'Swipe' is a short story written by the immensely talented Amira Umar, and beautifully illustrated by Bex.
Swipe, swipe, swipe. There he was with his torso out again. Match, swipe. Should Naz know? Screenshot.
I’d sent it convinced she’d find it funny, that we’d laugh about how pathetic he was with his nipples out like he’s one hot pig at the Sunday roast. It was to cheer her up.
She was upset. Maybe even pissed off.
Naz didn’t reply for a bit and then eventually sent ha.
After crying for several days and not speaking to anyone except her mum, maybe seeing him wasn’t what she needed, maybe I was being a bit of a dick. There wasn’t much anyone could do to cheer her up and lord knows I couldn’t buy her anymore Terry’s Chocolate Oranges before the Spar guy thought I was his own personal stalker.
I stumbled downstairs to her room, knocked and peeked through. The knock was an alien formality that we’d never had; not even in first year when I’d stumble into her room drunk, strip down to my arse and catapult my whole body onto her bed . We told each other everything the first day we met; sat on the pier, looked at the boats and just talked. Bowel movements, period cycles, family troubles, weird fetishes and random, passionate, dislikes for people we’d never meet. Mine? Rita Ora. Hers? Freud.
She didn’t bleach her hair to dye it pink-blue-aquamarine anymore. She cropped it short into a little fro. She didn’t kiss the first man she saw after a sip of gin, she didn’t stick her tongue out at old ladies when she sat in my passenger seat. She wasn’t loud like she used to be but she sat on her bed cross legged, cradling her phone in her lap, staring at it. When she looked up she gave me half a smile.
Town? I suggested. It was a Saturday after all. My logic was that a jäger bomb would serve her better tonight than our initial plans of watching Japanese reality TV on Netflix. Maybe a sweaty dance up against her closest friends and an awkward twirl-around with a man might help. Not a completely altruistic decision as my own boredom was set to kill me off.
She agreed if I cleaned tomorrow.
I asked Naz who to send to recruit. It really irritates Naz, deciding who to invite or not. We were so different in who we liked; one person could be too quiet for me whilst another was too intrusive for Naz. In the end we sent out a mass text to everyone and whoever responds is part of the battalion. It’s impressive, after 2 years, how we all sustain some respect for one another even after drinking too much wine and oversharing. Never play the game paranoia with three people who vaguely dislike one another. Or do.
Friends we’d collected from first year, a mix of starry-eyed wildlings from various nights out and shy course girls with impressive alcohol retention. They were far less introverted after a few swigs of my Pimms. I created an over-exaggerated ALL-CAPS summoning letter that was sent like a mass MSN email chain:
“LIKE SPENDING YOUR STUDENT LOAN?
“GET YOU ARSE OUT OF BED LADS AND INTO OUR KITCHEN, WE’RE ON A MISSION TONIGHT.”
Some agree, some don’t. Katie #3 is at her boyfriend’s, Seshani was sick, Toni has an essay. Those who do come by nightfall are decked in glitter and attached to a bottle of whateveryourehavingyourself.
Whilst Clara is telling her one funny night out story (the one where she went to a German sex dungeon for all of 49 seconds) I brought out my phone to distract myself. Swipe, swipe, swipe, match. The “I’m cool” pretence worn down after a quarter bottle of Vodka. A few “you out?” messages to whoever looks appealing enough, at just 2 kilometers away it was suddenly as easy as ringing up for a pizza. I took roll call and locations very seriously.
The surfers in Toast,
Rugby boys in Club I,
That girl I met last week is the kind to go into Kings before the one-in-one out,
If all else fails there’s always the fit bartender in Mango’s. 90% chance he’s another Ben.
When we were ready to leave for town we hadn’t once anticipated the wind, blown and battered around as we stumbled down the hills. Sofia, who plays all manner of sports, decided to run down and crash into a group of men. She flirted, got cigarettes, and the details of where we ought to head to.
Grapes? We were all very puzzled but followed obediently. Trudging through I’d forgotten Naz. Everyone walked past and I turned around to find her leaning against the building where Mono used to be, the flourescent lights of Cod On the Corner casting enough of a glow for me to spot her. Her eyes glossed over and the whites were going red like her nose. She hiccupped, sniffed, and I half jogged over to her to loop my arm through hers.
She nodded and then mumbled, You’ll be my valentine yeah?
Can we still get chips though?
Watch this space for more of Amira and Bex's gorgeous work!