Journey to first meeting

Paula was painfully aware of what she would wear that Sunday. She wanted to make her attire as discreet as possible. She was going to a political meeting and she was afraid. When she finally got out of the house, she looked both ways as usual. Only this time she was watching out for police cars. Then she thought if she was going to be followed by police, it would not be so obvious, probably. She walked to the bus stop as usual, convinced that some one was following her. She knew it was all irrational. But she had learned about a political meeting in a public forum after all, and now she was heading there.

Paula could now afford using the underground, but on the one hand the tube station was further away from her house than the bus stop, and although buses were so much slower, she found them cleaner and of course more entertaining to peek from.

The conviction of being followed did not go away when she got on the bus.

She saw a cyclist from the bus and she once again envied how fast they went. She had had a puncture recently and she had not managed to fix it yet. As the cyclist disappeared speedily even in the empty streets, she decided to bring her own bicycle to some shop to have the puncture fixed.

She had to change buses once in central London. She did not see any one person or any one car in her sight for the whole time she was waiting for her next bus, so she relaxed a bit. It was unlikely some one would follow her and take so much pain to remain unnoticed.

The second bus journey was shorter than the first one, but slower, so it took almost as long. As usual already in that city, she had got out of the house in broad daylight and she would arrive at her destination in dark night. At least travelling by bus allowed her to experience the transition. It made her deeply depressed to get into the underground in daylight and find night darkness when coming out.
She double-checked on her A-Z map as she walked. It was the same book she had bought two years earlier and she had been using it daily, so some pages had been inevitably detached from the rest of the book and she had to hold it with both hands to keep the pages together. She was relieved to see that the street that had been announced in the forum actually existed, both in her map and in the street sign she was now seeing.
She turned round the last corner.
And then she saw it.
A police car.
A police car had its car lights on, although in silence, right outside the pub where she was heading. Her heart stopped functioning, and so did her brain. Her legs, however, continued walking at the same pace as before. (“Might as well”, thought Paula, “because it would have been well suspicious if I had stopped back there. What do I do now? Do I pretend I have taken this turn by mistake? Do I walk past it all casually pretending I was not coming here? But I “am’ in that internet forum, they know I know about this place, and I have no other reason to be here. Then, what will happen if I just don’t get in? When will be the next time they announce another meeting? They may never announce it. It took them months to announce this one, didn’t it?”)

Paula decided to avoid looking at the police car and got inside the pub.

Luckily there were no police inside the pub. At least, no police officer in uniform. But then, would any of these punters qualify as a potential police officer in plain clothes? Paula had no idea. She looked at their faces. Which was easy, because now every one of the customers in that pub had their faces turned to her.

The pub was a typical English pub, only not as luxurious as some of the pubs she had worked in. there was carpet all over the pub including some stairs leading somewhere upstairs, but it was so worn out, she thought she could see the wood underneath in some places. Or may be it wasn’t the wood and it was some dark stain. She couldn’t tell because it was pretty dark. There were plenty of light bulbs all over the ceiling, but none of them was bright enough to give the place a feeling of well lit atmosphere.

There were small tables against one of the walls, and back benches perpendicular to the walls. It gave that part of the pub a strange train-like feeling. There were also benches against the walls, with tables in front of them and stools on the other side of the tables.

Three old men sat in one of the train-like compartments. Another old man sat on his own on one of the back-less stools. And three other old men sat on the tall stools at the bar. They all looked at her and stayed looking at her until she reached the bar, at which point Paula managed to ignore the men and centred her attention on the bar tender, a woman younger than the old men but older than Paula.

Paula spoke making a huge effort to speak loud enough for the bar tender to hear her, but most importantly, soft enough to not be heard by the old men.
“Is there a meeting in this pub?”
“They are upstairs.”
The bar tender made no effort to speak softly. She was obviously used to this. Also, her glance told Paula that she was not welcome to walk away from the bar without at least a drink on her hand.
“Can I have a lemonade, please? No ice, please.”
“No thanks.”

The next big thing

As far as the people who seemed to post what they saw and their opinions about on ‘eGroups’ were concerned, what had happened could have been the beginning of a revolution no less, and the smashing of the McDonald’s was only relevant to highlight how short-sighted the mass media were. Paula could see images of people gardening in Trafalgar Square that she had not seen, or would never see, in newspapers or magazines, and started to see a picture she would see for long after that: a mohican made of grass on top of Churchill’s statue’s head. Thanks to ‘eGroups’, she also learnt that the ‘next big thing’ would happen on the twenty-sixth of September in Prague.

Paula continued to read what people wrote but she was too shy to post anything. Eventually, shortly before the big date, a place and a date were posted. Big luck; it was actually a date ‘she’ could make: a Sunday.

The Metro (newspaper)

Before she found out just how close to her house the bus stop was, and the fact that the one bus on that bus stop had another stop right outside her workplace, Paula learned the long way to the ‘underground’ station to go to work. ‘Underground’ because the train travelled completely over the ground on the whole journey from Paula’s stop to work stop.

Paula was thankful for this. It was definitely nicer to travel by train if she could see the light of day while inside the train. Some days, she even brought a book with her that she had got from the library. But she soon abandoned this practice because the journey was so short. Most of the other passengers had longer journeys, however. Some of them got on the train on the stop where she left, before the train would head for deep, central London.

So most of the passengers fought for a sit so that they could comfortably read their books, which they had brought from home, or their newspapers, which they had bought in the newsagents at the tube station.
Until one day all this changed. Suddenly one day Paula got on the train and the scene she encountered seemed taken from a horror movie. No one was reading any book from home, and no one was reading any newspaper from the newsagents. Every one was reading copies of the same newspaper. Every one was holding it in the same way, with both hands. So she could see the first and last pages, all the same, on the hands of every one now in the train. She looked at the name of the paper.


The letters were white on a blue rectangle at the top left hand side of the front page. The papers were the same size as a standard European newspaper, known in this country as “tabloid”, as opposed to “broadsheet”, which was various times the size of a normal newspaper and which was impossible to read all spread out, like these people were reading their papers now, without seriously disturbing the people around.

Paula noticed that herself and the very few passengers who had got on the train at the same stop as herself were the only ones without a copy of this new newspaper. She also noticed that, although they were trying to hide it, the other passengers were as scared as them.

She later knew that this was the first free newspaper given out at tube stations (only her own tube station would take ages to be provided with its own stacks of said newspaper). And that this first free newspaper would inspire very similar ones not only in other cities of Britain, but of the rest of Europe too.

But at the time, she felt first scared at the whole surreal scene, then weird and then slightly annoyed that copies of the newspaper were not provided at her tube station and she always had to rely on other passengers abandoning their copies on the train if she wanted to read it herself. There were not that many copies distributed at the beginning and even in the office it became an item of exceptional sharing, on the days when at least one of them workers had managed to secure a copy of the thing.

Birthday Party

John. Information Technology Engineer. Wants: babysitting Offers: Computer fixing.

Paula called him. She needed help in buying a computer and then she wanted it connected to the internet. At the time, only a fraction of the population had internet at home, and that was always via the phone line – either there was a phone conversation or an internet connection. They used the same line.
Paula had to get the phone line first. Then a phone. Then the guy, for fifty monetary units an hour, offered her advice on computer model and software to get. Even about the companies that were offering internet connectivity. Fifty an hour, noted Paula. She would have to look after his children for five ours in order to pay on of his hours. But it was worth it.

For her five hours were spent at a party. She was going to help John’s wife with the birthday party of one of their two children. Paula went there by bike. Her first trip on her new – or rather, newly acquired bike. It was awkward to bring her whole bag, and the A-Z book with her, and stop every few hundred metres, to check where she was, check the names of the streets on the street signs, check the names on the book. But she got to their house. She locked her bike with her new lock (this was new) to a tree outside – no stands for bikes in this residential posh street.
The birthday boy was three. Paula had been asked to arrive well before anyone would be due, but John’s mother was already there.
“Please do let me know if I am on your way, darling”, said John’s mother to John’s wife, Serena. John’s wife was cheerful and easy-going; she made every one feel at home.
Paula helped unwrap the ready-made pieces of a meal for the children. Serena explained to Paula where to put each part of the meal. That was not how it would be distributed, for she was only preparing it all at home, but everything would go to the local community centre, which she had hired for a few hours to have the party for her son there. She explained to Paula that her son was allergic to some foods, therefore what he would eat would be different from what every one else in the party would eat. Her daughter, although younger than the rest of the party guests that were expected, would be in the party as well, together with other brothers and sisters of the other children who would come. Again, there was a set of food for Serene’s daughter and another set of food for every one else. Once she had explained all this to Paula, she got out a piece of paper. It was the schedule of the party. From three to four there would be the welcome, with toys from the local community centre itself scattered all over the floor. Then would be the meal, which Paula would help get out of the trays while the children were playing, on a table a bit far away from the playground. That would be from four to five. Then at five, a clown would come, then a singer with a guitar to sign songs for the children.
Once everything that could be prepared at home was ready, they proceeded to move everything to the community centre. John was taking the kids with him on the car, together with most of the food, in trays, and things like confetti and plastic plates. There were some bulky things, like a bag full of small present bags, that needed to be carried on foot. Serene and Paula walked with these items. When they got to the community centre, John had her daughter on his arms and was carrying her inside – she was dressed in her fancy dancer costume and her ballerina shoes needed to keep away from the dirt of the street, so strict instructions had been to not allow her to step on the street on those shoes.
Paula started to prepare the plates for the children as Serena had instructed her while social activity was buzzing around her. John tried to help too, but he soon got swallowed by all the social requirements. One of them was to record the whole event on video. Serene for her part, had a little photo camera, also latest model, and took the occasional photograph, of the moment she deemed best.
The parents arrived. With their children. Every kid brought a perfectly wrapped present to the birthday boy, with a perfectly sealed card. Every card was opened and thanked. Then every card was left carefully attached to the present had come with, and then every present was left unopened.
“We will open the presents later at home, darling. Otherwise it will be a bit messy here.”
The birthday boy didn’t protest, and if he did he did so completely imperceptibly for Paula to notice. It was not a big deal anyway – all his friends were in the playground and all the toys of the community centre were in the playground too! There were small cars with huge sits and huge wheels, plastic horses to ride, even an inflatable castle. There were smaller toys too, like puzzles or simple musical instruments. All for themselves. For an hour.
It was all so programmed, so fixed. It left no room for improvisation. The kids seemed passive consumers of the entertainment to Paula, used to look at whichever direction they were told. No one protested when the time with the toys was up. They had a table full of food anyway. Or not so full. There were packets of crisps alongside them that the kids could eat from, but most of the food available was already neatly distributed in their individual small plastic plates. Fish fingers, chicken fingers, some peeled and chopped fruit, ham, bread. The birthday boy wanted to eat from the plates of his friends because his food was so different from theirs. He was probably feeling left out of the uniformity of their plates. His mother stopped him. He could only eat the chicken fingers and the crisps already on his plate. Serena explained to the other mothers that her child had so many allergies, he could only eat very specific food.
The parents stood around the community centre, against the walls, watching their children eat and generally having a good time.
Before anyone would have time to get bored with their food, the cake arrived. Paula had not needed to help with that one. It had been ordered to some specialist shop, and tailor-made. It had the birthday boy’s name and the number of year he had lived so far drawn on it, with childish calligraphy. Serena took various pictures of the cake. It took a great effort to keep the children’s hands off the cake while she was taking the pictures and she had to get angry at a few of them. Then they were allowed to taste it. For that, she took the cake away, put it on a table for easier cutting, and made the children queue orderly for it. While John duly filmed the whole process with his video camera, Paula stood there with plates on her hands, handing them to Serena, one by one, and then putting them on the table so that the children would not just eat their cakes randomly around the playground.
At the stipulated time, the clown made his appearance. All the children left their plates on the table, whether they had been emptied or had some cake piece left, and sat on the floor to watch the clown’s performance.
Then came the singer and guitarist. The singer made a point of getting the children to sign with her, and it felt like the kids finally could actively participate in the whole affair.
Then again at the stipulated time, the party was over. Before they left, and as a form of goodbye, Serena made the kids stand on a queue so she could give them their present bags. Paula had not helped with this either; they had been purchased like this from the sweets shop.
Finally every one was gone. Again John got her daughter on his arms so she could get on their car without stepping on the street, while John’s mother, Paula and Serena made sure they were leaving the community centre as tidy and clean as they had found it. Luckily, Paula thought, a few women who sounded like employees in the centre itself helped them in this task, telling Serena and the rest where things should be left once cleaned.
Paula arrived back at John’s and Serena’s house quite exhausted. She thought that had been it and she could leave, but that was not it. Serena got the presents from a huge bag and put them on the floor. The birthday boy could not hide his excitement, but he was too exhausted to keep up his smile, and that was not a present-unwraping exercise per se anyway.
“Please, darling, don’t make a mess. Don’t open a second present before I have finished with the first one. I ‘need’ to write down who has given you which present, otherwise we won’t be able to write proper thank you notes. Oh, last year”, she was now addressing Paula, “it was such a nightmare. He unwrapped all the presents before we could realise what he had done and we could not figure out who had given him what. It was so difficult to write the thanks notes.”
So now Paula realised, came the task of writing some kind of note for every one who had given him a present.
Serene started with the task of opening up each present and putting it back in the wrapping with secretarial efficiency. The little boy wanted to help by opening presents the way children do.
“Oh, don’t tear off the paper, darling. It will be so difficult to put it back together again with all the paper destroyed. No, darling, you can’t play with the toy little Jimmy has given you. We need to put it back in its box. Yes, all the pieces, darling. And now we need to open this one. No, not yet, darling. Let me see the card attached to it first. Oh, little Lorna. So this is little Lorna’s. Let’s see what she has given you. A puzzle.” Paula’s task was to write down the kind of present next to the name of the kid who had given the present. “No, darling, you can’t play with the puzzle either. We need to check the next present now.
The birthday boy soon grew tired of the exciting task turned into a chore by her mum and John eventually put both children to bed while Serene and Paula got on with the administrative task.

Trueque. LETS

en castellano más abajo

Paula always remembered Aisha in several occasions more but she was especially grateful for what she had taught her every time she had to move house and had to look for things like where the church or the market were.

Paula’s land lady was surprised that she asked her where the library was. People usually asked her where the pub, the shops, the gymnasium were; sometimes even the church. Paula had learned, thanks to Aisha, that the most interesting and least commercial things of the neighbourhoods of London were announced in the libraries.

Registering was one of the first things that she did. Also, with almost the same excitement that she found the fair trade store two years earlier, she found a group of exchange-without-money. People who exchanged services or things, services or things, as Luna had explained.
She wrote to the address that was on the cardboard note on the bulletin board ‘of the Community’ and she was sent a few forms in which she had to say what it could offer and what she needed. She offered translation services which then turned out that nobody needed, but when he was sent the confirmation of her subscription and with her what other people offered and required, and this encouraged her to offer assistance at festivals and occasional babysitting services.


Paula se acordó en varias ocasiones más de Aisha pero especialmente agradecida de lo que le había enseñado estuvo cada vez que se mudó de casa y tuvo que aprender a buscar cosas dónde estaba la iglesia o el mercado.

La casera de Paula se sorprendió de que le preguntara dónde estaba la biblioteca. La gente le solía preguntar dónde estaba el pub, las tiendas, el gimnasio, a veces hasta la iglesia. Paula había aprendido, gracias a Aisha, que las cosas más interesantes y menos comerciales de los barrios de Londres estaban anunciadas en las bibliotecas.
Inscribirse fue una de las primeras cosas que hizo. Además, con la misma emoción con la que encontró la tienda de comercio justo dos años antes, encontró un grupo de trueque. Gente que intercambiaba servicios o cosas, tal como había explicado Luna.
Escribió a la dirección que ponía la cartulina pegada al tablón de anuncios “de la comunidad” y le enviaron unos cuantos formularios en los que debía decir lo que podía ofrecer y lo necesitaba. Ofreció servicios de traducción que luego resultó que nadie necesitaba, pero cuando le enviaron la confirmación de su suscripción y con ella lo que ofrecía y requería otra gente, se animó a ofrecerse como canguro ocasional y ayudante en fiestas.

First bicycle, second hand

For the second and last time in a long time in London, Paula bought the Loot newspaper (for the last time). She was finally looking for a bicycle. She now lived about five miles away from work; the ideal distance to travel it by bike. Although she was not sure how comfortable she would be with the traffic, with the exercise. Still, if she managed to do that trip three times a week, she would save money in her travelcards. Even though she was only using bus passes mainly now.
There were more bicycle shops advertised on that paper than single second hand bicycles. Faced with such lack of choice, she checked out a couple of shops. Only one of them offered her a second hand bicycle. How much is that second hand bike, please? A hundred and fifty pounds. Hmmm. A lot of money. About fifteen weeks worth of a bus pass. As in, thought Paula, I will have to go on this bike to work every single day for fifteen weeks in order to recover the investment.
Paula had used a bicycle as a child. But it was a summer toy, and never a proper, needed means of transport. She was not sure she would be able to use it that often, that much. A hundred and fifty pounds was a huge amount of money especially taking into account that she may still have to spend that much on transport if she would not be able to cope with the traffic.
She told the shop assistant that she would think about it.
Then she called the one advert that was offering a single bicycle. Second hand, from a place in the outskirts of London. Fifteen pounds. A tenth of the price of the bike in the shop. Which admittedly was a beautiful bike that looked pretty first hand to Paula. But it was enough to use this other bike for a bit more than two weeks to recoup the money.
With time, Paula ended up having to spend about a hundred pounds having the many things that this bike needed fixing which she of course could not fix herself (“Sorry, darling, I sold you the bike in good faith, and you bought it in good faith, no I am not accepting a return”, had said the seller when she called to complain about all the things that did not work.
Paula grew to regret the decision of not getting the better bike, but that was many years ago, when she saw that of course she could use a bike every single day, and many bikes later.
But for the time being, Paula had a bike almost bigger than herself for a few years. She put mudguards on it after getting one of her office shirts rendered unusable after having it splashed with road water on a rainy day, she bought lights and she bought reflector clothing. She also bought a helmet. And a rack that she never managed to attach to the bike because the bike was not designed to have a rack on it.
Still, when Paula’s mum came to visit her, she proudly showed her her most valuable possession, her private means of transport.

Room hunt

Living with her landlady had not the best decision but she wouldn’t learn the lesson yet. In any case, she had only lasted there four months. Now she would have to move Tilda’s things with her to her new place, but that was the biggest of her worries. The biggest would be to find that new place. And she had less than three weeks.
Paula spent the next two weeks buying the Loot to find a room but there were ever only two or three rooms each week within her budget. Her colleague suggested to get the paper first thing in the morning, at six or so, to get the best chance. She did that too but could not keep up during the day, calling back landlords who had left a message in their answering machine. She was not allowed to make personal calls during working hours.
She took a day off from her holiday. She bought the paper at six in the morning and started to ring. At nine, phones started to give an answer. She arranged visits for later in the day. She went to one next to work. That was ideal location. The room was grim. Hardly enough room for the single bed. A wardrobe in the corridor, too small even for her bare two cases. And it was above budget, she had only come to visit it because it was so close to work. In another place, the room had too many wardrobes.
“There is not enough room in my room for a wardrobe, so I will keep it in your room. That is why you will have two wardrobes, one I will be using.” Paula stared at the landlady. “You already knew that, I mentioned in on the phone.” Paula controlled her stomach to hear more.
“You can use the washing machine on weekdays, because I can only use it during the weekend.”
Paula was already exhausted when she arrived to Richmond, to inspect the only room in south west London available that day for less than seventy pounds a week.
She identified the smell of food that was so London and yet so foreign, the moment that old lady opened the door. She led her up the narrow, carpeted stairs. The light was dim and the red on the carpet and the indefined colour of walls and ceileing did not help. A girl came out of a door Paula had missed on the way up.
A cat crossed the landing before they arrived. At the end of the corridor, another three cats looked at them from a kitchen.
“How many people share that kitchen?”
“My eleven cats, the thirteen girls who live here and myself. We are like a family.”
Paula did not need to see the room that was vacant to decide she could not live there. It was claustrophobic and it felt like this old lady was running some kind of harem. It would have been rude to refuse to see the room, so she allowed the old woman to open that door. She observed there was no keyhole. Paula mumbled some comment and the old lady snapped:
“Of course. It is my house. I need to keep an eye in all the rooms.”
she disguised her dissapointment until she was let out of the house, promised to come back once she could make a decision and broke down once outside. She did not stop walking until she found somewhere suitable and private enough to sit down. Then she cried.
It was not very late but it was winter time, so it had been dark for a few hours. The street was not busy, and if there had been people passing, she had not seen them. Then one man passed and asked her if she was all right. She just wanted to be left alone to cry.
“Yes, I’m all right.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yes!” (I’ll just be even better when you disappear and I can continue crying)
She got back to the public transport system and was conscious that the day was over when she twisted one of her feet as she walked home from the last stop. The deadline to vacate the house was approaching and she hadn’t even found a half acceptable room. She remembered how, when she was little, she had wondered, “where will I be in 2000?” and she responded to the little girl now gone: Here I am. Looking for another room because my landlady is chucking me out. You didn’t expect me to be like this, did you?

She started to cry again in desperation when her phone rang. One of the landladies that had not answered their phone now wanted to make an appointment for the following day.


“Obviously this is not working”, the note read. Paula was coming from a late night at work to find a note stuck on her door. She had asked her landlady to leave letters addressed to her in the living room rather than getting into her bedroom while she was away, but she had not thought this would cause such bad vibes with the landlady. She had even packed away all her candles, and had babysat her landlady’s daughter for free as a further gesture of goodwill.
“I am hereby requesting you to vacate your room within a month. That would be before the 5th of January 2000. If you do not, I shall be obliged to dispose of your possessions …”
Paula noted that her landlady knew full well that she was going to go to Spain for Christmas. So that meant she had to find another place and move before the 20th of December, the date of her flight. Paula went to bed feeling sick.
The next morning she made a point of talking to the landlady.
“You knew I have my ticket to Spain already booked.”
“And that I was going to spend a few weeks there.”
“Now I will have to move my stuff within two weeks if I want to avoid you throwing it away.”
“I have paid you already the whole month in advance. So now you have my deposit money and the whole month. Are you going to give me back the rent for those two weeks that I will not be here?”
“The notice is for the fifth of January. Whether you choose to vacate it earlier, it is your own business.”
“So you are stealing that money from me.”
“That is your opinion.”

Paula’s second address

Tilda came to see her at her new place.
“It’s nice, Paula. But it is soo far away.”
“I know. It is what I found at the time for less than seventy a week.”
“But why was it so urgent to go away then? You could have probably waited?”
“It was not, but it was not nice either. And I preferred to spend the time I had to move without hurry, rather than look more and then have to move in a day. I came and I just liked it. It looked perfect. And I needed four trips on the train, and for that I needed four separate weekdays, or wait for the weekend, so I just took it.”
“And why was it not nice, what happened?”
“They made it difficult for me to move rooms. We could only pay our rent in office hours, remember?”
“Yes.” Tilda’s face said the rest – she had suffered that denial of taking payment at any other time.
“But I myself worked office hours, so it was difficult. Some times I could make it, but some times I could not. So I ended up with three weeks in arrears. And they would not let me change rooms.”
“So you had to go on occupying a double room.”
“Which they didn’t want. So they decided to put another girl in that room. Some one I had never met before.”
“That is outrageous.”
“It was. So I just moved out.”
“And what happened with those arrears?”
“I paid them, plus the week that would take me to move out, the day I had to take off to look for a room.”
“It is horrible, isn’t it. Having to take off days from your holiday to move houses.” It showed Tilda had gone through all this.
“At least now I’m here. All that is behind now. For now.”
“Why? Are you not happy here?”
“The landlady is not too nice. She prohibited me put pictures on the wall. That is why I had to buy those frames. And I am not allowed to light candles either.”
“Oh. I know you like candles!”
“She doesn’t. She said, and I just thought it was a statement of what she dislikes. But it turns out that by ‘I don’t like candles’ she meant ‘You are not to use candles while you live here.’ So she had a go at me the following time she saw a candle. Not that I leave them on their own at all. But this is what it is when you live with the land lady.”
“I see you won’t last too long here.”
“I hope to last at least until after Christmas. I need to go home knowing I am leaving my things in a safe place.”
“Talking of which.”
“Is this safe enough, and OK with you to leave two cases of mine here?”
“Sure. They will just live here in my room with me.”
“Wow, thank you. That will save me so much hassle and cost. I will come back after Christmas.”
“You don’t need to.”

First move

It took Paula two hours to get to work after her first night staying in her second address in London. The maps didn’t guide her the way they should have and it took her double the time. So she had moved closer, but the train fares were not cheaper and her journey time was not much better. True, she lived in a house now. She would no longer depend on office hours to collect her post. She would no longer have to pay two pounds to use the washing machine. And she only had to share the kitchen with one person – her landlady.

“How is the new place?” Asked her boss.
“It’s good, thanks.”
“Did it take you shorter?”
“Actually, no. But I am planning to get a bicycle and it will take me shorter.”
It was true. She had not been allowed to have a bike in the hostel. She had no idea how she would get a bike, but she would. Somehow.