So . . . Silverhip. He was everything I wasn't and more. He tried so hard to reach me, to teach me how to be. To be good and kind; to forgive. He was only 21 but an old soul from another time. I'm not sure if he intended this mission. I doubt it . . . unless he was an angel. He did have a good heart . . . and eyes that saw way before they were told . . . And patience. If ever I had needed an angel in my life, it was then. If ever he needed patience in his life it was then.
I had come back to the Midlands for a weekend to see my Mum and her man. As far as I can remember the last time I'd seen them was in Bangor Hospital after they'd driven up to Wales to see "The Baby" . . . I don't remember having said a word to them on that occasion . . . or to any other visitors, hospital staff or patients. Not out of ignorance, or anger . . . I honestly just couldn't find any words. I was speechless. Dumbstruck.
I spent the next ten months saying as little as possible. I was sent to stay with my Dad's sister near Oxford. She'd been an excellent loving foster Mum to so many kids . . . She'd know what to do with me. She didn't.
I ran wild and hungry. Something was burning up inside of me. And where it burned away it left a pitch black hole that nothing could fill. I tried like a starving child to stop those hunger pains but I tried in silence. Every which way I could find . . . the more mind altering it promised to be, the more I persisted. That was, after all, my intention. But nothing altered my mind. And nothing killed the pain. I wouldn't find the real anaesthetic for another 20 years . . . Just as well.
Then on a visit to a country pub for a quiet few drinks with Mum and her man . . . I met Silverhip at the bar. He was calm and gentle . . . well adjusted, balanced . . . a happy hippy. This was all new to me. Happiness. He smiled often and I liked him. He'd inherited his father's sharp-wit minus the forked tongue; he made me laugh . . . I relaxed with him. He sensed my pain and thought he understood. I laughed, relaxed and began to talk.
We spent the night at his friend's house. I needed to be with him. I was in no desperate rush to sleep with him, I wasn't sexually attracted to him at all but it was what he wanted; I was used to giving men what they wanted without being attracted to them . . . In fact for the most part so far I'd been thoroughly repulsed by them. So indifference was a bonus.
I insisted on the lights being turned out. Such an early pregnancy had striped my body with silver lines. Deep red wounds and no baby. A pitch black void.
He laughed, said I'd done him a favour asking for lights out as he was wearing "the world's worst underpants" orange with a white Y front . . . I couldn't see what was wrong or funny with that. I had no idea what men's underwear should look like. In Oxford I'd found sanctuary with a "bedroom cross dresser" a whose underwear put mine to shame, The baby's Dad had always been a quickie in the back of his car half dressed . . . and before him were a bunch of "peedos" who, from what I could remember never removed their own clothes. O well I laughed anyway and he laughed some more. I wasn't sure if laughing and sex went together; up until now they never had. Should they? I was willing to try . . . He was sorry he had only lasted two minutes . . . I wasn't. I was relieved; now I could get some more of what I was here for. Comfort, talking, laughter and tears. More talking and more crying. Brollyman called me the weeping willow. I called him a prick.
I was allowed to sleep on my Mum's man's sofa for two weeks whilst I looked for somewhere to work and live. I didn't dare to ask what would become of me if I couldn't find anywhere. That wasn't an option, I needn't worry . . . right there in the village where Silverhip was born and raised was a live-in vacancy at the local hotel. . . running the carvery. Perfect.
Until it wasn't perfect. It was too good. Good things like this didn't happen to girls like me. I was broken and this was whole. I was damaged beyond repair. Torn, filthy and empty. His Father had seen it and didn't want it in the family . . . Higgins had seen it and wanted it but not in the family. No, I wasn't fooling myself for one sweet minute. I couldn't love Silverhip or anyone else. I couldn't love. He tried to show me how to love and be loved, I didn't feel it. I was out of reach. O well I'd come this far without it and survived. Survived. I'd constantly been told God loved me too and I couldn't feel that either so maybe it was just me.
I obviously didn't need it. Not this love anyhow. Or God's love. Where was the good in love you couldn't feel. . . . No I needed something altogether different. The black hollow was starting to yawn; restless and aching for a shot of real love. I knew another kind of love that killed the pain. Fed the burning hunger for a while. That's what I knew and that's what I needed. I was addicted to abusive sex and called it love.
And on a quiet Monday morning in an empty hotel as I tried to revive Sunday's salad that's exactly what I found.
Silverhip had a woodwind repair workshop in the nearby city. We would move to the city together. get away from that village . . . that Higgins . . . I could get a job in the city. He could make me feel safe and mend me. Fuck what his friends thought or said. He knew they were wrong. He hoped they were wrong. Fuck what his father said too. Middle-class bourgeois ponce. Silverhip had delusions of working classness. Inverted snobbery I think he called it. He read the Sun newspaper and dropped his consonants to prove it. No, he would show them all. He could see the progress already . . . Ok, granted I couldn't hold a conversation or engage in small talk yet but I could answer questions, alright, some questions. . . . Nothing too complicated but I would at least offer an answer, of sorts. He could see the potential and was in no rush. He'd prove them all wrong. They needn't know about Higgins. Need they? . . . Did they? In a village this size! . . . It won't happen again. Will it? . . . Do the other Hotel staff know? . . . Or the boss?? . . . I might have winced slightly there.
No. How would they? I don't talk to them and it wasn't usually at the hotel.
Usually? . . . It?
Then where? why? when . . . and who?
He looked right into my filthy contaminated soul with those eyes that saw way before they were told . . . I saw what he saw . . . a man's gold watch. Bastard. On the shelf above the sink. Bitch. A while back . . . The Boss? Higgins? . . . Silverhip had taken a good look at the watch at the time but had said nothing. He knew the boss and he knew Higgins. He didn't know either of them well . . . well enough to know that one and one made at least two.
Off to the city we will go and we will tame this animal. We had hope. He had hope. I'm not sure what I had but I knew it was too good for me. I hoped it was what I wanted. I knew it wasn't what I needed.