This story first appeared in ‘This Is Still Not Where I Belong’ in 2013. Image used, creative commons attribution 2.0.
When Marley first ran away at twelve, she made it as far as the motorway protests. You know the ones. Splashed across John Major era British television, Swampy down a hole and hippies up the trees, chanting ‘Save our forests’ and shitting on policemens hats. The crusties took her in just long enough to feed the longing, then returned to sender, to “Cold but not cruel” parents who worked in the city, whose distant affection and immutable principles drove her to…
Fourteen, crossing Iceland and Northern Europe, hidden on ten tonne trucks with Bosnians and wide screen televisions.
Nineteen now in Dublin and penniless, food not bombs from a cart and sleeping rough and, “Aren’t you worried about getting…” I want to say raped but it comes out, “Exploited?”
She holds my eye, every inch the moon faced wander-lost child, not seen since the halicon days of deadheads and Zepplin groupies getting pierced with guppies.
“It happens,” she says,” shrugging that pure babydoll JT LeRoy shrug that says… It happens in a basement in Chinatown; balding Nicolson in a stained Fedora, nose in a cast, case of his life, slipping home in between takes to feed her Celine Dion pieces, ‘Mon petit fois gras’, candyfloss funfair hunger in his eyes. ‘It happens’, shot from phallic rockets under volcanic islands, stuck in a cupboard with Mr Bond who says, “Sooo Moneypenny,” and pulls her in as we fade to black.
It happens that she sleeps for a time in a tent I’ve given her in an urban graveyard she’s painted with white skulls. Then disappears, off again, “No I won’t call them, they wouldn’t care anyway.” “Thanks, yeah, thanks, it’s very comfortable,” warily. And I want to say I don’t expect anything. But I expect the worst. It happens.