MORE THAN WORDS • by Mel George

“You’re eating lunch without me?” she snapped as she came into the room. There he was, the infamous housemate, sprawled large as life on the sofa as if he’d never left. She took a deep breath.

“You were taking ages,” he replied indistinctly, munching heartily and deliberately on as many crisps as he could fit into his mouth at once.

“You know, some people might think the polite thing to do would be to prioritise a friend you haven’t seen for a month over food.”

“Oh, I would have prioritised a friend. You, however…” He tossed another handful of crisps carelessly into his mouth.

She made a face at him and slumped down onto the sofa, kicking aside his abandoned shoes and snatching the TV remote unceremoniously from his hand. “You’re not seriously watching this complete tripe again? Hasn’t a month away cleansed you of this addiction?”

“I just want to see who wins–”

“This programme epitomises everything that is wrong with our society! What are you thinking?!”

“Your face epitomises everything that is wrong with our society,” he retorted.

“Oh, mature,” she shot back, her expression full of scorn.

“I thought so. Now shush so I can hear–”

She groaned loudly.

“I’m only watching five minutes!”

“Before you catch up with it later online.” Her voice was heavy with sarcasm. “I can’t believe you would be such a tragic geek. Well, actually…” she added thoughtfully.

His jaw dropped. “Well listen to you, Miss Doctor Who Confidential!”

“Oi, I only watched that once cos I couldn’t be bothered to get up after–”

“Oh, whatever…”

“And anyway, Doctor Who is a finely produced piece of drama, the like of which is tragically lacking on TV nowadays.”

“Well, not like in your day, of course. When everything was in black and white.”

She raised an eyebrow at him pityingly. “Is that seriously all you’ve got?”

“No, I could mention just how short you are.”

“You’re a genius.”

“So I’ve been told.”

She shot him a spiteful look. He raised his eyebrows impassively.

“Well, that was a good comeback.”

She was clearly out of practice. “Shut up.”

“And again, how do you do it?”

“Your mum works in McDonalds!” she cried–always a sign she was floundering.

“Oh, that’s much better,” he applauded her mockingly. In desperation, she reached for the forbidden weapon.

“At least I’m not trying to hide my receding hairline.”

She got a smack for it. “That’s low,” he growled.

“Oh dear, I shall cry myself to sleep, overwhelmed by the crushing weight of remorse I feel.”

“So you should.” He smiled.

She suddenly reached over and hugged him tightly, grinning widely to herself. “Oh, I’ve missed this!”

He stroked her hair fondly, and sighed. “I’ve missed you too.”

“Your face.”

“No, your face.”

Mel George lives in Oxford because it is very beautiful and very weird. She has always scribbled in the margins, but has more recently written for Six Sentences and set up The Pygmy Giant  which showcases new British short writing.

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