Room at the Top

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This is a photo of the house I rented with five other students in Nottingham. It was rundown and in a rough area, not that we cared at the time as it was more important to be near the college and city centre.

My room was at the top. It provided a fascinating window on our street that happened to be in the red-light area of the city.

Watching from that window provided the inspiration for my novel I Came to Find a Girl.

This extract forms the end of the first chapter (after a woman’s body has been found nearby).

 

Back in my room at the top, I looked out the window to see if there were any girls out on the corner at the crossroads. The wall where they liked to sit was empty but I sketched it anyway – the waiting-for-a-trick wall with its bricks falling from one end.

I reapplied my eyeliner and pinned up my hair, gathered my uniform together, and raced down the two flights of shag-pile carpeted stairs. “Seeya,” I shouted out in the greying light of the hallway, and slammed the front door behind me, pressing my fingers against it to check.

Two women with bare legs were sitting on the wall opposite. It’s too cold to dress like that, I thought. What are they doing there? Have they not seen the news? I wondered if Mum and Dad had. Probably not, this was local stuff. They didn’t even know I was living in the red-light area.

As I turned onto the main road, I saw the police cordon further up the hill by The Vine, our local pub. Nottingham and particularly our scrappy corner of the city suddenly seemed more dangerous, and yet nothing had changed. The threat of a madman roaming the streets had always been there. It’s probably safer than normal – police everywhere, I thought. But still, to make the twenty-minute trek across town to Saviour’s Bar and Restaurant, I slipped my keys between my fingers. The sharpest, jagged-edged Yale was between my index and middle finger, and gripped discreetly by my side. Everyone needs keys.

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One thought on “Room at the Top

  1. I still do that thing with my keys, whenever I walk down our road at night. Doesn’t every woman? It’s instinctive and you pass it on to your daughters. Little Red Riding Hood only needed to meet one wolf. The story doesn’t mention all the nice harmless wolves and bears who didn’t bother her. Great extract, Jaq, and very evocative of all those student dives we put up with and found exciting.

    Like

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