Chapter Two– You Shook Me All Night Long
I lay awake, too hot in the bed, my legs sticking out from beneath the old sheet. It smelt like an old wet cat. The mattress was horrible. It was doughy somehow, no better than the floor. Despite the heat, partly because of it, everything was damp.
I changed position for the third time in as many minutes, counting the seconds, but determined not to look at the clock. Time stretched itself around me as pictures, words and that damned song kept scrolling through my head; a midnight horror show on a ninety second loop.
“School’s out, for summer,” diddy did a, diddy did a, diddy did a.
The raven haired man waved the large snake draped about his shoulders at me menacingly.
“School’s out, forever,” diddy did a, diddy did a, diddy did a.
I opened my eyes to the dark, unfamiliar ceiling of the strange, sticky house. I needed something, anything to get Alice out of my head, but all my books, my TV, my laptop, sat boxed up beside the bed. I finally cracked and looked at the time; 4: 27 AM. It wasn’t fair!
Tomorrow would be my first day at the new school. New kids, new teachers, new rules, a new uniform and still those damned GCSEs loomed like sharks as I lay adrift on a raft made of human flesh. What an idiot. I couldn’t even sleep.
“No more pencils, no more books, no more teacher’s dirty looks.”
I flipped the pillow onto the cold side and turned over. Try to think about something else, anything at all; football, the Joker, the alphabet backwards, Lindsay Mancini, yeah, Lindsay, she was always there for me, in my own head anyway, even if I hadn’t ever actually spoken to her, not in real life anyway. But reality’s overrated nowadays.
I remembered walking past the field as the girls had Games one cold January morning, playing rounders on the frostbitten grass. A beautiful gust of wind had changed my life, forever. Had it not been for that fleeting glimpse of pink knickers and her red, embarrassed face, I, Greg Wright, might still be rereading Harry Potter and planning to ask for a laser tag kit for my next birthday. But now instead, I was a man. Or, at least, I was getting there.
Since that day, I had been on a quest towards “full sexual awakening.” At least that’s what the 1970’s biology textbook I’d found said would happen. I still wanted to know why Dad kept it hidden in the garage in a box of old records. Maybe it was Mum’s and she’d been naughty. That was what he did with my Super Soaker after I killed the toaster with it.
Lindsay disappeared with a pop. Dad had never really talked about girls; it had been Mum that first mentioned the concept of love and babies and “special cuddles”. School had filled in the blanks. I was still not entirely at home with the idea that the thing dangling between my legs had any more functionality than the garden hose. If anything, it was an irritation, a target for footballs and sharp black school shoes in the playground.
I rolled back onto my front, my right arm thrust beneath the pillow, bent awkwardly against the velour headboard, which, although it was dark, still seemed too pink for a young man’s bedroom. Apparently, it was my second cousin Hannah’s old room. She had left for University two years before, or so I’d heard from Uncle Archie. I didn’t even know I had a cousin, never mind a second one. I wished she’d taken her stupid, creepy china doll collection with her. They glared out in silhouette at me from the cabinet at the foot of the bed. Even though I couldn’t see their eyes, I knew they were watching.
It had to be quarter to five by now. I didn’t want to check my phone again. It was on loud anyway. If there was any news about Mum, the Kings of Leon would let me know.
The last two weeks had been the longest of my life, the loneliest too. I’d had barely spoken two words to Uncle Archie since I arrived, except to tell him that I hated fish, I hated spiders, I hated the sea and I thought I might hate him too. Uncle Archie seemed alright really, but he was still a stranger. I didn’t want him to think that this was going to be easy, for either of us. I had to keep him on his toes. To be fair, he hadn’t batted an eyelid at the torrent of hate, he’d just loaded his pipe and gone outside to smoke it, sat on his old wicker chair beneath the oak tree at the bottom of the garden.
The light peeped into the stuffy bedroom through the crack in the pink curtains like the eye of Sauron. The bed sucked, the room sucked, Cornwall sucked! I thrashed about beneath the moist sheet. It was no good; I threw it across the room. It landed on the mahogany cabinet, covering the dolls weird blank faces behind the glass door. At least that took care of them.
I got out of the sodden bed and lay on the floor, trying to get my head comfortable on the dense pillow, the carpet itching at my back. I began to drift off, thinking about Lindsay Mancini’s pretty smile, lying in the cool shadow of the bedstead.
It was just then that my alarm went off.
“YEEEEEAAAAHHHHH, your sex is on fire…”
I sat bolt upright and threw the phone as hard as I could at the door. It bounced to the floor in a shower of casings. I could see that the screen had cracked. What did it matter? There was no signal, nobody to text anyway, no missed calls from old friends. As far as Bristol was concerned, I had died too.