The story is about a friend called Lucy I knew at school, but it is also a very very old story, told thousands of times, probably as old as history.
Lucy was obviously very clever, she had been dumped in the Special Units at school because of her troublesome behaviour and managed to get out of them a term or two before I did. Lucy lived with her mum in a tiny flat on a council estate. Her Mum was an alcoholic with mental health issues, there was no Dad. Lucy was a superb shoplifter, who whenever caught would deliberately breath so hard and fast she’d give herself a seizure. If she did this at school I was always the one the teacher chose to sit with her, I don’t know why, my epilepsy wasn’t diagnosed till much later.
Lucy was tall, dark haired, creamy skinned, high cheekboned and beautiful, which is what caught Richard’s eye.
Richard was very In with the In crowd. He was cool, fashionable, good looking, good at sport, not all that bright but then being too bright would have spoilt the image. Richard was in the middle band at school, being a very middle kind of chap, and it was his class Lucy managed to move up in to from the Special Units, and where I followed later.
I remember the biology class with maggots. The screams as they were thrown across the room, boys trying to stick them down girls shirts. I remember Lucy being cornered by Richard and a maggot, her squealing, him with the maggot between his thumb and forefinger and a sneer on his lips. This may have been where the romance started, I don’t know.
Lucy asked me into the girls changing room for an important talk. “I’m going out with Richard!” she said in an excited whisper “but you mustn’t tell anyone, it’s a secret”. I knew why it was a secret, she was a Special, like me. If you came from the Units you were a Special and there was nothing you could do to change that. A fashionable boy like Richard could not be known to be dating a Special.
Lucy was crazy about Richard. In love. They slept together. For 15 she was very sexually confident, I remember her once brashly informing the biology teacher, as he tried to demonstrate how girls walk, that girls and boys were different not because of the way they walk but because “he has a penis and she has a pussy”. She of course told me the details of her and Richard’s love life, as teenage girls do tell their friends. She was so happy how could she resist telling me? And Sasha, also from the Units, and a few other friends that could perhaps keep a secret.
The relationship went on for over a year. Lucy arranged it so she had lookouts, so her and Richard could have a snog behind the bike sheds without anyone finding out. Richard didn’t mind Lucy’s friends from the Units knowing, as we didn’t count. The secrecy excited her obviously, but still she longed to be accepted as equal. In class Richard became increasingly cold and cruel towards her, she’d often be in tears after School.
Eventually of course, as maggots munch and school girls gossip, the secret slid out. Fashionable people were sniggering at Richard in the corridors, whispering about him in the Gym. To think that he was seeing her!
What could he do but create a scene? Demonstrate publicly his contempt for her.
It was Friday afternoon break time, a hot summers day. Lucy, Sasha and I had dumped our bags on the grass in a pile outside the music huts and were lounging on the grass a few feet away.
A football is kicked over on to the bags, Richard comes running after it, but instead of retrieving the football he kicks Lucy’s bag into the air.
“Richard, that’s my bag!” Lucy giggles, hoping that Richard is going to pay her some attention.
Richard carries on kicking it.
“Stop it Richard”
“Why?” he says, “it’s just cheap crap like you”.
Lucy runs forward to try and grab the bag, by now a crowd has started gathering round and cheering Richard on as he dribbles the bag between his feet. Lucy reaches forward and grabs Richard’s arm, he pushes her off, she tries again, he knocks her to the ground. She’s lying there crying looking up at him with big puppy dog eyes. He kicks the bag into her stomach hard and spits on her.
“Fucking slapper!” he shouts “get back to the Units you stupid dirty whore!”.
Laughing and cheers come from the audience as Richard struts off.
Lucy stays lying on the floor, her head buried in her arms, panting. I try to calm her down, get her to stand up. The audience disperse, not wanting to be seen as responsible for what’s happening. She can’t get up but roles over into a crouching position. I sit there next to her, not a lot I can do now. Snot and tears and saliva merge into a constant trickle flowing from her chin, she is shaking, swaying, gulping and choking, turning every colour and eventually blacking out. I just sit there. I know it will pass, as all things do.
I knew also that there were planted little maggots in our heads munching on brain matter for the rest of our lives, and the maggots whisper “No one can love you, because you’re just a stupid dirty whore from the Units.”