Queering The Map: BS21, Story 6
The Places We Find Ourselves
Queering the map is a community-generated mapping project that geo-locates queer memories and histories in relation to physical spaces. Queer people can post geo-pined stories, some long some short.
This is a collection of posts found around one town in the North Somerset of England. The Posts have been listed in chronological order below. All together they seem to follow one girl's relationship with her sexuality and another girl at her school.
Clevedon BS21 7HZ
Here’s where it started I guess. Although I have to confess I don’t really remember when I started falling for her I just know that I did. I always looked up to her; the way she’d walk down the halls of the school not caring about what anyone thought. The sea of people that always kept me off balance never phased her. Though it might have been the way she looked at me when our group snuck off into the woods to smoke at lunch, the look in her eyes, like she knew I didn't know what I was doing but she never called me out on it as she handed me the joint. I thought a lot about how our lips had touched the same place on the papers. Back then I didn’t question why I wasn’t thinking about the other lips that smoked with us. She always seemed so much older and put together, but always with that bit of an edge. Her tight trousers were definitely not uniform regulation; her grades were perfect even though she was at every party on the weekends, getting just as messed up as the rest of us. Smoked the same amount at lunch, she was just better at hiding it when she was back in class I suppose. But I guess when you’re 16, a year difference feels like a decade in maturity.
4 Marson Rd
Clevedon BS21 7NN
Just after my 17th birthday, there was one of the regular parties on the weekend, I texted her asking a simple question
what time you coming down?
Of course, she lived on the top of the hill, with their big, old, houses and new money. Not that you ever knew about her upper middle-classness, she would always buy the same cheap wines and Tesco value vodka. She always had more weed and pills than everyone else but I always assumed that was because she was better at flirting with the dealer than me, it didn’t really matter when she’d always share with me.
“don’t tell anyone else about this. I don’t want people thinking I’ve gone soft” She’d add with and knowing smile.
She texted back.
Later, why? You not going if your favourite person’s not there?;)
I stare at the simple text for quite a while, I didn’t know when I started grinning but I did. The flirtation had always been there in the friendship, knowing looks, eye contact when something is funny in the group. But I had always just assumed that was my baby queer mind reading something that wasn’t there into everything a hot girl does. This was different. Two drafts and 6 minutes later I decided to reply with a simple.
you wish x.
The Bristol inn
And here we are again a conversation over a fag, me falling in love with her. There’s probably some ironic semi-offensive joke in there that I’m not funny enough to write. A few long drags and long looks later I ask her.
“Have you decided what Uni you’re going to next year?”
“Oh don’t you start” she takes a drag “My parents want me to go to bristol to say close but I really wanna go somewhere further out”
I look at her through the smoke, not giving away any of my disappointment.
“Yeah, I mean” she takes a drag looking out at the pub garden “I’d miss you.”
I hold my breath. She takes another drag. She has to know what this is doing to me.
“The others too, I just need to get some space from this town man,” she says as she breathes out the smoke.
“I feel that” is the only thing I can think to say.
“At least we know you can get into Bristol, I’m barely gonna finish Sixth form at this rate.” I smile shaking my head.
“Oh come on, you’re so much smarter than you think you are” My eyes go bright, a compliment from her was something I can live off for months.
“You really think so?”
“Of course, I do” I was shaken but I didn’t say anything. Just shook my head, took another drag and look straight. Sometimes I just liked being around her. Like I was being granted access to something powerful, yet so completely calm. There was a moment of comfortable silence. The pub garden wasn’t a very big one, only enough room for two wooden tables that had probably been in the same place collecting moss since the 80s. The orange light from inside reflected off her face, the others, the odd assortment of friends that collected into a group over the years, can be seen through the door windows, making too much noise. She looked from the door and back to me.
“I think they might want us back soon,” she said trailing off. I looked back at her and then inside, I roll my eyes.
“You mean Ben probably wants me back inside.” I took one last drag of my cigarette. Looked over at her with an amused knowing smirk. It should have been weird that I could always talk to her about this kinda stuff, boys, sex, all of it. I think I was just comfortable with her and in love (I really should have known I was polyamorous). I needed to let her know that I was “cool” and “mature”. I never really knew if I’d be comfortable with her taking in the same way because she never would. Her sex life was always an enigma. I knew it happened, just never who with.
She returned my amused look.
“How’s that going anyways?” she took another drag. I lean on the wall behind me sliming and looking down.
“I don’t know” I shake my head looking back inside, my eyes couldn’t find him inside. They never really could. I wasn’t drawn to him in a room automatically, didn’t think about him all the time. Not like her. That isn’t to say I wasn’t attracted to him, I was never using him as some way of keeping myself in the closet or anything. He was hot, he was nice, when I wanted him to be. And he wanted me back. That’s all I really needed. My eyes went back to her. Of course, I wanted her but right now she wasn’t an option and I was never one to wait around for people. Pining over her while fucking someone else, that, that was very me. Very me indeed. “He’s alright, not really a long-term thing though” I look at her smirking at me.
“Yeah, he doesn’t really seem like your type,” she said looking at me through her eyelashes. I swallow hard. She finishes her cigarette. We don’t break eye contact. I feel a sense of unearned confidence, with already one pint in my system.
“Oh really, and what is my type then?” I ask, playing around and genuinely wanting to know her answer.
She looks back at me with playful eyes, discarding her cigarette butt.
“Oh come on, you know. The type of person you can have long deep conversations with and likes indie music but isn’t elitist about genre” she wasn’t using pronouns “also hot too but that’s obvious and pretentious but self-aware.” she had just described herself perfectly and I was taken aback.
Taking a shaky breath, “Well if you ever find someone like that, that might be interested in me, just send them my way I guess” I said as I breathed out.
“Oh I definitely will” and with that she goes back inside, leaving me to catch my breath for a minute. I shook my head, clearing it. started to feel the cold I slowly step back inside, not wanting to leave it too long.
74-78 Avon St
I don’t really remember that night all that well. I remember the lights, I remember the way my body felt with the amount of drugs in it, I remember how hot I felt surrounded by half-naked people just as out of it as I was, I remember her. The bright coloured lights were the only thing I could see as my eyes closed. I moved my arms above my head moving them offbeat. The bodies next to me feel too hot. The vibration of the speakers were going through my entire body reaching into my soul. The pills someone had given me half an hour ago had well and truly kicked in and I didn’t have a care in the world. I felt hands on my body, they were soft with short black painted nails. It was her. I lent into her, the back of my head resting on her shoulder. Her hands were around my waist as we danced, I didn’t notice the cheers this enlisted from the group of guys around us. I didn’t notice anything but her.
“How you doing?” she had to shout into my ear. The ecstasy in my blood made me hyper-aware of how her lips brushed the shell of my ear.
“This is the best song ever!” it was a very bad electro song. She giggled, I wished I could hear that all the time. I brought my arms around her neck and danced. I could have stayed there forever, dancing. High on the drugs and her hands roaming around my body. I wasn’t registering how monumental this was. That the girl I was in love with was grinding with me at a rave she had invited me to. All I was thinking about was the way her body felt against mine. I felt suddenly confident. I span around now facing her
“I think you’re someone I could really fall in love with one day” she must have heard me over the music but she just kept dancing and laughed, she took my hands.
“You don’t know what you’re saying babe” she shouted back. I shook my head and stopped dancing
“Yeah I do!”
“No” she laughed, the same laugh from before now making me sick “This isn’t you this is just the molly talking” she was laughing at me, I didn’t like it. I was pouring my heart out to her and she wasn’t listening.
“Can’t it be both?” she stopped dancing.
“Why are you doing this now?” she shouted obviously frustrated.
“Because you were touching me and I was feeling things and I’m not really here right now and I-” I tried to swallow but my mouth was too dry ”I just fucked everything up”.
I felt like I was going to cry but I held it all in. I pulled my hands out of hers and shoved everyone out of my way. I just couldn't be there anymore. I couldn’t hear her shouting after me, I needed air and probably some water. I was embarrassed and angry at myself and at her. It was selfish and she definitely didn’t deserve that. I feel the cool air before I realise I’m outside. I finally take a real breath for the first time in what feels like forever. I stopped. It was probably 2 in the mourning by now, the street lights illuminating my near meltdown. I sat on the pavement with my head in my hands. I wasn’t going to cry, I could leave all that for the come down. I felt someone sit down next to me, I looked up suddenly to see her sat down next to me. She was rolling what I assumed was a joint. I tried to play it off as if this wasn’t the only thing I ever wanted at that moment, looking away from her. Running my hands through my hair, feeling my scalp. I wasn’t going to talk first, I was too stubborn. I was just really hoping she was less so. She bumped my shoulder, I looked over. Her arm was extended offering me the zoot, it was lit and she’d already taken the first hit, I shook my head, already being too fucked up as it was. She shrugs putting the spliff back in her mouth, she lent back resting on her hands.
“So you are gay?” it sounded like a question but it wasn’t, not really.
“Well yeah, I guess” I’d never actually said it out loud before.
“And you like guys too”
“Yeah” I reached up and took the zoot from her mouth, I decided I needed it after all.
“So you’re bi?” I take a drag.
“I don’t know I’ve never had to name it before” I breathe out handing her back the joint. “All I know is that I’ve liked you since before I could like girls, I’m attracted to other girls and guys. But I don’t feel about them like I do about you” I sigh bringing my knees but to my chest.
“It might help to name it then,” she said mirroring my sitting position. I looked up at her through the hair covering my face.
“Did it help for you?” she looks down at me.
“Oh no, you caught me.” she said in a deadpan taking another hit “it’s not like I keep it a secret or lie about it, it’s just- I wouldn’t be the safest environment at home if I was, you know” she never talked in great detail about her family. I knew they were rich and didn’t like her going out all the time but I didn’t know this. I knew they didn’t like her hanging out with ‘the rough ones’.
“Oh,” I felt stupid. My parents were middle-class liberals that would probably think it was so ‘cool’ and ‘modern’ if I brought a girl home. I knew prejudice excited I wasn’t a total idiot, I just never thought it would affect me so closely.
“Sorry,” I said slowly.
“It’s all good” she handed me the spliff and smiled. I took it between my fingers, looking down as I took a drag. “I should probably take you home,” she said with uncertainty.
“Okay,” I probably replied way too quickly to be considered cool in any way. She laughed but it was really just a smile and breathing through her nose.
“Not like that.” She shook her head “I just think you need some time to process all this before anything happens” all I thought after that was so something might happen. I stubbed out the zoot and put the half-smoked contraband in my shoulder bag. As I looked up she was extending her arm to me, offering her hand. I swallowed hard and took her hand to stand up. I assumed she’d let go as soon as I was on my feet but our hands were still clasped as we walked to the train station. She didn’t let go as she talked to the cab driver at the taxi rank. Or when we got inside and she let me rest my head on her shoulder
“I’ll stay with you for your come down,” she said and kissed the top of my head. I nodded and mumbled a thank you. Nothing happens that night.
We ended up dating on and off that yeah and all of summer. It didn’t last, it was beautiful and exciting but her quirks began to annoy me. I resented her unfairly for never being affectionate in public and we’d argue, then have sex and never address the actual issue. She didn’t like the pedestal I put her on at the start of the relationship and how it crumbled a little with every argument. Once she when to Uni it was all over. We couldn’t make it work without being around each other all the time, the dopamine high wearing off quickly. I’m thankful for her though, she was everything I needed and didn’t need at the time. She made me realise who I was and more importantly, who I could be.
About the author
Character and world-building are the most important to me as a writer. Scripts are where my passion lies, though prose-fiction and editorial can also interest me. No matter what I want the reader to feel immersed.