Before I could say anything else, the front door swung open and my brothers came in. Aidan was first into the kitchen, making a natural beeline towards the fridge.
“Sorry we’re late. Took longer than I thought to go through the place.”
“How was it?” I asked, because I knew that Mum wouldn’t. She was still struggling to deal with the revelation that Aidan wasn’t going back to Otago, and hadn’t quite faced up to the thought of him moving into a flat in Hastings just yet.
“It was a dump,” Anders said, limping into the kitchen behind his brother and sitting down at the table next to me.
“It was cheap,” Aidan countered.
Anders snorted. “Because it was a dump. I can’t believe you’d actually consider living there.”
“Beggars can’t be choosers,” Aidan said. “Wait ‘til you move into whatever student accommodation you end up in. Trust me, there’s a lot of places way worse than that. Especially in Dunedin.”
“Well it’s a good thing I’m not going to Dunedin,” Anders snapped back.
That had Mum’s attention. “I thought you were.”
“What, going to Otago to do a Phys Ed degree?” Anders said bitterly. “I think it’s time we all wake up and realise that’s not going to happen now.”
“Don’t sell yourself short, bro,” Aidan said helpfully. “There’s at least one paper available on Disability in Sport.”
Anders’s response to that earned him a sharp reprimand from our mother.
She looked at him in concern. “Just see where you’re at when you finish out this year, hmm?” she said. “You don’t need to make any decisions just yet.”
“You could always take a gap year,” I suggested.
“And what, limp across Europe?” he snapped.
“Roll across it in a wheelchair for all I care,” I replied, sick of the pity party. “Just stop being such a whiny bi-”
“AJ, what did I just say!” Mum said.
“Anyway, the flat’s a maybe,” Aidan said, dragging us all back to the original topic. “I’ve got a couple more to look at tomorrow.” He pulled a pizza box out of the fridge and opened it, then took out a cold slice and bit into it.
“At least heat that up,” Mum grumbled.
“No point,” Aidan said, taking another massive bite and speaking through his mouthful of food. “It’s almost gone.” Anders raised his hand and snapped his fingers, and Aidan pulled a second slice out and tossed it across the room like a frisbee. Anders caught it in one hand just before it hit Mum’s laptop.
“Boys!” she cried in exasperation.
“Sorry Mum,” they said, almost in unison.
“We’ll leave you to it,” Aidan told her on his way towards the door. Anders shoved half the slice of pizza into his mouth in one go as he stood up and slowly followed, and I leaned back in my chair as Mum wiped pizza sauce off her laptop screen.