I take a tumbler out of the kitchen cupboard and then move to the fridge freezer, glass still in hand. I grab three ice cubes from the newly purchased bag of ice and pop the cubes into the tumbler. I love the sound they make, clink clink clink. I kick the fridge freezer door shut with my foot and reach for the lime which sits on top of the empty bread bin. Placing the tumbler on the kitchen surface, I take the sharpest knife in the cutlery drawer and slice the lime in half, then carve two slices out of one of the halves. I cut one of the slices right in the middle, being carefully not to actually hit the skin, so it leaves a neat line in the flesh. I take this half and move it around the glass, the neat cut gets right round the rim and allows the juices to settle on the glass. I then squish this half onto the ice, again, the neat cut allows the lime to crush and the juice escapes with ease. I pop the other slice into the glass and then grab the new bottle of Gordon's. I pour the gin over the ice for two seconds, I love that sound too; crack crack crack. I put the lid back on the Gordon's and grab the tonic water from the fridge, I top up the rest of the glass. I don't have many routines in life, but making the perfect Gin and Tonic is one of them.
I take the drink and move from the kitchen into the empty lounge; it really is very depressing. No bigger than a decent sized bathroom, two sunken sofas that look like their best days are well behind them face each other, with a horribly seventies coffee table between them that looks like it comes straight out of a photo of my parents first house together. The walls are chipped and the paint is faded, at once it might have been a nice and refreshing shade of magnolia, but hand prints and scuffs have taken their toll and now the lounge just looks like a crap waiting room. Had it not been for my forward planning, this room would be without a television, but thanks to me, my smallest plasma is now in one of the corners, sitting on the only surface I could find, a cardboard box. I look down and see the carpet, also hideous it is made up of lots of tiny different shades of blue, obviously designed so that you can walk as many degrees of shit into the thing as you like without it really showing. I move towards one of the sofas and sit down, feeling myself sink into the broken springs and lifeless cushions. I take a deep breath and realise, with a pang of disappointment, this is my home now for the next three years.
I down the rest of the G&T and make myself another, I figure that if I am the first to arrive, I may as well make the most of it. Thankfully, being first here has meant that I have nabbed what is unquestionably the best room in the house. Front facing, first floor and easily the largest, my bedroom is the one decent thing about this house. Why anyone would want a bedroom on the ground floor escapes me, the sound of drunks, students and drunken students would keep me awake for hours. I get incredibly difficult if denied eight hours sleep, or so I have been told.
As I stand in my room, fresh drink in hand, I peer out of the large window that looks onto the street. Across the road, moving into a house very similar to this one, is a very attractive girl. Blonde, thin, with excellent breasts that push against a tight fitting hoody. Her parents are lifting boxes and black bins bags of clothes into the house whilst she watches them do the hard work. Just as I take another sip and continue staring at her, she looks up. I dart away from the window and slam my back against the wall. I peer round to look out of the window but she has gone, obviously venturing inside to escape my leering, or possibly even to tell her parents.
I move out of my new room to have a good look at the others, another advantage of arriving first. The room immediately next to mine is about a third the size, with a single bed as opposed to my double. I briefly wonder whether I should offer to pay more in rent before pushing such stupid ideas to one side and moving to have a look at the bathroom. In short, it is disgusting. The shower is not a shower, it is a shower head on a tube connected to the taps in the bath. The bath is a sight to behold, it is olive green in colour and the tiles around match it in its hideousness. The toilet and sink are the same shade of green and the entire room smells faintly of a charity shop; I leave quickly.
The floor above contains one more bedroom the same shape and size of mine, although the alcoves from the roof mean that I have to bend down in order to walk around it; I have definitely made the right choice. There is another tiny bathroom on this floor, which presumably the occupant of the next door bedroom will think belongs to them, something which I am determined will not happen.
I walk down the two flights of stairs back into the kitchen and make another G&T, I then take this back up to my bedroom and stare and the boxes that are scattered everywhere. My mother has labelled them all in thick black marker pen and it is now up to me to unpack. The thought of manual labour depresses me a little, so I sit on my bed, take a deep sip of my drink and prepare myself for what I know will be a mind numbingly dull task. Firstly, I unpack my speakers, plug them into my Macbook and play songs from my 'Best of the 90s' playlist, Wonderwall now fills my room. I then move to my bed and lift the large pile of clothes on hangars and, one by one, put them into the wardrobe. I begin to arrange them by function, smart jackets and long coats first, moving into casual jumpers, t-shirts and eventually jeans. Then, deciding I want something more aesthetic, I arrange them by colour. This pleases me more, although I don't know why, so I leave it as it is.
I move back to the Macbook and check for Wifi signal, every account it picks up is password protected which is annoying as I am feeling nervous and hoped I might be able to squeeze in a quick wank before everyone else arrives.
"So just make sure you insist on it darling, it's not worth getting pregnant for, not at your age. No condom, no sex; that should be your motto" he said. Jesus, was this actually happening? Was he being that stereotypical? Yes, yes he was.
"My God, Dad please, not again" I said, trying to gaze out of the car window and take my mind of the excruciating conversation.
"It's important Jennifer, I know it's scary for you, going to university and all that, and I just want to make sure you don't end up doing anything silly".
"OK, but just promise me you'll be careful, you can still get pregnant on your first time y'know".
"For the last time, I know and yes, I promise, now please, stop".
"OK, good girl".
I look at him and smile weakly, as much as I love him and know that he is just saying what he assumes my mother would want to hear, I cannot wait to get out of the car. I'm glad that mum didn't come with us for the journey, the thought of the pair of them arguing for four hours whilst I was lectured on my sexual health is just too much to bear. I pull down the passenger mirror and look at myself, I look exactly the same as I did the last time I checked, five minutes ago. I take a deep breath and gaze out of the window again, we pass a sign that reads 'Welcome to Exeter' and I feel a twinge of nerves shoot right through my insides, I grip the side of my seat tightly and try to calm down.
"Not far to go now darling, five minutes I'd say" Dad says.
"Yeah I can see, it says it on the Sat Nav" I say, in a tone that I immediately regret.
"Im just saying Jennifer, don't be like that"
"Sorry Dad, I'm just a bit nervous, that's all" I say, putting a hand on his arm.
"Thats alright darling, I understand you're worried about making friends and stuff, but you'll be fine".
This makes me feel even more nervous, hearing the actual words said out loud is horrible and my gaze returns to the window. We're in the suburbs now, driving past rows and rows of victorian terrace houses. I see posters in the ground floors advertising club nights, university societies and sporting events. Students in branded university hoodies walk down the streets in small groups chatting to each other, I find myself wondering if I'll ever be part of a group like theirs.
After passing what seems like endless rows of student houses, the Sat Nav eventually announces that we have 'reached our destination', the twinge of nerves returns instantly as Dad parks the car on the side of the road.
"Well, here we are" he says, as if I don't know.
"Yep, you wait here, I'll just open the door, I'm probably the first here" I say, unbuckling my seatbelt, grabbing the envelope on the dashboard and getting out of the car. I have to slam the door twice on Dad's little old Renault Clio before turning back towards the tall victorian terrace house, walking the short distance up the concrete path and up the front door. There's a pair of bronze keys in the envelope which I remove and pick the one that looks like it will work on the top lock, but before I can put it in, the door opens.
Standing in front of me, holding the door open, is a boy, a good looking boy; he is tall and thin, with short. thick brown hair,. He's wearing smart jeans, a pink shirt and what looks like a blazer, he is holding a drink with a lime in it.
"Hi" he says, holding out a hand, "I'm Cameron".
"Jenny" I say, trying to smile, "I...I thought I was the first here".
"No, I've been here for a couple of hours, my parents needed to go to lunch; did you know there's only one Michellen star restaurant in Exeter?"
What the hell is a Michellen star?
"Erm, no" I say "I didn't". We stand there for a few awkward seconds, I'm still standing outside when I realise that Dad is waiting to help me unpack.
"I should go and start getting my stuff" I say.
"Right sure, well the door will stay open, I'll just be in the lounge, which is ghastly by the way" the boy, Cameron, says. For some reason I thought he would offer to help me unpack, the blazer hinted he might be a gentlemen like that, but whatever, I walk back to the car and knock on the window.
Eurgh, she is not attractive. Slightly overweight, with glasses and in a chunky cardigan, there is nothing redeemable about her appearance. I am disappointed. After she walks back to her small car I walk back into the kitchen and make myself a drink. I take it and move into the lounge where I sit on one of the awful sofas and reflect on my new situation. I'm not exactly sure what I was hoping for in my housemates; yes, at least one good looking girl for obvious reasons but I'm not really sure what else. What if I'm in a house with all girls? What would they expect of me? What if they all fell in love with me? Or some sort of awkward love triangle developed? The sound of a box hitting the floor throws me out of my thoughts.
"God Jenny, how many saucepans do you need?" said a man's voice from the kitchen, I looked up, this was clearly Jenny's father. He was quite short, fat, with what looked like NHS glasses and a poorly sculptured combover.
"Dad, shhhh, just put them over there" Jenny said, pointing to one of the cupboards.
"Oh well done" I say, trying to make polite conversation, "I didn't bring any pans, my mother flatly refused to let me take the Le Crueset, she said I wouldn't look after it", I'm smiling and trying to break the tension.
"Dad this is, erm, Cameron?" Jenny says, I nod and offer my hand. Her father takes it, shakes it forcefully like fathers always do and says "Mark, nice to meet you Cameron".
"You too", I say, taking my hand back from his and massaging it slightly, "did you have to drive far?" I ask - always be polite to the parents, that's the rule.
"Not too bad, four hours, it's fast moving once you're on the A303" he says. I have no idea who or what the A303 is so I just nod and smile, Jenny is looking around the kitchen, obviously uncomfortable.
"So Cameron" he father starts up, "have you got a girlfriend?"
"Dad!" Jenny says quickly, staring at him.
"Er, no, nope yet anyway" I say, honestly, smiling at him, then at Jenny.
"Well this is the place to get one isn't it?" Mark says, "I met my wife in university, many years ago of course".
"Yes, and now you're divorced" Jenny says, still staring at him, clearly angry.
"Yes well, that's not the point Jennifer, you can still meet 'the one' here" he says, making quote marks with his fingers.
"Don't call me that, it's Jenny" she says, looking at me now.
"Right" I say, smiling "Good. Well, it was nice to meet you Matt".
"Er, Mark, and you too" he says. I quite like this man, he is honest in a way that only working class people are. I move back into the lounge as the pair of them walk back out of the house to collect the rest of her things.
Sometimes he can just be too embarrassing to bear. As we're standing in the kitchen and he's moving pans loudly, he starts chatting away with the boy called Cameron. The boy is behaving a little weirdly, slurring the odd word and talking about French saucepans. Then Dad asks a stupid question about whether he has a girlfriend or not and Cameron gives some strange answer about how he doesn't have one yet. He looks at me when he says this which makes me think that maybe he fancies me. As he chats my Dad goes on about how you can meet the love of your life at university, I realise that Cameron hasn't bought a single thing for the kitchen. The only thing that sits on the surface is a bottle of gin, and even that is half empty.
I am making exceptionally good time as I pass a rectangular green sign that tells me I have entered Exeter, a town which, according to the 2001 census, has a population of 111.076. I smile to myself a little as I realise that I am now resident number 111,077; although of course, the census figure is only really an estimation and can never be considered totally accurate.
Passing the sign, I look at the time; it is 15.54. My total journey time so far has been an impressive two hours and thirty one minutes, largely down to the fact I memorised the fastest route suggested by the AA route planner.
Driving through the increasingly suburban outskirts of the town, I repeat the specifics of the journey in my head, to test that I can still remember them. Leaving home, I turned right, ensuring that I joined the A36, travelling southbound, joining the A4 at Cleveland Place, then joining the A46 for approximately twenty minutes, before entering onto the M4, which I left at junction 20 in order to join the M5 for approximately twenty five minutes before joining the A3015, then the B3183 at the second roundabout (not the first as some maps would have you believe), travelling onwards to the B3212, then onto the B3182, onto South Street, where I now find myself.
As I continue negotiating through the residential streets of Exeter, I switch my in-car CD player on and play, for the eighth time in this journey, Power of Love by Huey Lewis and the News. As the opening beat fills my car and I slow down due to the traffic, I look around at my packing. Even by my standards, I am very impressed at the job I have done. There are five clear plastic storage boxes, each filled with a different type of item: clothes, bedding, books, DVDs, bathroom products and kitchen utensils. As I drive through the streets of victorian terrace houses, I see what I assume to be new students trying to drag black bin bags full of possessions inside their new accommodation. I am silently relieved at my own ability to properly and effectively forward-plan.
I pull the car onto the street that, if the address specified on the envelope is correct, my accommodation should be. Driving slowly, I have to hunch slightly to make out the house numbers. Eventually, I stop the car at the side of the road, opposite the house specified on the envelope, which I have now grabbed from inside the protective wallet and put in my right pocket.
I turn off the ignition and get out of the car, shutting, locking and then checking the door. Satisfied the car is locked, I walk the five metres down a concrete path to the front door and, matching the Yale key to the Yale lock, open the door. The door swings open and at the end of the corridor and in what looks like the kitchen, I can see someone, a girl, unpacking.
I hope he didn't think I was kicking him out, it's just that after the painful discussion in the car and the awkwardness of the conversation with Cameron, I just had to be on my own for a while. He did look a little sad when, after saying he would unpack all the boxes in the room, I suggested that the traffic would be getting worse and he should probably get going. I shake the depressing thoughts out of my head and take a deep sigh, this is not the time, I tell myself.
In the kitchen again, I am unpacking my saucepans one by one. Cameron is in his room, unpacking boxes and playing awful music from about ten years ago. 'Pop' by *NSYNC booms loudly from upstairs as I look around the kitchen, wondering if I should take a cupboard for myself or whether we 'as a house' may want to share everything. I think I would prefer us to share everything as I don't like the idea of everyone eating separately; I don't want to eat alone, I know that much.
As I'm deliberating how I should bring this up with the housemates, the front door opens.
A boy, wearing glasses and with short brown hair, puts his head round the door and stares at me.
"Oh hi" I say, offering a gentle wave. He continues to look at me for another second or two, making me feel awkward enough to keep talking. "I'm Jenny" I say.
"Hello" he says finally, opening the door completely now and stepping inside. "I'm Tom".
I walk towards him and outstretch a hand, which he takes and shakes quite robotically up and down, then takes his hand away. He is a little shorter than Cameron, and not as good looking. He isn't ugly, but he has the kind of forgettable face that could be easily lost in a crowd. I notice then that he is wearing a Back to the Future t-shirt, jeans and Converse trainers.
As we're standing there, smiling and looking at each other, I hear Cameron bound down the stairs behind me.
"Hi!" he says, loudly, grabbing the boy's hand and shaking it firmly.
"This is Tom" I say, trying to do help this boy along.
"Tom, great, I'm Cameron, very nice to meet you"
"Er, you too" says the boy called Tom, obviously a little flustered by the attention.
"So you're housemate number three!" Cameron says, trying to fill the silence. "Good journey?"
"Erm, yes, I memorised the route, so it was very simple" Tom says, obviously taking a little pride in this.
"Gosh, well done you" Cameron says, "My parents just rely on the bloody Tom Tom nowadays, couldn't read a map if their lives depended on it!" He says, laughing loudly to himself.
As we're all standing here, in the corridor, sizing each other up, I realise that, so far at least, I am only living with boys. This thought immediately makes me feel quite nervous, I was desperately hoping that I would meet my best friend in this house, and that we'd talk about boys and parties and get drunk together and tell each other secrets and all the other stuff that normal best friends do. Whilst I don't know either Cameron or Tom very well at all, I know that I will never be doing that sort of thing with either of these two. This thought saddens me as we all stand there, quite uselessly.
I'm sat on my new bed, desperately searching for a Wifi signal on my Macbook. I know that if I don't masturbate soon, I will be too tense to properly enjoy this evening and make decent conversation. I am still playing my Best of the 90s album through my speakers, hoping that when I do eventually get access to some online pornography, that the music will drown out any noise I make.
"For fuck's sake" I whisper quietly to myself, as the computer displays the list of networks it has picked up, all of them with a small padlock symbol next to them, telling me that they are all password protected.
As I am wondering whether I could successfully do it without the aid of my Playboy Online account, I hear the murmur of conversation from downstairs. I slam the laptop shut and move quickly to the door and down the stairs. In the corridor, I see Jenny talking to a boy with glasses who looks like he has stumbled in lost from a Star Trek convention. 'Geek' is the only word that I can think of as I move towards the guy and politely shake his hand. He looks painfully awkward, as if maintaining eye contact and a conversation is actually causing him internal bleeding. Then, as he tells me how he memorised his journey or some bollocks, I realise he is wearing a Back to the Future t-shirt. At this point I could have actually been a little sick in my mouth, were it not for the fact that I was obviously the only person in this corridor with the social skills to maintain a conversation. This is fucking awful; I only get three people to share this house with and two of them are dull and utterly devoid of anything charming or interesting. Whilst Jenny might be nice, 'nice' is not funny or exciting, 'nice' does not get me laid. And as for this guy, 'Tom' I think he said, it looks like the only mildly useful function he could provide would be to fix my computer or change a fuse. This is quickly becoming a desperate situation.
"So Tom" I say, maintaining the smile "fancy a drink? I've got some Gin."
"Er no thanks, I, er, need to unpack my car" he says, gesturing behind him.
I sigh and look at Jenny, she shakes her head "No thanks Cameron, I'm just going to make a cup of tea and finish unpacking my saucepans".
At this, I go back up stairs, if I don't find a Wifi signal soon, I might kill someone.
My phone buzzes again from the black Prada handbag between my feet, I lean forward to grab it whilst Mum shuffles uncomfortably, moving her seatbelt between her boobs for the millionth time on this journey.
"God these things hurt, the seatbelt is going to rip out the stitches if I'm not careful" she says, behind the tortoise shell Gucci glasses we got from Florida last year.
"I know mum, you say it like every minute, take another paracetamol" I say, unlocking my phone.
"I can't babe, I've had two already today; Jesus these things hurt."
Ryan's text me: 'Hey sexy, where u at now? Loved that pic this morning, wanked myself dry off it! Xx'. I smile to myself, the ten minutes or so posing in the mirror this morning was clearly worth it. Ryan's text has made me a little horny, so I push the button to make the window go down and get a bit of air on my face. Mum is still making pained noises as I text him back: 'Nearly there hun, I'll text u l8r, maybe send another pic 2...x'. I throw the phone casually back into the bag and turn the radio up, Rihanna pumps though the speakers behind our heads and we start bopping our heads to the music.
"So babe, listen to me" Mum starts, I hate it when she starts a sentence like this, you know something totally embarrassing and awkward is about to come your way, "what are you going do about Ryan?"
"What do you mean?" I say, looking at her.
"Well, long distance relationships babe, they're hard" she says, not taking her eyes off the road.
"Yeah, but we'll be fine, he loves me".
" I know he loves you, babe" She says, shuffling again under the seatbelt, "but do you love him? I mean, you're the one with the new experience ahead of you and everything, you're the one going to Uni whilst he's stuck at home".
"So?" I shrug; I want her to actually say it, I'm not going to help her.
"Well" she says, glancing at me now over the chunky sunglasses, "there'll be lots of university boys that will take a shine to you babe, you're gorgeous."
"So?" I say again; she's getting there.
"So you might find someone-"
"Better?" I interrupt. Finally, she's arrived at the conversation she's been trying to start for weeks.
"Now babe, you know I love Ryan." She's says, looking back to the road now.
"But?" I say, coldly.
"But babe you were born to be given everything you want and he's a builder and-"
"He's a construction officer" I correct her.
"Yes, and I just think that, now you're going away that maybe you need to think about, y'know, trying something new. You never know who you might meet." She says, smiling at me now, putting her hand on my knee and giving it a gentle squeeze.
"Just drop it Mum, I'm with Ryan, going to stupid University isn't going to change that, we both know I'm only here because Dad wants me to be". I know she isn't going to like that.
"Babe, that's not fair, you got good grades, that's why you're here. God, this fucking seatbelt." she shuffles again, pulling the belt forward as far as it can go, just holding it there.
"Whatever" I say, looking out the window.
We drive in silence for another twenty minutes or so before she says that we've nearly arrived at the address on the envelope. I get a little nervous and check my make up in the passenger mirror, reapplying my Mac lipgloss one more time. I took down at the shirt I'm wearing, its one of my favourites; tight, white and makes my boobs look amazing. I then move my hands through my hair and pull it down to one side, the way Ryan loves it. I move forward and reach into the Prada bag, taking out a small bottle of Chanel Mademoiselle, I spray myself once on each side and then one just above the chest, I shake the bottle, offering it to Mum, "No thanks babe", she says.
I take a deep breath and then sigh, trying to push the nervous feeling from out of the pit of my stomach, Mum picks up on it.
"You'll be fine babe, you'll be the most popular one there in a week, just you wait."
"Yeah, thanks." I say. Looking out of the window, as we drive through another street of tall old-style houses, I see two obvious rugby boys walking in the opposite direction. Mum's driving slowly because of traffic and my windows still open, so they totally check me out as we move past. I smile at the hottest one, trying to look coy and innocent. He smiles back and his friend notices that we've just made eye contact and bursts out "Hello blondey! Get in mate!" and then slaps the hot boy on the back. Thankfully, the traffic speeds up and we quickly pass them, I look into my wing mirror and they're still stood on the pavement, looking back at our car.
"Right babe" Mum says suddenly, bringing the car to a stop. "This is it" she says, nodding towards a tall house that looks exactly the same as every other on this street. I get out of the car, grabbing my handbag from the floor and slamming the door behind me. I just stand there, looking up at the place whilst Mum takes off her seatbelt slowly, as if she might explode at any moment. Finally, when she's out of the car and standing next to me, she turns and says "Come on babe, time to go in now". She takes my hand and walks me up the path to the front door, she knocks. "The keys are in the envelope Mum" I say, annoyed, moving to walk back towards the car. But, before I can drag her back with me, the front door opens.
After the drunk boy and the rather pretty girl with glasses, Jenny, left me to unpack, I brought the five clear plastic boxes into my room. I have chosen the ground floor room to live in, it's proximity to the front door makes it the most sensible choice from a fire safety point of view and the kitchen is also closest to my bedroom than any of the others, making for an easier morning routine.
Before unpacking, I bring in a set of cleaning products that I keep in the boot of my car: Dettol, wood polish and antibacterial wipes (lemon scented). I wipe down all of the main surfaces in the bedroom, including the small desk, the empty bedside table and the surface of the mantlepiece. Whilst the letting agent promised that the rooms would be professionally cleaned in the literature that I was sent, you never can be too sure. At least this way, I will be able to sleep tonight knowing that the room is clean to my standards, not someone else's.
After spending thirty minutes cleaning the room, I start to unpack from the plastic boxes. I start with my clothes first, arranging them by type in the pine wardrobe. I start with trousers, then jackets, then shirts, followed by jeans and t-shirts. I then unpack my collection of books and DVDs, organising each of them alphabetically, books on the desk, DVDs on the mantlepiece. Then, putting the empty storage boxes under the bed, I take out the clean bedding from the penultimate box and make my bed. The sheets are brand new, although I boil washed them at home before leaving, just to be sure.
I'm just about to open the final plastic box containing my kitchen utensils, when I hear what I assume is the sound of Jenny's footsteps walking to the front door. The door opens and I hear murmurs that sound like polite greetings; the voice which isn't Jenny's sounds like it also belongs to a girl.
The girl who opens the door is not as hot as me. She's wearing glasses, has brown hair which it doesn't look like she's done anything other than brush, and she's wearing some horrible chunky knit cardigan, probably because she hasn't got a great figure and it's the only thing she feels comfortable in.
She smiles at me and offers her hand, "I'm Jenny."
"Hi" I say, shaking her hand gently, "I'm Harriet". I then feel mum behind me, "and this is my mum."
"Nicola" my mum says, moving me out of the way and shaking Jenny's hand, "but you can call me Nicky".
The girl looks a bit surprised but still smiles politely as she moves out of the way, letting us into the house. As soon as I walk in I immediately notice that it smells, it has this musty air that makes it smells like Grandma's house and the walls look faded and dirty. The carpet is a hideous shade of dark blue and looks like it was specifically made for student houses. As we stand in the corridor, I notice that it leads to a small, dingy looking kitchen. As I'm looking at the stairs, which are also covered in the terrible carpet, a boy emerges from the room next to us. As soon as I see him, I have a little freak out that I may have accidentally moved into a house full of geeks. He is also wearing glasses, as well as some weird t-shirt with an old car on it. He's shorter than Ryan, pretty scrawny and absolutely, one hundred percent, not hot; I am not happy.
"I'm Tom" the weird looking boy says. He offers his hand, which I take and shake, but as I we stand there I realise that he is totally looking at my boobs and hasn't even looked at the rest of me yet. After I rescue my hand from his, mum introduces herself and I notice that when she looks back at me, she makes a face that says "nevermind".
"So", mum says, looking around the house "this is it". She's obviously trying to be positive, but she has obviously forgot that I have walked into too many hotel rooms with her, only to have her complain about the view, the lighting, or the size of the bathroom; she hates the house, and I do too.
Then, as the four of us are standing in the corridor, I see the legs of someone walking down the stairs. It is a boy, a good looking boy, tall, with gorgeous hair and big brown eyes. He is wearing a pink shirt with chinos and a navy blue blazer, I fancy him immediately.
"Hi" the hot boy says, staring at me, hand outstretched "I'm Cameron".
"Harriet" I say, smiling and flicking my hair slightly.
"Nicky" mum says, her voice slightly high pitched; I feel her gently elbow me in the side.
"Good trip?" he says, still staring at me.
"Erm, yeh I guess" I say, "we came from just outside London".
"Essex" mum says, "she means Essex."
"Mum" I say, warning her.
"Don't be ashamed of Essex babe, I'm not!" she's says, smiling around at everyone else.
"Right" Cameron says, still looking at me, nodding. "Well, can I help you with your things?" Before I can say anything, mum claps her hands together and exclaims "And he's a gentlemen too! Yes babe that would be lovely, we're in the BMW outside".
Cameron strides towards the front door, as the weird boy and Jenny look on, mum walks quickly behind him, leaving me standing at the bottom of the stairs.
She is attractive, very attractive, perhaps a little on the short side, but with luscious blonde hair, excellent breasts and a thin and slender waist. As I help her mother unpack the car (always be polite to the parents) and take her boxes up to the small room next to mine. I make sure that I close my door when they're both in her room, in case she see's how much bigger mine is and asks me to give it up. I'm carrying box after box of clothes, make up and photographs, always being directed by her mother who insists on telling me where to put everything. At one point, I realise I have carried up a box of underwear and could swear that I spot a small, black g-string.
After shifting about ten boxes into her tiny room, I leave them to say their goodbyes whilst I make myself a G&T; manual labour has taken it out of me.
The hot boy helps me move all my stuff into my new room, doing everything that mum tells him. I don't know who is trying to impress more, me or her. I realise that the fifth or six box contains my pants, so I kick it under the bed before he notices anything in there. After about ten minutes, he leaves us alone, smiling at me as he goes. Mum and I are sat on my new, single, bed. I look around the room, it is no better than downstairs. Small, tired and with a window overlooking the back-garden, it is even worse than I thought it might be.
"Not bad babe" mum says, smiling and nodding towards the door.
"Oh mum, don't."
"I'm just saying hun, he's better than that guy downstairs, Jesus."
"Yeah, that's not hard though is it?!" We both laugh loudly as mum's phone goes off. She reaches inside her Chanel tote and takes it out.
"It's Dad, he says I need to make a move babe, traffic's bad apparently".
I start to cry, which makes her cry and after about ten seconds we're both sat on my bed, hugging each other tightly, whimpering into one another's shoulder.
The new girl, Harriet, looks like a barbie-doll. She reminds me of Kimberly from school, and I wander if Harrier is as bitchy, manipulative and utterly vacuous as she was, I hope not. Her mother looks very similar, other than the fact that she has quite clearly undergone a recent breast augmentation. The padding around the side of her chest was a clear giveaway, not to mention their size.
The drunk boy helps them with their luggage, leaving Jenny and I in the corridor together. She smiles at me weakly and offers me a cup of tea, which I decline, assuming that she does not have soya milk.
I return to my bedroom, closing the door behind me and moving to my desk. My laptop is unpacked, so I now move to the Wifi router which is still in it's packaging. Despite the fact it is a year old, I have kept every element of the box, so it appears brand new. I unpack it all gratefully, removing each of the wires and placing them separately on my bed. Looking around my room, I spot the telephone socket just above the skirting board, near my bedside table. I take the phone plug with the adapter on the end and push it into the socket. I then take the thicker ethernet cable and connect one end into the adapter, I then take the other end and plug it into the router itself. Finally, I connect the router to mains and watch as the green light flickers, before staying lit.
I move to my desk, flick open my laptop and install a Wifi network. I then open iTunes and play 'Power of Love' by Huey Lewis and the News.
Fresh G&T now in hand, I move back up to my bedroom, feeling much better about my current situation. I put the drink on my bedside table and move to my Macbook, playing another song from my Best of the 90s playlist, the opening beat of Mambo No. 5 fills my room.
I lie on my bed, take a sip of my G&T, and begin to masturbate furiously with a image in my head that finally can do the job. God bless black g-strings.
I'm in the kitchen, filling up the kettle and staring out of the window which looks out onto the small back-garden. I've placed a tea bag in one of the mugs that I brought from home, it's my favourite, with a picture of me, Dad and Mum on holiday in Cornwall years ago. As I fill up the mug and watch the tea bag dance and colour the water a dark brown, I realise I didn't buy any milk. I open the fridge, it is completely empty. I sigh deeply and stare at the mug. After draining the mug into the sink and throwing the tea bag into the bin, I leave the kitchen and walk upstairs.
In my room, I move towards my bed and sit down. Boxes surround me in the neat piles Dad made and marked with my handwriting. I spot the one that reads 'Important'. I shift myself a little further down my bed and lean towards the box, flapping open the sides. I pull out a small silver picture frame, which olds a photograph of me and Dad at Thorpe Park last summer. He is making a stupid face at the camera as I'm stood there smiling, not realising what he's doing. I grip the cold frame tightly and feel my face get hot, my eyes fill and a tear rolls down my cheek towards my chin. I sit there, silently crying for about twenty minutes, not wanting to make a sound. I pick up my phone from the bedside table and call home, but no one answers.