Kate had her serious face on. The one she gets when she thinks she has something important to say. It’s funny actually, I can always see it coming. First she goes very quiet, then her lips set themselves together while she works out exactly how to say it. When she’s ready she’ll tilt her head down and look over the top of her glasses in just the right way. I always thought she should have been a librarian.

‘You should quit smoking,’ Kate said.

We were sitting in my bedroom. Well, the room where all my stuff was living anyway. Technically I’d been there for a year, but I hadn’t been able to settle. It was my parents’ house, and I just couldn’t make it mine. I was sitting on the edge of the bed in front of the computer, rolling a cigarette. When we first started seeing each other I was so nervous about smoking in front of her, she doesn’t smoke and she always knows exactly what her opinions are. Apparently smoking is bad for you. We both got more used to the idea though. I started smoking less and she told me I was dying less.

‘But I like it so much’ I said and pushed my bottom lip out in a mock pout

‘Yeah and it’s killing you’ she said.

‘Slowly though, I’ve still got plenty of time left.’

‘You have all the time in the world until it runs out.’

‘Runs out where?’

‘Out of time, dickhead.’

‘I’m not going to run out. I bought in bulk,’ I said, exercising my perverse sense of humour. I always enjoyed arguing with her.

‘Don’t be a smart ass, I’m really worried. You’ve been smoking so much lately.’

‘Yeah but I haven’t been drinking as much,’ I said. It was true, I hadn’t been drinking as much, but only because I hadn’t been able to afford it. So far the cigarettes were winning.

‘Well, that’s good because you drink like an idiot.’

‘I’d like to think I drink more like an alcoholic fish.’

‘You think you’re funny don’t you.’

‘Somebody has to, otherwise all my jokes would go to waste.’

‘You’re going to waste.’ Kate sighs, ‘How much do you weigh these days?’

‘What’s that got to do with my drinking?’ I said. I always hated when she brought up my weight and she knew that.

‘Nothing. It has to do with your body not being able to run off cigarettes and sandwiches.’

‘Not even tasty grilled cheese sandwiches with tomato and stuff?’ I said trying to get her off the track.

‘Nope, not even the tastiest of sandwiches.’

‘What about all the yeast in beer?’ I offer. ‘Do you know how many calories alcohol actually has?’

‘Not enough to live off obviously,’ She moves a lock of hair away from her glasses and tucks it behind her ear, ‘and cigarettes are sugar free.’

‘So there shouldn’t be a problem with me smoking then.’

‘At this point sugar would be good for you.’

‘Awesome, cause I’ve been eating a heap of candy lately.’

‘And that’s why your teeth are going to hell. You need to put something more substantial in you,’ Kate said, fixing me with her quiet in the library face.

‘Do you want me to put something substantial in you?’

‘Like the sense of satisfaction I’d get from convincing you to be healthy and treat your body better?’

‘Nah, I was thinking more like my-’

‘I know what you were thinking,’ she said sharply, ‘and I don’t know how you even have the energy.’

‘Milo,’ I said plainly, ‘is slow burning energy you know.’

Kate grunted, ‘Do you know how frustrating you are?’

I looked at her calmly, I could tell she wasn’t really angry, there was a smile hiding at the corners of her mouth. ‘Is it anything like trying to get the lid of a jar of pickles or something, but the lid just won’t come off, so you get a tea towel and wrap that around it, trying to get a better grip, but that doesn’t work so finally you just pry at it with a knife until the knife breaks and you decide to eat something else? Is it anything like that?’

I could tell I had won when she smiled.

‘Kind of,’ she said. ‘Except that I can’t eat anything else, I’ve already chosen my meal and I have to stick with it’

‘Is it pancakes? Cause they’re really tasty you know. I like mine with lemon juice and sugar’

Kate groaned into her palm.

‘What’s the matter babe? Are you a syrup girl?’

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