19 / good riddance

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Wednesday was the first day that Ishaana opened her books to begin revision for her exams, now exactly one week away, battling off the cramps that were beginning to ease up two days after her abortion. The nausea had vanished instantly, no trace of it when she had woken up the following morning, and it had been a strange sensation to eat again without the fear that any moment now, she would bring it all up again. She had taken it easy yesterday, but today she was splashing out: Melody had offered to cook, to celebrate Ishaana's ability to eat for enjoyment, not just in the hopes that something would nourish her.

Politics was boring her now, her mind going numb after hours of trawling through her notes and rewriting the ones that mattered. For each of her two exams, she would have to write two essays based on two topics from the module. The lecturers had let it slip that there would be a question for every topic: she only had four to revise, choosing her favourite two from each module. That was done, an A4 sheet of paper for each of the topics she had selected on which she had tried to condense her notes. For good measure, she had even selected a few relevant quotes for each one, highlighting them at the top of the page.

And that was plenty for today. That was more than she had done for her revision at any point last year, when she had scanned through the lecture notes and hoped she would remember it when it mattered. Determined not to let the past couple of weeks have an effect on her exams, she vowed to work harder than before to make up for the rollercoaster of a year, and she still had a full week to prove herself. After that, it would be out of her hands, and she would have the whole summer to enjoy herself before her third and final year.

A summer to relax. That was what she focused on as she packed away her books for the day. She had no plans, no obligations, except to see her sister and spend some time with her. Maybe even take her away somewhere. Priya wasn't due to break up until the end of July, and Ishaana wondered if that would give her enough time to find a little summer work, maybe earn enough money to take her sister somewhere. And Saffiya too, if she wanted, though she probably had plans with her friends.

As she zipped up her pencil case, stuffing it so full with pens that it would barely close, she almost missed the faint knock on the door that couldn't possible have belonged to Melody: she knocked with confidence, loud and firm, but the knock that Ishaana heard was meek and mild, quiet knuckles tapping against the wood so lightly that the sound only just carried through to the other side of the door.

"Come in," she said as she sat, pulling her hot water bottle onto her lap. She had lain on top of it as she had worked in the position she had found to be the most comfortable, warming her stomach as she battled through the last of the side effects. The door creaked open and Pearl ducked her head into the room, a gentle smile on her bare lips.

"Hey," she said, her voice quiet. Pearl was incapable of being loud, struggling to lift her voice enough to carry across the kitchen. "I'm not interrupting, am I?"

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