A broken, sarcastic teenaged girl with an underlying need of attention.
The sunlight shone through the gap in the curtains, right into my eyes. They ached. They felt heavy, sore. My eyelashes felt like dry grass and my skin like a stiff mask on my face. I got up to sort myself out. I had a shower and washed my hair with some lemon-smelling stuff I found in the cupboard. I didn’t do anything particular to it after I’d dried it. I didn’t even really attempt at it much – shoved it up into a ponytail, short black spikes issuing from the white band. Defiant strands escaped and fell to my shoulders, but I didn’t really care. I left them to do whatever they wanted.
I carefully put some eyeliner on, but my fingers felt twice their normal size and my makeup just wouldn’t look right. I added the finishing touches by getting a big clumsy finger and rubbing each eye with it. Why could everybody but me pass off the slept-in look? I put some red lipstick on, which made me look a little like a man in drag.
I pulled on a black jumper and a pair of patterned fishnet tights. It was only when I leant over to tie the shoelaces of my dirty yellow sneaks that I smelt the stale, musty smell of cigarettes enmeshed with the wool of my jumper. It smelt of cigarette smoke and beer, and so it should. I hadn’t washed it since Tuesday. I glanced around my room and saw no other item of clothing that appealed to me – nothing that I could replace my jumper with without going all out and changing my whole outfit, underwear and all. Nah, I’d put up with the smell. Who really gave a shit?
I went downstairs, into the nauseatingly bright and airy kitchen. Mum had left it spotlessly clean. The draining board was dry and sparkling. The window was open, letting in a cool breeze that felt foreign against my skin and made me shiver. I opened the fridge and stared into the contents for something like five minutes, without really seeing it. I knew nothing good was in there. Just left over’s, milk, ham, cheese. Whatever. I closed it again. I went to the cupboards. Hesitated for a moment next to one of them, which usually attracted me with its contents: crackers. I decided against it. My mouth was dry. I returned to the fridge, withdrew the carton of milk and took a gulp. Then several more. Mm.
I ran back upstairs and dumped several things into an old leather bag. My big fat bundle of keys, my lipstick, my coin-filled purse, a pair of underwear, a pen, a notebook, my mobile phone - though it had turned itself off weeks ago from its lack of battery power, a tampon, some hairclips, cigarettes, a lighter. More or less all the clutter on my desk. I picked up my alarm clock before realizing that it certainly wouldn’t be needed. Instead, I pushed a gold watch up my arm. It looked gold, I mean. I got it for two pounds at a vintage store. Then I saw my clocklace lying sprawled over the chair. I threw that over my head, too. No chance of me forgetting the time today, then. Not that I needed to be anywhere. Nobody was home, so I wanted to take this phenomenally brilliant opportunity to escape the miseries of the house before they returned. They. Satan. Whatever.
I sparked up as I left the house, pulling the door closed with my elbow. As I let a puff of smoke out of the side of my mouth, I locked it. Not that I cared if anybody broke in and set the house on fire or anything. I didn’t have much there that I cared for … probably just a couple of posters I’d cry over. Maybe my angels. Damn, should have taken them.
The empty driveway made me smile. Or grimace. It was a smile in my head; to others it may have seemed more like a grimace or a frown. People say I have a pretty smile, and I like to say I agree. I’ve only ever seen it on morning-after facebook pictures, though. I have no memory of being particularly happy, but it shines through in those pictures. I have pretty white teeth and even my eyes seem to smile. I tried it in the mirror once. I nearly cried in revulsion.
I went down the bus stop. The bus was already there. It’s the last stop of it’s route, almost right outside my door, so the bus driver likes to take a nap or eat a butty or smoke a joint, whatever the hell they do for about ten minutes before setting off again. The bus driver stood leaning against the lamppost, finishing his cigarette. It was the polish guy who’s always friendly. I like him. He can barely speak English. He told me his name once, but I’d forgotten it. Something beginning with … B.
‘Good morning, B.’ I said with a grimace. ‘Isn’t it a lovely day.’
‘Ah, hello, hello.’ He grinned. He had a couple of teeth visibly missing around the front of his mouth, the stunner. ‘See you week and week.’
I took that as he saw me every week.
‘Yeah, you do.’ I said, standing outside the bus and sighing lovingly all over my cigarette until I’d smoked it right down to the butt. I flicked it over my shoulder before flashing my weekly bus pass at the Pole and climbing onto the bus. Busses, my second home. Especially this one, the 464. Beautiful.
Ten minutes and a flask of coffee later, B set sail for the streets of Whitworth. I watched the sights as we passed, my head pounding the glass of the window at every bump (and there were many of them). We saw the Chavs. Capital C. Maybe a capital T. The Chavs. They were smoking outside the corner shop, which you could tell they considered immensely badass. I squinted at them as the bus rattled past. They’d tucked their tracksuit bottoms into their socks. Keeping up with the latest trends. One of them saw me out of the corner of his eye, I think, because he turned to look at me full on. He said something to his mates and they all turned around to look in my direction. They seemed to be laughing. I stuck up my middle finger. They returned the favor. Mm, I think I pulled.
The bus remained quite empty the whole way. A few old people got on and off, that’s all. Never that busy on a Thursday afternoon. I got off at the last stop, the bus station.
If you need a description of Rochdale, I’ll give you one. Rightly referred to as Satan’s shit hole by my friend Caleb. Good man. It’s a pretty massive slum. OK, slums a bit of a strong word … maybe not. Well … depends where you look.
There’s a hole in the world like a big black pit, and it’s filled with people who are filled with shit. The vermin of the world inhabit it.
I got to the train station to be greeted by a group of rowdy Chavs. One of them had a massive hole in his McKenzie jacket, which I randomly noticed. They whistled and shouted stuff at me, not particularly pleasant stuff, but I ignored them and put my head down as I walked in and headed towards the ticket sales office. I hated having to lower my head because of them. Scum.
I bought my rip-off return ticket to Manchester with the coins in my purse. The old guy looked on quite impatiently as he watched me count out the pennies. A little rudely, actually. They were never particularly friendly here.
There was a rainbow in the sky. I saw it through the rattling window of the train. It shone through the grim white clouds and almost glittered. It reflected in the puddles on the station platforms we passed. I had my feet up on the worn down seat. The plastic of my sneaks was cracking. I didn’t know old trainers cracked, but there you go. I tapped my fingers on them rhythmically as the train plodded loudly on. There was a group of boys across the isle. They were young, maybe thirteen or fourteen. None of them looked at me, and I barely looked at them, but I couldn’t help noticing how well groomed they looked. They looked athletic; they wore fashionable, pristine clothes. They were talking about a mainstream indie band I’d vaguely listened to once.
I suppose I had been the same at their age. Probably exactly the same. If I was their age, I’d probably be intimidated by boys like that. They made me think about all the other children that would die for the opportunity to look just like everybody else, just like these boys. Children that get abused, that live in poverty, that are sick, that have no family… and I wasn’t one of them. I was just a pathetic indie-kid of thirteen, sitting there, talking about The Kooks. Urgh, I was pathetic.
I glanced sideways at them again. None of them noticed me at all. I wanted to shock them. I wanted them to be shocked by me. I put my entire leg up onto the seat next to me, quite dramatically. The boy closest to me, with neat blonde hair, gave me a quick, furtive look, before laughing at a joke told by his friend. They continued their conversation. I pulled my bag noisily onto my lap and began to dig through it, my fingernails scraping its bottom. I jingled my keys around a little. I pulled out my mobile. A couple of them had glanced at me – I noticed from the corner of my eye. I looked down at the blank screen of my phone and sighed loudly as though I had just realized it had turned off. I held down the on/off button, waited, sighed again. Did it again.
Then I sighed dramatically once again and threw it back into the bag, then dumping my bag on the floor. I sat up and pulled an expression of impatient frustration. I pulled the sleeves of my jumper up past my elbows and stretched my arms above my head, pulling two half’s of my ponytail in opposite directions to tighten the hold of the elastic, which was totally unnecessary.
To my inner-delight, I heard a sharp intake of breath. Then a short whisper. It wasn’t quiet enough, fortunately. I heard one of them say ‘look at that girls arms’.
I smiled. Grimaced. I looked down at my arms myself and felt something a little like pride and something a little like disgust, as well as the feeling of utter isolation from everybody else in the whole wide world.