"What I don't question is how I feel about my best friend, Dizzy Lizzie. But I would like to transport that feeling and watch the whole thing grow again but in different soil. This soil outside my window perhaps. How would we be then? Who would we be then? Hindsight, even you are out of your depth here"
Oh, sorry, I forgot to say that quite soon after I arrived Dizzy wrote. Yes, a letter. That's how people communicate with me now. The way they communicated before body language and gossip columns were invented. You know, the old-fashioned way, like in the Dark Ages - circa middle to late, I think. Want to know what exactly’s involved, you young whippersnappers? Well, pen meets paper (yes, paper!), they do a literary mambo (that’s right, long-hand!), there’s a degree of spillage (ink, dearies, ink!) and it's over in a flash - words, thoughts, ideas, incidents dribbled and exhausted all over the page! It's a little like ... ah yes, that's it, cooking! Then there’s a right palaver called ‘posting’ – but you’re all too young to know about such things and only medical students doing an advanced course in Anal Pain should have to be exposed to all those gory, snorey details!
When the letter arrived, I didn't even hear the sound of the postman on the gravel outside. I'd have liked to - it would have been tantamount to excitement, in some ways. And company, of course. Company, that is, that is not of the spectral, ethereal kind! Lizzie had left for a long holiday in Spain before I left Glasgow, so I didn't see her before I packed-up and swung my 1.2 litre wagon outta town. So what did she have to say for herself? In sentences so clipped that each word might have stood alone in a scrapbook, she said:
"Men everywhere, I'm going through them like hankies in winter - how is your breathing, positively yogic, I hope - will you be home for your birthday, or does it snow you in by around July where you are? Philip keeps calling, I think he's trying to track you down - did you leave because of him? Your mum winked at me when I suggested it - your old flat was broken into, just as well you left or your quality knicker collection would be on eBay right about now, even the ones in the wash - weather is wonderful here - not a white line or vague tonal shift on me - oh, and the man you're looking after the property for is looking for you too - I think he's going to write or journey down or something, strange man, he is the epitome of what excessive chugging at an impressionable age will do to you - and another 'oh', I can't see me coming down there, I haven't the shoes and I don't want the shoes. I love you and I miss you. You're a fool. Quit - you're no handy lady. Get a life. Get a new lung, asthma chick. I’m sure there’ll be people in places like Malaysia or Indonesia selling them for ha’pennies, darling, ha’pennies! Must dash, I have a man coming over later to play ‘Hunt the Clit’ – I anticipate a marathon session with many, many clues dotted liberally about and little chance of a podium finish! P.S. You’re a silly moo-moo.”
It was slightly overcast day, and the air was a tad warmer. I thought of Dizzy and the memories were loud and brash and frantic and soaked in perspiration, alcohol and all the odd fluids we've stepped in - in nearly two years - in bars, in clubs and on busy late-night streets. Also they are smudged - lipstick or mascara that has careered off the face around midnight is a watermark on every memory. Do I miss them? Those days? I don't know. I question them. I question how real they were. What I don't question is how I feel about my best friend, Dizzy Lizzie. But I would like to transport that feeling and watch the whole thing grow again but in different soil. This soil outside my window perhaps. How would we be then? Who would we be then? Hindsight, even you are out of your depth here.
I thought of Dizzy and the memories were loud and brash and frantic and soaked in perspiration, alcohol and all the odd fluids we've stepped in - in nearly two years - in bars, in clubs and on busy late-night streets. Also they are smudged - lipstick or mascara that has careered off the face around midnight is a watermark on every memory
I remember thinking how bizarre that Lizzie was communicating with my mother. She never had time for Lizzie. She would sigh in her presence and cock her head at her like a befuddled dog. When she left she would look down at her shoes and shake her head before taking out a cigarette, as if it had all been too much for her nerves or something. It was all very staged and contrived. She thought we were too similar, but I’ve always led Lizzie, I’ve always been the one to keep her as much on the path away from lions, angry goats, cyclopses and anything long-tongued and three-headed as possible!
For some reason, I remember that my mother loved to call me ‘stilly Stephanie’ when she thought I was being particularly dim-witted (ironically, the name was usually brought out when I was being particularly bright and perceptive, and she had no response to what I was saying), then she’d give me a patronising smile, the kind most people reserve only for fish in a tank! In fact, I’m pretty sure the last words she said to me directly in my presence were: “You’re such a stilly Stephanie!” For being friends with Lizzie, I was very, very stilly indeed!
The astronaut had been quiet for about three days when the letter arrived. Of course, I didn't miss him. I loathed him. The way you loathe any man that you are attracted to because he holds a secret of some kind. And the way you loathe him even more when you know you'll never find out what that secret is. But I started to wonder if I could find out his secret. Maybe there was a clue somewhere in the house.
Night-night, Lizzie, whatever bar you are in. Kiss-kiss, crazy lady. Good-night, astronaut, send me a postcard from Venus.
My first full encounter with the ghost of the dead astronaut? Next time, okay, next time!