EVIE JAMES

Some see a weed, others see a wish

An extract from 'Wish'

 
Like every sixteen year old I thought I knew it all.  In the summer of 2000 I was in my final year of GCSEs and although I had the ability to perform well academically, I had lost interest. I wanted to finish school as soon as possible and travel the world. I was toying with the idea of going to college and my ambition was to work on a cruise ship. I wanted to leave home, I wanted to become independent and I wouldn't listen to anyone.
 
Nothing could ever prepare me for what was to come next.
 
Chapter One
 
Born in the winter of 1984, I was the only child borne to my Mum, Jane and the second child of my father Joe. I was raised as an only child as my father had no childhood contact with my elder half-sister. I had a happy childhood and I was a typical ‘Daddy’s girl’ until I reached my teens. My Mum was firm but fair, but due to several wayward teenage years we had what would best be described as a ‘patchy’ relationship during my adolescence.  By the time I was due to leave school, it would be fair to say that my parents had endured several years of my rebellious behaviour and were nearing their wits end, and probably wondering what trouble I would get myself into next.
 
It was a Friday night in the May of 2000 and I was in Rhythm’s nightclub with my friend Nicki. We regularly hit the restaurants and bars of St Stephens Street, knowing that at sixteen we were likely to get served alcohol. Owing to the fact we were regulars on St Stephens Street we had got to know various people and had befriended the DJ in Rhythm’s; a friendly guy in his late thirties called Mike. Mike had made it known that he was attracted to Nicki, but her priority was getting us entry to the club and free drinks for the evening, so she played up to his flirtations even though she had no interest in him at all.
 
As two giggly sixteen year old girls who had consumed a bit too much alcohol, we stood in the DJ booth searching through Mike’s vast array of CD’s in a bid to select the next song, and that was when Yiannis walked in. A tanned attractive man, who appeared to know everyone; he came over and shook hands with Mike and then headed towards the bar. A little too confident because of the alcohol, I walked towards him and said “Aren’t you going to say hello?” He smiled at me and as we began talking he offered to buy me a drink. As we queued at the bar, the door man approached Yiannis and told him that I was underage and that we’d have to leave the club, Yiannis looked slightly perplexed but we left the club together and went into the Italian restaurant downstairs. Yiannis told me he was twenty two and he asked me how old I really was. Not wanting to ruin my chances I told him that I was nineteen and although he looked at me quizzically we continued to talk. Yiannis told me that his Dad owned the neighbouring restaurant and I told him that I worked full-time for a newsagent (there was some truth in this as I worked there on weekends and had the occasional evening shift.)
 
Time ran away with us and before I knew it, it was 2am, man was I in trouble! After telling Yiannis I was nineteen I could hardly say “I have to go, my Mum’s going to tell me off”, so I made an excuse that I was tired, we exchanged telephone numbers, and he arranged a taxi for me to get home. I crept into the house and was grateful that both my parents appeared to be asleep. I got into bed and decided if asked I’d say I arrived home before midnight. The following morning my Mum was waiting for me in the kitchen and she didn’t look pleased. “What time did you get in last night young lady?” “Umm, just before midnight.” Just one look at her told me she knew, “It was 2.20am, where the hell were you?” Oh dear, I was in trouble! In one of our never ending arguments she told me that I was grounded, however as a cocky teenager I didn’t care! She was going on holiday the following day and I had the week home alone so who was going to know if I went out? As if she read my mind, she told me that Chrissie, the neighbour, would keep an eye on me and that she would ring me herself every night at 9pm to ensure I was at home. As I’ve said before, I was a ‘know-it-all’ teenager and this was no deterrent to me, I stayed in every evening until 9pm waiting for her call, and then went out after I’d spoken to her, sneaking down the back lane so that the neighbours wouldn’t spot me.
 
As soon as my parents left for their holiday, I was on the phone to Nicki telling her to come and stay at my house. My parents had left me money to buy food so we went over to Tesco’s together and trying to be ‘grown ups’, we bought a trolley full of food that would’ve probably lasted a large family a month! Once we reached the checkout we realised that we couldn’t carry everything home, so we pushed the trolley through the market and back to my house and then dumped the trolley in the back lane (that was something the neighbour did decide to inform my Mum about!) Whilst doing our ‘adult’ shop, I told Nicki all about Yiannis and she told me that I should ring him when we got back to my house. I remember making several attempts to call him, and finally managing to speak to him in the evening as he told me he’d been asleep all day! Yiannis told me that he really liked me and wanted to see me again, but he’d spoken to several people and they’d all told him that I was only fifteen or sixteen and so he told me that he’d need to see some ID from me. I bluffed and told him that ID wouldn’t be a problem and we agreed to meet in Rhythm’s nightclub the following night, but his parting words to me were “bring your ID”. When I came off of the phone I told Nicki we were going to need fake ID and she made several attempts at ringing around contacts but no one was able to get us any ID at such short notice. So then we had a brain wave, we’d make our own!
Pulling out the Argos catalogue we attempted to find ourselves the cheapest priced typewriter they had, and by chance we did; in the children’s section, ‘your very own Barbie typewriter.’ The following day we collected our new purchase and popped into the stationery shop and bought some card and self-adhesive polythene. We finished our trip by stopping in a photo booth, now all we had to do was make our ID, simple! However it was anything but! The card kept jamming in the typewriter and the text was all mismatched and wonky, even if we had pulled it off successfully the card was almost the size of my purse! I held it up and showed it to Nicki and she informed me that it was missing a barcode. Where the hell were we going to get one of those? In a genius moment we decided we’d use a felt pen and a ruler and draw our own! I have no idea what we were thinking, but we’d convinced each other that it looked ‘ok’. We decided that if we showed it to him in a dark club he probably wouldn’t even notice. I wish we still had the ID now as looking back it was hysterical. Although it all seems very funny, I think it is important to add in the funny memories I have of Nicki, as it wasn’t long before the fun stopped.
 
After our horrendous attempt at making ID we both got ready to go out. Nicki had arranged to meet up with Mike so we were to go out as a foursome. We sat in waiting for my Mum to call, with Nicki forced to be silent in the background. “Yes Mum, I’m here by myself and I’m just thinking about going off to bed”. As soon as the call was over we were straight down to the bus stop ready to make our way into town. On the way I became nervous and started to feel sick and Nicki just rolled her eyes at me! Being a Monday night it was quiet in Rhythm’s and we instantly spotted Mike and Yiannis at the bar, they bought us a drink and we sat down and started talking and the dreaded question came; “Can I see your ID?” Reluctantly I pulled it out of my bag and handed it to him and he started laughing and passed it to Mike, who became hysterical. Mike was aware of our real ages and said to Yiannis, “Listen mate, when you get to my age you don’t care how old they are as long as they are legal.”
 
 It was however obvious that Yiannis wasn’t comfortable with the situation. Then as if things couldn’t get any worse the same doorman from Friday night came over and said that as Nicki and I were underage that we’d have to leave. By then I could see that Yiannis really wasn’t happy and he said he was going to go home and that he wasn’t out to babysit ‘kids’, but somehow Mike convinced him that we could all go to the snooker club together and that they wouldn’t be concerned about asking for ID from Nicki and myself.
 
As predicted there was no problem with Nicki and I being in the snooker club and we were still there in the early hours of the morning when Mike suggested we should go somewhere else. I explained that my parents were away and that we could all go back to mine and I was surprised when Yiannis agreed and said that he would take us there in his car. When we arrived back at mine, Mike and Nicki disappeared upstairs and Yiannis and I were left talking on the sofa. Whilst talking Yiannis said to me “You got in my car and you didn’t bat an eyelid”, I looked at him confused and asked him why I would and he told me that I was the first girl to ever get in his car without making reference to it being a ‘banger’ or laughing, and he said that because his Dad owned a restaurant people expected him to drive around in a flashy car and they were generally disappointed when they saw his ’94 plate Ford Orion. I told him I didn’t care what he drove and I genuinely meant what I said and he looked at me and smiled and said “That’s nice to know”, it was the first bit of positivity I had from him all evening!
 
The following day both Mike and Nicki went home in the afternoon but Yiannis and I lay in my parent’s bed cuddling and talking. I was asked the same question over and over again “How old are you really?” but I maintained the same response, I was nineteen. Before leaving Yiannis invited me to the cinema on Friday evening to watch the film, Gladiator. It really wasn’t my type of film at all, but I was enjoying his company so I gratefully accepted the offer. In between then and Friday we spoke on the phone and things appeared to be going well.
 
On Friday, Yiannis came and picked me up and we went to the cinema. Yiannis bought the tickets and then went to pay for popcorn, but I told him as he had already paid for the tickets that I was buying the confectionery. Again Yiannis showed genuine surprise, he said he’d never met anyone like me and that everyone else around him was out for what they could get. He called me his “diamond in the rough”; a phrase that he would coin many times over things that I would do without even giving them a second thought.
 
As predicted I didn’t enjoy the film and if I’m honest I made very little attempt to try and understand it. Half way through I attempted to talk to Yiannis and tell him I was bored but he told me to “shush” and scolded me like a naughty little child. I wasn’t used to this type of behaviour, usually if I was bored during a film I’d tell one of my friends and they’d agree with me and respond with something like “yeah its crap”. As we were walking out of the cinema Yiannis glared at me, this wasn’t how he looked when we arrived. By the time we got in the car I could tell he was angry. As he drove me home he lectured me about how good the film was, he told me I had no appreciation and that I was a “kid who he didn’t want to see again”. It was a relief to put the key in the front door as even my Mum’s lectures weren’t that bad! I shrugged off the incident and didn’t ever expect to hear from Yiannis again. How wrong I was!
 
My parents arrived home the following day, and apart from the trolley in the back lane and a lecture about how Tesco could view it as theft, they were relatively pleased to see me and at the very least they were happy that their house was still in one piece. On Monday I returned to school, as I had been off for half term week, I never wore school uniform anyway (although I was supposed to) so I easily flitted in and out of school as I pleased.  When I got home from school my Mum told me that she had bought herself a mobile phone (a brick-like Motorola) and she asked me if I would help her work it (any anger she had at me appeared to be evaporating slowly!) Between us we were trying to decipher how to wedge the oversized battery into the back of the phone when the doorbell rang. Mum went to answer the door and came back into the living room informing me it was someone wanting to see me. I went to the door and my ever nosey mother went to the kitchen to listen in on the conversation I was having with the new face at her front door. To my great surprise it was Yiannis. He had a large wedge of kitchen roll in his hand which he informed me was Birthday cake from his Nan. He told me that he’d been telling her about me and that she was insistent he brought me a slice. As kind as the gesture was, all I could think was ‘shit, if he comes in he’ll detect I’ve been to school and work out my age’. So I thanked him for the cake and kept the conversation short and sweet. As expected, I then had to explain to my Mum who I had been speaking to and at the time even she thought the gesture of bringing me cake was ‘nice’.
 
Copyright © 2015 by Evie James
 
All rights reserved. This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the publisher.
 
First published 2015