• Vol. 06
  • Chapter 11
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Flocked Wallpaper

We sit, backs against the wall, the textured wallpaper dull against our heads and softer still as stolen whiskey swashes behind our eyes. I’d pulled a pair of fluffy socks on over the ones I already wore, but my toes are thick with cold. Ana rests her head on my shoulder and sighs, long and shallow, until her lips form a raspberry, then a giggle, blowing my hair across sticky lips. Her breath is at once medicinal yet masked with cheesy nachos and velvety hummus swiped from downstairs.

‘I can’t believe they haven’t noticed,’ she says, her eyes heavy under two pairs of fake eyelashes glued together. Each word tumbles into the next like she’s thrown the sentence down a wobbly slide at the fairground.

‘I can,’ I say.

The drink sits delicately in my stomach and I’m careful not to move my head for fear of the room shunting to one side. We’re both wearing old primary school leavers hoodies, the numbers on the back made up of names from now absent class friends we’d sworn fierce loyalty to. Now, it was only Ana and I.

When everyone else’s parents baptised their children ahead of secondary school selection, we’d followed the other estate kids to the local academy, swapping gingham sundresses for black skirts rolled up at the waistband. When the school flopped Ofsted, it was rebranded with a faintly regal name, but that didn’t stop chairs soaring across the canteen, or the teachers crying in lessons.

Earlier, the doorbell cut short an argument my parents were enjoying, at which point Ana and I were pushed upstairs with a copy of Anastasia on DVD and a bag of wasabi peas; one we’d grown out of and the other we’d yet to grow into.


Flocked Wallpaper

‘You’re so lucky,’ says Ana, her chin slipping onto my collarbone. I bite my bottom lip until my mouth tastes like pennies.