By Lami Okrekson
Key Themes: fiction, drugs, youth, friendship, dissilutionment, mental health
ALSO AVAILABLE IN PAPERBACK
This is a book about youth out of control, out of control with no-one to help, no-one to help because no-one cares. In this dark look at youth and their world today, no-one cares about themselves, anyone else or the world. Apathy and depression, greedy meaningless culture, drugs and aggression; these have swallowed everything.
The young have their young friends, but are they too inexperienced and too unprepared by the elders who had a duty to them, to realise that they drifting, and snorting and smoking, into destruction?
And if they realised, would they want or be able to change anything?
About the Author
Lami Okrekson is 19 and grew up in South London. Always an avid reader, Lami began to write short stories at the age of ten and has since gone on to write for small independent magazines in London. She now lives in Leeds where she is studying at Leeds Metropolitan University.
They never taught us about contraception in school, so while half of us are up to our elbows in baby s**t, the other half still f*** standing up – whatever that’s supposed to do.
Also, they failed miserably at our preparation for ‘something else.’ So the people who managed to escape the babies and the sex ended up as social retards. The ones you never see because you’re not looking close enough. People who wear brown and blend into the background. You’d trip over them if they weren’t so alert.
Then there’s the inbetweeners, like me, who drift along not really fitting in anywhere. We are Chippers. Fifteen year olds who drink Jack Daniels for breakfast, eighteen year olds already bypassing the dragon and going straight for the veins. Primary school taught us not to fear needles. We are a nation of insomniacs and we walk around with our stoned eyes closed, or bulging out of heads that are filled with so much crap there isn’t anymore room in there for education. Education sucks, we are too cool for school.
We decided we were too cool for school today and came here instead. I walk along Waterloo Bridge with Ezra. The freezing bridge where all the cold wind from the Thames blows into our chapped faces. This s**t doesn’t affect me as it should, considering we have been so desensitized by Britain’s weather by now. More than just a little bit of sun in summer would shock me more than this. A couple of seagulls fly overhead, shrieking their obscenities into the air. The seagulls annoy me; I don’t understand why they’re here, in the middle of London when they’re supposed to be coasting the borders of Brighton or Margate. Seagulls in London? This is more than my head can handle. They glide along the top of the dirty, choppy water, so dirty yet so enticing - and I wish I could jump in there and float around with the carcasses of the dead fish for a while. In any case the salt water would maybe relieve this f**king constipation; I’ve had it for weeks, rock hard pellets of s**t that refuse to dislodge themselves from my arse long enough for me to take a satisfying s**t. “We should go there one day,” Ezra points towards the Hayward Gallery across from us, disrupting my thoughts, distracting me from the ache in my bowels. I nod. We will never go there though, it isn’t on our cards. We walk slowly because we have nowhere to go; also we are flying higher than British Airways. We don’t show it though, our pinned pupils, that would be way too obvious. “It’s bare cold,” Ezra says. “Yeah it’s cold.” So what? We should know that by now.
As we walk we intercept random looks from random people also walking the bridge. They are looking at us because we are inbetweeners. They must also be inbetweeners. We can recognise each other a mile off through a blanket of London sky. These random inbetweeners are people we’ve seen before, pieces of the people we hate. With their pristine suits and shinier than shiny shoes; men who look more like a Gillette commercial than real life, or women with huge ankles and tiny waists. Proportion is a phenomenon lost on the twenty first century. These are the people tourists come to London to take pictures of. There are a few of them here now, taking pictures of the river Thames. And I feel like shouting ‘what the f***!! Why are you taking pictures of a dirty river?? Don’t you know where you are?’ I’d never say this though. I wouldn’t want to be the bad impression that put London at the bottom of ‘tourist hotspots’ with Arizona and Wyoming.
We watch the people on the bridge. People watching. People watching people watching people watching us. They stare at our cigarettes and our faces, thinking we are way too young for that s**t. Not realising that we’re travelling backwards all the time. We’re always getting younger, every year. We have lost the ability to grow. The people we like best are the disproportionate women though, the ones with the huge ankles and tiny waists. They don’t seem to care that their ankles are too fat, or that people are laughing at the fact that their feet just will not fit into their shoes. Mostly though, we like the other women, the ones who have it the other way around; fat women with tiny ankles. These women look as though they’re about to crumble and crack, as if ankles that small could never support a body that fat. It is impossible and it makes me think these women aren’t filled with fat, but with air. Their tiny ankles are really the leaden weights keeping them reigned in to this life. Without them they’d just float away – like Judy Garland – over that proverbial rainbow. These are the women I like best. They seem like some kind of neo-existentialist. Women like that couldn’t possibly have husbands at home, waiting for dinner on the table, or screaming kids under their skirts. Women like that seem, to me, free. F*** beauty; I want to be just like that when my ankles become too skinny to support my obesity.
Later, Ezra and I go back to my house. My parents are out. Or at least Stella is – out cold that is. My father is always out. Ezra and I lay on my bed. He pulls out a bag of coke and we do a couple of lines off an old Michael Jackson record – it’s so dusty it’s a miracle it still plays. Belle and Chris are always saying I shouldn’t do coke. I agree. I don’t coke like normal people, I coke and lay passively on my bed, revelling in the slow buzz and calm muteness of the world it brings. Like the sound the world makes as it spins on its axis. Gentle and numbingly relaxing.
I was normal before Chris and Belle. Before them I was just as f***ed up as any other teenager; but I was okay. Back then it was just me and Ezra. We went to gigs, we smoked Marlboro Lights (then switched to straight Marlboros after realising ‘lights’ is just a word used to entice fat people), riding in cars with people we didn’t know. We reminded me of the sixties; all those hippy wagons carting stoned teenagers to Jimi Hendrix.
I lay on the bed whilst Ezra takes pictures of me holding the cigarette, looking all dazed and confused. If I ever make it into suited-and-booted corporate London these will be the debilitating images that wrench me from my platform of success and land me in a gutter, or out under a bridge somewhere. The coke stings my brains as it goes up there, like pepper I’d imagine – except I’ve never inhaled pepper so I wouldn’t really know. After the fifth line I know I’ve done way too much. With the windows open I should at least be able to hear the rushing of wind against tree, but the cocaine clouds me and I hear nothing.
I can’t move at all and my face is so numb it feels like I’ve been pumped full of Novocain. From where I am laying, drooling onto the pillowcases, I have a good view of Ezra. His slim fingers deftly roll a spliff, moving swiftly between the weed and the rizla, and then the quick motions of actually sealing the thing shut. He has the hands of a guitarist; graceful but dry and peely-looking - so unlike mine, which have never graced the strings of a guitar. I don’t like my hands; in fact, I don’t like hands at all. Not when they’re this close to my face. And there are so many hands, so many hands all in my face that I can’t even see Ezra anymore. Even though he’s right next to me I just can’t find him, he’s supposed to be on the bed next to me, except he isn’t. I’m not even on the bed next to me. I’m comatose. “Charlotte!” “Don’t f***ing call me that b**ch!” “Chuck.” “What the f***!”
This is routine. Stella and I go through it every time I OD. You’d think I had enough sense to OD once, realise I didn’t actually like it that much, and promise never to do it again. Except it’s all relative, to my predicament, and I am an idiot. We were unlucky. It seems that God didn’t like us too much. It’s the only way I can think of to explain why Stella is such a nutso, and why daddy’s been AWOL for the past sixteen years. It’s the only way to explain me away; why I’m here on this bed, lacking in the energy to function for myself. Why I can’t even remember if I have a sister or a brother – if I even have a sibling at all. “You know that’s bad for you.” Girl! Alice. So it’s a sister I have. And I know that she infuriates me. Kids infuriate me – Period – How they always sound like they’re repeating what some adult told them. “Mum’s pissed off at you,” the sister says, in those whining intonations of the young. She stresses the ‘pissed,’ like she’s really proud to say it. Proud that, once again, she came out as the good one while I came out here to be examined. “Whatever!” So f***ing what. It’s me, it’s him, it’s the world. I’m just the last excuse in a long list of excuses. It’s not even insulting anymore. Silence.
I’m lying on my bed with a cigarette and a bottle of Jack Daniels. Ezra and Chris are doing lines on the floor. It feels like a jump-cut; like I jumped from one part of my life where it’s the same but framed differently. Like, Chris and Belle weren’t here before, and now they are. And I feel like the bit that happened before, in the hospital, was just an interruption in the narrative of my life. A break put in to entertain; so I could be gazed upon by a bunch of androids in white jackets.
This product was added to our catalog on Wednesday 24 October, 2007.