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Jonathan's shared bedroom in the Student Hall's of Residence
“Ahhhh,” the much-abused book on Mathematical Philosophy, went flying through the air, collided with the wall and landed on the heap of dirty laundry, which had been sorted according to colour for tomorrows scheduled washday. The lean, light haired young man on the bed flung himself onto his stomach and covered his head with his hands. “Why, did I pick this stupidly hard and convoluted subject?”
“Because you’re an egghead, a geek, a Stephen Hawkin wanabe and you wanted everyone to know just how smart you are.” Anna-Marie Sutton sat on the other bed, leaning against the headboard and continued to file her nails. “But now the great plan has backfired and within the year you’ll end up a homeless, wino who smiles tooth-lessly at the young girls as they walk past on their way to school.” Her long slender legs were crossed at the ankles; her high-heeled red sandals that had been discarded earlier lay at the foot of the bed. Everything about her spoke of elegance and good breeding from her straight back, to her delicate fingers, from the sky blue modern twin set she favoured, to her Marks and Spencer skirt. The golden auburn hair, twisted up into an eye catching yet simple swirl, had been copied by all of the university women that could manage it. She looked up from her time consuming task with a faux thoughtful glance, “Or was it a rhetorical question?”
“Thanks for the encouragement there Ginger.” Jon O’Neill sighed has he looked up from his melodramatic slump and over at his red-headed companion.
“And I meant every word,” she smiled but it faded a little as she took a careful look at Jon’s face and saw fine lines of tension around his eyes and the shadow of defeat in the his shoulders. Checking the time on the overly large Ikea clock on the wall she decided that a walk outside to grab dinner would be a useful interlude for her stressed young friend. “Come on that’s enough deadly boring work for you for today. It’s a slow week and because I care, I’ll allow myself to be seen in your loser company on a Friday night. However you’re paying.”
“Don't I always?”
“It's all that chivalry.”
Taking a last considering look at the abused textbook Jon had to concede to the greater wisdom. What he did not know now he would not know tomorrow even if he studied all night. After a week of examinations and projects he had hit the proverbial brick wall. “Why thank you for your consideration of this lowly wretch, my Lady. Would dinner at the world renowned Pizza Hut compensate you for your charity?” he snipped at her as he rolled his stiff shoulders and stretched to loosen his cramped back muscles.
“Oh Jon you know I love you really.” Pulling his mobile phone from the back of his loose jean pockets Jon scrolled down the list of numbers. Multiple texts later and he had notified five more of Oxford’s finest students and not so finest to rendezvous with them at the local pizza restaurant in an hour.
“But I'm too weedy, you said.”
“Yes but on you weedy looks good. Like Twiggy but for men.”
“Ginger was that supposed to be a compliment,”
“Couldn't you tell?”
“It was more a nice gentle verbal slap.”
“It's only your closest friends that will tell you hard truths.”
“So what's your excuse.”
They’d met on the first day of term, well collided would be more acute, looking at the map as he tried to navigate the facility of science, he did not see the girls tall 5ft 10 body until he had ended up on his skinny American ass. Upon hearing his quaint American drawl, combined with his young personage the older girls heart had been won and after a few meetings and lunches it had grown into a healthy friendship. He found her both intelligent, and humorous with an occasional sharp tongue that she used to cut down her enemies and shape up her friends. She kept them in touch with the truth no matter how hard a pill to take.
Throwing his jacket on he open the door for Anna as she gracefully donned her sandals and waltzed out of Jon’s room and into the dormitory’s chaotic shared common room. “So Jack is visiting again next weekend.” She stated as they made their way out of the university halls of residence complex and into the early summer evening.
“Yep, we’re going to spend Saturday fishing and Sunday lazing around in an expensive hotel, paid for by the good old U.S. of A. Air Force. Jack’s coming over for a week of meetings in London and he thought it would be a good time to catch up.” Jack had met Jon’s university friends many a time and Jon knew that Jack had a special place in his heart for Anna, and vice versa.
“Sounds dull,” she said truthfully, “but I suppose as a bonding ritual it does have tradition behind it”
“You're just mad because he wont be around to drink you under the table and exchange tall tales. Be fair Anna you saw him last time and even you can’t chance drinking yourself into oblivion on the last week of finals.” The redhead shrugged and pulled out her packet of cigarettes as they walked along.
Not long after moving across the Atlantic to study in Oxford, Jon had realised that the smarter his room mates were, the less organised they tended to be. All the years of taking care of Daniel and to a lesser extent Carter had held him in good stead when he had to keep the other users of the common room alive, hydrated and focused enough to actual make most of their classes on time. Even though he was the youngest of this year’s first years his maturity and organisational skills had gained him the unofficial position of proxy parent to those that shared his common room. And if he was the proxy male parent then Anna was his female counterpart. She was a god send and they'd clicked really well even to the point that they'd often spent the holidays either with Jack in DC or with her parents in Kent.
She shrugged dismissal at his last comment. “What are you doing for the summer break?”
“I’ll be in D.C. I guess. Going home to Jack's soak up the ambience, have grits and waffles and proper pancakes dripping with maple syrup. Watch hundreds of TV channels simultaneously be American and get away from you limey gits. All the things I’ve missed. ”
She laughed, “You know you might miss us.” Jon gave her a disbelieving look.
“What miss people using up my milk, Garry's stinky trainers, Pete's tone deaf band, living in one room, student poverty.”
“Poverty between your uncle and the money...”
“Not my poverty, you guys are always on the scrounge.”
“Think of it as economic re-distribution of wealth.”
“More like you spending your allowance on non-essential items like I don't know those shoes and let me think more shoes.”
She pretended to look hurt, “It's almost like you don't want me to look pretty.”
“Don't start that BS it's not going to work I'm not one of your boyfriends.”
She grinned, “No you're too weedy and short and...”
“I get it don't go on, but I'll grow just you wait and see.”
“Sure you will short stuff sure you will.” There was a brief pause, “I was wondering if you would like a house guest for a week or so over the summer break,” she continued, “just so you don’t forget all those limey swear words you’ve been trying out.”
Jon was thoughtful.“I thought you were going over to Cleveland to see some people for the holidays.”
“Yes I am, but I can always spend some time in D.C. as well”
“I’ll talk to Jack but I don’t see why not. I would love to show you the sights err... again.”
“Can you get me a pass for the Pentagon again?”
“I'll ask Jack.”
They traded chitchat as Jon’s study craze faded and his usual easy-going persona returned. By the time they were seated in the pizzeria with their friends he was relaxed and taking the opportunity to sip on his beer that was stationed next to Anna not his own under aged self. The company was good and the conversation flowed around the table with the stress of the weeks forgotten by all.