How Not to Survive

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23

So that’s more or less the end of this incredible journey, apart from one more thing that happens about a week later. What with being jobless and not having any drama school or Jerk Jackson to bitch about anymore, I spend a lot of time lying around in the house like a total slob, drinking endless cups of tea and smoking secret spliffs out the window. It’s a pretty dark period, and after I interview for a position in Starbucks only to be told I’m not skilled enough, I basically stop looking for work and sign on for jobseeker’s allowance instead. Thankfully Mum’s gone full time again, which means she’s not around to bark at me during the day.

The thing is, since Danny’s blown town and I don’t have this regular supplier anymore I’m running low, both on drugs and funds. My bank balance is looking pretty sad and Mum and Dad are both refusing to help me out, Mum because she says I need to learn to stand on my own two feet and Dad because he still hasn’t quite forgiven me for hating Barbie yet. There’s not much else to do except watch endless reruns of Family Guy and America’s Next Top Model and like, think about stuff, which is a totally depressing activity these days.

But I do it, mostly because I can’t help it. I even sort out this list of how bad the stuff is, and of what I’d change if I could like, it all differently, in order of importance. Top of the list is definitely not make Eli hate me. Funny how you don’t really notice your friends until they’re not there anymore.

Things have been pretty quiet for him on facebook – I know because I’ve been checking for updates, which used to be regular as Mum’s drink binges. These days he hardly bothers to say what he’s up to, apart from the odd comment about being buried under work for college. I like, need to know what’s happening with him, but when I try sending him a couple of test-the-water texts saying Hey, what’s up? Jx and Listen can we pleeease talk? I get zero response. Finally, after a particularly impressive marathon of back-to-back episodes of The Hills, I crack and decide it’s time to pay him a visit. I figure the worst he can do is tell me to fuck off and shut the door in my face, and right now even that’d be more interesting than watching Plasticky and Plasticker getting it on.

It’s quite a mission to get all the way to East India from Shepherd’s bush, and I’ve left it kind of late which means I’ll probably get stranded there after the trains have stopped and like, spend the rest of the night trying to get home. But once I’ve made my mind up it’s like I have to do it right away. I can’t wait until tomorrow. One of those now or never type things.

Of course the journey takes forever – there are like, a hundred delays and the tube is weirdly crowded for eight o clock, like everyone’s decided to go joyriding for the evening. Things finally calm down on the Docklands line from Bank, at which point I’m suddenly the only person in the carriage, only for things to seriously freak out on me when this gang on hoodies gets on at Shadwell and chooses sit all around me. I’m having total flashbacks to my fag-bashing incident, and at any second now I’m expecting them to start laying into me. Sure enough, no sooner have we taken off then one of them leans forward and taps me on the shoulder.

He’s like, Oi mate?

I’m like, Yes? preparing myself for attack and regretting I haven’t learned from my previous experience and started carrying around mace or something that I can spray in his eyes.

He’s like, This yours?

He holds up my Oyster card, then drops it into my lap and gives me a wink. The gang ignore me after that, and get out at the next stop. All I can figure is that this must be a band of do-gooders, who like, roam around performing acts of altruism or like in Robin Hood or something. At least it’s nice to know not every skinhead is out to get you.

It’s dark by the time I hit my destination. It feels weirder than weird to be heading down this street again, since just a couple of weeks ago I’d be coming back from college for a smoke and a good old gossip with Eli. Now I’m just some drop out walking up towards somebody else’s house. Somebody else who doesn’t even want to know them anymore.

The door’s opened by this dazed-looking plump guy in a floral dressing gown holding a can of beer, and for a second I think I must have the wrong number and have like, accidentally crashed some weird swingers party.

I’m like, Hi... I’m here to see Eli. Is he in?

The guy opens his mouth. It sounds like he’s whispering something and I lean in to catch it, only for him to let out this massive Homer Simpson-style burb that practically quakes the universe. He proceeds to scratch his head while I reel back from the smell of his insides.

Eli? he goes with this deep Aussie twang, Oh yeah – sure thing mate.

The guy just stands there looking at me, totally blocking the way in. His dressing gown falls open revealing a proud pot belly with long streak of yellow running down its front. It’s totally obvious he’s stoned off his face, and from the look of him he’s been waking and baking since he hit puberty.

I’m like, So can I come in?

The guy looks at me for a few more seconds like he’s trying to make sense o this, then goes, Oh yeah OK, and stands to one side. I take a deep breath and enter. No sooner have I got past him then this head sticks out of the kitchen just a few inches from my face.

Andy, who is it...? Arse Face goes, before trailing off at the sight of me.

Hello there Sue, I say.

Arse Face gapes at me disbelievingly, like she can’t believe I still exist, never mind that I’m standing in her hallway. But before she can start accusing me or screaming rape or whatever I dart forward, bound up the stairs and hammer on Eli’s door. I hear her coming up behind me like the Predator or something and as he opens it I basically throw myself at him, pushing into the room and slamming the door behind us.

Eli?! screeches Arse Face, banging on the door, What’s he doing here? You can’t have him in this house – you need to tell him to leave right away! I’m warning you if you don’t open up and get rid of him I’m going to do something about it!

It’s rather scary actually, like at any second she might start using an axe and doing a Here’s Johnny...! I pant and look up at Eli, and that’s when I see he’s had his daft hairdo shaved completely down to almost a grade one, and he’s not wearing his glasses anymore either. He looks ill and kind of unhealthy, but in a way that kind of suits him. Behind him his computer screen is filled with text, and it looks like he’s halfway through writing an essay.

I’m like, Dude where are your lunettes?

He’s like, I had eye surgery.

I’m like, Shit! Did it hurt?

Eli shrugs. He’s like, What are you doing here Jaz?

I try to give him a disarming smile, but the truth is he doesn’t look or sound all that pleased to see me.

I’m like, You didn’t reply to my messages.

He’s like, I was busy.

I’m like, Well I needed to talk to you!

He’s like, What do you want to talk about?

I’m a bit stumped by this one. Since when did he get so cold and direct anyway? Eli looks at me for a long time, and I get this hot sensation like my cheeks have caught fire. I’m basically blushing furiously.

I’m like, Is it just me or is it really hot in here?

Eli gets up and shoves open the window, letting in this shaft of bitter cold air that immediately makes me want to ask him to close it again. Then he returns to looking at me, folding his arms like he’s waiting for me to crawl back into whatever recess I crept out of.

So... I go, starting to babble because his weird silence is starting to make me sweat, I see you’ve got a new flatmate! Down Under huh? He seems rather... slow. But then I guess old Arse Face probably wanted somebody she could walk all over to move in. Did she give you any say at all in who you got at all?

Jaz, goes Eli. His voice sounds weary, like he’s too old for this.

But the shit’s started flowing and I can’t seem to stop it.

By the way, I carry on, sounding way beyond spastic, I stopped by your folks’ house. Please don’t be mad OK? All I did was tell them you were great and had nothing to do with that package or anything. And your dad said he’s got no intention at all of disowning you – so how cool is that?!

I sound like I’m cracking up. Maybe I am. Definitely.

Jaz, says Eli again.

And it looks like my dad and that bitch he’s been seeing are actually gonna get hitched. How weird is that? I’m at home living with Mum, but she’s gone to back to work though, so I guess she’s over it... there’s no fucking way I’m going to their wedding though...

Jaz!

I come to a halt and look at the carpet.

I’m like, You want me to fuck off don’t you?

Eli doesn’t say anything to this.

I’m like, OK.

I stand up and make as if to go, and Eli stands up too and goes to the door like he’s going to open it for me. Only somehow he doesn’t open it and I don’t either. Instead we look at each other’s faces from about two inches away and the next thing you know we’re locking lips, and it’s really weird because I’m kissing Eli like I want to devour him and he’s kissing like he wants to devour me back. It should feel totally wrong, like I’m sucking face with my kid-brother or something. But for some reason it doesn’t. My hands are all over him and I feel his hands all over me too, and somewhere off in the background there’s Arse Face shouting that she’s called the landlord and the police and MI5 or something, and everything just feels totally right.

Of course it’s about the stupidest idea in like, the span of eternity. I should blatantly just tell Eli this not going to work and then haul on out of there before I manage to irrevocably ruin yet another thing. I should totally do this.

But then, I totally should do a lot of things.

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