Bright Star

It’s rare on these sweltering sunny evenings that our secret garden isn’t full up. Right now, though, it’s just me and Ella. She’s telling me about her latest failed romance.

“So we’re on the kitchen floor, and his mum walks in.”


“Right? I mean, I didn’t even think he lived with his parents and I definitely thought we were alone in the house.”

“I’m more grossed out by the kitchen floor.”

“Why? It was probably cleaner than my actual bed. It was sparkly.”

She thinks about it and cackles.

“I should have known it wasn’t his own place!”

“You’re not seeing him again, then?”

Ella shakes her head.

“I mean, where’s it going? After that intro, it’s not as if I can look his mum in the eye again. She’s seen stuff no parent should see. What am I going to do if we get married? Not invite her to the wedding? No, it’s best to call it a day now!”

We laugh and stretch out, enjoying the luxury of having the garden furniture to ourselves.

“I still can’t believe that animal came round here and tried to force his way in,” Ella says.

I don’t really want to think about that again but of course I have no choice because I’m always thinking about it. Ella knows this and as usual her approach is to bring the garbage out into the open so we can burn it. Or at least try to.

And, yeah, she knows that no one tried to force their way in, but that’s not the point. The truth can never fully represent how fucked up this whole situation is. The exaggeration is justified.

“Big up Mama Jo is all I can say. A lesser lady would have crumbled and invited him in.”

As Ella says this, she sits up with a dramatic gasp.

“He’s like that head vampire from the film we watched the other night. As soon as he got the green light to cross the threshold, that was it. Oh my God, Cynth, your life is in actual danger!”

“I know,” I say gravely. “That’s what I’ve been trying to tell everybody.”

We both sigh at the same time, like we’re the only ones who understand the universe. Which maybe we are.

Around midnight, Little Jo and Big Jo get back. Kris has already messaged to say goodnight. He had football training and he’s never any good to anyone after that. Music. Sport. Jesus, that boy is well-rounded.

Little Jo puts on a DVD. It’s the second in a collection she ordered on eBay last week. It was me who sparked the shopping spree when ‘I Won’t Let You Go’ came on the radio and – as always – I’d started moaning.

“As if anyone our age even knows who Marlon Brando and Corey Haim are. It really gets me how these pop songs say more about the old men who write them than the person actually singing. It’s twisted how those creeps put their own fantasies into the mouths of teenage girls. It’s… bleurgh.”

It wasn’t the first time I’d shared those exact thoughts with Little Jo.

“Why don’t we actually find out who Corey Haim is,” she’d said.

And now we’re watching Dream A Little Dream. A few nights ago, it was The Lost Boys. I liked it.

I didn’t want to but I did.


There’s a motto for my life.

I didn’t want to but I did.

Find out how Cynthia got here. Start N-N-N-N-Nineteen from the beginning.