Part 1 of the first chapter of the one in socks, a story about drugs among teenagers
|My eyes flicked open. It was pitch black inside my bedroom, but outside it was midday on a Friday.
This was it.
I was finished.
I scribbled down the final verse, my pen rushing across the page faster than the formula one cars of last season. I had been waiting all along for these lyrics; I couldn’t believe it had taken me so long to find such words that were so pure. They truly were from the heart. These words were golden.
I switched off the CD that had been on replay non stop for about three weeks now, even through the night. My neighbours would have been annoyed and driven off their heads, had they not become used to it by now. It didn’t take long before my uncle noticed the sudden silence and knocked gently on my bedroom door.
“I’m done” I said, quietly, my voice squeaky from lack of use.
Luke pushed open door and life flooded in, the dust shimmering in the golden light. He peered round the door and smiled.
“I’ll get you a milkshake.”
I had the strangest eating habits. I was a nightmare as a child. I would only drink Cranvendale milk, or pineapple milkshakes made from Cranvendale milk. I could taste the difference. On one hand, that came with its advantages. I wouldn’t drink alcohol, which, not only meant I wouldn’t get drunk but also that Luke, as an ex-alcoholic, wouldn’t be tempted for a drink. My habits for food were probably even worse. I would only eat Greek yoghurt or chips, but I hardly ever ate anyway. In the three weeks I had been writing I had barely eaten a full meal’s worth.
I sipped at the milkshake through a crazy straw. The song lay on the table between my uncle and me. He dared not to look at it until I had finished drinking.
“Do you want anything to eat?” he asked.
“No.” I answered, eyeing the scrappy little piece of paper “Is Tammy about?”
“It’s his shift at the chippy.” Luke said “I was just over there a second ago, when the music stopped.”
“You left me home alone?” I asked “In the state I was in?”
He usually didn’t go out when I was writing, except for work, and even then Tammy and his girlfriend, Melanie, would sit in the house. When I was writing a song, I would go into a phase that mass murder and gun men probably wouldn’t snap.
And Edge Street was in Ritewood.
And those sorts of things happen in Ritewood.
“It was only a few moments, Sammy.” Luke said “its lunch time. I was hungry. I was getting some chips.”
“It’s ok” I said “I’ll go and see Tammy later.”
“Why aren’t you at work?” I asked slowly.
Luke groaned “I was worried about you, Sammy. I was beginning to think you were dead.”
“I’m not dead.” I commented.
“You look it.” Luke said, glancing up at me.
“Don’t start Luke.” I warned.
“You don’t eat properly.” Luke said “You don’t eat any proper food. You need vitamins and all the other stuff.”
“I’m fine, Luke” I argued “I eat when I need to eat.”
“You’re starving yourself.”
“You know it’s only when I’m writing!” I shouted “You know it’s only for those three weeks that I go anorexic.”
“I was four weeks.” Luke said “You have no sense of time up there. You were up there for four weeks on that song. That’s why I’m not at work.”
“It was just one extra week.” I said, quietly.
“For now!” Luke argued “How long until it’s just two extra weeks. Then three. Then what?”
“You know that won’t happen.”
There was a stiff silence. It was the usual conversations that followed my short lack of existence. We both looked at the sheet of paper between us.
“What’s it called?” Luke asked.
“Lack of Obsession” I answered “I’m going to see Tammy”
“Are you going to put shoes on?”
I snatched the piece of paper away and walked confidently out onto Edge Street. Max was outside, with baby Malcolm on his lap, smoking.
“Welcome back to life” he smiled.
“Glad to be back.” I laughed.
Mia marched out of the house, holding a tiny pair of stylish Nike trainers in one hand. She stood in the doorway, hand on hip. Make gave me a here we go again look and I grinned. Mia was not pleased.
“Well?” she said.
“Well what?” Max asked.
“What are these?” Mia said, waving the shoes.
“Them?” Max said slowly, grinning “Those are his trainers that you spent way too much money on.”
“And why aren’t they on his feet?” she snapped.
“It’s too hot!” Max moaned “His feet would have burned in them. And look! It’s Sammy! She’s back! And she isn’t wearing shoes!”
I wasn’t fond of shoes. My feet had always been oddly shaped, and shoes didn’t seem to help at all. And in this heat, it was too hot to wear shoes. I was wearing socks though, stylish black and grey stripped socks.
“Don’t try and change the subject, Max!” Mia argued “I brought him shoes for a reason!”
“I’m just gonna leave you two to it.” I said, casually slipping away across the street to the chippy. Mr Kelipleto was at the counter. He smiled when he saw me.
“Finally, a friendly face!” I grinned “All I’ve heard since I returned is arguing.”
“You finished?” the Greek man said “You want some chips, no?”
“Erm...” I said, unsurely.
“Come on!” Mr Kelipleto grinned “You have been missing my chips over the weeks, no?”
“Go on then.” I grinned “Just a small, mind. I can’t eat too much too fast. Is Tammy here?”
“Tammy is in the back” he said “He is having a breakdown. He hasn’t been much use at all since he quit collage.”
“He quit!” I cried “Why?”
“The people lost his work.” Mr Kelipleto said “He said they could stick their course. He basically had to redo the entire year’s worth of work again if he wanted to pass. Oh, well. He has a nice job here, no?”
“Yeah...” I said, slowly
“Come through, though” Mr Kelipleto said “Maybe you can cheer him up. I’ll bring back the chips.”
I passed the counter through to the back. Tammy was sat in the kitchen, his head in his hands. I pulled a chair and sat down.
“What’s up?” I asked.
“Nothing” Tammy mumbled.
“Come on Tam” I insisted “I’ve been out of it for four weeks. And something’s obviously happened.”
“Someone grew up and quit collage!”
I looked up. Connor O’Connor. An Irish jerk who had somehow become Tammy’s best mate and Pandora’s Box’s manager. He was five years older than Tammy and was always putting him down, about his music course at collage$, mm, his band: Pandora’s Box, anything he could get his hands on.
“Will you shut up, Connor!” I snapped.
“Hey, I’m the one actually out there in the music world.” Connor cried.
“If you want.” I said “Hey, come one, Tammy. Cheer up! Be happy! I’ll let you be the first to read the new song!”
Tammy was up like a flash, snatching the paper from my hand and running to the corner to read it. I glared at Connor, giving him an eff off before you make him feel bad again and I punch you in the face look, and he seemed to get the hint. He sighed.
“I’ve have work to do.” He said “People to see, places to be. I’m going.”
“Bye.” I said.
He left the room as Mr Kelipleto brought in my chips.
“There,” he said “Get some food inside you. And you got Tammy up.”
“This is amazing!” Tammy commented “You need to start writing for Pandora’s Box!”
“No,” I sighed, sitting down and picking at the chips “What I need is to get some money.”
0“You want a job?” Mr Kelipleto asked.
“Dad!” Tammy cried “She’s only fourteen. In this country, fourteen year olds have better jobs. Secondly, Sammy doesn’t want to work here. It smells like grease and urine. I don’t even want to be here and I live here. And we don’t have any work.”
“We have no work because you took it all.” Mr Kelipleto said “She can have your job.”
“You’re firing me!” Tammy cried “How can you fire me? I’m your son!”
“You were only just saying how much you didn’t want to work here.” Mr Kelipleto grinned “I thought you were quitting.”
“I am now!” Tammy cried, storming out of the chippy, in a mood as usual.
“I feel bad now.” I said quietly.
“Don’t.” Mr Kelipleto said “He’ll back soon. No one else will hire him.”
“Sadness passed.” I said, cheering up. “So, is this going to go around school then? Because I think I’ve already taken a little bit too much time off school.”
“Yeah,” Mr Kelipleto grinned “You start on Monday, yes?”
I left the chip shop happy. It was a beautiful summer afternoon. I had missed a good chunk of the summer term at school, but I doubted anyone would miss me. I wasn’t popular at school. In fact, quite the opposite. It was strange really. By teenage socialising standards, I was a perfect teenager; even the girls who hate me say it. Funny, sweet, clever and cool. It was more the fact I was too perfect. I thought it was more to do with the fact that my life kind of sucked, but everyone disagreed. I was popular with the boys, but even that seemed to always go wrong. I was cutie, but not in a ‘go out with me way’, more in a ‘you’re just like my little sister’ way. I was an official loser.
I pushed open the door to my house and shut it quickly. Luke was waiting, sat on the stairs.
“Look, Sammy.” He began “I’m sorry.”
“It doesn’t matter.” I grinned “Guess what! I got a job!”
“Really, I thought you only went out to show Tammy the song.” Luke said slowly.
“Yeah, I did!” I laughed “I went over there and he was in a mood. And then lots of other stuff happened, but long story short, I got a job at the chippy and I’m not sure if Tammy was fired or quit, but Mr Kelipleto said he’d be back soon.”
“You’re mad.” Luke grinned “So, are you going to school on Monday.”
I groaned “I don’t know. I don’t want to and I don’t need to, not really. It’s only the law. It’s not like the school actually cares.”
“You need to go there, Sammy.” Luke sighed “You need to learn!”
“I already know all the rubbish they teach.” I moaned “Please! All the kids at our school are so stupid. Most of the year elevens couldn’t tell you one plus one. Please let me go to St. Marks!”
“Sammy, we can’t afford it!” Luke cried “It’s way to expensive. If we could afford it we wouldn’t be in this dump.”
“I like it here.” I argued “People here are nice.”
There was silence for a moment, in which we could hear Mia shouting outside. Luke raised his eyebrows. I groaned.
“Please!” I begged “It’s not even that expensive. I was on the website before the song. I’m not learning anything at Ritewood.”
“They’ll be stricter their, Sammy.” Luke warned “You’ll get punished for randomly taking our weeks off. And you have no friends there.”
I groaned. It was no use arguing with Luke about money. We hardly ever had any. Before the drink problem over eight years ago, he had a wonderful job as a music producer, travelling Europe, and I sometimes got to go too. It was how I first came into music. Then he got sacked after a long period of drink dependency. Now he worked at PPI radio station running for coffee and cakes for the presenters. He only got that job because he knew the manager. He had become very money conscious since then.
“Do you know how we could get some extra money?” Luke asked, slowly.
“If you get a real job?” I answered, not entirely sure where my uncle was leaving.
“No.” Luke sighed “If you sold one of your songs to Connor O’Connor.”
“No way!” I cried “I will never sell any of my songs to that arrogant git! Always making fun of Tammy. He doesn’t deserve one of my songs!”
“Well, you don’t think too highly of yourself, do you?” Luke grinned.
“Yeah I do.” I grinned “No, but seriously, Luke, Connor’s just so mean to Tammy all the time.”
“Does he ever say anything to you?” Luke asked.
“No...” I said slowly.
“Well then.” Luke concluded “You’ve got nothing to worry about.”