Chapter 1: October 1998
It’s been six months since I killed Ami. The only person asking me questions about him is the therapist they make me see.
“We’re leaving,” Chambers says.
“They won’t let me,” I tell him.
Chambers gives me a look. I know it well.
It’s not as if we haven’t talked about it. Chambers locks up the rathole we’ve been renting and shoves the key through the letterbox. He rubs his hands together like he’s just buried a body.
Outside, the sky’s the colour of petrol and the smell of the sea air wafts in with the wind. For a moment, I think Ami’s on our tail. I turn around, but no one’s there.
Chambers gets into his ancient yellow Fiesta. He reaches towards the passenger door, shoves it open and grins up at me.
I take one last look around before throwing my guitar and bag onto the back seat. Dawn is on its way; I can see it in the distance.
Chambers turns the stereo on. We’ve listened to the same songs countless times but still the lyrics are arrow-sharp: ‘I’d like to daze away to a place no one has known’; ‘I think I’m just happy’; ‘Get me to the stage, it brings me home again.’ We sing the words all the way out of town. Past the lake. Past my old home. Past the place where I killed Ami.
All the hours we’ve spent talking about when to leave and where to go. The circles we’ve gone around in. Or at least I have. Chambers would have left months ago. He thinks we could have avoided the whole Ami mess. But he’s wrong. He’s pretty much never wrong about anything, but he’s wrong about that.
Not that it matters now.
I look at my friend behind the wheel, his hat with the Mother Love Bone logo pulled down past his eyebrows, the background of narrow Cornish lanes and wide, ominous skies blurring behind him.
“What are you staring at me for?” he shouts over the music.
It’s going to be a good day. Nothing else matters apart from the here and now. I’d wanted to think it would be this easy and it is. London is miles away. Nothing will be able to reach us there.
Not Chambers’ makeshift family.
Not my parents.
We can forget about everything.
I pull the tape out of the machine and replace it with another. More songs that we’ve heard over and over: ‘Daddy didn’t give attention’; ‘Don’t wait up ’cause I won’t be home’; ‘Gonna let you follow your own dreams.’
Chambers glances at me.
He’s not so much asking as telling me we will be. We’re going to be rockstars. We’ve said it again and again.
“Kurt Cobain left his home and moved to Seattle,” Chambers says. “It worked out pretty well for him.”
“He didn’t move there until the year after Nevermind came out.”
“Then he killed himself.”
“Whatever,” he says.
Outside, it’s getting lighter. Shannon Hoon’s voice fills the car. His words explode all over me and Chambers and we yell along.
“When you stop dreaming, it’s time to die,” we howl.
No one understands those lyrics better than us.