Gordon Robertson is a writer and filmmaker from Central Scotland. His work has appeared in Storgy Magazine, Ink Sweat & Tears, Negative Assets Zine, Shift Lit, [Untitled], Octavius Magazine, Short Fiction Break, Bunbury Magazine, Flash Fiction Magazine, and Fictive Dream. His latest short film, The Chair, has been screened in more than a dozen countries and has won a number of international awards.
“You can see everything from here,” she used to say, as we’d stand shivering at the top of Pike Hill, our arms warm in thick, puffy jackets, yet still clumsily wrapped around each other like the teenagers we were. We craved the heat the other generated, irrespective of the weather. Heat hung from Kissy like a bedsheet over a balcony: thick and billowing, clean and enticing. I couldn’t get enough of it. And so, on Saturday nights, with both our part-time jobs newly done and an hour or so left before our parents could reasonably expect us home, we’d take the broken path through the darkening St George’s Park and climb Pike Hill, where we’d stand, glued together, Kissy smiling through the fullest, reddest lips I’d ever seen in all my fifteen years and saying:
“You can see everything from here.”
And we could. We could see the winking lights of High Ludditch over to the west–pubs and clubs and low-roofed houses, with the occasional late-closing betting shop still sweeping up, in more ways than one. We could see the floodlights at the four corners of Weams Park, where Weams Athletic went to great pains to lose gallantly once a fortnight and everyone went home proud as punch. The council allowed the floodlights to stay on after a game as it was cheaper than lighting the streetlamps nearby, or so they said. And way off to the east, following the snaking River Anson, we could see the high flats near Hinkton, where Kissy’s cousin Trish used to live, before her brother jumped off one of them and the entire school turned up at the funeral. Trish used to tell Kissy she could still hear her school-pals crying sometimes when she couldn’t sleep. The mum and dad divorced not long after and Trish went to live in Wales with an older sister. She manages a bingo hall now, last I heard.
Of course, it wasn’t real love, what Kissy and I had, although we thought it was. We were fifteen and we’d never touched a body other than our own before. To us, the fumbling and squeezing was an intimate miracle, a revelation, as though someone had lifted a veil or pulled aside a curtain and LOVE–in huge capital letters–had suddenly appeared, cocking its head and crooking its finger. “Come in, come in”, it seemed to say. And in we’d rushed, all guns blazing, tripping over arms and legs and sharing the embarrassment of nudity. I used to see lights in Kissy’s eyes when we kissed, and I’d wonder what worlds were in there–what she was thinking–where she was going in that moment. Me, I knew exactly where I was going: deeper into an obsession whose depths I still can’t fathom, twenty-five years later, long after Kissy’s death on the railway crossing outside Low Falkland the day after we’d rowed over something I can no longer remember.
I’m married now, with three kids. I love my wife. We still hold hands when we walk and we say ‘I love you’ when one of us leaves the room. We’re going to be together until our deaths. But she’s not Kissy. She’s not the girl I stole a toy ring for, pretending it was real and we were engaged. She’s not the girl whose name I carved into my arm with a breadknife, before stumbling into the bathroom and sticking it under the hot tap, half-collapsing with the pain. And she’s not the girl I ran after through the rain one Saturday night, throwing apologies at, begging her to slow down, to stop, to come back. I’d screamed at her on the top of Pike Hill minutes before, accusing her of infidelity and threatening my own. I didn’t mean a word of it. I was lashing out. I’d seen her talking to a boy a year older at break on the Friday and it hurt. It hurt like the world had ended. I was being stupid and childish, because I knew Kissy would never cheat. But as I said, we were teenagers, and it wasn’t real love, or anything like it.
But my god, it felt like it was.
Gordon can be reached at his email address, email@example.com.