Saturday, 30 July 2016

Spin off story: Tower-block Truths

The top floor of a Southwark tower-block, London, SE1

 December 28, 2003. 

The apartment was trashed, smashed. Johnny couldn’t recall the exact happenings leading up to this moment but they must have been pretty fucking bad for him to damage his pride and joy, his big boy pent-house. His hands were covered in glass, his shirt soaked in blood. He was shaking, drenched in his own massacre; tears that wouldn’t stop falling, blood that wouldn’t stop running. His body was a disillusion of daze, eye sockets shattered; pupils scorched a violent shade of bloodshot. Even he could admit he didn’t look like an attractive prospect right now. He remembered gazing at the car monitor, the street lights that soared across his sight. Somehow he’d roared the car into life and driven recklessly and riotously through the South London streets. He'd anticipated a crash, craved one, almost. Sick. It was all sick, though. Tonight had sickened him quick to the core. His mind was a fairground fantasy; flickering,  twisting truths, pulsating lights and dangerous oblivion. He hadn't meant to take it this far, had wanted to stop it from getting this far. Somehow he had Melissa spread over the balcony ledge, her head a dizzying tip to the city. If he released his grasp she'd fall. Past the glow of a billion city lights, onto the dark pavement streets, skull smashing, blood leaking alongside the Thames. His brain buzzed with a million beads of recollection, flickering between fantasy and reality. What she'd done was unforgivable, utterly, utterly unforgivable. To lie and push the truth aside, to leave him galvanised with grief. If only he'd known. He could have gone back. Could have made such a different call. 

The glass door seperating the balcony from his suite was nothing but dazzling beads of shatter. He’d always thought being on drugs would be a fanatical party; unstoppable and bright. Music would be pumping through his veins, emotions soaring into the unknown, laughter and fireworks blasting. Wrong drug. Wrong emotion. This was a new dimension for him. His bloodstream was 80% alcohol, the rest a fizzing water. He could taste the aftershock of every beverage he’d had at the bar. Alcohol he knew like ABC, but drugs? Nah. Not him. No thanks. He’d been curious, soaking up the line and coughing deeply as both nostrils felt inflamed. His body was jet-lagged, motionless from the flight back from Ibiza. He’d had a good laugh with the lads. They’d sunk enough booze to brainwash them for weeks. Tonight he felt limitless, lethal. Past his limit. He could taste tears, bitter booze, phlegm and this chemical tang. He felt a nasal dripping towards the back of his skull. 

Snow was falling; pretty, sugary flakes. White dust spiralling from the sky. Despite it being sub-zero he rolled up his shirt sleeves and felt the freezing air hit his skin. He couldn't believe the white powder, the line had been drawn, that had caused all of this. Now they were all victims. The power it had, the heartbreak. An action accountable for a constant hell that would never stop its blaze.

‘Secrets and lies. Tell me this is one sick fucking joke.’
‘I told you. The fire broke out at the cottage.’
‘A cottage doesn’t just set fire to itself.’ 
‘Her ex-boyfriend. It was him.’
‘You knew him? How?’
‘I only met him once. She used to come round to my flat and I’d see bruises, scars. Dried blood. I should have spoken up,’ her teeth chattered together, eyes darting back and forth. ‘She denied everything. She didn’t want fuss. No police, she said. Nothing.’  
‘A fuss?’ He felt his blood boil and sizzle at an alarmingly acidic rate. Lungs leaking lava, high shot to shit. ‘What kind of friend are you? What kind of sick twisted bitch would let her best mate suffer like that?’  
‘I wasn’t in a fit state, was I? Cut me some slack.’
‘Of course you weren’t! Course you weren’t.’ His words sprayed across her face, spit and acid. 'Do you know what I said to her? So many unforgivable things! We're screwed, she told me she never wanted to see me again. That we were dead. Because of you. Because of what you did!'  
Of course, it had ended badly as it was forever destined to. He’d blamed her, one night. They’d had a full blown row, fiery and fatal. It was over. Over, over. He’d been cruel that night, adamant that his hurt and grief would torch her for all it was worth.

Aside from Shea, Johnny had gotten most areas of his life right. Securing a managerial position at the financial firm he worked at. His bright, breezy exterior was a hit with his employees and sometimes he thought he might as well get paid to make them laugh, his humour was bloody sensational when he was jiving about, giving presentations and chairing meetings. His dad was his diamond, his best mate, he supposed. His mum a sarcastic cow surging through the menopause but game for a laugh. He loved them both loyally and stopped by every week. He couldn't stand his pragmatic prick of a brother, Mike, but Johnny was flavour of the month with his niece Bethany, because one of the most popular girls in school had come round, seen him washing the car topless and admitted he was "bare buff" with a "banging bod". He'd also tried to persuade Mike to let Beth go out with one of the boys at school. 
'Let her go out with him you boring bastard! She's sixteen!' 
'Thirteen, she's thirteen!
'What's the worst that can happen? She might get pregnant? So what?' How he loved winding up his big brother. Revenge for all those times when him and his geeky, gawky mates had tried to take the piss because Chemistry wasn't his specialist subject like it was theirs. Tossers. Johnny's good heart was gold to colleagues, friends, neighbours, associates, strangers, family alike.
It was only girlfriends that it bore no beat for.

His mobile kept vibrating in his pocket. His dad. He'd been thinking lately, with some irony, that his dad would have to be his best man at this rate. He wouldn’t trust his group of mates with that honour in a million years; he was starting to realise what a bunch of wankers they were, in all honesty. There was Darren, or Dazza as he was widely known. Darren had a penchant for pinching other blokes’ birds, and Johnny knew giving him the duty of best man would undoubtedly mean his bride would get groped, mauled and probably humiliated by the time the cake was cut. She’d be handing him divorce papers before the honeymoon even kicked off. Josh, second choice, wasn’t much better, he organised the most hell-raising stag parties, the last time the groom to be had been stripped, painted purple and tied to a lamppost. That narrowed it down to Dave, who said the most inappropriate things purely for shock value. He’d once admitted he’d sell his granny for a quick leg over and a shelf of booze at the off-licence. Last but not least, Mark, forgetful, a complete liability; losing keys, locking himself (and them) out of hotel rooms and houses and apartments. He’d forget his bloody knob if it wasn’t screwed on. How Johnny had ended up being mates with such a pack of jokers was now beyond his belief. It would be nice to have Ben back. Nice to have a mate who gave him unsolicited advice on girls; “actually mate, Mia isn’t the one for you, what are you playing at?” Someone to be upfront and honest, to tell him he looked a prize prick in his pink shirt, not jeer and terrorise him all night by the bar.  
Him and Melissa had gone on to bars and pubs and clubs and finally, when the truth had emerged in a haze of hell, he’d forced her up to the top flight of his skyscraper storey. He remembered her from high school, curls framing her jaunty face, matchstick legs. She hadn't changed, she was an actress, although she couldn't act to save her life. The wheelbarrow standing in his dad's garage could do better. Melissa was more infamous for her grade A addiction than anything else. In a drunken state of denial, he’d crashed and smashed chairs and plates and everything else he could get his hands on. She’d screamed her heart out, hysterical. Begging him to stop. Throwing empty threats that bore him no fright. He was carelessly unhinged. He remembered that night at the hospital when he locked them both in the toilets. Her screaming her head off, him throwing up. A dazzling dream team. Despite this, despite everything, she was the only one in the world that understood. Would ever understand. Nothing could change that. But then, nothing could change the truth. 

He was forever at a loss without Ben. Sometimes he thought Ben had got off lightly; he was resting easy, no understanding of what life was like without him. What everyone’s world had become for the worst without him living through it. Occasionally Johnny felt angered to the core, resentment and pain bubbling against one another and causing a hellish combustion of grief even he hadn’t dreamt up before. Other times he felt unbearably sad; a weight of emptiness so heavy it made his heart hurt and his soul sore. Most times he just missed him. Simple as that, missed him. Johnny was 31 now and had a feeling that if Ben had been alive, it would have been the kind of time one of them would be getting engaged, getting married. 

He sometimes tried to picture what Ben would look like now but it was impossible; like trying to dream up a new colour. The torture continued, once every three months, sometimes four, he’d have what him and Mitch called his “off days”. Most days he could blank out the blame. The grief he’d tried to disguise and bury for so long. Years. Decades. Eternities. Some days weren't so forgiving in their fault. He'd wonder why it hadn't been him. What life might of been like if it had've been. 

She'd passed out. Tears continued to stream down his face and fall down hers in salty river strokes. He elbowed her in the ribs as he made to answer his phone. 
'I'm sorry, dad.' Sobs echoed out into the cold Christmas night. 
'She's really ill, mate. You need to let the paramedics up. I'll wait with Melissa. Then you can make your way to Leeds. OK?' 
It was a sorry state of fucked-up affairs, it really was. 'I don't know what to do anymore, dad. I can't sit there and go through it all again. I can't.' He was coughing up emotion, wondering when this would end, when it would all stop. He couldn't possibly imagine it ever being okay ever again. 
'He'd want that. No matter what you think, he'd want you there looking out for her. Like he can't be.'

He released her from the balcony edge. Held her in his arms. They stayed like that for a long while. 
London glittered on, oblivious. 

Dedicated to Ritchie & Claire, for always believing in me and my story, and for being such true friends. 
My blogging babes for your faith, daring me to dream harder and continue cruising, love you all!
For Yasmin for always being there, urging me to follow my dreams & supporting me 100%
For everyone at Networkers who has supported me & this story, you know who you are!
 & for my gorgeous Graham, always, who has supported me and this story to the stars and back. 


  1. What an amazing way you have with your words Sophie. I have every faith in the world that your book will get published and you'll do so so so well with your career as a writer. I can only dream of writing like this! When I buy your book I'm going to drive straight over to you and ask you to sign it! I will always support you and your dreams because you deserve them so so much! Love you xx

    Yasmin Qureshi Photography

  2. Wow, Sophie!!! This was a stunning read - I adore the way you write, and the images you conjure up. I'm always intrigued to find out more! I have a feeling your book is going to be so amazing <3 <3 <3 I'm excited about it! ♥♥♥ I hope you are having a lovely and inspiring day! xxx

  3. is this the opening of your book?? it's absolutely amazing. the words pop and everything flows so well. when's it coming out? hopefully i can get my hands on a copy over in the states

  4. Can I please just say how amazing I think you are? Truly you are just an incredible person and writer and I have so much admiration for you. I think you are so talented and it makes me so so happy that you're following your dreams! I loved every word and I can't wait for you to have your first book published, which is inevitable if you ask me. I will most definitely be buying a copy and supporting you. Such a great read and thank you for sharing. Lots of love, Katie xx

  5. Wow! This book is going to be one helluva read! You write so poetically and yet the story is gritty and gripping at the same time. I really can't wait to read the whole thing! x

    Kate Louise Blogs

  6. Sophie that was incredible. Can't get over your talent for writing. Genuinely very skilled and had me gripped through the whole read. The professionalism in your style is great. It's not even a case of believing in what you can do, it's looking at what you've done and knowing that you're more than capable of producing great content. Please keep it up, always a fantastic read.


  7. Your a true writer beaut! Loved the wording and how it captured me into the story, I was hooked after the first few sentences. There was a couple of little humour sentences in there, "knob screwed on" "wheelchair better actor" I like the mix of emotions I felt as I read it.

    Keep going on your writing dreams, your doing great and will continue to do so!

    Well done with this darling!

    Gem xxx

  8. You’re an incredible writer Soph! I always love reading pieces of this story and I’m so happy that you’re putting them out there. I remember when you told me about the book years ago and I’m so happy that you’ve decided to publish these pieces occasionally here on Soinspo. They’re precious to me. I know how special this is to you, too. Always loved your way with words, you have so much talent, you have so much to offer to this world! Keep manifesting your dreams Love, I know you’ll do amazing!

    Thirteen Thoughts

  9. Can I just say ONE word? WOOOOOOOWWW!!!! Honey, honestly, it was immense! If you ever write and publish a book, I will be the first one in line to order it & have it signed. So so talented, babes!!! Keep on doing your things & never stop <3 <3 <3
    Much love your way, sweets!
    xoxox Nadia

  10. Sophie, you're honestly the most incredible writer. I feel like I could have plucked this from a hardback on my bookshelf with a cup of tea in hand. You paint such a realistic picture with your words; we are truly all alongside the characters feeling every emotion. I especially loved the imagery of Johnny's feelings and his incredibly relatable background. I can't wait for more! Wishing you all the very best as always lovely, you're really onto something here.


  11. Wow you are so talented, you're going to be so successful! xx

    Gemma ♡ Miss Makeup Magpie

  12. I know you've always been a passionate (and clearly talented!) writer and so to see you're now sharing it on your blog is beyond heartwarming - I'm genuinely very excited for you, as I have a feeling this is the start of something very special :) Good luck Sophie!!

    Gabrielle | A Glass Of Ice x

  13. Wow what a great and very intense start!! Such a great writer babes. You can just feel all the emotion behind Johnny and the picture you paint is great. I don't for a moment doubt you'll do amazingly.

    Love Hannah xx

  14. Yet again another amazing story, I didn't want it to end!!! You're such a talented writer! When you get your book published I will be first in line to buy it :) xx