Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Beyond

I am a person & I get jealous as fuck;
Everyday, every night, trying my luck.
Let's change, let's drive, drive, drive.
Sit wiv me & wait for our dreams to arrive.
Let's live our lives, let's feel alive.

Onwards, onwards to where Reality meets Dreams.
Perhaps, perhaps then we'll know what it means
Or maybe I'll stay in these walls, so sad.
Every minute, every hour not lucid but mad.
But do not wait, my feelings turn bad.

A final verse, final dream, final thought, final breath
Who cares? We're inching closer to death.
But alas, alack! I must not go.
For every low there's a high & every high there's a low
And I'm still here; this I want u to know

The Smiths



The Smiths songs are the songs that saved my life. Sixteen, clumsy and shy I am riddled with teenage angst, I wallow in an all consuming sense of loneliness and have suffered from bouts of anxiety and depression. (Well it wouldn’t be right to start an article about The Smiths with anything other than a small dose of self pity now, would it?) When everything becomes too much I lie on the floor and listen to ‘I Know It’s Over’, cry to ‘Asleep’ or commit to flailing around my bedroom in a Mozzerian style, trying (yet mostly failing) to hit the falsetto notes in ‘Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now.’ I own 7 CDS, 3 DVDs, 3 magazines, 6 books, 2 fanzines, numerous posters…and a shrine…

The Smiths are something I can write quite freely and endlessly about. However, it is difficult because so much has been written about them. Furthermore, my boundless admiration for them puts on pressure to do the band justice. I am going to write about what The Smiths mean to me and why I love them. Hopefully it will be readable and relatable. 

Let’s go back to where it all began; to my humble entrance into Smithdom. ‘Twas January 2013 and snow was steadily falling to the ground. School had closed early and, as we drove home, I persuaded my mother to let me download ‘The Sound of The Smiths’ from iTunes onto my phone. My official ‘Smiths weekend’, as it later became known in my diary and in my head, had commenced. I summed it up a few days later, saying that “I really don’t know what to do. The Smiths have changed my life. Morrissey’s words are beautiful and everything all goes so well. I’m so obsessed. All I could think about all day at school was listening to The Smiths and I was constantly singing their songs under my breath. I just lay on my bed with all the lights out except my lava lamp and listened to them with my phone turned up as loud as possible and my earphones in.” Then later THE SAME DAY, “It’s me again. Off on another rant about The Smiths.” The pages surrounding such entries were filled with lyrics and illustrations. At the time I was definitely not aware that, a year later, I would still feel the exact same sense of wonderment every time I listened to them. 

However, the story starts before that day. It starts with something that music snob Smiths fans would line me up and shoot me for and ends with a very proud and emotional moment. I made a mix CD for my then best friend for her Christmas present and put the song ‘Asleep’ on it because ‘The Perks of Being a Wallflower’ had become very dear to us both that year. Accompanying the mix CD was a booklet describing why I had put on each song. Feeling how I do now about The Smiths, the description for ‘Asleep’ is so cringey. However, on the day it reduced my friend to tears. Literal real tears. My writing made someone cry!!! 

The next song is the song that Charlie is always talking about in Perks. It’s Asleep by The Smiths and I have never really listened to The Smiths much but know that lots of cool people in movies listen to them and their music is kind of depressing. This song is usually interpreted as a direct reference to suicide but I like to think that "There is another/better world” does not mean that death is the better world but imagination is. This sounds really cringey and when we listen to it on Friday I’m gonna blush so much but I just want this song to make you happy not suicidal so my interpretation is that when you are feeling down, create another world for yourself; whether through reading, writing, doodling, dreaming, whatever. Just create. And I hope it makes you feel infinite like you’re standing at the back of a truck and screaming happily whilst driving going through a tunnel and listening to the perfect song at the perfect moment.

So that is the complete story of my introduction to The Smiths. Their music continues to have a deeply profound effect on me today. There have been long stretches of time where Morrissey has felt like my best and closest friend. The Smiths’ self-titled album is my after school album. ‘Meat Is Murder’ is my morning album. ‘The Queen Is Dead’ is my night time album. ‘Strangeways, Here We Come’ is my travelling album. 

Morrissey’s dreamily imperfect voice soothes many maladies and Johnny’s guitar always lights up the horizon. I have absorbed so much knowledge about The Smiths in the past year. I have cried because I will never see them live and because of the sad situation surrounding their break-up. 

In February last year I went into town one afternoon. I got ‘Morrissey and Marr: The Severed Alliance’ by Johnny Rogan out from the local library. I went to a cafĂ© and got a cup of tea. When I finished the tea I walked round the park in the dark and listened to The Smiths and Morrissey and wrote. The darkness and isolation was simultaneously scary and exhilarating and magical. 

I went on a French exchange in March but I left my iPod charger at home. I ended up paying FORTY EUROS in Paris to buy one because I could not cope without listening to Morrissey’s voice. The struggle was real, I am telling you. 

In the Easter holidays I spent a week in a cottage in Dorset. There were lots of markets there, selling CDs. I returned home with 4 Morrissey CDs. 

Last December I told my guy friend that I wanted to be more than friends and, hearing that he did not, I wrote in my journal, “I feel like listening to ‘I Know It’s Over’ on repeat for 70 years until I die.” Morbid, I know but unrequited love is painful. 

So, that is my experience with The Smiths in a nutshell. Morrissey has introduced me to so many new and wonderful things. I have learnt new words, watched films I wouldn’t have otherwise watched and taken new moral and political stances. I don’t think that the way in which music impacts some lives can ever be overestimated. The Smiths have legitimately saved lives. They performed on Top of the Pops and did television interviews but behind the inevitable showiness there are the people in the dark bedrooms climbing into empty beds with tear stained cheeks, letting Morrissey sing them to sleep once more- the comically morbid, controversially political, intelligently superficial and sometimes hopeful Morrissey. 

The Smiths created a boundlessly beautiful discography that links people together the world over to this day. There is a silent understanding between Smiths fans; one that shall be whispered down through generations. The Smiths are VERY IMPORTANT and remember, when making an important decision; always ask yourself, what would Morrissey’s hair do?

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Met You At The Cemetery Gates



George Millis stared into the depths of his coffee mug as he hunched over the kitchen island in his cousin’s small town located apartment. He methodically stirred the beverage with the teaspoon a few more times round the circumference of the mug. 

George looked up from his coffee; out to the grey world. He watched the raindrops glide down the windows. It always rained here. The melancholy drops slid down the glass like tears falling down a human cheek. George bit his lip. He must remind himself not to cry for that is not what Rose would have wanted.

‘I need to go now’ said John, snatching a file off the table before coming round to console his cousin, ‘I know today will be hard for you’ John placed his hand on George’s shoulder and softly gripped it; ‘You’ll get through it. Try to get out the house today. Go and see someone or do something. Stay busy. I’ll be home later this evening.’

George did not reply, but remained hunched over his coffee that he had retired to staring into glumly; as if in the depths of the mug, he would find happiness. He knew that that was a ridiculous notion.

John removed his hand from his cousin’s shoulder and sighed before picking up his briefcase and leaving for another day in the office.

George had been living with John for six months. Their relationship was becoming dreadfully strained. It had reached the point where George was waiting for his cousin to say, ‘We need to talk’ before telling him that he needed to find another place to stay; either that or he needed to find a job. Neither prospect appealed to George but what he did not want was a regular job.

George got up from his seat and left the coffee on the island. He had never had any intention of drinking it really. George walked over to his cousin’s oak bookcase and ran his finger along the spines in search of an appealing title. He needed a way for his mind to escape for a little while. George picked up a non-fiction work about Renaissance art. He raised an eyebrow for his cousin was a conservative sort of chap who did not seem to have a particular interest in art of any kind.

He lay the book down on the coffee table and went over to his mug of lukewarm coffee and poured it down the sink. He refilled the kettle in order to make a cup of tea. He had never liked coffee. It tasted like burnt toast.

George sighed as he waited for the kettle to boil and again observed the steady, tedious rainfall. He tried to not think about Rose but her face kept coming back into his mind. Sometimes she was laughing hysterically or smiling and biting her lip coquettishly. But the worst time was when she was crying. He always hated seeing her cry. The kettle boiled and he brewed a cuppa.

George took a seat and opened up the book that he had placed on the coffee table. It was a rather hefty sized book. There should be something worthwhile somewhere within it. Perhaps he could find some inspiration for his writing. That was what George was straggling around for; inspiration. His writer’s block had gone on for far too long. He lied to his cousin about his work. He said that it was going exceptionally well and that he would publish it and be rich soon enough. John nodded approvingly because he liked to dodge confrontation and he was avoiding talking to George about getting a job. Hence John liked the idea of George becoming an extremely successful writer although he had never actually read any of George’s writing so had no idea what the chances of this happening were. The truth was that ever since Rose’s death exactly one year ago, all George had been able to see in the world was suffering and this had sapped his creativity to ghastly low levels.

On page five of the introduction Pisano and Da Vinci started to blend into one as George increasingly lost concentration. This seemed to happen every time he tried to read and write which made him miserable because these used to be his two favourite past times. He was put off his cup of tea after burning the roof of his mouth so he left the second warm beverage of the day unfinished. This time, however, he did not pour the drink down the sink but left it on the side to cool.

George walked into the hall and threw on his worn out leather jacket before walking out of the front door and slamming it behind him. He ran down the steps of the apartment block and grabbed his bicycle from the bike rack. He clambered on and pedalled furiously until he reached his local public house, The Deacon and Swordsman. He pulled up outside and dropped his bike against the brick wall by the door.

George swung open the door and staggered in already feeling drunk with world weariness. He stereotypically slumped into a bar stall and ordered his first pint. He smiled drowsily and silently toasted the drink to Rose.

George was a nineteen year old misfit who frequented the pub too often but otherwise stayed indoors. He did not have many friends and liked staying up too late, sitting in the dark and listening to depressing music. However, he had not always been like this.

A year ago he had finished his final examinations at school and achieved good grades that would have gotten him into a top university if he had wanted to. Now he had no communication with his family other than his cousin. After Rose's death, George had gone off the rails. At first he refused to leave his bedroom but when he did start going out he would end up drunk in the gutter or sitting on a bench in the cemetery. His parents tried to help him at first and the doctor put him on some pills. However, three months ago he had a significant argument with his parents and they had kicked him out with just one bag full of belongings.  

George left the pub at an uncivilised hour. The large town clock that stared him in the face as he swayed onto the street told him that it was still the anniversary of Rose's death. The dreaded day has not yet ended. It had merely darkened and the darkening correlated with George's mood for there were no more pints and no more books about Renaissance art to distract him from his thoughts now. George remembered that it had been a dark night when Rose had died. Again, he tried to hold back his tears. A car blew its horn and George realised that he was standing in the middle of the road. He moved, as ably as he could, to the pavement but his vision was blurred and his coordination clumsy. He struggled to gain a sense of direction and to keep his footing on the cobbles. He made it to the safety of the roadside and the car drove on. However, in his drunkenness, George misjudged the curb and did not leave enough room between his foot and the concrete. He fell without having time to put his hands down to protect his face. 

The street lamps were temperamental in this town. They flickered before all light left them. George could not tell what he had cut his face on. A pain shot through the area between his lower lip and chin. Bringing his hand up to the injured area, he felt a wetness. George brought his fingers to his mouth and tasted the unmistakably bitter and metallic flavour of blood. He cursed at his own stupidity then turned onto his back and looked up at the sky.
The street was deserted expect for the drunken man lying flat on his back; conscious but by no means sober enough for sanity. George laughed; for his 'life' really was quite laughable. We must put 'life' in quotation marks because although alive, George had not been living for a long time.

He looked at the few stars that were visible in the cloudy sky and noticed, for the first time, that it was raining; hard. It must have been raining for quite some time because John realised that his clothes were soaked through and his skin was damp. Here he was; a young man of just nineteen years, lying flat in the street. What would his old peers from school think of him now? He did not care one jot what those ignorant buffoons thought. He did not care what anybody thought. However, George could not help but think about himself for he could not escape that; even in his current alcohol induced daze. What an awful mess he had made of his life! He was waiting for a train that would never arrive; a dream that might never come true. He sat around all day waiting for words to enter his mind; for a novel that perhaps he would never write. He would be asked to leave his cousin’s apartment soon, for sure. He spent too much time thinking about Rose. Rose. He needed to see her. It was an event that he had been putting off all day. He had feared that going earlier would have meant running into Rose’s parents. They had gotten on well enough last year but George was not oblivious to the fact that all over the town he was now seen as the good boy who went off the rails. If his own parents did not approve of his new lifestyle (which they didn’t) and thought that he was a waste of space (which they did) then Rose’s parents would probably feel the same way. Parents of teenagers often seem to think in unison.

George lay in the gutter and counted the stars. He wondered, for a brief second, if Rose was up there, looking back at him. Then he shook his head at his naivety. It was a fatuous thought. She was no more up there than she was in the gutter alongside him for she was dead and would never come back.

George suddenly needed to be as close to Rose as possible. He pulled himself up and stumbled about a bit before gaining his balance and walking down the street in the direction of the cemetery.

George walked the streets with his hands in his pockets; trying to pay attention so as to avoid another fall. He climbed over the cemetery gates and rolled onto the gravel; numb to any pain he may have felt if sober. He took the immediate left. He knew the route like the back of hand, so, even in darkness he could conduct his way to Rose’s grave. George saw a flash. He heard a scream. He put his hand on the nearby bench in order to steady himself. Then it was back to normal. George was alone in the dark graveyard; a situation that few sober humans would be comfortable in. A laugh. Another bright light. George sat down and put his head in his hands. How he thoroughly despised these flashbacks! But Rose had looked so, so beautiful that night. It was the vividness of such flashbacks that had saved George’s life on more than one occasion. Just seeing Rose’s smile was enough. He hated what an infatuated, weak fool this made him.

It was like a ridiculous American high school film when Rose had walked down the staircase to meet him that night. She had been dressed in a very pale pink dress that was fitted at the top and flowed out at the waist before ending modestly just above the knee. Her shiny, dark blonde hair was tied into a messy bun adorned with a daisy embellished hair band. And her eyes. Oh her eyes! How perfectly blue they had been! And how perfectly blue they still were in George’s mind for she was now standing in front of him, as real as ever. He took her hand and they go in the car. Then they danced for hours. Others stood at the sides but George and Rose never stopped dancing. Rose continued to twirl around nonchalantly, as if in a happy dream, even after they had left the venue. She giggled and George smiled. He was happy in that moment. Then something terrible happened. Rose skipped ahead to George’s car across the road. George was still smiling. Rose was still laughing.

“Go” George shouted.

“Wha-?” Rose turned, perplexed.

Then the light. And the scream. And it hit. George saw it all again. Every day that sequence repeated itself in his mind like a broken record. Rose was hit by a truck. She had died almost instantly from the impact. People tried to console George by reminding him of this. “At least she wasn’t in any pain” they all say. But George knew that she was. He could see it in her eyes that in the last moment of her life she was in excruciating emotional pain that no physically torment could ever possibly match. It was the realisation that she was completely and utterly alone and she was afraid, so George did not believe all the people that told him she had not suffered from any pain for she undoubtedly had. Now he was too. Every day since then George had suffered because he hadn’t seen the truck a few seconds earlier. Because he did not run into the road and push her aside. Because he had not been holding her hand that night. Because he had shouted such an ambiguous syllable to her which had not helped her and had been such insensitive last words. Because in her final moments there was no way he could possibly comfort her because in death we are all infinitely alone.

George stood up and staggered in the dark until he got to Emily’s grave. It was at the other side of the cemetery, by the gates looking onto the main road. Cars still zoomed past; paying little attention to all the people forever gone from the world that lay under the ground.

Then George decided that he must commemorate Rose’s death in an original way. Rose would like that. Flowers had no meaning. Why put something symbolising life on the graves of the dead? It is a tradition that seems a little harsh. It is like saying ‘look at these lovely living flowers. You will never live again but these beautiful flowers are alive.’ And what did crying achieve?

Rose loved to dance. Yes. More than anything else she loved to dance.

George started to spin round like Rose had done on the night of her death. He moved his feet in different patterns and bobbed his head. Next, arms were added. The rest came easily. It flowed like he had been rehearsing for months. The Rose was there with her blue eyes and her smile and her elegant movements. He held onto her and whispered that he would never let go.

George and Rose danced into the early hours in the morning. Several cars passed by and wondered why there was this man dancing so animatedly in the cemetery. Rumours about it still circulate today. Passersby all have their own theories and conspiracies. They bring it up at dinner parties when there is a lull in conversation but none of them could have guessed that, as George danced around his loved one’s grave all night, he felt a lot happier than he had done in a long time.


The next morning a man found George lying asleep next to Rose’s grave. The man that found him recognised George and knew his cousin. He went to a phone-box and called John. John and the man gently lifted George into the back of the car where he awoke with an aching head. John let George stay in the apartment for another year.

Saturday, 9 August 2014

Why Read? Why Write?


Words are one of the most powerful forces in this world. A picture can tell a thousand words but a thousand words can tell a thousand words too. Words spread ideas. Words take you to other places. Words fill you up and make you feel alive. Words are a part of who we are. Words are our favourite poems, our favourite songs. Words are the quotes we keep close to us, the kind words that we say to ourselves to get through each day and the dark words that are whispered in our minds that can make for a sleep deprived night. Words are the kindest compliments that we thrive off and the insults we carry on our backs. We are all novels and love songs and heartfelt poems waiting to be written.


I have wanted to be a writer ever since I realised that the illustrations that accompanied the stories I wrote as a child were too inept for me to ever make it as a conventional painter. I wrote all the time and made up stories to pass otherwise empty days. 


When I was younger I made my way through many a book series. ‘Harry Potter’ and ‘A Series of Unfortunate Events’ are the most memorable. More recently my novels of choice are either classics or biographies. 


I read ‘On The Road’ just over a year ago and since then have been embroiled in beat literature. I have whirled through many a poem by Kerouac or Ginsberg or Cassady and I love how free and alive they all seem. The words rise from the page and dash around the room in a drug-fuelled haze. In many ways it is very different to anything else that I have read. Although the tales of New York and road trips and Mexico sometimes make my life feel a tad lacking, I feel so blessed to have come across this genre that makes literature feel so alive to me.


Books are so tender and so delicate; both pragmatically and metaphorically. The pages tear with an ever so slight tug at thin paper. The prose trigger memories and emotions as much as a whole album of photographs.  


I read to feel a part of something. I want to feel like I have been let in on a secret that has been shared with generations of people who have read the same words and felt the same ways. I write to feel a part of something. I want to feel that I am part of my generation and I want to make a difference. I want to participate in this phenomenon that is the written word. That is the thought that hangs over my mind when I sit down with pen and paper or poise my fingers over my laptop keyboard. It is the need that motivates me to write every bad poem, every trite song lyric because we need to get past those to someday write something beautiful.

(originally published in Cherry)

Make Believe

Lies flower and blossom in the sphere of my soul,
Embellishing the wilting truth,
That I too, like the girl in black,
I too, am a Hermit.
But that is not I! 
It is I who never slept 
But walked on under the starry skies
Until midnight and beyond 
Following a Great Possibility
And kissed your face
Your beautiful face
Loves me not
It is I who, with Pinkie, carved others in Brighton with a razor
Not myself in an en suite bathroom.
It is I who lived as if I'd die that very day
Not merely dreamt as if I'd live forever.
I followed danger
And wrote incessantly 
Please, please, please, please
Let's pretend.

Getting Out

Brodie sat on Joe’s bedroom floor, holding her pen between her teeth and resting her chin in her hand. Outside, golden sunshine was bursting through the spaces in between tree branches and the popular kids were at the park, drinking cherry coke and smoking Marlboros. Joe stood in the doorway with iced coffee for them both. His silhouette was outlined with a pale yellow glow. Brodie looked at him, then back out to the light between the leaves on the trees and thought how very beautiful they both were. 

Joe flicked through his collection before putting a record on the turn table. Soon, the sound of a folky female singer trickled through. Her voice was smooth. It sounded of the summertime.

“What’s up?” Joe asked, crossing his legs on top of a pile of Aztec print cushions put in place to pad out the wooden flooring, “You look glum.”

“I ache” Brodie sighed, stretching her arms above her head. Joe pulled an oxblood cushion from beneath him and held it out to Brodie.

The right side of Brodie’s lip curled upwards. “No. I ache for love. I ache for adventure, for freedom, for the ecstasy of feeling alive.” Her eyelashes batted down to examine the dark wooden floor as the words passed her lips.

“It’s the weather” Joe replied, “Look at the sky. It’s begging you to do more, live more, be happier; something about the shade of blue and the white fluffiness of the clouds.”

“Hmm. It’s pretty how the sunlight spills between the leaves on the tree in your garden” Brodie observed, before taking a sip of coffee.

“Who says the observer lives less than the participant, huh? Observers live much more fully and each day the sky is a different texture and the trees change shape and the poems become more beautiful. Life’s paralysing in one way or another so we may as well lie around and philosophise.”

“But if something’s happening I wanna be a part of it” Brodie said. 

“I know what you mean but there’s so much pressure to BE something and I dunno if I’m ready for that. It’s easier to talk some poetic shit about the sky than try to start living” Joe said.

“Perhaps” said Brodie, despondently.

“You don’t really think that those posers at the park are living their lives more than us?”

“No. Not more, just more” she paused, “More, well, we’re in here. And they’re. They’re out there” she said disjointedly.

“I don’t like hot weather” Joe said.

“Ooh, how edgy!”

“Seriously, Brodie, those guys just get drunk and fuck each other. You can dress it up however you want, y’know? Make it seem glamorous. Like some big adventure. But it’s not. It’s nothing like One The Road and none of them have ever even heard of Jack Kerouac.”

“Yeah, but it’s more adventurous than this.”

“Shut up. This is a good record.”

“And you do make great coffee” Brodie smiled, “Plus your deep, meaningful insights add a gorgeous ambience.”

“Well I’m afraid my gorgeous ambience is going to have to leave you” Joe said before downing the remnants of his iced coffee and standing up.

“Where are you going?”

“Yeah, I’m really sorry but I’ve got to go to college this afternoon” Joe explained, “But you can stay here if you like. There’s food and drink in the kitchen. Just don’t open the Aero, it’s mine. And you can listen to records or watch a film or read something. Or you can go home if you want. I probably won’t be back until this evening but the house will probably stay empty til then.”

“I’ll stay.”

“Right. Well. The main toilet’s broken. You can use the one through Tyler’s room if you need to.”

“Can’t you stay?”

“No. Sorry. Deadlines. Today’s been nice though.”

“Alright then” Brodie shrugged, “I’ll walk to the door with you.”

Brodie held the front door open and watched Joe walk down the road. His tall shadow danced along behind him. She closed the door only when Joe’s figure was out of sight. 

She stood at the front door for a couple of minutes before turning round to go back upstairs. She walked through Tyler’s room to the toilet. Tyler had always fascinated Brodie, in a way that she was annoyed at herself for being fascinated. The few times she had been in his presence, he hardly spoke, but stared menacingly ahead in a brooding manner. He always gave the impression that he was thinking very hard about something very important. However, Joe had confirmed that this was not the case because the only things that Tyler had any time for were girls and drugs. 

Brodie had never been in Tyler’s room before. There was a stark difference between his and Joe’s room. Joe’s smelt of the candles he always burnt, whereas the overwhelming scent in Tyler’s room was a heavy, musty odour that its inhabitant had unsuccessfully tried to mask with a faint fragrance of Lynx. The walls were bare but stained with blue tack and marked where sellotape had ripped off the paint. There were a few clothes draped across the room and the bed wasn’t made. Brodie walked through to the bathroom. 

As Brodie washed her hands, the sound of the front door opening and closing reached her ears. She unlocked the bathroom door but, before she could leave, Tyler was entering the room, dragging a girl behind him. Tyler was busily confirming that they had the house all to themselves as they undressed. Brodie tried to speak or make a noise to make them aware of her presence but found that she could not. She tried to at least look away but, as much as she willed herself to, found that she could no more look away than leave the bathroom. 

Afterwards, Tyler lay on the bed whilst the girl got dressed and ready to leave. The whole scene jarred depressingly, but still Brodie could not look away. Once Tyler was alone again, he put his arms behind his head, looked up at the ceiling and sighed. Then his eyes slowly surveyed the room, from left to right; until he reached the bathroom door. There, his gaze froze and his mouth opened in shock. He did not try to cover himself. Instead, his eyes narrowed and the corner of his mouth curled up in a sneer. Brodie looked around her in mortification as he fixed his stare on her.

Tyler got up from the bed and walked to the bathroom. “Did you watch that?” he said, tilting his head to the side in a spiteful curiosity.

“What? Wha? No. W? I” Brodie began.

“You’re lying” said Tyler, “You watched the whole thing.”

“I was just” Brodie struggled with her words again.

“Do you wanna do that with me?” Tyler asked, raising his dark eyebrows.

“What? I” Brodie cursed herself for not being able to articulate a full sentence. Suddenly, the absurdity of the situation struck her. How was she supposed to speak properly in a scenario like this? She tried to piece her thoughts together and, in doing so, consider the proposition. Tyler was very good looking and her summer was turning out to be very dull. This would make it more interesting again. She would no longer ache so badly to start living. This would be living. She stared into Tyler’s shadowy brown eyes and pouted her lips with a newly born confidence.

“Well?” Tyler inquired once more.

Brodie nodded slowly, still somewhat stunned by what was happening. Tyler undressed her then wrapped his arms around her and kissed her on the forehead. Brodie thought that he was treating her much more kindly than he had treated the girl he was with earlier. Perhaps that’s because he knew Brodie better or because he always thought of her as his little brother’s friend.

Brodie got up to leave when they had finished but Tyler held her arm and said, “Stay.”

“But” Brodie began. She had not assumed that he would want her to stay. Like Joe had said, all he was interested was girls and drugs. People like that don’t make for the liveliest conversationalists. 

“No. Stay. I want to talk” Tyler said, “Just lie back down.”

Brodie did as he said and stared at the ceiling; trying to see why it currently held Tyler’s attention so unwaveringly. She was suddenly very aware of the weight of her body and the way she was positioned. She moved around a bit but however she lay, she still felt awkward and uncomfortable. Tyler had said that he wanted to talk but it seemed like a lifetime before he opened his mouth again.
 “You know, I don’t wanna be like this” he said, “Like, with that girl you saw earlier.”

Brodie nodded.

“It’s just, you know, a distraction, isn’t it?” he said, “You and Joe have your books and whatever else it is you do and talk about. And I have this” he paused, “And I know you don’t necessarily approve but I’m not trying to please anybody. I’m selfish and mean and bad.”

Brodie, once more that day, found that her lips were locked and she could not reply. She had never imagined that Tyler would confide in her this way. 

“It’s alright. You don’t need to say anything” Tyler said, sensing her discomfort, “Just stay here a while longer.”

Brodie succumbed to the same self-consciousness as before as they lay in the brightly lit room in naked silence.

Then Tyler spoke again, “I don’t know, don’t you ever feel down about being you?”

Brodie finally found herself able to reply, “Yes. I think everyone does” she paused and added a more personal observation, “In many ways I wish that I was more like you.”

“Oh really?” Tyler said, turning onto his side to look at Brodie, who was still staring at the ceiling, “Why?”

“You’re right. I do use books as my distraction, as you put it. But there’s only so much you can read before you need to actually start living. I read about people like you; people who actually do things instead of just sitting round reading about them. I’m so tired and bored with my life and who I am. Sometimes I just wanna run away and start anew. Somewhere completely different where no one knows my name or what I’m like. Or just never stop anywhere and just keep travelling. Just drive and drive and drive.”

“Let’s do it then” Tyler said, alertly. Brodie turned to look at him now. “I’m serious. I’ve got a car. I can drive. Let’s go wherever we want.”

Brodie didn’t answer.

“You don’t hate me, do you?” Tyler asked.

“No. No. In fact, I think I’m beginning to quite like you” Brodie admitted.

“Good. Well, I like you too, so let’s run away together. We don’t have to ever come back” Tyler said.

“But I need to go and pack some stuff” Brodie protested.

“No you don’t” Tyler said, “You don’t need anything if you’re gonna start a new life.”

“We don’t have any money” Brodie said, still not convinced.

“Yeah we do” Tyler explained, getting half dressed then pulling out a box from under the bed. Inside were wads of cash.

Brodie wrapped a blanket that was lying on the floor around her and rushed over to the other side of the bed. “Where-?” she began.

Tyler sighed. “I sell drugs. Do you hate me now?”

Brodie shook her head.

“Great, well we’ll take this and get out of here. Get dressed. I’ll take some food and drink from the kitchen then we’ll drive” Tyler explained.

Brodie put on her clothes to the sound of Tyler’s feet rushing down the wooden staircase. She got ready as quickly as possible, for fear that she would change her mind if given a second to be still and think. She decided to write a note to Joe so she went back into his room for a pen and paper. Sorry she wrote. Then, thinking it sounded more like a brief suicide note than a goodbye one she threw it away. Instead she wrote, Gone away for a bit. Speak soon. Sorry. Goodbye xxx. Brodie started to have second thoughts as she looked around the comfort of Joe’s room. She would be safe in this familiar place instead of going away with a boy she hardly knew who was sure himself that he was bad. It would be easier to rest within the books and the records and the candles than to dive into the unknown with Tyler and his brooding personality. She was about to sit on the bed and rethink her decisions when she heard Tyler’s voice calling her from downstairs, “Brodie. We’re ready to go.”

With a rush of adrenaline, she propelled herself forwards, before rushing downstairs to join Tyler. Tyler was holding a loaf of bread, a jar of peanut butter and six pack of beer. “Ready?” he asked.

Brodie nodded vigorously. 

“Let’s go” he said.

Once strapped in the passenger seat, Brodie thought, “There’s no way back now. It’s like when you get on a rollercoaster and the bars go down.” She looked behind at the house she used to pass on her route to school every morning and watched it get smaller and smaller until they turned the corner.
“Where are we going?” Brodie asked.

“We’re just gonna drive” Tyler shrugged.

“Got any music?” Brodie asked.

“Have a look down there” Tyler said, pointing at a compartment on the inside of the car door.

Brodie looked through the five CDs that Tyler kept in the car and decided that she’d rather sit in silence. That’s what they did.

“It’s getting dark now” said Tyler, “We should stop off overnight somewhere. We can sleep under the stars.”

Brodie frowned, “Sounds dangerous.”

“I thought the new you was all about danger. You want adventure, don’t you?” Tyler asked, his eye sparkling under the moonlight.

Brodie sighed.

They drove for a few more miles longer before turning onto a country lane. There, they pulled over and Tyler opened the door. Brodie followed. Tyler opened the boot and took out the beer before carefully making his way through the boggy land. 

“There should be a dry bit of grass somewhere along here” he shouted back at Brodie, “Just follow me.”

Brodie got out her phone to use as a torch but found that it had run out of battery. She would just have to keep Tyler in sight. 

“This is the sort of place where horror films begin” Brodie observed.

“It’s fine. There’s no one around for miles” Tyler assured.

“Exactly” Brodie said quietly.

Tyler found a spot of dry land and sat down. He opened a can of beer and passed one to Brodie. They drank quickly and in silence.

“What are you thinking?” asked Tyler, a while later.

“I’m thinking that this adventure of ours is in the wrong place at the wrong time” Brodie said.

“What do you mean?”

“I just took up my first opportunity to get out of town” Brodie explained, “Perhaps I should’ve waited, that’s all.”

Tyler didn’t reply, but stared angrily into the distance.

Then there was a gun shot. “Who’s out there?” shouted a bellowing voice, “I know someone’s here.” Another shot. 

Brodie turned to move closer to Tyler. Then she realised that the second shot had been fired by him.

“Where the fuck did you get a gun?” Brodie screamed.

Tyler didn’t reply. He put the gun into the back of his jeans and stood up to find his victim.

“Where are you going?” Brodie shouted after him, “We need to get out of here. They could still be out there.”

“They’re not out there” Tyler said.

“How could you know?” Brodie said, and then caught up with Tyler and realised what he meant.
Tyler was standing over the farmer’s dead body. “You killed him” Brodie said, “You killed him. You killed him. He was just a farmer. He didn’t mean any harm. You killed him. You killed him. You were right, you are evil and selfish and bad.”
Brodie turned and ran back in the direction of the car, but she fell on the uneven ground. She cried out and grabbed her ankle. Tyler rushed towards her and picked her up.
“Get off of me!” Brodie shouted.
“We need to get out of here” Tyler whispered, “Keep your voice down.”
Tyler carried Brodie back to the car and lay her down on the backseats. Then he got in the front and started the car. He sped away from the scene, with Brodie crying in the back. 
As daylight approached, all Brodie could think about was how foolish she had been. She felt nothing but bitter, crushing disappointment. This wasn’t what she had wanted. She had wanted some magical story that was never going to happen. She would be back home soon and all she had gained was a twisted ankle and the knowledge that she had seen someone be murdered. She felt dirty for sleeping with Tyler and angry that she had not just stayed in Joe’s room. 
Brodie sat up as the sun rose. It looked so beautiful. Joe was right about the observer living just as fulfilled a life as the participator. Now, however, the unadulterated beauty of the sun rise was tainted with Brodie’s haunting thoughts of the night before. 
“Tyler” Brodie spoke for the first time in hours, “Where are we going?”
“Home” he said harshly, “The adventure’s over Brodie. And don’t you tell a soul about last night.”
Brodie rested her head back on the seat and cursed herself once more. 

(originally published in Cherry.)