Some older kids have started hanging out on the green in front of our house. They’re all dressed in black, and Jenny said that they’re called Goths. One of them is called Tasha, and, the other day, she started talking to me. I like her we hate the same things like school, Baby Spice and orange Tic-Tacs.
Tasha said she would call on me today and we could hang out together, so I’m getting ready. I find my long black velvet skirt that I usually where with my orange velvet top to school disco’s and family parties, but today I’m going to wear it with Jenny’s black shirt that I’ve just started fitting into. I look in Mum and Dad’s chest of drawers for anything else that’s black and find Dad’s black tie he wears for job interviews and funerals.
I go downstairs and ask Dad if I can borrow his tie and if he can put it on for me. Dad asks, ‘Are you sure you want to wear this Holl. It’s thirty degrees outside?’ I tell Dad that I’m sure and think that he doesn’t really get Goths.
Mum and Dad said I could hang out with Tasha as long as I stay on the green outside our house where they can see me.
When Tasha knocks at the door, I run downstairs to answer it. She’s wearing a long black coat and has loads of black make up on.
We sit on the green for a bit and talk about things we hate. Tasha says that she needs to go to Happy Shopper, because it's the only place that will serve her fags. I look back at my house. When I left, Mum was writing an essay for college, and Dad was sat in the paddling pool, so I decide that they won’t notice me leave the green.
Tasha asks me if I’ve ever smoked, I lie and tell her I did on holiday last year. She passes me the fag she’s smoking and I put it in my mouth. Tasha tells me to inhale, but I hold my breath and take it out again because I don’t want cancer.
Tasha talks about all the things she thinks are tragic for a bit, which is pretty much anything. Happy Shopper is tragic, a man picking up a dog poo outside Threshers is tragic, a window cleaner across the road is tragic, and people who like Terry’s Chocolate Oranges are tragic.
I feel sick when I see Grandad’s car pull up outside the shop. He gets out of his car, kicks the door shut and starts walking towards the shop. I think he’s going to walk straight past, but he stops just before the entrance and sees me.
‘Bloody hell Holl! I didn’t recognise you there love. Why are you dressed like a vampire at a court appearance?’
I shrug my shoulders and remember the fag in my hand, which I pass back to Tasha.
‘I’m just picking up a few tins, but I’ll give you both a lift home, if you hang on’
When Grandad comes out the shop, we get in his car. It's full of all the usual junk. This time there’s a load of videos that say Titanic on them in Grandad’s handwriting. Grandad says, ‘Have you seen that film yet, Holl? You can give your friend a copy, if you like. It's not even out in Blockbusters yet! You’ll have to excuse the bit around two hours in though, where a shadow gets up to go to the bog, that’s bits not meant to be in the film.’
Tasha say’s she doesn’t want a copy, because cheesy Hollywood films like that are tragic.
Grandad says, ‘You’re bloody right its tragic, love! Over fifteen hundred people died on that on that boat…unsinkable my arse! Candy still cries when she watches it, and she’s seen it twelve times!’
Grandad won’t shut up. I feel really hot. I pull Dad’s tie to undo it, but it just makes it tighter and when I try to wind the window down the handle comes off in my hand.
‘And that poor bird Rose losing her boyfriend Jack like that, she went on to be a pilot and do all sorts, you know, and she’s still alive today!’
I say, ‘I think they made that bit up for the film Grandad.’
‘Fuckin’ ell Holl, the Titanic’s not just a film you know! This shit happened, I tell you what I’m bloody glad I don’t pay any tax, it’d be wasted on your shite arse education.’
I want Grandad to stop talking, so I don’t argue with him.
‘Anyway, Holl, I noticed you were smoking outside the shop, and I’m not one to stop you. Forty a day for forty years and look at me, apart from the asthma, psoriasis and angina, I’m doing pretty well for fifty-eight. So, love, help yourself to the fags in the back. I got a load of them from Turkey. They’re practically giving them away out there. Candy said she wants a new extension and I said I’d build her one out of fag boxes, I’ve got that many of em’!’
Grandad looks at me in his car mirror, ‘You hear that, Holl? I said I’d build an extension for Candy out of fag boxes…anyway, go on light up.’
Tasha shoves loads of fags into her bag and then lights one for us each. I just hold it and feel hotter than ever, and like I might be sick and choke to death at the same time.
Tasha asks if she can get dropped off at hers on the way back. She lives in one of the big new houses near the Co-op and her front garden has a gnome playing golf on it. She jumps out the car and shouts at us, ‘Cheers for the fags, yeah...!’
Grandad turns to me and says, ‘How are you feeling love? You’re looking a bit peaky. You won’t wanna knock around smokin’ with Tuesday Adams anymore will yer? And what were you doing outside Happy Shopper? There’s some right scrotes hangin’ round there.’
I start crying and tell Grandad I just want to go home.
We get back to my house.
Mum asks me where I have been, and says that she was really worried. Grandad says, ‘She’s been with me. I gave her and Rocky Horror a lift to the shops.'
‘She stinks of bloody smoke, Dad. I told you I don’t want you chainin' it around the kids anymore. I’m sick of having to wash their clothes every time they see you.’
Grandad says that he’s sorry, and winks at me.