It's my life...

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Head over heels

Saturday morning. Everything a muddle. haven’t been able to eat or sleep, and sometime between now and last Tuesday the smile on Ali’s face (the one I keep seeing all over the place) changed to a sort of mysterious smirk like the one in that painting – what’s it called? – the Mona Lisa, as if she knows something I don’t. Well she does, doesn’t she? She knows how she really feels. Wish I did. I still haven’t heard from her – yet how could I when there’s no way she can get in touch except by turning up at home? And what if she did and ran into Marz? That’d be the end of it probably. But I risk it and drag myself into Old Stuff even tho I’d rather be at home just in case, rather stay in bed and try to lose a few hours in dreams or nothingness. I get to the shop early and unlock, but don’t open up as there’s tidying and cleaning to do first. Jo likes me to wait till she gets back from the market so we can sort the new stock out.

It’s funny in there with the lights off (if I put them on people tend to tap on the door, even tho the closed sign’s up), sort of dim and silent with the ghosts of all the past owners of the stock lurking around. Maybe it’s their smell, which seems to hang about even tho Jo sniffs everything before she buys it and always washes the things that can take it at home before bringing them in. I don’t mind them tho, and it’s not as if they’re all dead, only the ones who wore the very old stuff from the twenties and thirties probably.

Then Jo turns up and I don’t have much time to think about Ali after that. The first ones in are a couple of guys – one a big bald white bloke and the other a beautiful slim black man who reminded me of Danny, only he was a lot darker. They pull out all the really over-the top stuff – ‘Anything with sequins or feathers darling…’ and spend all morning in and out of the dressing rooms and in front of the huge mirror at the end of the shop. They’re brilliant at grabbing things from different rails and getting a look together – sort of Lily Savage meets Leah from BB. Everything has to be approved, not only by each other but also by Jo and me, but they’d somehow turned the shop into a carnival and cheered me up so it was easy enough to smile. They didn’t leave till after midday loaded down with silky dresses and feather boas and a little pink sequinned bag that I’d have dies for a few months ago. So, we’re pretty busy all day. Then until around five things calm, and I look around to see what needs putting away before we lock up and she’s there. Ali’s there, in the shop and I wonder if I’m dreaming. I haven’t had a lunch break, no breakfast either, just loads of coffee and I could be hallucinating. I stand there like a dummy and I’m thinking it’s going to be okay but I can’t speak and she’s smiling and then she says, ‘I went to your house but you weren’t there, but you mum said…’ and then she’s laughing and hugging me and I can half see Jo’s face sort of floating behind her but I don’t care and I think I’m going to pass out but I don’t and Jo’s saying, ‘It’s been a busy day Jazz, you get off now and I’ll get the place sorted’ and we’re out the door and holding hands and suddenly everything’s beautiful.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006


No, I don’t care. Maybe this is what feels like to be drunk, as if the sun’s always out and making you dizzy, as if your head might float away at any moment. I keep seeing her face, freckled with honey spots, her lashes like the legs of amber spiders flicking gently around those weird eyes, her crazy hair that lights up red when the sun catches it a certain way. She smiles at me from the tops of the crippled trees that line the pavement on the way to college, out of buses that pass, her mouth all curves and fullness like the body I can’t get out of my head. I look at my fingers amazed, half-expecting to see them tipped with gold or glowing with that odd luminosity that shines from the sea sometimes. I touched her – we touched each other – why hasn’t something so incredible left a mark?

That’s before the cynic in me kicks in. That’s before I remember how good it was when Danny hugged me that time, when Andy held me. Maybe I’ve been so long without contact that touch is like food to a starving cat. But Ali’s different. I remember how I felt lying in Andy’s bed waiting for him. I’d made a decision and was going to stick to it, to get that experience out of the way and move on. The only thing I felt in the morning when I found nothing had happened was a sort of weariness that I’d have to prepare to cross that bridge again. I know now that it shouldn’t be like that. It should be exactly as it happened, knowing the rightness, the loveliness of it. Then I think but… But she’s a girl. And that’s not exactly normal, is it? But I guess I’ve never been exactly normal – Marz has told me as much, although what does she know about normal? So maybe I’ll stop thinking. But it’s scary, trusting your feelings to another person, especially one you don’t know well, and I’ve never done that before, unless you count Danny, and look what happened there. He told me straight out that it’d never happen, and it never did, only the hug when I was wearing the sari and the dark make-up and pretending to be his sister. That’s hardly normal.

And inside me there’s this constant flutter, this tug to see her again, this fear of seeing her. She didn’t turn up on the last day at college – I s’pose her dad’s still down, or maybe she went back with him for a while. It’s funny, but somehow we forgot to exchange mobile numbers when she left like that, so there’s no way I can talk to her, and I don’t really know how to contact any of the others to find out where she lives. Ali Ali Ali…

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Does it count?

It was nice. Soft, gentle, like when I was younger and used to run to my room and sink into the pink silk cushion and hold onto it when Marz was a bitch to me. There was something comforting, delicious, something lovely about Ali’s plump body. No rush or panic either. Just a slow-motion sliding into loss of control with no reason to put the brakes on. Not scary at all. And afterwards I felt so… well different, relaxed for the first time in too long. So. Am I or aren’t I? Still a virgin, that is? We lay there, on my bed, all warm and tangled. I had a bit of a moment then, when I saw their eyes, and whispered to Ali that the dolls had been watching us. She only laughed. ‘You’re a loopy cow, Jazz,’ she said, but then she kissed me again so I didn’t mind.

After a bit we heard Marz come in. We lay there trying not to breathe or laugh, but I couldn’t help imagining the look on Marz’s face if she came in and found us like that. For once I was at a loss to know what she’d do or say. I mean. Marz is a slut, and she’s always telling me to get myself a guy to fuck, but God knows what she’d say about a girl. After a bit we heard the door open and shut again and felt she’d gone. Ali got up, started to get dressed, and all at once I couldn’t stick the thought of being alone again. ‘Stay with me Ali,’ I said, ‘just for tonight.’ But she had to go – something to do with seeing her Dad, who’s separated from her mum and down from the North for the weekend.

I tried to think when she’d gone, but fell asleep, dreamt I was a little green snake sliding through a flowerbed. It was so weird, all these thick stalks, and huge leaves like umbrellas, glimpses of yellow daisies like multiple suns high above me. I wonder what’ll happen next? Maybe I don’t care.

Friday, June 16, 2006


I went back to college after a few days, guts knotted in case Ali’d spilled all that stuff I told her, and putting a face on it, zipped up tight. But things seemed the same as before, just the usual sideways looks I always get, no extra curiosity, so I got to thinking maybe she didn’t. Things’ve been quiet for a while, me with my head down trying to get on, pushing Danny to the back of my head, trying to avoid passing Andy’s flat. I’m keeping busy – Jo’s opening up Sundays now and leaves me to get the place in shape while she looks around the boot sales for stock. It’s all extra cash. Marz got Marco at the wine bar to take her back and seems to be trying to keep off the hard stuff, but I’m not convinced it’s possible working in that place. A lot of her old confidence has gone though. When I come in she’s always stuck to the mirror pulling at her eye-bags and slapping coverstick on the dark patches that seem to have got worse just lately – she calls them her liver spots. Her liver must be shrivelled up like a mummy’s after the gallons of booze she’s poured into herself all these years.

So, I’m just starting to relax, thinking maybe things aren’t so bad after all, then yesterday this weird thing happened. I’m walking home, wondering if I should call in and get some food at Tapan and Binita’s on the way, or if Marz has been shopping, Danny’s eyes when he saw me in the sari that first time floating in my head, when this voice says, ‘Jazz, mind if I walk a little way with you?’ and I turn sidways and it’s Ali and what can I say, cos she knows all this stuff about me that I’d rather she kept quiet? So I just nod, and we walk, and neither of us says anything for a bit, but it seems okay, as if we understand each other – almost. And I walk straight past Tapan and Binita’s without noticing and then I’m turning the key and we still haven’t said anything and she comes in and I think oh God Marz’ll be there and what’ll Ali think? but the flat’s empty. And I wonder what the hell’s going on – why I let her come, why she wanted to come – but I act cool even tho the flat’s like a bloody oven as Marz never opens a window. And I mumble something about making us some coffee but Ali follows me into the kitchen and when I’ve put the kettle on and get to wondering what to do or say she touches my shoulder and turns me round to face her. And she looks into my eyes, really looks, as if she wants to see right inside of me, wants to know everything and her eyes are a sort of hazel flecked with green and then. And then. And then I don’t know how it happens but her lips are soft and I’m thinking what the hell’s happening but it’s sort of nice and then her tongue is in my mouth and. And