At half-time I ask Graham if he’s Graeme with an ‘e’ or Graham with an ‘h’. He looks at me odd.
‘What does it matter?’ he says.
‘I was just wondering, you know, if I send you a card or something.’
‘Why would you send me a card?’
‘Forget it, it doesn’t matter.’
He looks up at the big screen showing highlights from the first-half.
‘To be honest, I’ve never really thought about it,’ he says, absently. ‘But now you mention it, it’s with an ‘e’.’
‘Huh,’ I say. ‘Who knew?’
Graeme bites into his meat pie and mumbles something about the first-half. I nod and then shake my head to cover all bases.
’So how’s the move going?’ he asks eventually.
I have told Amy and Graeme I am moving house. Once the non-existent deal goes through after a realistic amount of time, I will then be free to walk straight home from work and not be forced to continue the charade of walking past it.
‘A nightmare, as usual,’ I say, shaking my head. He’s a property mogul, this is good bonding talk.
‘Well if you need any help, my solicitor’s shit-hot. Not cheap, but he’ll screw the other side to the wall if you need him to.’
’No it’s fine,’ I say. ‘I just want to kill my estate agent.’
Graeme stops eating his pie and looks at me.
‘You serious? Because I know a geezer in Camberwell…’
‘No! No, he’s quite a nice guy actually. He’s just a bit disorganised. He reminds me of me to be honest.’
‘Another weirdo then!’
Graeme play-punches me on the arm, which goes dead. I shake it surreptitiously and we watch the rest of the game. Arsenal score late to win 1-0 and I pretend to go crazy as Graeme bear-hugs me screaming ‘fucking beauty’ into my ear and kissing my neck. I wish he was Amy.
On Monday, Amy approaches me next to the vending machine.
‘What are you doing on Friday?’ she says.
‘Nothing,’ I say without missing a beat. I should have at least pretended to think about it, but I figure faking where I live is enough pretending without inventing an entire social life.
‘Great, well, we’re having a belated housewarming party if you want to come.’
‘OK, that sounds fun,’ I say. ‘Do I need to bring anything?’
‘You can bring a friend if you want,’ she says.
I laugh, but then realise she isn’t joking.
‘Great, I’ll bring Steve.’
I don’t know any Steve’s. How is it possible to get to 30 and not know any Steve’s?
‘Brill,’ she says. ‘Oh, and could you send me that health and safety report this afternoon?’
I spend the afternoon writing a health and safety report and halfway through, realise I do know a Steve. My ex-girlfriend’s brother was a Stephen, so he qualifies. I sneak out to call Jenn.
‘Hello,’ I say.
‘Oh for fuck’s sake.’
More dialogue practice today as I had fun getting to know these characters yesterday. I will return to the shorter flash fiction, but for now am enjoying stretching my legs a little. It’s exactly 500 words again. I have no idea where this is going – I’m pantsing the hell out of this story. The first part of it is here. I hope you like it.