Voicemails Aren’t Ever This Long

By Sarah O

“Hi, this is Jessica’s voicemail. Leave a message after the beep. Or don’t.”

“…First message, received today at 2.33am…”

“Who is Amy?” Sam said. “You texted me: 'who is Amy'… I don’t even know how you know she exists...”

His voice was gravelly and slow.

“She’s my friend. She’s around 5’4” tall and probably weighs 100lbs. She’s blonde, blue eyed, she sings like an angel. She’s 17. She’s good at maths. I never was. She can get drunk on a thimble of whisky.

She gets me to buy alcohol for her pretty much every time I see her and her mother comes and picks her up because my little Amy can’t drive. I only see her twice a month but I talk to her every night, via text or online. She’s my inter-friend my little piece of normality, humanity.

I worry someone will kill her, I do.”

Sam coughed.

“I think she’s going to be used to punish me at some point, someone will see me with the kitten and I’ll read about her in the paper, drowned or strangled or something. So I didn’t let any of the boys see me with her and I did a good job but, I trust Luke so I let him see her tonight, I let him meet her and he didn’t really get it. He didn’t really understand why I would have a little friend like Amy. What was her usefulness? Why would I bother?”

“She’s too young to make money from, too small and she’s still a virgin, which is strange to say aloud but I kind of want her to stay that way for as long as possible. She’s proud of it I think, it’s like a badge of honour for her. When I joke about it she tells me to fuck off. She calls me a slut (which is probably true) but I don’t really have a defence for that. I know she loves me but I don’t think I’ve been categorised as anything just yet, or it’s like I have my own personal category.

She has small hands and feet and she talks excitedly. She shapes her words with those hands like a potter sculpting clay. Her voice is like a bright noise and when you realise what she just said to you, it’s usually a shock. She cusses constantly but it slips right under the radar, you don’t even realise she said fuck and shit every other word because it sounded so pretty. She always smells good, like vanilla and fabric softener and life. Like Beanie never did, like Beanie should have smelt.

I told you yesterday that everyone in my life right now reminds me of the people I used to know? I feel like I’m casting some sort of sentimental play; resetting the roles, I move around all the major characters in my head so that I always have that ghost of long forgotten comfort crimping all my edges and making me feel real.

Amy plays Beanie. She’s like Beanie.

Beanie killed herself.

I found her body. She was my best-friend in high school. The first time Beanie tried to kill herself they sewed her wrists up. I wasn’t there that day; she disappeared from school for a few weeks. My dad was beating the shit out of me at the time and I knew hers was the same so I assumed that he’d just hospitalised her but later when we were smoking dope in the girl’s loo she spilled her guts about it and told me what it felt like, how numb the blade felt under the tap.

She had a numb problem. Seriously, we called it Beanie’s numb problem, I started to like pain; big time, but she just stopped feeling it. Then there was the first overdose, I caught her with three empty Paracetamol packets and half a bottle of gin, immediately after school in our pink cubicle at the end of the row in the loos. She was foamy and her eyes were sore and I called our dealer Paul because he was old enough to drive and had a car and I didn’t tell him what she overdosed on, I just said she overdosed and that I needed him to pick us up from school and take us to St Luke’s. So he did and he drove on to the grass in front of the staff room and I carried her out, even though she could walk because I was in some sort of blind panic and we took her there. He skidded off as soon as we got to A & E.

They gave her this black stuff at first, in this side room away from the waiting room. This activated charcoal stuff in a bottle she was meant to drink, it was liquid coal, the blackest thing I’ve ever seen. Beanie took one sip and it was definitely disgusting stuff. Foul fucking stuff, the sort of stuff that made you feel instantly sick and she said to the nurse: “Is this the only way to stop the paracetamol?” and the cruel fucker nurse said: yes. So totally panic stricken that she was going to die if she didn’t drink this one impossible drink Beanie started trying to gulp it down and I’m there, looking her in the eye, wiping the spillage off her chest, telling her it’ll be fine and thinking: fucking hell, she’s going to die in front of me. “Do I have to drink it all?” Beanie asked pained, shivering and the cruel fucker nurse nodded.

Then the vomiting started, on my shoes, on her shoes, there’s the surly man coming in with the mop, he tuts at the dying girl because he has to do his job for once and clean up. She foamed black vomit and collapsed on a chair, crying.

I just couldn’t keep from trying the stuff. I had to try the charcoal stuff; I took a big swig and I understood instantly why she was vomiting. I remember the thick gloopy mouth feel and the way it felt like it coated my teeth with dust. It was pretty insane stuff; no-one could drink that. I tried telling myself it was a milk shake, I tried drinking some more for her. She started laughing at me. I laughed too and helped her to get halfway cleaned up. I held this paper kidney shaped thing a nurse gave me under her chin and she threw up in it.

“I’m so sorry for leaving you in this fucking town.” I remember her saying that. “Leave please leave. Don’t even stay to put me in the ground, please leave. Fucking leave.” I was still laughing when the nurse came back in and said. “We need to take her to a ward now.” She gave her an anti-sickness injection and then wheeled her away.

I cleaned my shoes and they took her to a ward and started pumping this stuff in to her through a drip to sort out the toxic crap in her blood. She was in for four days and I skipped school for long lunches to go and see her. Any more than that and my dad would have put me in the bed next to her. Beanie’s mum and dad didn’t visit her because they had work but she was happy about that. She got better. She lost weight and she was already too skinny but she got better. The cruel fucker nurses fixed her.

The next overdose was after History class, I remember that because I was going to meet Beanie and tell her about how much of a cunt the substitute history teacher was and whose tits he’d been staring at while he made us copy out of dusty text books. Earlier that day Beanie told me that another one of the guys in school raped her. I didn’t really know what to say at the time. I just said: “Shit happens, get over it. See a doctor.” I didn’t think it was that serious but I hadn’t been raped and I still haven’t so that might have had something to do with the blasé attitude.

Anyway, she choked and nodded at me and usually when she does that it’s fine. It’s a total non-comment, but this time it was different.

When I pushed open the door to the cubicle I could hear myself breathing. I saw the bottle of gin on the floor and I remembered her calling it mother’s ruin all the time and us arguing about how bad it tasted. Then there were all the packets, paracetamols, sleeping pills, iron pills, like the kind you take to be healthy and her body, bent over the toilet, where she’d been sick and then just died, mid-hurl.

I don’t know how long I stood there for. I just know I went home and didn’t mention it to anyone. The next day there was this announcement in assembly. It didn’t hit me until she wasn’t sat on the wall waiting for me after Art the following Thursday that she was really gone and I just felt disappointed, not angry or sad; just disappointed because she wasn’t going to be waiting for me anymore.

So, sometimes I wonder if my Dad was the first person I killed or Beanie was, because, I could have stopped her. I could’ve saved Beanie; I probably should’ve said something nicer about the situation with the rape thing.

So, Amy’s like Beanie… Imagine if I’d told Luke that… Do you think he would have understood why I like her, better, then?

Yeah, that’s who Amy is, she’s like Beanie. But she’s alive.”

Voicemails Aren’t Ever This Long

Created: Jul 05, 2010


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