Here’s another outtake from my book. I love sharing these here, because it means they get seen, and don’t just end up on the cutting room floor! I like this story, but it didn’t really fit with the flow of the book. Enjoy!
“No way, mum. You have to drop us off here. I’m not getting out of the car in front of the club with you driving. Please, don’t embarrass me.” Kat and Abby giggle nervously in the back seat behind us. Kat is Abby’s new girlfriend. She transferred into our school, and we welcomed her into our gang of misfits. She’s strong and confident, and a little intimidating. Young love has bloomed. I’m happy for them. Having lesbian friends was way better than having to deal with boys.
“Polly, I want to see where you go on these Saturday night adventures.” My mother is trying to make light of the situation, but I can tell by the tone of her voice that she is worried.
“You can see it from here. Look.” I point towards the boarded up snooker club at the end of the street. “There’s the door at the end of this road. But please drop us off here.” I plead.
“That place? It doesn’t look open. Shall I wait here for you just in case?”
“Mum, just go. It’s a squat- an abandoned building. They aren’t going to light a sign and open the door. We have to knock.”
“Okay fine,” she sounds defeated, “I don’t have the energy to argue with you. Just be careful, okay?”
“Of course, mum. I’m not an idiot!” I say defensively.
She pulls up on the corner and I kiss her on the cheek as I exit the car, leaving a black lip print. Linking arms with my friends we clack down the street in our stiletto boots, little metal padlocks banging against my heels as I scurry inside out of the cold. My fishnet stockings don’t give me much protection against the chilly wind and my PVC coat barely covers my ass. Underneath I’m wearing a metal chainmail bikini which is freezing against my larger-than-average teenage breasts. I turn around to see my mum leaning over the steering wheel with her head in her hands. I feel bad, and resolve to apologize tomorrow.
We knock on the door of the empty snooker club and it opens to reveal a pale faced man with crimped black hair covering one eye. We proudly present our membership cards and he ushers us inside. “Hello girls. Nice to see you again.”
Downstairs opens into a cavernous room, but the smoke is so thick we can barely see. We drop our coats off in our usual corner and stop to tighten each other’s corsets and fluff our enormous hairdos. All three of us have huge hair extensions backcombed to twice the size of our heads and reaching down to the backs of our knees. Kat’s are purple, Abby’s are blonde, and mine are black.
The music is loud and droning. It’s early and they are still playing the atmospheric set: foghorns, the tolling of church bells, obscure organ music and eerie sound effects. Not unlike a haunted house. The opportunity to dance would come later, for now we would buy some sodas, drink down a little and then pour the vodka we had stashed in my bag into the can. We sit in the corner watching people arrive. I know the names of most of the people, but none of them know me. I’m just a kid playing dress up.The club is called ‘WRAITH’ and the people who attend have been hanging out together for years, as it moved around from squat to squat. They talk about seeing Siouxie play the Bat Cave back in ‘85. I feel like I already missed all the best times. I hate the 90s.
I’m sitting on the edge of a hard black wooden bench looking out into the smoke-filled room. My feet hurt, pinched in my stilettos. I wonder how I’m going to last the night. Abby and Kat are sitting next to me chatting. I can’t hear them- the droning music is too loud. I sit and quietly contemplate the blackness of my heart. This is a goth club, after all, so this kind of activity is encouraged. Last week a guy had fallen onto his knees crying in the middle of the dance floor. Genuinely sobbing. He had a necklace made of real barbed wire and blood ran down his neck onto his shirt as he moved. We thought he was the coolest thing in the world. Being unbearably sad is something we can all relate to. Finding a place where we can express the darkness we feel is liberating. The shadow side of life is welcome here. It feels honest. WRAITH is our escape from the need to pretend that we’re okay.
A girl sits next to me and introduces herself as Sadie. Her hair looks like Tina Turner in ‘Beyond Thunderdome’, spiky on the top and long in the back. We make small talk for a while. I feel awkward. Sadie is as young as we are, but she’s been hanging out at WRAITH for a few years and she knows everyone. I stifle a yawn. I haven’t been sleeping much, my nights have been wracked with insomnia, as they have for years.
“Do you want some speed?” Sadie offers.
“What’s that?” I ask. She pulls out a little bag of white powder from her purse.
“It perks you up, stops you being tired.”
“Okay. I’ll try a bit.” I reply.
“Here, just put it in your drink,” she instructs. I hold out my coke can cocktail and she taps in the powder from the tiny plastic bag. The coke fizzes up and almost overflows. I suck at the foam as it gushes over my hand.
Twenty minutes later I start to feel light headed. There’s a buzzing sensation all over my body. My heart is beating faster than usual. I hold my hand on my chest and take in a really deep breath. It feels good to breathe. Sadie looks at me sideways. “You starting to feel it?” She asks. I nod and smile. My feet don’t hurt anymore. My favorite song comes on and I stand up to dance. So does Sadie. My legs feel wobbly at first, but the sensation doesn’t last long. Sparkles of energy are flying up my legs, up my spine, and bursting out of my head in a fountain.
“Stronger than reason.
Stronger than lies.
The only truth I know.
IS THE LOOK IN YOUR EYE”
I dance, and my arms feel like feathers as they swing around my body. Like wings. I could fly if I wanted. My feet tingle. My fingers tingle. My face tingles. I don’t stagger anymore, even though I’ve had a lot to drink. I’m perfectly balanced. I’m graceful. I’m confident. A numbness washes over me, and I suddenly realize that the aching pain in my chest has gone. I am free. I am able to think without wanting to cry uncontrollably.
I’m humming the song in my head, giggling as I replace the lyrics with the words “a popular wraith song, a popular wraith song.”
I don’t know how many hours have passed, but Abby and Kat have fallen asleep cuddled up in our pile of coats in the corner. I’m sitting with Sadie and we’re laughing. The DJ has pressed the button on the smoke machine for such a long time we literally can’t see our hands in front of our faces. People are coughing, and on the dance floor they stumble into each other blindly. We laugh so hard, tears are threatening to ruin my perfect spiderweb make up. Once the smoke clears I notice a puddle of water is coming from the bathroom. The toilets have overflowed again, and raw sewage is creeping its way across the floor towards us. It happens every week. The plumbing in the old building isn’t maintained, and it can’t take the influx of people every weekend. We scurry to the other side of the dance floor to avoid it.
We’ve been talking all night. I can’t remember much, but it feels so easy to talk. I’ve smoked a whole pack of cigarettes. My jaw is stiff and I’ve chewed the inside of my cheeks raw. I’ve drunk nearly half a bottle of cheap vodka, but I don’t even feel it. I’ve never been able to talk like this. To really communicate. It feels like I could write poetry and it would be amazing. I feel creative. I feel connected. I feel inspired.
“So do you live with your parents?” Sadie asks, making small talk as we settle into our new spot.
“With my mum, yeah,” I say. It feels weird to say it out loud like that. I realize what might be coming next.
“Where’s your dad?”
“I’m sorry, that’s awful,” Her voice is genuinely filled with concern. “When did that happen?”
“Last week, actually.” I laugh out loud. I can’t help it.
“Are you joking?” She looks at me, confused.
“No… I’m not.”
“Fuck. Are you okay?”
“Not really.” I say, honestly, shaking my head and looking down, but the speed in my bloodstream makes me feel strangely detached from it all. A blissful numbness. She puts her arm around me and gives me a squeeze.
“That’s mad. Well. I guess this is as good a place as any to come when someone dies.”