‘Can it really be that hard?’
The three of us exchange glances. It’s after-hours and we’re sitting in a small room with one too many chairs and precisely one too few windows. Overhead, an ancient strip light hums away like tinnitus, bathing us in sterile, anodising, brightness. Odd, I think to myself, that the last time this room saw any sunlight was the day it was built.
‘No idea, Prof. I’ve never smoked.’ Ameer looks back at the Professor.
‘Well, nor have I,’ says Prof. They both turn to me.
The layers of hermetically sealed asbestos between us and the outside world have trapped the summer and will not let it go. Each of us has our collar undone and our sleeves rolled up. Our chairs are so close that we sit ramrod straight so as not to encroach on each other’s personal space. This forced physical proximity makes me feel more candid, like we’re just three mates tucked in the corner of an old pub.