‘There’s T-shirts! We get T-shirts!’ Kaitlyn’s excitable squeals rose above the chatter as we emptied the contents of the box onto our assigned table. She held the emerald T to her front, admiring the stitching of the golden logo on the chest. University of Winchester Foundation Music, with a shining treble-clef and the words MUSIC MAKER on the back, in the same shimmering thread.
‘Oh, it’s gorgeous. We’ll take it in turns to change, I’ll be back in a minute.’ And with that, she flew out the door, practically tugging off her clothing as she went.
Kaitlyn and I had both been asked to represent FM at the Applicant’s Open Day that Saturday morning, and had arranged to meet at reception to retrieve the box of leaflets and instructions for the day. I arrived at six minutes to nine, bleary eyed and yawning, expecting to have a couple of minutes to grab a cup of strong tea from the machines; living in student digs means being kept up until 2am by the flat upstairs playing beer-pong or deciding to hoover their room above your head in the early hours of the morning. To my surprise, Kaitlyn bounded towards me with the box already clutched in her hands and a large grey bag, much like one that carries golf clubs, slung over her shoulder.
‘Are you excited?’
‘I am. Come on, you can carry this.’ Continue reading “Mother Knows Best”
When I was younger, my favourite toy was a cardboard box. If I was faced with a Barbie, a remote controlled car, a bear and a box, I’d choose the box. I once made a cash machine with individual cardboard debit cards for each member of my family, their little faces painstakingly biro-d on as if they were also ID cards. I made paper bank notes and advice slips, which read somewhere along the lines of ‘eat more greens’ and ‘trim your toenails’.
I would slip my cardboard creation over my head and sit inside with a torch and all my paper ready. Each slot I’d cut had a post-it on the inside telling me which one needed money, an advice slip or a returned card pushed through. I’d wait for my mum’s card to be slid into the wonkily cut line marked
INSERT CARD HERE
My tiny robotic voice would ask for a pin and my mum would make beep boop noises as she tapped four numbers onto my carefully drawn pin pad. When my dad said he didn’t want an advice slip, my robot voice replied ‘No daddy, you have to take an advice slip!’ He laughed when I pushed trim your beard through the gap.
Another time I made an oven. I didn’t need no Eazy-Bake, I had my cardboard box. There was a car and a boat, a television and a laptop, complete with a cardboard mouse on a string and little paper screens that I would interchange, depending on whether I was playing ‘important business lady’ or ‘kid on Miniclip’.
Here I am, 21 years old and stood in my kitchen, confronted with a cardboard box. My initial thought was to flatten it, crush it down into the recycling bin and wait for the bin-men to decide its destiny. But before I’d pulled the tape from the first seam, I stopped. I remembered my ATM and my oven with its opening door and extractor fan. I smiled at the creative I used to be.
So, here I am now, 21 years old and sat on my kitchen floor with a cardboard guitar in my lap, smiling at the creative that I have grown into.
I spot her across the chapel, oozing confidence as she converses with ease, throwing her head back with glee as her laugh chimes above the chatter. The room smells of oak and buzzes with excitement as our choir rises from its pews, the first rehearsal adrenaline pulsing through our veins. I watch her glide through the space, the heel of her boots echoing to the ceiling, her lips brushing the cheek of each old friend she passes.
Her name is Miriam. Her clipped, blonde hair sits in a perfectly straight line across her shoulders, parted in the centre to frame her face. Her wide smile brightens her blue eyes. A pair of thick-rimmed glasses are perched atop her head, ready to slide down as soon as music is placed in front of her.
She’s from a city called Tallinn in Estonia – her friends have taken to calling her the Estonian Princess – but years of living in New York has given her a sultry American lull. Having a diplomat for a mother meant that, at the tender age of sixteen, she moved to the Big Apple for her mom’s assignment, where she began studying at the United Nations International School. ‘I graduated high school,’ she makes air quotes with her polished fingers, ‘which is really the International Baccalaureate Diploma programme.’ She flicks a tendril of hair from her face and flutters her lashes at me. She’s an intriguing woman; wide set eyes and a strong jaw line, stunningly beautiful in an almost alien manner. Continue reading “Miriam”