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Changes

By , Lydney, United Kingdom
Anna was led on her mother’s sun cushion in the garden, wincing and concentrating on not moving her head, which felt as if it were being clenched in an iron fist.
“What are you doing?” her mother’s harsh voice came from the kitchen.
“Dying” Anna groaned in reply.
Left alone, she settled to her thoughts. Last night, clubbing with friends. It had been good, from what she could remember. Well, to be fair, this wasn’t much. She remembered The Ex, they boy she had been torn between loathing and adoring since their break up almost two months ago, walking up behind her and kissing her. Kissing her for most of the night, in fact, before he had had to help carry her to the taxi. How sweet of him, he didn’t have to do that.
It wasn’t until a week later, after a number of attempts at talking to The Ex with little success, that the gaps were filled in. Yes, the ex had kissed her most of the night. Then the moment she was ill he had dumped her and went back to the night club, leaving the rest of her friends to clear up the mess.
“Well, I don’t blame him, who would want to be around you in that state?” her mother had said when she found out, leaving Anna feeling even more like she ruined everything she touched. Despite her best friend’s constant reassurances, Anna couldn’t help but feel sorry for herself. Everyone loved The Ex, and no-one loved her. But no more, she vowed. Armed with some pretty impressive A-level grades and a not so impressive bank balance, Anna was moving on.
Sat on the train, nose buried into “Wuthering Heights”, Anna was finding it hard to concentrate. Even her favourite book couldn’t quell her anxiety. She combed her hand through her short brown hair, sighing deeply. Had she made the right decision? Anna had dreamt of becoming a primary school teacher for a long time, and constant advice that she should be aiming for a more highly regarded career had only further made up her stubborn mind. She had gained her University place, but the spontaneity in her that so often landed her in to trouble had led her to buy her train ticket. She hadn’t packed any luggage besides the change of clothes and a packet of walkers crisps which she had put in her work bag that morning. Her parents hadn’t suspected a thing as she left, but Anna knew it wouldn’t be long before her manager was ringing her house, demanding an explanation as to why she hadn’t turned up for her shift.
“Well, London’s a big place” she convinced herself. She had already disposed of her mobile phone; she felt a niggling of guilt at throwing her Blackberry into the road, hating the idea that she had treated her possessions with such disregard. She knew they could track her when she used a cash machine if they wanted to, but also knew that at the age of eighteen, no-one could force her to come home. She only hoped that no-one would find her; despite the fact that she could no longer live with her parents, she didn’t want to hurt them.
Three hours and two stops later, Anna was stood in Paddington station. Looking around her helplessly, she found herself unable to move. What would she do now? Would she end up like the homeless who she had so often pitied, trying to find somewhere to sleep under a bridge, using any filthy materials she could lay her hands on for warmth?
Andy was sat in Paddington station, concentrating on the people passing by him. He noted each of their expressions; some anxious, some passive; some simply in a hurry to get on with their busy lives. He never could understand this sense of urgency; it was something that he had never experienced. As your stereotypical art student, he was casual to a tee, his worn knitted cardigan thrown on top of his white t-shirt and faded jeans. His dress reflected his attitude, as he prepared for a leisurely day of waiting for the perfect model; some-one with real character that he could capture in his art work.
He spotted the girl just as his concentrating was slipping. She was wearing skinny jeans which revealed her slim legs, huddling in her coat in a way he couldn’t tell whether was for warmth or comfort. She wasn’t particularly striking to the untrained eye; pretty in a soft way, unlike the harsh looks that most girls their age seemed to aim for. She looked a little lost, he decided. Ah, what the hell? It was time for his good deed of the day.
“Excuse me?” a voice behind Anna momentarily startled her. She turned around to see a young man stood behind her. He could only have been a year or two older than her, with brown, tousled hair, green eyes and the sort of stubble she associated with men who cared little about their appearance.
“Yes?” she replied nervously.
“Well, I couldn’t help noticing that you looked a little lost” he said, giving her an awkward smile.
“I’ve never been to London alone before” she blurted out, before realising that making herself seem helpless to strange men was not the best of ideas.
“Ah, well, what are you looking for? Shops? Museums? You look the museum sort, if you don’t mind me saying”.
This made Anna smile. “I am, usually”. She looked at the man for a while. He must be a student, she decided, he had that look. What was the worst he could do?
“Actually, I’m looking for somewhere to live, and hopefully a job of some description. Anything will do. I’m biding my time here for a while so I can decide what to do”.
Andy was surprised. The girl stood in front of him looked about sixteen. Had she ran away from home? He wondered if he should be taking her straight to the police station, but then that seemed like a terrible betrayal of trust after she had just confided in him.
“How old are you?” he asked.
“Eighteen” she shot back, instinctively pulling out her driver’s licence. “So you don’t have to worry about shopping me to the police” she added defensively.
Andy grinned at this. “Alright, baby face”, he shot back. “My twelve year old sister is taller than you, thought I’d better check!” Anna glowered at him.
“I’m Andy, second year art student at University College London” he introduced himself.
“I’m Anna, would be trainee teacher who has fled before the beginning of her student life” Anna replied grimly.
“Well, in that case, you better stay with me” Andy replied matter of factly. “I have three flat mates, two guys and a girl; you van sleep on the sofa and start paying rent the moment you start earning. Deal?”


Andy opened the door of his apartment, not bothering to knock. He noticed Anna kicking of her shoes before leaving them neatly in the corner. How quaint, he thought.
“Andy boy!” yelled Steve. “I’ve ordered us a pizza!”. The third pizza this week, Andy thought wearily.
“Well, I hope it’s a big one, I’ve brought company” Andy called back. He turned to Anna, who stood awkwardly by the front door. “Come on through” he smiled at her.
Anna followed Andy into the front room, where three bodies were sprawled. Led on the floor was a slightly plump girl, with dyed red hair in two short pigtails which stuck out from the top of her head. She looked up from her magazine. “Been cradle snatching again, have we Andy?” she commented.
Andy ignored her, “This is the delightful Alexis” he introduced her. “And that big hairy thing on the sofa is Steve” he continued, pointing at a stocky bearded man in a faded black band t-shirt. Steve nodded his acknowledgment. “And last but not least” Andy declared grandly, “is Mr Harry potter himself!”. Anna looked at the man crouched over a sketch pad, who indeed had scruffy jet black hair and gawky round glasses.
“Patrick”, the man said, looking up and smiling.
“Anna’s going to be staying with us for a while” Andy stated. An awkward silence followed.
“Hey Anna” Lexie tried to sound casual. “Let me show you round upstairs”. Anna smiled politely and silently followed Lexie.
The flat was small, but surprisingly well kept. “I was lucky” Lexie commented. “Landed a flat with two nice clean guys”.
Anna went in to Lexie’s room. It was cluttered, but clean, with both complete and unfinished works of art cluttering the room. Anna wasn’t a fan of art, and knew nothing about it, but the bold, expressive colours still captured her. “So much art is about human pain and grief” Lexie explained. “I want people to know that us artists can still capture the beauty in the world”.
“Your work is stunning” Anna commented.
Sensing that they boys had probably talked it out, Lexie said “let’s go downstairs and get some pizza, before the greedy sods eat it all!”





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