I don’t use real names on here, but I realised that mentioning ‘S’ or ‘Z’ might get a bit confusing. In no particular order, these are the people in my life, and what I have written about them.
“Our family isn’t close. Not in the sense that we all ‘phone each other regularly, hang out together or share secrets. We fall out regularly, there are so many bitter skeletons in the closet that it would take a book to list them all. Unplanned pregnancies, children out of wedlock, violent husbands, alcholism, therapy… my family isn’t what you’d call stable. It’s taken me most of my life to feel a part of it all; I never felt like I belonged. Like a lot of kids, I used to wonder if I was adopted; which is ridiculous, as I have my mother’s promient nose, her large hips, my dad’s muscle-bound calves and the undeniable blue-grey eyes. I have the red hair, the pale skin, the temper and I’m prone to addiction.”
“By 2am, we were listening to The Prodigy and still talking. 3am, and I began to realise that I perhaps wasn’t going home that night. By 6am, we were leaning against each other, occasionally speaking, mostly just sitting in silence. All the beer had been finished, the Guinness was gone, and we’d almost finished a bottle of red wine between us. We started out drinking from glasses; by now, we were passing the bottle back and forth, my head resting on his shoulder, our knees touching. Joking around would occasionally turn into play-fighting, with a few half-arsed punches on the arms and digs in the ribs. We found ourselves, in our pissed and tired state, poking each other in the belly and tickling each other. Around 7am, we were wrapped in each other’s arms on the bed, his head against mine, talking about everything and nothing. We lay together for hours, just holding each other.”
“Our relationship carried on, full of tremendous highs and shattering lows. When we argued, I would threaten to leave, knowing O would come running after me. I became incredibly manipulative, although I never realised it at the time. My panicked phone calls became more frequent, and O stopped answering the phone as much, claiming he was busy or had no signal. In reality, he’d been turning his phone off to avoid the constant nagging. If O had told me how annoying I was being, perhaps I would have stopped or at least calmed down, but he never mentioned it, and I didn’t realise. It’s easy to convince yourself that all those crazy thoughts are rational.”
“Strange people started appearing in the house. A forty-something shrieking woman in a silver sequinned miniskirt barrelled in, clutching a bottle of Lambrini and a small, scruffy dog (“Señor Frostpots”), who she shouted at frequently. A young schizophrenic Pakistani guy wearing a green parka would sit in the corner and beg for spliffs, apologising profusely and sometimes walking out without saying a word. I found an overweight heroin addict asleep on the sofa. Hot knives were a regularity, and the sound of forced coughing became a soundtrack to my days. I spent a lot of time upstairs in bed, unable to cope with the flow of weird and wonderful coming daily through the door.”