This is the ninth part of a fiction serial, in 794 words.
The thing about sharing with Gabby was that she was hardly ever there. Unlike me and Mikki, she didn’t seem to have to do much studying, and we had never seen her print off any course work to hand in. Then considering she supposedly had few other friends at uni, she managed to find lots of places to crash overnight.
One good thing about her absences was that Mikki and I got to know each other better, and became more relaxed in each other’s company. I saw a different side of her, vulnerable, socially awkward, and with a lot of goodness and kindness to give to others.
In many ways, she was like a female version of me.
Gabby soon started to skip paying what she owed us too. Her monthly payment for her share of the rent to me was often late, and sometimes didn’t appear at all. That meant me dipping into my student loan to make up the difference, as I really didn’t want them to contact my dad, who was guarantor.
And every time Mikki asked her for her share of the money put on the Key Meters, she brushed it off with the same excuse. “Look, you know my parents are paying my fees, I don’t have a student loan. I depend on them sending the money from abroad, and they take their good time about doing that. Once it comes through, you know I will repay you”.
With hindsight, I appreciate we should have known. We should have stopped it all earlier. But the crazy love we both felt for Gabby clouded our judgement. Besides, you know what they say about hindsight. ‘In hindsight everything is much clearer.’ Looking back now, those evenings with Mikki were mostly spent talking about Gabby. We would start by complaining about her, then both end up defending and excusing her.
Maybe we didn’t want to face our own weaknesses, or perhaps it was because we both truly loved her. We will never know now.
In the classes and lectures, she was shining. The rest of us could only look on in admiration as her work got better and better. More insightful, almost breathtaking in its passion and form. There didn’t seem to be one aspect of the course that she wasn’t on top of, and that she understood with far more clarity than the rest of us. Mikki even suggested she could write a book on modern history, and it would be a best seller.
Mikki got a kiss on the lips for that comment, a really big and soft one.
But she never did get the fifteen pounds Gabby owed her for that month’s gas and electric bills.
By the start of our third and final year, Gabby had repaid small amounts of what she owed both of us. She also spent more time at the Colman Road house in the evenings. Mikki was working almost full-time in the Campus Cafe, and had stopped bothering to ask Gabby for the Key Meter Money. When Gabby spent evenings with us, our eyes lit up, we smiled, and felt contented.
She was funny, she was clever. She brought wine and beer, and sometimes quite exotic food that she tried to cook. Not always successfully. But we ate it anyway, just happy that she was there with us.
Then one weekend, she stayed away again. The atmosphere in the house was flat. Mikki seemed depressed, so I comforted her. Before I really knew what was happening, we were together in her room, making the most of her double bed. Every fantasy both of us had ever envisioned with Gabby was brought to life between us that night. Both virgins at the time, both embarrassed and awkward about our bodies, it took a second night of the same until we were happy to be comfortable around each other.
Suddenly, I had a sexual partner in my life. And it wasn’t Gabby.
It got to the stage when we didn’t actually want Gabby to come home. If she was out, we were together. I didn’t ask Gabby about the money she owed me, and Mikki stopped mentioning the outstanding amount due for gas and electric at all.
Yes, we struggled to pay it all, but I became used to walking Mikki home after her shifts at the cafe, both hoping Gabby would be out again.
By the time the year was coming to an end, we were sharing Mikki’s room, and paying all the bills between us. When Mikki asked me to go home with her to meet her mother, I readily agreed.
And when I finally got to stay at my parents’ place for a week or so, I told them I had a girlfriend.