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we've got days and days to go

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Pandora's got freckles on her back and Effy likes to trace them with her bitten-down fingernails on early mornings until she wakes. There are constellations on her skin, a whole map of the universe that Effy would follow if she could. She's not sure if she hates or loves to think it, but she'd follow Panda around if Panda didn't follow her first.

Freddie dies and everything goes still, like a pond with all the ripples drowned out of it, and then there's nothing left to really do but sleep in Panda's bed and drink Panda's tea and wrap her fingers in Panda's hair. One day she takes a pen a draws lines between the freckles, connecting the dots, mapping out the universe properly, and Panda sleeps so deep and so easy that she doesn't find out until three days later, when Thomas stops by and someone else besides Effy sees her without clothes on.

Panda means to get angry, but they end up spliffed up and kissing on the rug in the living room.

Pandora's mum comes home early and pinches her eyes closed and says, in so many words, that Effy has to fuck off out of their house. So Panda fucks off with her.

They insist they're going to move to London, or to Cardiff to live with Tony, but they end up not far down the street, getting spliffed up, like usual, and on a rug, like usual, and kissing, which after a while becomes usual, too. Thomas stops coming round, eventually, and a while after that Panda stops missing him.

"I think we should fall in love," Effy tells her once, when they've been living together for a few months. It hadn't worked so well with Freddie, or with Cook, but Pandora is not Freddie or Cook. She's sunlight and freckles and all the things Effy thinks she could love well, if she had to love something.

Panda just looks at her like she's said something so clever. Effy's always saying such clever things, maybe she might have. "But, Eff," she says, like it's nothing, "we've always loved each other, right?"

Effy's not sure she wants to explain the difference. Effy's not sure she knows the difference, anymore. "Right," she says.

Panda falls asleep on the rug that day and Effy shoves up her shirt just to walk her fingers down her back. She spells love in foreign letters and dreams of London and Cardiff and Panda's hair in the sunlight. She thinks maybe they'll grow up, one day, if they're not careful, but there are a lot of days to get through before that, and a lot more rugs to kiss on and people to drive away. She wonders if she'd follow Panda, if Panda left.

She wonders if she'd leave, and thinks probably not. Not any day soon, anyway.