I suppose it started? Around August 1997. Blood smeared the phone, it had a cord and a proper dialling system. The only place I ever dialled was denial. Shame rinsed my mouth. I felt deadened from the waist down and scorch rattled through my system but I was bounded by the glass etched in my wrists and the shattered shards of prickled perfume. Rope Alcohol Pills Escape. Rape. He'd left me to survey the massacre he'd made. Pure poison drenched over me like a darkness awash with deadened destruction. I sunk the bottle of whiskey under the sink. The taste was like fuel to fire but I'd readily have gulped down a bottle of bleach, if that's what it took to stop guzzling blood and calm the crashing symphony of my heart. I swallowed back some pills and barely winced as they lodged in my throat. It was a bloodied bath rinsing off regret and shame and sin. It took a while before the fantasy floored through the rising froth.
The bubbles glistened and the sunken moon magnetised me from the gap in the grotty windows. I stared at the foam until my eyes became psychedelic swirls of stun. "And I wonder, what it means, what it means. To find your dreams come true". Illusion and delusion; the lesser of two evils cloaked in escape. The froth gathered along the betraying bathroom could be Chicago's dazzling skyline, the septic stains and bloodied body in the bath could be the result of red wine and a good time. Imagination was all I had. "This is my song. And no one can take that away." The rim of rock bottom had smashed open. "It's been so long since someone could make me cry." I could pretend. I didn't have to be tied to torture anymore. But I believed him, my boyfriend. He told me if I ever left him he'd slit his throat in front of me, and then I'd have two coffins on my conscience. Other times he'd come back throwing flowers in my face, the insult to injury already blazed along my body; bruised butterflies and scarred sin. I used to stare at the ceiling until it morphed into a black mass of static stars and wonder how the hell I'd ever make my escape.
Run Away Please Emergency. Stupid. To blame. Your Fault! You make me fucking sick! You deserved it! You made me do it! His abuse became like alchemy to the brain. Acidic Anamnesis. The same anamnesis that had seen ambulances as ice cream vans and a plane crash through a house overlooking our home. They wonder why I hate London. If they ever saw it through my eyes they'd be harassed by hatred too. Once you've suffered a blow, the next one and the next and the next. You become... numb? Paralysed? Glass beads shed at my skull. A mirror shattered against my jawline. What would I tell my twenty five year old self if I could go back? Through the hell there will always be hope. Faith is fractured but it is not broken. I should have covered my tracks.
BONFIRE NIGHT, 1997
Rollercoasters hurtled over rust-ridden tracks. The lights and blasts of bonfire screamed against my system. Salt and vinegar were in the air, all the excited emotions ubiquitous to a fairground fantasy. For so long it was black and white, now colour threatened to explode into the atmosphere. Jed said: 'You'll be safe here. I promise. Safe with... me.' He had a Northern accent and he said the word look like Luke. I felt angry at the security. I'd sworn off men for life and now, look. Him! Stars blurred and kaleidoscopes whirred. People were throwing sparklers around and I kept catching flashes of burn and spit. Paranoia bled through me like bile. I was so frightened, forever fearing over my shoulder and seeing empty stares and blank looks. 'Shea....?' I said my surname was to do with the seasons. I swiped a hand across my face and he thought I was motioning at a hot summer's day. 'Shea Summers?' I didn't want to confess the Wintery rawness. I became Shea Summers for a while. Perhaps if he hadn't taken my sense away I would've legalised a change of namesake and a new identity. But hooked on the helium of heartbreak, I remained the same.
7 YEARS LATER
A diamond ring glittered against the orbs, silver pinpricks in a black canvas of night. Johnny held it against the light. Was it stupid? His mum said he could have a Cartier round his cock and Shea still wouldn't take him back, let alone marry him for fuck's sake! The hospital was horrible, but weren't they all? He'd gotten thrown out, kicked out for kicking off. He hadn't expected Another Bloke to be there. Talking to the doctors like he was so damn well important. Straight in from New York, apparently. Johnny had felt tense and threatened, wondering who this snazzy American might be, until he'd caught his accent and realised he was from around here. Johnny told everyone he was Shea's husband but they'd laughed in his face, all of them, and told him to bugger off. Bad enough the other one that had caused this hell was hooked up to monitors and machines. He'd considered pulling the plug, until Mike had pulled him away and given him a rollicking. Shame. The truth would be terminal but it was coming out. And once it was out, there'd be no going back. Only forward, forever. And he could make it right. They could be so happy. Hell would be forsaken for happy. If only.
Lyrics taken from "My Song" by Labi Siffre
Chicago segment inspired from "I Wonder" by Kanye West
For Graham & Yasmin & everyone who has supported me, I love you all!
Read Part I & II of Shea's stories here and here.
Read Part I & II of Shea's stories here and here.