Mixtape

When I look back, I fail to see how rapidly everything escalated. Despite the tabloids expressing I bloomed quicker than a French marigold, I lived through every second in a perfectly slow pace. I couldn’t possibly tell you why it all happened the way it did. Fate, divine intervention or just plain coincidence could all be the answer. I know when I felt the change, that out-of-body moment that set my bittersweet utopia into perspective. One thing I can tell you, without contemplation, is it all started with Styles.

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2. Oxford Street

 

That afternoon, I met up with friends at two o’clock as planned. Cynthia arrived with a gigantic smile, darting for me and entrapping my body in tight embrace, while Tom and Rachel towed behind at a more natural speed. Needless to say, Cynthia was already talking about a million miles an hour, whilst playing with her golden ringlets. She dwelled upon the hilarious occurrences at last night’s party, as we remained standing on the corner of Oxford Street. “So, Jake and I,” read: Jake, better known as ‘bunker’, Cynthia’s on/off again boyfriend “we were sitting together having an innocent drink in Fiona’s room before these two nitwits come in for a snog, literally salivating all over their faces and just about ripping each others clothes off,” I laughed at her ability to recount that without taking a single pause, and she eyed Rachel and Tom with a cheeky smirk as they finally caught up to us. “Guess this means you two fancy each other now,” she declared teasingly, as she nudged Rachel with full force and rustled Tom’s unruly hair.

 

Cynthia always had a ‘tale from last night’ to disclose, despite the fact we may have witnessed it ourselves, it was always rehashed with her explicit narration the preceding day. Never mind if we weren’t willing to discuss it sober… or ever again for that matter. I quickly greeted Tom and Rachel with a laugh and Cynthia’s attention turned to me, “And where were you last night Saskia? I barely saw you.” I shrugged in response. “Freddie tells me you were well pissed, with a smoke in hand too,” she stated the news passionately, and undeniably loud enough for anyone in a 3-mile radius to hear. As aforementioned, these were the topics we weren’t eager to discuss ever. “Let’s not go there,” I interjected before she could talk any further. I seemed to always be the first to lunge for a cigarette when I had a few drinks. I only smoked on the rare occasion, they certainly weren’t my finest moments and I silently despised myself for having done so at all.


“Oh honey, it’s not like any of us can talk.” She smirked mischievously, whipping out a pack of Marlboros and lighting one up. She muffled, “No ones perfect,” whilst balancing a smoke on the edge of her lips.

“So what are we doing tonight then?” A familiar voice shouted, startling all of us. “Oi when did you lot get here, Fi?!” Cynthia bellowed, swapping the cigarette from her mouth to her fingers and capturing her into a small embrace. Fiona was always the first to make last minute plans and presume everyone will attend. No matter the occasion, there was always a full house. I gave her a long hug and spotted Freddie and Alexia over her shoulder. We all exchanged short friendly greetings with one another. “Funky Buddha is on our hit list!” Freddie responded with a clear enthusiasm.

“The Buddha it is!” Fiona praised, pointing to him with approval.

“It better be funky or I’m declaring that false advertising,” I said satirically. The group laughed in agreement and we all began gushing over our hazy memories from last night.

 

We sauntered unsystematically as usual. God forbid one of us would walk in a straight line. My hands remained deep in my pockets as I conversed with Alexia about my dreadful morning with EMI. I realised then that I hadn’t spoken to anyone about it; my parents were on a long-term vacation and had left me with the house to myself. It was difficult to contact them with the time changes, so I had decided I’d speak to them on one of our daily calls, which usually ended up being after midnight UK time. “So it didn’t go as well as you thought?” she asked, with genuine sympathy supporting her words.

“It really didn’t Lex,” I responded with an exhalation, while shrugging my shoulders in efforts to act unbothered. I was bothered, but I couldn’t prevent myself deliberating over the beautiful stranger with the handsome face, the fresh olive coloured eyes, the perfectly fitting name and the chaotic hoards of girls that followed him before running out of sight. It seemed far too surreal, till I recalled once more that he held my second-rate mixtape in his possession.

 

“You know everyone of us thinks you’re it and a bit. You have nothing to be worried about. The right person will come along and hit you up with a record deal that’s gonna make you thank that Kingswood tosser for letting you go,” she paused. “Sometimes, a door closes because it’s leading you to another. You wouldn’t be living to your highest potential had you walked through the first one.” Alexia finished, with such persuasive assurance. Her kind words were deeply comforting, but I thanked her with a lackadaisical attitude, in hopes we wouldn’t talk about it any longer. Cynthia, not to my amazement, had other plans. “Those bastards!” she vehemently yelled, “Give me a name and number and I’ll sort ‘em out,” she ended with every bit of sincerity. Knowing her, she’d rock up, snap her fingers in a Z formation and demand that she speak to the higher authority. All the while being ushered out of the building by the bulky Joseph Collins.

 

Thanks to Cynthia, we spoke more about my time at EMI, Tom asking if I recognised anyone famous. I laughed, “Nah, I only spoke to a staff member and a rep,” I thought about mentioning Harry. The thought passed just as quickly as it entered my mind. He had nothing to do with EMI, and if I mentioned a guy out of the blue I knew the interrogation would begin, from the girls anyway. Maybe it was a good idea to be interrogated about him, I thought precipitously. I mean what was his deal? He didn’t contribute any information about himself then questioned me after I proclaimed I had no knowledge of him. He apprehensively eyed that group of girls every so often, knowing that they would react in that very manner.

 

I wasn’t foolish. He must be well known in the media, a new heartthrob male model perhaps? With his good looks and captivatingly charismatic conversation, it seemed probable. Aside from the obvious, it justified how he appeared so familiar and how at a glimpse of recognition he was chased. Maybe I’d appreciated those identical emerald eyes on television or advertisement campaigns. I was bemused over the fact that I’ve possibly set eyes on the guy before this morning… technology is unbelievable.

 

“What are you daydreaming about?” Cynthia nudged me playfully. Wow, there was really no stopping this girl. She noticed everything about everyone. “Just this morning… trying to get over it really,” I lied, and she saw through me immediately. “You’re telling me later,” she demanded with a clear supremacy to suit. I laughed and shook my head. There was no use lying any further, everything I say to her will be used against me. So I let my mind drift back for a moment, and think of how he pronounced my name, Sass-kee-ah, so effortlessly and indulgingly slow.

***

I felt a vibration from beneath my pillow. Instantly, My eyes fluttered open in recognition of my ringtone, a composition of chimes that was pre-selected by my phone. I felt around under the cushion for the mobile, holding it up with my right palm to determine who had rung me at such a ridiculous hour in the morning. The word ‘Blocked’ appeared on my mobile. Well that’s helpful. I considered ignoring the call, but due to last night’s dangerously entertaining events at the Funky Buddha, I thought better of it. After three failed attempts of unlocking my phone with one thumb I drowsily lifted my left hand and pressed in the 4-digit code.

 

“Hello?” I murmured, rather groggily as I glanced at my bedside clock. It was 6.14am. If this is someone trying to sell something I swear to god it’s not going to go well for you. I heard a series of scrape-like noises, whilst the telephonic frequencies went in and out of audibility. Wherever this caller was from, the reception was shocking. Fantastic. I was already tired, and now I had to strain myself to hear the person on the other line. I heard an almost inaudible “Shhh I’m on the phone!” over the background commotion and then, a more perceptible voice spoke.

“Hi… Saskia?” he said in that same over emphasised manner I had willed myself to memorise.

 

A chill went through my body as I was reunited with that slow, low pitch voice. “Hey,” I said indifferently, yet I was suddenly sitting upright with my entire attention locked onto his voice and deciphering the noises in the background. “Who am I talking to?” I said smart-arsely. As I recall, he left out that piece of information. Or any information, at all.

“Uh, Harry.” He said awkwardly, stressing the sound of the r’s in his name. Little did he know, I knew perfectly well thanks to the two ever-so-friendly girls I met after our encounter.

“I met you on Oxford Street… yesterday.” he continued with significant pauses when I didn’t reply in recognition. “I ran off without properly introducing myself. I was a bit rude.”

I let out a small light-hearted laugh, “I’m sure an introduction would’ve been a bit, uh... Rushed. Considering you were running from at least 50 odd girls.”

He seemed to laugh, or whatever I could call the soft high-pitched huff that I received in response. He went on, “Yeah, you’re right I—” then stopped talking abruptly. “Hold on a moment,” he said nonchalantly.

 

I heard a series of muffled voices and a harmonious laughter in the background, then someone with an accent too thick to have been Harry’s, exclaim feverously “Vas happenin’?” The sheer shrill of those words combined with such a ridiculously quirky accent made me unable to suppress laughter. I giggled to myself and listened closely to their conversation “Who you talking to?” the funny one asked, “A girl” Harry responded. “A girl? A girl! Ooh, a girl.” the funny one teased, each time he said the word ‘girl’ he managed to say it in an unusual, more sarcastic sound. “Shut up, Zayn” Harry responded playfully. So the funny one was Zayn. I had gathered so little about this boy’s life; every piece of information was intriguing. Maybe I should Google him, I thought to myself.

 

Harry returned to the phone a few seconds later, noticeably chuckling this time. “Sorry love.” He said with the laughter still resonating in his voice.

“You all right?” he asked, his voice now back to its normal, delicate deepness.

“Yeah all right.” I responded agreeably. “You left out the part where you got my number,” I noted sarcastically, he paused for a second too long before responding clumsily, “Oh yeah, I found your number on the back of the tape.” I thought back to the last time I had it in my hands, just before entering EMI, and he was right. I scribbled my phone number on the back in hopes that George Kingswood would contact me. At that point in time I had never been more grateful for doing so. He had my mixtape and my number.

“That reminds me… Do you want it back?” he asked, snapping me out of my reverie. I thought about it for a moment. Finally, I replied. “Yes, that would be great,”

“Great!” he said with a little more enthusiasm, “Where do you live?”

I stop breathing for a minute, mulling over the idea that he was asking me where I live and I might see him again. At this point in time, I couldn’t be happier that my parents were on that vacation. “Do you have a pen?” I said, my lips spreading into a huge upturned smile.

 

I nervously gave him my home address, having to spell most of it out to him one letter at a time. “What was that again? S, L, E?” he asked. “No, no,” I said with a small laugh. “S, T, O.” I corrected him. He made an “ooo” sound in response. “S, T, O. Got it!” he said proudly. Knowing that I was going to see him again made me feel lightheaded, but absolutely thrilled nevertheless. “Hey, we live close by!” He said. Was that a trace of giddiness I heard in his voice? Again, he hindered my train of thought. “When would you like me?”

“Whenever, I’m free all weekend.” That was a lie. But I’d happily remove any plans I had in the place for this beautiful, unmistakeably charming stranger. “All right. Be there in a second.” Before I could utter a single protest, he ended the phone call quickly after shouting that same departing sentence. “’Bye Saskia!”

 

“Harry!” I yelled in objection, but the phones consecutive beeping indicted that the phone call had ended. Unbelievable I thought. I had expected to never to hear that voice again. And yet, we’d just spoken over the phone and in a matter of minutes he will be in my home. He was so difficult to decipher, with his undeniably aloof manner of speaking. I knew nothing about this boy, and yet he knew my number and now my home address. Before I could think any further about what I was going to achieve when he showed up, I jumped out of bed to find some clothes to wear. If you had asked me to get up ten minutes ago, I would have groaned and questioned your sanity, then proceed to sleep again. I laughed to myself at this fact, as I painstakingly tried to squeeze into a pair of skinny jeans. Jumping around in a little dance to get the denim on my hips. I slipped on a bra, buckling the strap with difficulty, then settled for a plain shirt that I glided on whilst walking down the stairs.

 

I noticed my bag in the middle of the living room, all my belongings spilling out onto the floor. I’d obviously dumped it there before going to bed after having a few drinks last night. I gathered all my belongings and put them back into my bag. Looking around the house, I put away small items that had dropped when I clumsily entered in the early hours of the morning. Just then I realised that was two nights in a row I’d been out for a drink, and I hadn’t had much to eat. My parent’s vacation was doing wonders for my health. I gazed at my calendar on the kitchen wall and crossed off another date on February. Underneath today’s date I checked for any notes I had written, praying that I didn’t have plans that couldn’t wait. Interestingly enough, it wasn’t my handwriting underneath. Simply a computer typed font that read Valentines Day. No wonder I had no plans.

 

I was interrupted from my thoughts when I heard a knock at my door. I stopped everything I was doing immediately and listened closely again; just to make sure I hadn’t just imagined it. Surely enough, another series of knocks proceeded, so I began walking towards my door. I curled my fingers tentatively over the handle, before opening it slowly to reveal the new arrival.

 

There he was, with his thick russet curls and the sea of emerald eyes.

“Good morning, Saskia.” he greeted politely, with that same toothy grin that touched his eyes.

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