11. Nothin' Shakin' But The Leaves On The Trees

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Though I keep trying hard to make her mine

One day the wind will blow, the sun will shine

Till that time she puts my heart at ease

There's nothin' shakin' but the leaves on the trees




'Do you think it's safe to go back yet?' George asks, as we stand at the bottom of the steps to the hostel.

'Safe?'

'John and Minnie. Don't want to walk in on... anything.' He grins.

It's not escaped my notice how close he's standing to me. Maybe it's the drink, but I don't really mind. I feel quite drunk. The walk back hasn't sobered me up. Occasionally I feel dizzy, like I've just stepped off a fairground waltzer. He's still holding my hand in one hand as he searches through his pocket for a box of matches with the other. He switches hands so he can feel in his other pocket.

'You're freezing,' I say as I put my other hand over his, trying to warm it up. 'Do you want to come in for a minute? Warm up a bit.'

George raises an eyebrow. He drops my hand so he can strike a match to light the rolled cigarette between his teeth.

'Nur für Frauen,' he says as he shakes the match out.

'What does that mean?'

'Women only,' he nods towards the sign on the hostel door.

'Oh, yeah, but I don't think there's anyone there this late. Come on.'

I run up the steps and pause at the top. George waits, indecisive for a moment, then stooping to extinguish his cigarette on the stone step, he puts the unsmoked portion of it back in his pocket and follows me.

The hostel door is locked at curfew time, but I have a key. As I thought, there's no one behind the desk in the hall. George and I tip toe through and up the stairs, our feet echoing around the stairwell, sounding deafening. George starts laughing, which makes me laugh, so we climb the last couple of flights holding our breath and trying to swallow the giggles. When we reach our room I close the door and we burst out laughing.

'These are dormitories,' George says, when he's recovered.

'It's okay. There's no one else staying in this room. That's my bed. This is Minnie's.' I flop down on Minnie's bed. The room keeps tipping sideways. It's like being back on the ferry again. I screw my eyes closed and when I open them again, it's back to normal.

'What if someone comes in?' George comes and sits next to me on the thin mattress.

'What, at...' I try to focus on the clock on the wall over the door, '...three in the morning?'

'They might.' He puts his hand on my knee.

'Well, lets put that spare bed in the way of the door. Oh, unless you want a cup of tea first?'

I stand up, knocking George out of the way. 'Wait here,' I tell him. 'And keep quiet!'

George laughs at me. 'You're making more noise than me.'

I escape to the kitchen and make us both a drink, then George helps me pull one of the empty beds across to block the doorway.

'That won't stop anyone wanting to come in,' he says as he climbs onto my bed, tea cup in hand. I sit on Minnie's again, opposite him.

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