave really soon.”
“I’m asleep,” I said.
“I don’t care,” she said. “Come on, I’ve made you coffee.”
“It’s too cold to get up yet, come here instead.”
“God, I’ll be pleased when you’ve gone!”
But she sat on my bed and we smoked cigarettes and drank our last coffees together and I followed her gaze as she looked around at the emptiness of my room. Her voice vibrated loudly there. It echoed now most things were gone. “Fuck,” she said. “It’s strange in here. It suddenly seems so small.”
“I know,” I said. “It’s weird isn’t it? It should be the other way round. I guess I just got used to it.”
“I guess,” she said. “Me too.”
I looked at her then, sitting there on my bed, her legs in thick black tights and that short denim skirt which I’ve borrowed so much and that jumper she knitted herself and she looked so known, so familiar to me, that I felt a leap in my lungs. “It will be alright won’t it?” I asked.
“Nina, you know it will.”
She gave me a hug and left me then, I heard the front door slam, and I sat for a while alone in this room that’s been mine since I came back from college, and thought of all the things we’ve done since we rented this flat together: the parties we’ve had, the boyfriends she’s had, the nights we have spent here, just us. And I realised it’s not only her I will miss but the rooms of this flat as well: the lounge that we painted (not in our agreement), the bathroom that still needs retiling and the balcony plants I planted one year after watching a gardening show, that have somehow thrived and blossomed again and again over each passing summer, although now the earth is laced with frost, the new shoots waiting inside.
I have been happy here; I have loved my time here. It has been a proper home.
At ten past twelve he’s still not here. I’m circling round the lounge. I have smoked three more last cigarettes. I have checked my bedroom again. My coat is on. I am ready to go. I keep looking out of the window. I don’t understand why he’s taking so long when he’s only ten minutes away. I open the door to the balcony. I stand in the cold and wait.
Then here he comes now, driving the van, tooting and waving at me. He rolls down the window. “I’m sorry,” he calls. “It took me much longer somehow. Are you ready to go?”
“Yes,” I call back. “I’ll come down and let you in.”
I turn around with a smile on my face. I walk once more round the flat. Then put my shoes on, grab the first box I see and carry it down in my arms.
I am moving in with Paul today. I am going to live with him.