Chapter One

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It started off innocently.

    Conor and I were sitting on my bed in my Glenstal Abbey dorm room a couple of weeks before winter break, his arm thrown casually around my shoulders as I leant against him at an angle, scrolling through Tumblr on my phone whilst he replied to emails on his.

    'Hey,' he said conversationally as I thumbed apathetically past gifs from John Green movies. It sounded like he was broaching something, like he'd been thinking about it.

    'Hm?'

    'So do you, like, have any plans for next year?'

    'What do you mean?'

    'Well, I just figured, you know, we won't be coming back here after the summer, and I was wondering if, maybe, you'd like to, I dunno... get a place together?'

    I felt the corners of my mouth tug upwards into a smile. 'Are you asking me to move in with you?'

    He shrugged one shoulder awkwardly. 'If you want. No pressure.'

    'I want,' I said emphatically, sitting up and turning to face him. 'Did you really think there was a chance I would say no?'

    He shrugged again. 'You tend to get kind of cagey whenever anybody brings up, you know, The Future.'

    I raised my eyebrows in surprise. 'Do I?'

    'Uh, yeah. Everybody knows not to talk about graduation or university courses or anything when you're around.'

    'I didn't know I was doing that,' I said honestly. 'I don't mean to.'

    'Then...' he started, but trailed off before picking up again. 'Can I ask... I mean, do you know what you want to do next year?'

    I felt something unpleasant twist in my tummy. The truth was I hadn't really thought much further than my summer plans, which were to accompany Conor and his band Name Withheld on their first North American tour. Everybody was coming: my two best friends Josh and Rachel, Name Withheld keyboardist Sally's boyfriend Jackson, along with, of course, the rest of the band. It was still six months away and I was so looking forward to it that I hadn't really thought about anything that might come after.

    Conor forged ahead despite my silence. 'Like do you think you want to go to university, and if so, where? Or is there something else you wanna do?'

    I shrugged helplessly. I had no idea what I wanted to do. I must have been subconsciously pushing those thoughts and decisions out of my mind because it came as a complete shock to me to realise that I didn't have any plans for my long term future.

    Conor was looking at me suspiciously, but then his face relaxed into a smile. 'You have time,' he said reassuringly. 'I can help you figure it out.'

    And that was it. A milestone in my relationship turned into the realisation that I was rocketing towards adulthood with zero plans for what I was gonna do with it.

    I forced myself to smile back. I knew that he knew that I was panicking on the inside, and he knew that I knew that he knew it, but we both held up the facade to spare me from embarrassment.

    'As soon as you figure it out we'll know where to start looking for a place,' he went on, gently steering the subject back to our new level of commitment. He continued in that vein for a while, as I sat there trying not to freak out.

    Conor was already an adult. He'd been an adult for three years; writing, recording, and releasing music with his band, touring and earning his own money. I was still living off of my wealthy parents, and I didn't know how long they intended to continue supporting me once I was finished with school. I suspected we'd be having that conversation before I left for the US with my friends. Like almost everybody else I knew, I had a considerable trust fund waiting for me, but not until I turned twenty-five. I had only turned eighteen two months ago. Seven years is a long time to live with no income.

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