Thunder and lightning roared outside, making the silence completely vanish in the background when I needed quietness the most. It was the beginning of September and the heat was much more bearable than the rain at night. I wanted to be left alone with my thoughts but Mother Nature had other plans. I walked over to the single yet wide enough window and yanked it open to set my eyes on the London sky – it’s every inch covered in thick massive black clouds. It was two in the morning and the rain was coming down in heavy droplets. I could hear it splash loudly on the hood of the cars that made sleep even more unwelcomed. I let out an exasperated sigh, shutting down the window before making my way back to the bed, bumping into the boxes that sat carelessly in the middle of the room.
I plopped down on the single bed that was also placed in the middle of the room of an apartment my mother’s friend was very gracious enough to rent me. Even though she insisted I lived rent free, I couldn’t take the offer because giving me this apartment was enough of a favour and paying the rent seemed like the best way to thank her because living in London was too expensive. Mrs. Baker was rather too kind and selfless. When the university mixed up my application for the dorm room, by the time I got there, all rooms were taken and I was unable to live on campus. My father was furious but he couldn’t do much and I couldn’t let him pay for expensive apartments that were located near the university. That’s when Mrs. Baker told my parents that she had an empty apartment located thirty minutes from London Metropolitan University. Even though it would be a hassle, I couldn’t say no otherwise I would’ve been homeless. It was a huge relief for everyone and now here I was, struggling to sleep which wasn’t only because of the rain but because I was finally away from home, from everything that has been going on. I was finally on my own and call me selfish but that made the stress go away and I felt light, as if a lot of weight had been lifted off my shoulders that couldn’t take anymore.
I kept lying on the bed for another half hour, pushing the rain in the background and thinking of things that happened before I left for university. I remember my mother was in tears because I was the only child and saying goodbye to me was the hardest thing for her, nearly impossible with the amount of tears she was shedding. I was trying to be strong but seeing her like that, I choked and my own tears made their way down my cheeks. Seeing my mother cry had become my weakness because of the events in the past but I left her, with a heavy heart I must say because now she would be on her own, leaving me to worry for her even though she told me repeatedly that she’d be fine. I wasn’t too sure about that.
And then there was my father, who was leaning against the doorframe, trying not to be emotional but when I stepped forward to wrap my arms around him, I heard him sniff his nose. My father and I used to be inseparable when I was a kid and then one day it just wasn’t the same anymore. He would come home late from work and I would hear my mother pacing in the living room. I was eight and I had come home from school when I saw a suitcase outside the door. I didn’t know dad was leaving because he always carried his blue suitcase whenever he would go. But when I stepped inside, I heard arguing which seized as soon as I was spotted. My mother’s eyes were red around the corners and my dad immediately came towards me, picking me up and whispering in my ear about how much he loved me and then in a blink of an eye, he was gone.
Thunder boomed over and I was brought back to the present. I didn’t realise I gasped until I felt my heart race a little too quickly. I took deep breaths and went to fetch myself a glass of water. The apartment was rather big for a single person but I liked it, a place for me and only me. When the clock hit three, I knew I had to sleep now or I would be late on the very first day and I never liked being late. So I decided to concentrate on sleep that soon wrapped me in its arm and I was out before I could think anymore.
“Nina. Nina. Nina. Ninaaaaaaaaa.”
I grunted in my sleep at the annoying sound that wasn’t coming from my alarm because in the entire world, there was only one voice as annoying as the sound of the alarm in the morning. I switched my sides and covered my face with the duvet so I could tune out her voice but it wasn’t much of a help. The duvet was snatched away from my body, making me turn with a pissed look on my face.
“You’re still sleeping?! Nina, I just got here and I am all ready to head to university and you are still snoring. Wake up!” Shouted my best friend, Maddie who was bouncing on my bed with an excitement that hadn’t and wasn’t going to hit me.
“Shut up and go away. The stupid rain didn’t let me sleep at all.” I said, rubbing my eyes in an attempt to wake myself up but there was only one thing that could make my brain function and that was coffee.
“Which is why I made you coffee.” She said, with a very proud smile on her face.
Maddie had some errands to run back in Ipswich due to which we couldn’t drive down to London together. I told her I’d stay with her but she insisted that I go and get the apartment and everything else in order. And when Maddie gets serious, there’s no denying her. She already told me she’d be here at the apartment instead of the dorm because she wanted to go with me and also because I had no car and Maddie was my source of transport. But now she was here and she even made me coffee which made me beam at my best friend.
“That is why I love you, Madeline Penelope Sawyer.” I winked at her and she laughed.
“And I, you, Nina Elizabeth Banning.”
She left me then so I could go shower and get ready for class. Maddie had missed the orientation as well so she had to pick her schedule up hence, her pouncing on my bed and telling me to hurry up. I absolutely loathed waking up in the morning and 6:15 am was way, way too early for me because even though I got this amazing apartment, it was a thirty minute drive to campus. I realised yesterday what a pain in the ass my 8 am classes were going to be.
I hopped into the shower and let the cold water wake me up from my slumberous state before turning on the warm water because keeping my eyes open seemed like an impossible task and I needed coffee more than ever. I think I was enjoying the shower a little too much when I heard Maddie pounding at the door and yelling at me to come out. I chuckled but soon came out, with a towel wrapped around my body and hair. My hair were long and a shade of brown that almost made them look black and they took ages to get dry so I had to keep them wrapped up. I was about to walk over to my closet when Maddie told me that she has already picked out my clothes for me. Oh, what would I ever do without her?
I pulled the jeans up and a purple flannel shirt over my head. Every evidence of last night’s angry storm was washed away because the sky now seemed clear and blue with sunshine peeking through the clouds, making the sky look mesmerizingly beautiful. I was told the London weather was unpredictable but I couldn’t tell them that Maddie and I already knew that since it was our little secret. Before putting on my shoes, I went to the kitchen to grab the coffee mug that was waiting for me and when I took that one sip, I felt happiness slip down my throat and I closed my eyes in contentment.
“You’re weird.” Maddie commented with a ‘you’re a freak’ look on her face and I pushed her voice away from my head and flipped her. I heard her chuckle and I opened my eyes to finish the rest of my coffee.
“Weird and proud. You know my motto.”
“Yeah, yeah.” She waved me off.
“By the way, when did you get here?” I asked and she gave me a funny look. “Woman, my brain has just started to work.”
“I got here a little before six. Ben drove me and not because he wanted to do something nice for his sister but because his friends were planning on camping or whatever.” She rolled her eyes and I let out a snicker. It was always interesting watching Maddie and Ben banter. He would always win and Maddie would always be the one with a pout and a whiny look on her face.
“So are you gonna go to the dorms?”
“Well, I mean, yeah because I wanna live the dorm life for a little while and then I promise I’ll move in with you.” She said with an apologetic smile on her face but I was completely fine with her decision.
I had already told her a million times that she could stay in the dorms for as long as she like because whenever we would talk about college, she would talk about how it would be to live away from everyone, with a stranger as a roommate – well that was the worst case scenario if we decided to go to different universities and in our case, mixing up of applications was the worst of all. I knew how much excited she was to be living in dorms and I couldn’t take that away from her.
“Mads, how many times I have to tell you that I am alright with your decision?”
“I know. I know. But I feel like you’re not.”
“But I am. Trust me.” I said and walked over to give her a hug. She hugged me back and I felt her relax.
“Stay there for whatever days you want. I and this apartment aren’t going anywhere.” I said, bumping my shoulder into hers and when she smiled, I knew she was back to her quirky self.
After ten minutes or so, I was ready with my bag slung over my shoulder and my converse on my feet. Maddie only had to freshen up her blonde curls and dab some lip gloss and she was ready to go. She made a face on my makeup less face and pleaded me to at least put on some lip gloss. I rolled my eyes at her but decided to listen to her anyway.
We made our way downstairs and the elderly man sitting on the reception smiled at me, I smiled back and waved. The sunny with a hint of cloudy weather instantly cheered me up but what made me happier was parked right in front of me – Maddie’s classic red 1963 Porsche 356B Karmann Coupe. It was one of the most beautiful cars I have ever seen. It was passed through the family and her father gifted it to Maddie on her eighteenth birthday. When we took it out for a drive the first time, we couldn’t contain our excitement and Maddie kept freaking out at the same time. I laughed at the memory and she could tell exactly what I was thinking about.
“Oh, I’ve missed this car.” We both laughed in unison because I haven’t been away from it for too long to actually miss it.
“Ready for LMU?”
I took a deep breath and said, “Let’s do this.”
And we drove away with One Republic playing on the radio, excited and almost ready to embark on a new journey.