Her parents once told her she was an accident, and as the years tumbled by she grew into a catastrophe. She told me; I’m gatecrashing a party here. I have no rules. I have no (finger quotes) dress – code. I exist in a vacuum. I am in the empty spaces. I am life.
Or maybe the echo chambers. I didn’t say that. It came to me years later whilst going over our conversations again and again and again, trying to find a clue. I realise now that my one-liner would’ve killed her. She would’ve laughed, thrown her head back to show me those home-made fillings, those gaps where her brother forced her skull into a doorframe before violently closing it, the tongue chewed into ridges by dreams of murder and foxes eating people alive. Of course, even if the reply had come to me in the moment, I wouldn’t have said it out loud. Fuck no. You don’t walk confidently into a tiger’s enclosure bollock naked, your genitals smeared with meat paste.
She was always a half-step ahead, and me a half-step behind, which created quite a division. But, crucially, we still walked the same path. We still tried to reach the same destination, just with different degrees of subtlety. I drifted with my hands in my pockets, constantly scuffing the front of my shoes because I couldn’t walk with any confidence. I couldn’t pick up my self esteem and I certainly couldn’t pick up my feet. I looked down at weeds, dog shit and litter. I very rarely looked into the sun.
She was a barrel roll of blood, sex and mayhem. She once attempted to seduce a security guard at the old factory …just fifteen. When the dirty old bastard finally caved in and planted a kiss on her cheek, as she sat in his lap in a state of disarray, we had him for life. It was either us or Her Majesty’s Pleasure and he picked us. We’d turn up at the front gates and leave with whatever we could squeeze into a shopping trolley. Rugs, pots of glue, tinned beans and joggers. Meanwhile he got wider, his hair grew thinner, and the bottle of whiskey under his desk got taller. When she left on a summer holiday for two weeks, he drank an island of liquor and drove his van into the path of a freight train.
One summer, she invented the Firework Crossbow. I’m not sure I need to explain any further, but I still have the scar on my thigh. We owned our neighbourhood; a meek infant with plans and a mad bitch with questions. Tyres got slashed, houses burned, other people got jail time. She’d cut the faces out of the local paper; all these confused looking mugshots of guilty men and women who were – for once in their miserable lives – innocent, and paste up a scrapbook. The Book Of The Damned she smiled.
Wherever she went, they never found a trace. Just her coat, hanging from a barbed wire fence at the cliff edge. Her parents spoke, once again and tearfully this time, of ‘accidents’. As though she had no free will of her own. She was born a disaster and she lived like a sunrise. I never visit her empty grave; a mount of earth with nothing in it and a stone with nothing to say. I run my finger over the white scar on my thigh and I feel it tingle. I know she is still out there somewhere.