She wasn’t really a goth. None of us was. We were all playing at putting on costumes and adopting roles to play out the stories rooted in the places we came from. I was raised on a council estate six miles to the north of Sheffield and she was born in a place much further north. By the time she spoke to me, at the party that was more like a collection of like-minded people drinking, talking and listening to music in a room in Sheffield, she had lost most of her Scottish accent. She still seemed exotic to me. We arranged to meet again.
The room was invaded at one point by a bunch of lads who thought, wrongly, that it was a party and was open to all. They weren’t minded like us and so we pushed them out. Can you remember blackheads and spots, or was your skin pure and unblemished when you were a teenager? The walls of the room were like skin and they were an unwelcome, yellow substance. I got punched in the face as I pushed. Others got punched too, but I didn’t feel any of it. Not really. Drink anaesthetises these things.
Later on, I would come to the understanding that it’s really the mind that immunises a face against pain. I don’t like the word meditation, but that’s what it is. It works over a long period of time and although it takes longer, it’s more effective. I’m meditating now, even though I don’t need to do so for anything happening in this room. I’m travelling backwards in time. I need to set something right. I don’t really know if I can; not really really. But I need to try.
She met me in a pub at the bottom of Ecclesall road. I think. As I remember it, the building was all on one level. Or maybe there was a cellar for the beer barrels. Or maybe there was a level upstairs that I never noticed. It was in a room at the back of the pub, where we sat drinking pints of some intoxicating drink or another, watching each other’s faces that I laughed at her.
She wanted me to have sex with her. She told me that she couldn’t have orgasms, Or that she hadn’t so far. She was open to having them in the future. She perhaps hoped that she would have one with me. Or maybe I’m reading too far into her mind. No; she seemed hopeful. I was full of all kinds of thoughts about being young, skinny, gifted, handsome; all the things that come with being intoxicated, not by beauty, but by the cheapest lager on tap. I saw her as fat. She wasn’t ugly. In fact, she was rather beautiful in her own way. Young, bright, intelligent, educated, self-aware and vulnerable.
I laughed. Not really at her. Not directly. It was more a laugh that expressed the delight I felt at being better than someone else. I didn’t feel evil, even though I probably was at that moment because it was definitely an evil laugh. It was the kind of laugh that cuts through the psychic flesh of vulnerable people like a sharp blade that penetrates the heart and damages it.
I go inside and then I go back to that place. I touch her cheek tenderly. I look into her clear, young eyes and take a parcel of love from the part of the universe that is pure and I hand it over. She looks at it and spits in my face. I accept. I open my heart to the purity at the heart of the universe and I open a channel. I let the light flood into me, through me, into the memory of her and then into her that is now. The love in my hands is swept up and into her by the light that continues to pour out of the universe and into her. I step out of the stream and leave her connected. She will always be pure now.
Eventually, we all fall to dust. In that dust is a sparkle. Through this hesitant, yet eternal shine, we stay connected to all that is pure and honest. The more parts, of the area within me that I call memory, that I can fill with light, the purer I become. I want to wash away all my mistakes and there is just enough light and time available for me to do this.
Meanwhile, I wish her well; and you too.