September 2010

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Oh, my goodness.

My heart stopped dead as I spotted him across the sticky, slightly smelly student bar on my first night out in this strange new world. I wasn't sure what it was exactly, but I got the sense he was important. The words 'he's different' actually went through my mind the moment I clocked him. Something powerful shifted within me as if life would never be the same again.

How little I knew.

He wasn't even looking at me then, he burst into laughter at something one of his friends said while running his fingers through that lovely, curly hair of his, but it didn't matter. I couldn't seem to drag my eyes away however hard I tried. The powerful magnet was already there between us.

"Carlie? Are you listening to me?"

I jolted from my transfixed state, my attention grabbed by my brand-new friend, Natalie. I turned quickly to focus on her instead, I needed her to like me if we were going to live together for the next three years, so I didn't particularly want to start off on the wrong foot. I'd left all my old friends back in Cornwall yesterday, and I had to make some new ones if I wanted to survive uni life in Bristol.

"Oh, sorry, it's erm...quite loud in here." My cheeks flamed as the lie fell out my lips. I didn't know this girl well enough yet to tell her I'd seen a guy I liked. "What did you say?"

She flipped her long, blonde hair over her shoulder and pressed a defiant hand on her hip. For an eighteen-year-old, she sure had a lot of confidence, unlike anyone I'd ever met before. I hoped during our time together some would rub off on me.

"I said would you like another drink? This one's nearly done." She slurped the rest of her bright blue alcopop—through a straw so it wouldn't stain her teeth—and nodded in the direction of the big, balling crowd.

I couldn't resist, I shot one last, lingering look to where the gorgeous boy had been only moments before, to find a huge, empty space. No point in sticking around then. "Yeah, come on. I'll buy this one."

I would've politely waited at the back of the queue until it was my turn, but as it turned out Natalie had other ideas. She ducked, she shoved, she darted until she got as near to the front as she could manage, all with me in tow.

"I can't believe you did that." I giggled feeling a little light-headed, full of hysteria. It might not have been much, but I never did anything wrong and it felt unexpectedly exhilarating. "That was crazy."

"Oh well, I hate waiting." Natalie shrugged in a blasé manner as if she shouldn't ever be expected to queue for anything. "And almost everyone is drunk already, so none of them really noticed us."

"Yeah, I suppose you're right."

As I stood at my parent's car this morning, waving them off with promises I would look after myself, anxiety consumed me. As far as I was concerned, my English course was only a small part of what university would offer me, and it was the bit I felt least afraid of. Putting myself out there, meeting new people, experiencing new walks of life...for a small-town girl, I couldn't stop being scared.

But with Natalie by my side, guiding me through it I'd be okay.

"Oof," I cried out as someone slammed into my back. Unfortunately, that one action created a domino effect and I bumped into the person in front of me as well. "Oh, I'm sorry. I didn't mean..."

"My fault," a smooth male voice called over my shoulder. The heat of another body covered me, as if the words 'personal space' meant nothing at all. I stiffened, the panic flooded back. "My idiot friend pushed me, being stupid, and I fell."

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