“Hey, I am officially a uni drop-out! Yaaay,” he cheered with sarcasm. Bowie whooped on the other end of the line. “What are you doing now?” came his response. Jamie made his way through the crowds of Manchester city centre, where he’d just got off the bus at Piccadilly. The air was buzzing with Friday afternoon excitement. “I’m just doing the odd job here and there, keeping myself busy,” he answered. He was keeping an eye on traffic and the people all around him, careful not to bump into anyone. He started towards Northern Quarter. “I’ve been seeing someone,” he said. “Oh really?” Bowie replied with interest. “Yeah, she’s really cool, actually.” That’s as far as his description went. “What are you doing?” he asked in return. “Oh, you know, just hanging out. Still working at the coffee shop. Found a new best friend for myself here, in lack of your presence. Also still seeing that girl—she’s fucking marvellous, I’m telling you mate,” his tone went up in excitement at that last part. Bowie’s gap year had been going well. He’d done some backpacking through Europe and then settled in the Netherlands. Of course, he’d made friends all over the place. That was Bowie, the unstoppable social chameleon. “Kind of looking forward to uni though, get my hands on something more challenging,” he added to his report. Jamie moved sideways through the crowd to make space for oncoming pedestrians. He squeezed his free hand into a tense fist. “Yeah, I’ve got to figure stuff out, man… I’ve no clue what I’m doing yet,” Jamie replied. “Oh duuude! You should come visit! We’ll take a break from everything,” Bowie exclaimed, “and I can show you around. Utrecht’s really beautiful, I’m telling you. SO much better than Amsterdam,” he bragged. Jamie grinned at Bowie’s suggestion. “I’ve been taking a break since January,” he said, thinking back on these past six months. “Still, we should hang out,” Bowie repeated, “there’s direct flights and it’s really cheap. There’s no way I’m letting you get out of this, my friend,” he continued. Jamie turned around the corner. “Right, I’ll have a look tomorrow. I’ve got to go, man, I’ll talk to you later.” He hung up and entered the café.
He spotted her straight away. She waved at him from the middle of the room, where she sat surrounded by rows of wooden tables and chairs. Macy was a healthy chubby girl that radiated joy everywhere she went. She was short, carried shoulder-length blond hair, and wore clothes in warm colours that reminded of autumn. She had significantly lifted his spirits while they’d been dating this past month. The café was bright and light. He made his way through the lines of chairs, dodging a waitress in between. They greeted with a tight hug and a kiss, after which they dropped down onto their chairs, chatting about the proceedings of their week. They ordered hot drinks and some food, and then she started about uni. After a gap year of figuring things out, she was going away to Bristol at the end of the summer. With an uncomfortable heavy feeling in his stomach, it started to dawn on him. She was leaving soon. They hadn’t yet talked about their relationship, but he knew she was going to move on to other things, and he was going to be left here without a plan.
His new plan formed at home. In the darkness of the late evening, the only light in his room came from the laptop in front of him. He sat back in his chair. The plane tickets to Amsterdam had been successfully purchased. He stared at the confirmation screen, then his eyes shifted to the other page he had just been browsing. English Language and Culture – Bachelors – Utrecht University.
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