Spencer told me of the blue space invaders playing hide and seek around the chimney pots. It was the same night he puked over the pink hydrangea in the garden. It was the night he told me that he would never date Olivia and he was obsessed with Roo ( a blonde Adonis) but swore me to secrecy.

My childhood was a secret, my teenage years I became the secret-keeper. Everyone told me their secrets. Adults and children alike, I was their shame collector, their guilt filter, their memory keeper and I never opened my mouth. The secrets aren’t as important anymore. Most of the people are dead, dying or missing many brain cells and like a computer does every now and then I do a memory dump.

Spencer looked like Howard Devoto, at seventeen he was already receding and was short and skinny. At school he was a brainiac and belonged to the cerebrally engaged trio of Cassandra, himself and AJ. AJ was my brother and the instigator of the party where Spencer unburdened his soul to me. I had watched him vomit in the garden from my room at the top of the house. I was not invited to the party, or any of the parties but people found their way into my room. When I was thirteen some guy came into my room and made me a woman, never saw him before or since and there was no violence so no need tell. Just the mark on the sheet that was washed the next day.

Spencer sat on my bed, smelling of stale drink, fresh sick and sweaty palms. He always sweated. We went for a hike once, a group of ne’er do wells and philosophers together walking in the rugged landscape of our youth. We, the ne’er do wells, were darting this way and that making the journey twice as long but far more interesting, daring each other to jump off rocks, roll down hills and generally get muddy and happy. The philosophers talked, Todd was there, he had a permanent bend in his neck. I saw a video of him performing at some festival, nonsensical lyrics against a new age drum beat and pan pipes, he doesn’t bend anymore, another affectation from that group.

Sandra and Jamie were there, an unlikely couple who later had a baby and parted company sooner after. Jamie works in a bank and Sandra with her daughter travel the world, still like fairies flitting from flower to shrub. Jamie argued. Jamie always argued, he was the richest but pretended poverty. He lived off friends, Sandra followed. She stopped following and became her own person. She was the one that fought the establishment, he joined it.

AJ and Cassandra were talking to themselves, I think this is the day Cassandra announces to the ensemble that her and AJ were over as she could no longer bear the fumblings of a boy and needed a man, a man who could provide her with an experience, who didn’t expect everything for nothing. A giving man. Even at fifteen, with limited experience I wished her good luck with that. AJ was upset for weeks, I think it was his ego that hurt, the stories of his lacklustre performance in the bedroom were rife and he was sheepish.

The ne’er do wells, we were all there: Roo, Pea, Trace, Mazpa, Milton and me, or I as my grandmother would correct. Trouble found us and we also sought it out. We were fearless, we were young and we didn’t give a hoot. Trace and Roo were our leaders and the rest of us happily followed into tales of spying, stealing and drinking copious bottles of contraband cider. Pea supplied the cigarettes and as I was the best shoplifter I brought the cider. Trace and Mazpa had been to court for stealing, Milton had been caught by the shopowner but burst into the prettiest tears, I was impressed by her watering abilities and almost forgot the task that day.

The hike took all day and most of the evening, at some point I remember the philosophers lying in a field wetting themselves on purpose to feel some inner warmth pervade into the atmosphere. They were into feeling a lot. It was the acid tabs I think. We watched them take their pills, potions, powders and waited. We had cider, that was all the high we needed. I remembered the urine though, from that night, because I had to wash AJ’s stuff a few days later and it reeked. Male urine smells so much more than girl pee.

Spencer’s secret stayed with me, all through his young adult life as he tried to fit in, one summer he came home from uni with his boyfriend, a clone of Roo. Tall, tanned and broad shouldered, teeth that gleamed – so perfect did he look that I think Spencer conjured him up with one of Scaly Meg’s spells. He was of course completely dead from the neck up and Spencer kicked him into touch shortly after they returned to Liverpool, but I remember Spencer’s smile and I thought, good for you, Spence, good for you.

Spencer survived his youth and is now a music producer and DJ, quite famous I believe, not called Spencer anymore.


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