1985: A Pair of Brown Eyes
Through my fug of fiery dreams, Stig was banging a bottle
against my head. Wincing, I opened my eyes, then put a
shaking hand to my fevered brow. It wasn’t drums, it was a
migraine. Slowly, I sat up and faced the worst hangover I’d
ever had. I then recalled that Hermione had taught us a way
of doing tequila slammers, using speed for salt and Clandew
for lemonade. I was drenched with pissy sweat, my mouth
tasted like tea and coffee in the same cup, and my stomach
growled and bubbled. My larynx was so bruised I could
barely swallow, and the back of my head was tenderised.
Despite my condition, I snorted a laugh.
It was a grey dawn morning and I was perched on the very
edge of a bed in an unfamiliar bedroom. Rugs and heavy
metal posters covered the walls. Hermione lay next to me,
mouth open, hair askance, Becky next to her, a rough blanket
over their fully clothed bodies. Tony, who had either fallen
out of the bed or been pushed, was lying on the floor on
Becky’s side; the bed was shallow, two old mattresses welded
by mildew. Tony’s arm was pushed up under the blanket and
over Becky. I suspected he was feigning sleep – his mouth
was open and he was snoring. Dying for a pee and a drink I
lay back down, wondering if I’d held Hermione at all. She
was close to me and sleepily opened her eyes as I peered in.
I could see myself in her eyes and wondered if she could see
herself in mine. She frowned as if trying to recognise me and
“Hi,” I whispered, conscious of my awful breath.
“Thanks for letting us stay.”
Something changed in her eyes and she relaxed.
“Stig’s a monster, isn’t he? How do you know him?”
“I don’t. Becky met him at Glastonbury. I said he was a
tosser. He scares Daithi.”
Damned alarm in my voice. Hermione smiled. “No. Me
Scared by the sensation of relief that flooded through me, I
changed the subject.
“He burnt the bus out, didn’t he? Aren’t you worried he’ll
come back? I mean – when we’re gone?”
Hermione smiled at something private. “Not particularly.
Anyway, I heard he nicked your mate’s coach ticket back to
Tony leapt to his feet and rushed to the window. I knew it
– he’d been listening all along.
“Oh, shit! How am I going to get home? Me Mum’ll kill
Tony rushed out of the room, slamming the door. I smiled
at Hermione; she smiled back. I shivered and without a word
she gave me one of her dirty old t-shirts, which I put on; my
protector, my guiding light in this great darkness. Then she
rolled over and hugged Becky for warmth.
My head pounded louder than ever and I felt sick. I was
dying for a piss, starving hungry, and my mouth was so dry it
was impossible to swallow. I was also broke, stranded and in
love, so like a faithful dog I lay down on the floor beneath
Hermione’s side of the bed and went back to sleep. For the
first time in months sleep didn’t terrify me; nor did waking.
*This is an extract of “Fire Horses” by M L Piggott.
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