I always knew I was different. I always had the sense I was never going to fit in. School proved this to me. On my very first day, I was harassed and tormented by a gang of girls, who eventually marched me to the toilet and held my head down the pan, and then flushed. When I got home, my Mum asked what had happened, I couldn’t dob the girls in, so I told her it had been raining – it happened to be the hottest day since records began. I managed to use this excuse a further three times that term alone.
Year by year, the bullying got worse. I just found it hard to make friends, and would often spend time alone at the back of the class. Break times were the worst. All the other kids would be laughing and joking, while I would sit alone and knit. On one, particular day, it was lucky I was knitting, because the scarf I had finished before double science was all I had to wear on the walk home. From that day forward, my Care Bear vest and pants were a constant source of amusement. The fact that I was much taller than most kids did not help matters. I would receive the usual insults, lanky prick, Giraffe girl and many more I don’t wish to recall. I immersed myself in my school work and my part-time job as an ice cream hut clerk at the nearby amusement park. Even there, I wasn’t safe. Once more, my vest and pants would haunt me. This led me to being fired from my job. I remember the conversation with my boss.
“You’re a sweet kid,” she told me. “And I have no good reason to fire you…but those pants, c’mon Emma.”
I had reached my lowest ebb. I didn’t know where to turn, or who I could talk to. Even my pen-pals were tiring of me, telling me that my letters were ‘as much fun as dental work’. I had reached the very bottom, and in my darkest hour, I questioned myself and my life. I wondered if this life was really for me. I wanted to end it all. So, one cloudy Friday afternoon, I decided to apply for a job in Tescos.
School came and went. I waved goodbye and headed into the adult world, my bullying days far behind me.
I was wrong. I had not anticipated how cruel the adult world could be to a sixteen-year-old. After an unsuccessful attempt to learn the tills and accidentally calling a woman fat, I was put into the warehouse. This was a male dominated environment and very intimidating as a result. Surrounded by young men and entering a new phase of my own sexual awakening, I should have blossomed. This was a time to be curious and grow. But I was still a lanky twat who looked like a broom and the men I worked with were about appealing as a backstreet enema.
I ploughed on. Marking my card and taking home my pay month by month. The weeks turned to months, and they turned into years.
My twenties passed me by like a London bus. I made a few friends, but eventually these friends married, left the country or died.
By the time I was 25, I had got nowhere. Aside from a drunken snog at my cousin’s party with a forty-eight-year-old divorcee, I had not made many inroads with the opposite sex. I was pale, like a bottle of milk left out in the sun for two weeks. I still suffered from acne and my hair was as greasy as a mechanics pocket.
Before I knew it, I was facing thirty and wondering what in the name of Cadbury’s had I done with my life. Mum had now shacked up with a barman from Hull and moved to Tenerife on a whim. We still spoke on the phone once a week, and now and again she would send me rude postcards and I would forward on her post. She said she was happy, and then out of the blue, she was dead.
I got the call from Spanish police. She was at a karaoke bar and drunkenly slipped from the stage and impaled herself on an upturned chair during a lively rendition of ‘Winner Takes It All’ by Abba.
Without my Mother, I had nobody. My Dad had left us when I was four, and the last I had heard was that he was living as Maureen on the Isle of Wight.
But my life was about to change; I was about to change. Everything was about to change.
I found out on social media that my school was having a reunion. I really shouldn’t have entertained going, but something inside me told me I should. What could go wrong? It would be a room full of people who despised me and would relentlessly brag about how fantastic their lives were; I instantly signed up.
The day came, I was so nervous. I wondered what all the other people would be like now. I pulled up at my old school and headed for the sports hall.
There were loads of people I recognised. None of them said hello. I made my way to the makeshift bar and ordered a drink. The girl serving me smiled. It was the same girl who had flushed my head down the toilet on my first day. Her name was Samantha and she had five kids by five different men. She told me how she hated her life, still hated me and wished she could start over – which was nice. I returned many times to the drinks table that night.
While having a wee, a voice came from the next cubicle over.
“Have you got a light?” asked the voice. It was husky, alluring. I was instantly drawn in by its smoky tone. It was not a voice I recognised.
I said I didn’t smoke and quickly pulled up my pants and left. I was about to leave the party and return to my shitty life when the voice spoke again. She was tall, with messy black hair and a lip ring. She looked like the lead singer of a third-rate indie band…she was beautiful.
Half an hour later, we were making out in the middle of the sports hall. This was all I ever wanted. But she was a girl. Everyone stared at us, but I didn’t care. Me and my Care Bear pants had come of age.
We exchanged numbers but she never called, despite the dozens of messages I left. I was desperate for her to call. Could this really be happening again? Had I done something to annoy her? I worked over our brief tryst over and over, I had just been myself.
I felt rejected. I felt like a discarded piece of fruit. The kind you buy when you’re hungry and in the supermarket, and when you get home, you have no intention of eating. I was a kumquat.
Misery and low self-esteem was a hungry beast, so I decided to head for the shops and buy a bucket load of ice-cream and some cheap wine.
Fate touched my shoulder.
Then someone did touch my shoulder. I turned around and my heart danced the samba; it was the girl. She undressed me with her eyes and threw the clothes to the side. I picked up my ice-cream and imagined her covered in it. It was cookie dough, I imagined it would be quite nice, if a little lumpy.
She explained that she had lost her phone after leaving the hall after getting into a fight with three Russian defectors outside Aldi in town. It sounded so plausible.
On that day, in that corner shop, my life turned around. I no longer felt alone in the world. I banished all the bad stuff to the bin of my mind and closed the lid.
I was a lesbian.
In the ensuing weeks and months, she showed me things I didn’t have a dirty enough mind to imagine. We quickly fell in love, adopted a cat and rented a flat above a chip shop. Our days were filled with drinking in pubs that stank of pretension and desperation. I became a vegan too, and with her guidance, stopped eating anything that had a soul. She introduced me to a world of loud music, hairy men and bad body odour. I knitted her a scarf. She told me it was ok to be a lanky, spotty twat.
“We’re all ugly in this world,” she said.
She has given me love, a new sense of confidence and a thicker skin. I don’t mind when passers-by throw rotten eggs at us now. It doesn’t matter. This upsets her though, as eggs have souls. I once questioned her thoughts on food and she didn’t talk to me for a week.
I have also recently joined her band. They’re called the ‘Sarcastic Fantastic’. I have never been so happy.
So, this letter is for you, my little lesbian love.
This story was shared with us through Jason Moody.
Lazy sod. Husband. Writer. Brentford FC fan.