Chapter 6 as Alien tries to navigate the world
|Chapter 6 - 1990 - I Wanna Be Adored
“I don’t have to sell my soul, he’s already in me.”
I didn’t make it back to school for a few days. Dad wanted to storm up there and talk to the head! But I begged him not to. I don’t want any fuss made. I told dad that I probably just left my book somewhere. I know I didn’t... one thing about my obsessive brain is that I always know where my stuff is. If there is ever a time when something of mine is not where it should be (even if Ix am using said thing myself) my brain constantly monitors the situation until I can put the thing back where it belongs. As I write this, a small part of my brain is solely concentrating on reminding me to put the book away when I have finished. In fact, that part of my brain is telling me that I have done quite enough writing and I should be putting the book and pen away right now.
The last few days have been spent playing out potential episodes of Home and Away. Some of the kids at Summer Bay High have got hold of someone’s diary and I have written umpteen scripts in my head of how that might play out. So many possible scenarios and none of them have so far turned out too well for the diary’s owner. I really have no idea of how to act this situation out. Aside from of course dying from social shame and embarrassment and crawling back into the shell that I have spent so much time and effort trying to crawl out of.
The journey to school seems to take forever and if I am totally honest that is suiting me down to the ground. As I approach the school gates I seriously consider walking straight past and never returning, this option has many obvious positives that I am surprised when I turn the corner and walk through the gates. At these crossroad moments, I often wonder if I am really in control of my decisions or if…. Anyway surely it is best to just get the whole humiliation thing over with so I can get back to the shell, finish my education and get on with the rest of my life.
As I walk through the gate I allow myself a quick scan around. I see Whitey and some of the others standing up the street from the gate smoking and laughing, Now I really do wish I was invisible. They look straight at me. I say nothing, turn my head and keep walking. My mind starts churning like that old washing machine we had at our old house. It was way too old and mum was always nagging dad for a new one but for some reason he loved it. What did they know? How much had they read? Why have they spared me this morning?
Then it began, I heard it ringing through the crisp autumn air.
I ignored it and kept walking, if i didn’t react they couldn’t hurt me.
Just keep your head down and keep walking
“ALIEN!! ….. HEY! “
The voice was on me now. Ignoring it was no longer an option. I turned slowly to face my future. I saw Manny trotting up to me. He was trying to hold his gait while simultaneously trying to pull something out of his bag.
My mind powered, almost out of control. My eyes fixed on my book. I couldn’t look at Manny to see what his intentions were.
“Hey Alien” Manny Panted as he reached me “ I am really sorry I took your book the other day, man. In all honesty, I was going to show the others, hoping that something in there would give us a laugh.”
“Then I found all those tapes.”
“Please let me have my book back” I heard myself say. I still couldn’t look at Manny to see his reaction but I knew this game only too well. I try to take it and he whips it ……….. No I’ve got it. He didn’t whip it away. I quickly put it back in my bag like if i put it back really quick then it was never anywhere else and this episode would not be shown. Cut to the test card.
I slowly look up at him. This couldn’t go like this. I just wish that he would turn and walk away. I just want it to be over. What on earth is going to happen now?
“Seriously Alien, some of the lyrics in your book are amazing” Manny is smiling and nodding like he means it. “They are like Morrisey or Robert Smith or something. How do you come up with this stuff?”
“Morrisey, lead singer of the Smiths” I mumble inaudibly under my breath as if revising and convincing myself “Robert Smith lead singer of The Cure.”
I can feel my face screwing up in anger and frustration. I want to scream that I am an alien from another planet just trying to navigate and this means that I need to record my experiences and interaction so I can review them later to try to make sense of them. I don’t though. What I actually do is shrug and look at the ground.
“Do you have, like, songs and tunes for these words too?” He asked me with a look that I think is enthusiasm, interest? Enthusiastic interest? I will have to rerun the conversation to be sure.
Despite my lack of involvement in the conversation Manny continues…
“I am learning the guitar at the moment, I only know a few chords ……”
He looks over at Whitey and the others as they stroll up the school drive with all the noisy bravado and confidence that I don’t think I will ever be able to replicate.
Manny looks uncomfortable, I know this look because people so often display it around me. Uncomfortable is one of the looks that I am most familiar with. Manny slams three tapes into my hands. They hurt a bit and they startle me a lot. I instinctively open my hand and they tumble to the ground.
“Thanks for your tapes man,” Manny says quickly “They were excellent”. Then he smiles at me as he turns to his mates. Flicking his eyes back to me he smiles “There is another one there for you, give it a listen. I think you’ll like it.
On one knee I look up to see him high fiving and hugging his friends. I look back down at the extra tape and see in scruffy handwriting scrawled over the label ‘The Stone Roses’.
I stand up too fast, my head is spinning. I was reading about vertigo a few weeks ago and my mind recalls the first couple of paragraphs. As always after reading the article I was convinced that I suffer from or will suffer from the ailment. I stretch my eyes as the school phases in and out of focus. My training kicks in and I try my hardest to breathe deeply and slowly. Square breathing, triangular breathing, circular breathing, star breathing… I have tried them all. It usually works well but right now I am struggling. I am out in the open, my mind is as disconnected as it has ever been. I feel like I am floating apart. I start to shake. A lone, weak voice speaks like an eighties robot ‘hide’. I see the quivering outline of the bike sheds.
The next thing I know is the school bell ringing mercilessly and invading my comfortable darkness.
I open my eyes and slowly push my hood off the back of my head. Tears are misting my vision and my left hand is in my back keeping a tight hold of my book. I have made it through. I look down at my book and my heart starts to race again. I can control it. I replay the conversation with Manny and scan it for information about my impending humiliation. I slide my book back into my bag and slowly convince myself that this particular horrific episode of Home and Away will not be airing today. Whitey and the others forwent the opportunity to take the piss and it seems that Manny may not have shared the contents with anyone. I pulled the new tape out of my hoodie pocket and looked at the words again. Why would Manny give me this? Why would he care if I like it or not?
I spent the remainder of my day firmly in my shell. I barely took my hood down all day. I don’t know how people knew but it felt like today everyone knew to leave me alone.
I walked in the door at home and dad handed me some biscuits on my way upstairs. He could always tell when I was stressed and usually knew the best course of action to help me deal with it. And after the excitement of the day, I really needed to escape.
I pulled my walkman out of my bag and found Manny’s tape. ‘The Stone Roses’ kind of like the Rolling Stones. The Sex Pistols. Hard and soft. Rough and smooth.
I rewound the tape. I pushed it into my walkman and pressed play. From the distortion emerged the hypnotic bassline. The jangling guitars “I don’t have…. to sell my soul….. he’s already in me……..”
From that moment everything changed. I was like a cucumber plant throwing out searching strands. Circling, looking for something to cling to. To grab on to and thrive. Now I had found something…