Space

by Ely Percy

Format: Excerpt | Genre: General Fiction

 

Content warning: drug overdose, violence, offensive language

Wully McCoy wis greetin the day. His cousin’s girlfriend took an ecstasy up the dancin the other night an she went an died. Ah’ve never seen Wully greetin before. We wur in Home Ec makin this mad korma curry hing when Sammy Campbell shoutet, Heh who wants tae make a cosmic yoghurt, an then Wully jist pure burst intae tears.

It wis in aw the papers. Thir tryin tae make oot that it wis the first time she’d taen it but it wisnae. That time me an ma best pal Charlene went tae the party in Wully McCoy’s hoose his cousin John an his girlfriend an aw thir pals wur pure spaced oot thir nut on it. They kept comin up tae us an giein us cuddles an sayin, You’re lovely, an wan ae them jist pure randomly tried tae get aff wi Chris Rice.

Thir talkin aboot daein a drugs awareness thing in school. Wully says he’s no daein it. Oor Drama teacher Miss Spence who’s a pure mad hippy that wears aw the weird tie-dyed clothes – an evrubdy says probly smokes the wacky baccy hersel – she wis lik that, I understand your grief William, she said, But ah think it would be really good for you to take part. Wully wis lik that tae her. Ah’ll gie you fuckin grief ya fuckin space cadet, he said, an then he flung a chair at her.

***

Ah never really knew Wully’s cousin’s girlfriend. She wis in fourth year at oor school an she asked me fur a light wan time ah wis roon the smokers’ corner wi Charlene, but apart fae that she didnae really talk tae me. Her name wis Lesley Ann Bain but evrubdy called her Lesbian even though she wisnae wan. She wis quite a scary lookin lassie. Ah don’t understaun how John went oot wi her cause he’s quite a nice lookin guy (even if he is a bit ae an idiot at times), an she wis a horror. She musta been aboot twelve or thirteen stone an she wis only aboot five foot tall an that time ah met her she’d on this wee crop top that wis aboot two sizes too small an it jist did nothin fur her.

Wan ae the papers ah read said she got straight A’s fur aw her prelims she took at Christmas. Ah thought she’d huv been in aw the dunce classes. Wully’s cousin John’s a right rogue – he’s eighteen an he disnae work an aw he dis aw day is sits at home an smokes; yi jist cannae imagine him gaun wi sumdy brainy. It said in the paper that Lesley Ann wantet tae go tae uni tae become a child psychologist when she left school.

***

It wis Lesley Ann’s funeral the day. We’d this big assembly durin third an fourth period fur the whole school. Thir wis hardly anybody there though cause maist ae fourth, fifth an sixth year had went tae see her gettin buried.

We got made watch a video aboot this lassie that took drugs cause aw her pals wur daein it, an she thought she wis pure brilliant, an then at the end she’s lyin in a hospital bed wi tubes stuck up her nose, an then this mirror image ae hersel comes in an starts talkin tae her an tellin her whit an eejit she wis fur takin the stuff in the first place. A lot a folk wur greetin durin the video (ah wisnae but ah nearly did); Sammy Campbell got flung oot fur sniggern an wis made tae staun ootside in the corridor.

Wully McCoy come in jist as the thing wis finishin an sat right doon the front next tae Miss Spence. He looked dead different fae normal cause he had his hair aw pure gelled flat instead ae spikes an he’d on a black suit instead ae his bright orange Tregijo jumper that he normally wears; ah caught his eye at wan point when he first come in but wisnae sure whether tae smile at him or what, but he jist looked right through me anyway.

We aw got tolt tae shut wur eyes an then we had a minute’s silence fur Lesley Ann; ah tried no tae look at Wully again after that because ah felt pure awkward, but it wis quite hard especially when oor heidy startet talkin aboot how Lesley Ann wid be well missed, an then Charlene an Laura Kyle wur pure whispern an starin right at Wully as if he’d jist grew horns. Ah half expectet him tae turn roon an say, Heh d’yi want yir eyes back, or somethin, cause he’s usually always got a sarky comment, but he never he jist sat there starin intae space.

***

The canteen wis deid at lunch time. A lot a folk went home after the assembly. Wully McCoy wis there though; he wis sittin at a table on his own lik a zombie an naebdy even went near him cause ah don’t think anybody knew whit tae say. Charlene went up jist before the bell though an asked if he’d tap her a fag an ah coulda pure kilt her cause it wis obvious she wis jist daein it tae be nosey tae see if he’d say anythin tae her aboot Lesley Ann. Ah said, Charlene huv yi never heard ae folk needin thir ain space; she jist looked at me as if ah wis stupit or somethin an then finally she said, You fancy him daeint yi. Ah said, Whit. She said, Yi fancy Wully McCoy an don’t deny it, she said, Yir jist pure jealous ae mine an Wully’s relationship. Ah wis pure bealin when she said that; ah said, Whit relationship’s that Charlene, and she said, Wouldn’t you like tae know, an then she walked away wi a big smirk on her face.

***

We got made dae this workshop thing in Drama this afternoon. We wur aw separatet intae groups ae four an five (it wis me, Yvonne Brookmyre, Sammy Campbell an Bryan Allan) an the first thing we had tae dae wis brainstorm aw the names ae the drugs we’d ever heard ae. At first it wis aw the usual wans lik ecstasy an heroin but then Sammy startet sayin things lik cat in the hat an double o sevens an care bears (which accordin tae him are aw the same thing). Mind the time when we wur in primary seven, he said tae Bryan, An ma big sister went an gied us blues fur a laugh. Aw man don’t even talk tae me aboot that, said Bryan. Ah wis pure surprised cause ah always thought Bryan wis quiet an sensible an stuff an it’s jist pure unimaginable that him an Sammy Campbell would ever’ve been pals. Aye, said Sammy, He wis pure spongoed pure bouncin aff parked cars walkin alang the road an stuff. Oor group had millions mair drugs names than aw the other groups put thegether cause ae Sammy, an Miss Spence went an wrote them aw up on the flip chart.

Is that the best yi can come up wi, shoutet Wully McCoy when aw the groups had finished readin theirs back. Evrubdy went pure quiet cause this wis the first time he’d spoke since the chair flingin incident. Put yir haun up, he says, If anybody in here’s ever took a drug. Only him an Sammy Campbell an Miss Spence put thir hauns up. Aye right, said baith him an Sammy at the same time. Whit aboot tea or coffee that’s a drug, said Wully, Why don’t yi write them doon. Miss Spence did. Then he said, An whit aboot cigarettes they’re a drug. Aye, shoutet Bunsen, Nicotine’s a drug. Miss Spence wrote that doon anaw. Put your hand up if you’ve ever tried smokin, said Miss Spence, tryin tae get in on the act. Wully, Sammy an ah couple ae other folk pit thir hauns up. Whit aboot you Charlene, said Wully, Want me tae smoke that fag fur yi that ah gied yi at lunch time. Charlene took a pure beamer. An whit aboot you Kirsty, he said, Ah don’t see a halo floatin above your heid. Ah’ve never smoked an ah’ve never drank an ah don’t like tea or coffee, ah said. Did yi no huv Strepsils in yir bag wan day. Aye but that wis fur a sore throat. Still a drug, said Wully. YAS, shoutet Sammy Campbell, Kirsty the junkie. Shut up, ah said. You’re a pure raver Kirsty by the way, he said, an then he startet shoutin, GO THE MAD STREPSILS, and, AH’LL BUY THEM AFF YI.

We split intae wur groups again an each group got given information sheets aboot a different drug. Oors wis amyl nitrate an it gets called poppers an it’s meant tae be fur folk lik ma gran that’ve got angina. Whit yi had tae aw dae wis spend fifteen minutes readin up on whitever drug yir group had an then try an sell it tae the rest ae the class by tellin them aw the good effects it can huv on yi. Wully McCoy joint oor group an we wur that convincin that nearly evrubdy in the class put thir haun up tae buy poppers (Charlene put her haun up fur every single drug though) but they aw changed thir mind again when we read oot the bad effects.

***

When ah got in fae school ma Ma an Da wur talkin aboot Lesley Ann. Ma Ma said, Widyi make ae that wee lassie fae Renfrew that died takin they drugs. Aye ah know, said ma Da, Fifteen yir auld an she’s a junkie. She’s no a junkie, ah said. Well whit is she then. She isnae a junkie cause she didnae inject hersel. Still took drugs, said ma Da, Still a junkie. Right whitever, ah just said. It pure dis ma heid in when he says things lik that as if he pure knows everythin. Should fuckin hing aw the wans that sell it, said ma Da, Or better still feed them thir ain shite an see how they like it. Aye bit naebdy forced her tae take it, said ma Ma. Aye true, said ma Da, But whit’s the parents thinkin lettin a wee lassie ae that age go tae a night club anyway. It says here, said ma Ma, That her mother blames hersel cause she used tae be an addict an noo she wants tae become a drugs counsellor. Bliddy drugs counsellor, said ma Da, Is that before or after she comes aff the methadone programme. Ah wantet tae tell them baith tae shut up, tae say that drugs are everywhere an maist folk at school’ve took them. But then ma Ma said, Anyway they got him, she said, It wis the boyfriend that dealt her it.

***

Wully McCoy hasnae been at school aw week. It said in wan ae the papers that his cousin John’s been charged in connection wi Lesley Ann’s death. Ma da said, Serves him right. Ma Ma said, Aye well if yi dabble in that sort ae stuff then hell slap it intae yi. Ah still don’t know whit tae think though. Ah jist keep thinkin aboot Wully McCoy an whit he said durin the drugs workshop an how less than two months ago we wur aw at that party in his hoose an Lesley Ann wis alive.

Wully McCoy’s aunt Linda wis wi Lesley Ann when she died. She did this article fur a wimmin’s magazine talkin aboot how they’d baith took it that night. Apparently yir meant tae drink loadsa water when yi take ecstasy cause yir up dancin yi don’t want tae end up dehydratet; whit happent though wis Lesley Ann drank too much an it endet up floodin her brain. Thir wis a picture in the magazine showin yi her linked up tae the life support machine an her face is aw swelt up lik a balloon.

Ah widnae wish that death on anybody, no even Sammy Campbell.

Sammy went an bought a bag ae speed aff this guy in fourth year the day an he wis sittin in French actin pure hyper lik he’d jist come aff another planet. Turnt oot though that it wis a total wind-up an the guy had gied him a bag ae sugar that’d been knocked oota Home Ec.

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ELY PERCY

Ely is a Scottish fiction writer, a memoirist and an epistolarian; their short story ‘Space’ is one of 65 linked stories in an episodic novel called Duck Feet. Percy’s debut novel Vicky Romeo Plus Joolz is scheduled for publication in the Spring of 2019. To find out more, you can follow them on Twitter @decenthumanbean and/or visit their website www.elypercy.com.