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Pen Your Pride

'Hmm...' Becca seemed to agree, though still appeared deeply concerned. She then tilted her head to the side and said, 'Why didn't you just say his name? It would have been funnier. Nicked it off Nick.' Chuckling, she covered her mouth.

'That's pathetic and not even remotely funny.' Sani rolled her eyes. 'You only want to hear his name 'cause you fancy him.'

'I do not!'

'Oh come on, I've seen you. It's ridiculous. He's too old for goodness' sake.'

'Twenty-three is not old. Anyway, I do not.'

'Do...'

Vicky finally lit the cigarette, unnoticed by the other two. Their constant nagging at each other for things that didn't matter were doing her head in.

Awkwardly breathing in the smoke through her mouth instantly made her choke. She grasped her throat, her lungs feeling like they were on fire as she struggled, coughing and spluttering.

'Are you okay?'

She was vaguely aware of Becca patting her on the back and Sani whipping the cigarette out of her fingers. Trying to catch her breath for what seemed like forever, she started to open her eyes and wave her hand to leave her alone.

Becca and Sani resumed their seats on the floor, both no doubt eagerly awaiting to have a go at her.

Her breathing easing and slowing down at last, she made one more grunt to clear her throat.

'Disgusting!' Vicky croaked.

The two girls exchanged glances, and both smirked.

'What is? The cigarette? Or the fact that Becca fancies your brother?'

'Both,' Vicky replied firmly and had another bout of coughing and patting herself on the chest, while Becca continued her unconvincing counterarguments. Her voice died out soon enough, drowned into the noise of the snowstorm outside. The still-flickering cigarette lay crushed to the side, oozing out the last few puffs of smoke.

'Are you done being an idiot then?' Sani's gaze at Vicky was serious for a change.

'Yes,' she said miserably. 'Remind me to never do that again.'

'Good.'

'Because we have something to cheer you up anyway,' Becca said beaming and went to unzip her bulky rucksack.

'What are you talking about? You mean you two are going to stop useless arguments?'

'A present,' Sani clarified.

Vicky scratched her head. 'It's New Year's Eve. Not Christmas Eve.'

'I know.' Becca held out a small box, covered in sparkly red wrapping paper. 'But you got us stuff, and ours was just delayed in the post. You know how it is during this time of year.' She thrust the box to Vicky. 'Open.'

'You guys... I said don't worry about it.'

The girls giggled and rubbed their palms together as Vicky began tearing the paper away. She took her time, teasing them and unable to stop her own smile spreading.

The uneven strips revealed a portion of a picture of a dark grey object with a round glass bit in the middle. Somehow she recognised it immediately.

'You didn't,' she whispered.

'Oi! Stop guessing before you're done unwrapping!' Sani was furious.

Vicky shook the remainder of the paper off to the floor, revealing a slightly tattered white box with a picture of a Polaroid camera on it. Temporarily, legible words struggled to form in her mind.

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