The day began with silk flying through the air, carrying little spiders. You felt them on your face like a hair you should brush away. They caught on the bars of the pylon near the avenue. They spread like little ripples on the gardens and the greens. They landed like grace on the overflowing wheelie bins, on the graffitied walls and their wrought-iron gates. It was all so unasked for, so random and so delicate. It nearly made me cry I’m not afraid to say.
That was this morning. Now it is night. I’ve been licking MDMA from a little bag all day. It feels like my brain has been scooped out with a spoon. Right now I’m just as breakable as those little silver strands. I’m staring at a sleeping girl. The Hatchet is going to do her. I know it is wrong but if I stop him I will die.
The Hatchet is my dealer. He has cloudy, blue eyes and a Neanderthal jaw. He speaks with a soft voice and his knuckles are scarred. Like all dangerous men, he always seems very calm. I owe him so much, he basically owns me.
Downstairs the party is ending. I’d been zoning out on the landing. Lost in a rush-filled, waking dream until a door opened before me and The Hatchet called me into the dark.
‘We’re going to play the shush game,’ he says, rippling before me like water; his face morphing. His hair is going from a buzz cut to some futuristic do of dreadlocks and metal, and back again, before I remember to answer.
‘What the fuck’s that?’ I ask, the words falling like rocks from my mouth. I thought I could hear steel scraping on stone. Then I realise it is my own jaw; the drugs in me working to erode my teeth.
‘We take turns keeping watch. If she wakes you just say shush, put your hand over her mouth. After a while we swap places.’
He drags the duvet from her body. Her beauty hits my widened eyes like the light coming down from the stars. My fingertips tingle at the sight of her skin. There’s a birthmark just on the inside of her right thigh.
One hand rests above her head, the other between her belly-button and her knickers; knickers with blue stripes that bend with the curve of her hips.
She looks so oblivious, but you could tell yourself that she wasn’t, seeing the little peaks of goose pimples coming up on her skin, her breasts rising and falling as she breathes.
The Hatchet unbuckles his belt. When he licks his lips I find my voice.
‘This is mad Hatchet,’ I whisper, my throat thick with everything. ‘She’ll wake straight away.’
He adjusts her hair on the pillow, curves a lock around her ear. His fingers curl to touch the nape of her neck. Her lovely mouth is open, just a tiny little bit.
He picks up the girl’s free wrist and drops it to slap off her belly.
‘Comatose,’ he says, ‘easy-peasy.’
I hear The Hatchet’s breathing as he slides off his belt; his fat, wrecked fist killing the jangle of his buckle.
‘Are you right?’ he asks.
This is how it happens, how a man becomes an accomplice.
I stare for a second at the slightly opened window; the cliché of the curtain moving slowly with the breeze.
All I need’s a spider, one random too-late spider to float in the window, to tickle her lip or to fall into her throat so she sputters awake, so she screams the place down and The Hatchet is stopped, and the people come running and I can’t be blamed.
But there’re no spiders, just the curtain and the wind dying down. There’s just me. I picture the strands out there, broken, invisible without the sunshine, lying around like old lace. Tomorrow, it will all be gone.
‘Can I go first?’ I ask.
The Hatchet moves aside. I kneel between the girl’s legs, trying not to touch her.
I take a deep breath and hold it in; pressure builds inside me.
I close my eyes to what’s coming and I slap her in the face.