To celebrate National Short Story Week, Standard Issue is running a selection of short and (not always) sweet fictions. First up, Esther Harris looks at teenage obsession in Hate Mail Girl.
#cougarstrikes #bitchdontgetgirlcode #killingme
My heart has been ripped out. The bitch – Lola – is dead to me now. I hate everything about her; the stupid long glossy dark hair I’ll never have; the annoyingly clear complexion, glowing with dewy minimal makeup, whereas I was called pizza face down the swimming baths only last week; the way she leans seductively forwards, giving us, her readers, a glimpse of her vile, sagging DDs, with a bit of nipple showing through her tight vest top, if you are pervert enough to be looking that closely, which obviously I am.
But the thing I hate most of all is this – that stupid knowing look in her eyes that says: I’ve had sex. You haven’t. And with him of all people. Our future husband. Danni and I are having an emergency meeting at the skate park tomorrow to decide What To Do.
I’ve always wanted to be a writer and Danni and me read the cow’s column in our fave magazine every week. All the girls at school do. We heart her celebrity sightings, her observations of life around London, her sick makeup and hair tips. What’s not to like? But just lately she has been getting a bit up herself. Not feeling that.
We like it when she talks about blusher cream v powder, and how to get your legs hotpant ready, and body buffing and adventures in screen grabbing. We do NOT like it when we get to hear about her budding ‘friendship’ with the world’s number 1 heart-throb. Girl code anyone?
At the end of the day, she’s just there to provide a service and her service is good copy for her girls, it’s not to write a gloating article detailing her sleazy come-on, stage by stage, to the man that we all love. Rough tart. I bet he hated every minute of it. And if he really did ask her for a drink after the interview, as she claims, she probably scared him into it. I mean she’s really old. She’s, like, 28.
“We stand in front of the mirror together and adopt our hardest expressions and feel a bit like Tom Hardy does as the Kray twins in Legend – but with dip-dyed hair and flammable sports kit.”
The good news is that they are totally incompatible. I’ve consulted Mum’s Linda Goodman’s Love Signs about the tart and the divine one’s suitability and the basic gist is… Oh God, I wish the stupid bint – Linda G that is, not Mum – would stop with the Peter Pan quotes. Don’t dress it up love, just tell me about the shagging. Anyway, she’s a Cancer and he’s an Aquarius, which means they are Totally Not Happening. It’s like literally impossible for them to get along. In fact, I (Libra, much more suited) would be doing her a favour if I took the book and showed her.
I’ve sent the stupid cow an email telling her how I feel and what my astro research is bringing up and I feel loads better for it. I’ve CCd a copy to his manager’s office too. And his agent. They have a right to know that some ageing, menopausal hack is getting their claws into the top talent. They might even thank me for it.
Oh em gee the bitch has only responded on the website! “Thanks so much to ‘Angry from Crawley’ for your email. Your #nofilter rantings about me, my style, and what I have the pleasure of getting up to with my new beau made me laugh until I cried.”
The bitch found me funny. I amused her? I am gonna fuck her up.
I’ve looked up the magazine’s address in London. I’m going up there tomorrow to have it out with her. The summer holidays are dragging and Danni is well up for it too; in fact, she said she’ll hold her down for me while I punch her in the face. Then we’ll go to Topshop – make a day of it.
Obviously we need special outfits for the occasion. Dan comes over and we try on our ‘London’ clothes. We stand in front of the mirror together and adopt our hardest expressions and feel a bit like Tom Hardy does as the Kray twins in Legend – but with dip-dyed hair and flammable sports kit.
“We’ve gotta show the bitch that we aren’t taking any shit. Just cos we live in like, Crawley, doesn’t mean we’re not street,” says Danni.
“What is that?” Danni spots Linda Goodman’s Love Signs. “Taking a book… Not very street…?” “It’s evidence.”
“OK. And it’s heavy enough – you can always hit her with it.”
London! I wake up and my tummy is bloated and my head is throbbing but we can’t put this off. We don’t say much on the train. We find the magazine offices no probs, and wait outside on the street. Everyone is, like, a grown up. They are all wearing nice clothes, like the latest fashions, and laughing, and normal and having really cool conversations about the pub. And I’m standing here with Danni and we’re in our best clothes but we still look really young and shit next to them and all we can talk about is our travel card and we look like a right couple of teenage day trippers and I kind of wish I could just go home and cry.
But then I think of her and him laughing at my email in bed together and how I’m never going to feel that comfortable with a boy and I feel the rage. Suddenly the big glass doors open and women stream out with iPhones, yoga mats, gossip, swishing hair, a few men with beards – and then I see endless legs and leather shorts. It’s her!
A few steps and I’m straight in her face. She’s little. She steps back and looks at me like, WTF? I dreamed of this moment; I was going to ram my fist into her face or if I was too scared to do that then I was going to pull her hair so it comes out in clumps so she doesn’t look so pretty anymore. But, all I can think is I really like her lip gloss, and she’s really hot, and I suddenly get a bad cramping and feel dripping in my pants and my whole world comes crashing down. OMG! I have started my period! I burst into tears. They are hot and fast. I can’t stop them.
She looks worried: “Are you OK?”
I can’t look her in the eye so I stare at her chin: “You have a spot.”
She looks at me weirdly. “Er…”
“You haven’t blended your concealer properly. And you did that online class on it! Like duh.”
I’m crying again now, gulpy and out of control.
Danni senses I’m losing it: “Hand her the evidence.”
I take a deep breath, try to regroup. “Look, you’re a Cancer. He’s an Aquarius. You won’t click in bed!” I thrust Linda Goodman into her hands: “It’s all in here. Take it.”
Any power I have got is slightly ruined by Danni adding, “Can you return it when you’re done? Her mum wants it back.”
Suddenly Lola has a look in her eye. “Hate mail girl,” she says softly. “How old are you?”
“Fourteen,” Danni chimes in.
“I think I’ve just started my period! Like, this second?!” The world is spinning.
“Too young to prosecute,” Danni continues lairily. Then she double takes. “You serious?” And “Can you feel it dripping?”
Lola turns to me.
“Have you ever had a boyfriend?”
I clear my throat: “There was this one kid…”
“She went to a party with him but he fingered this other bird in the loos,” Danni says helpfully. She turns to Lola: “Lovin’ your wedge trainers by the way.” I glare at her.
“I dreamed of this moment; I was going to ram my fist into her face or if I was too scared to do that then I was going to pull her hair so it comes out in clumps so she doesn’t look so pretty anymore.”
A big guy with a walkie talkie is suddenly at Lola’s elbow.
“What’s going on girls?” the man asks.
Danni now bursts into tears: “Please don’t report us. My mum and dad will kill me. Can we like give you a blow job or something?”
The man shakes his head slowly. Lola whispers something to him and he backs away.
Danni pleads: “She wrote the email, not me!”
Thanks a bunch! “I’m hormonal!”
Lola looks curiously at Danni: “Why would you offer that to a 50-year-old man?”
“I saw it on a film once,” Danni says.
Lola touches my arm lightly: “Look, there were some nice turns of phrase in that email. I especially like the bit about me having a moustache.”
I go bright red. “I didn’t mean… I’m really sorry.”
“It does need touching up a bit,” she winks. “And you’re right the lighting on that photo is fucking shocking.”
A colleague comes back with bulging bags. They are packed full of beauty goodies.
“Benefits! Oh em gee. This is like, totally out of our price range normally,” Danni gushes.
“There’s a tampon in yours,” Lola whispers to me kindly. “And some Panadol. Look, go and look around London. Have a nice day out. And write to me again in 10 years maybe?”
She pats me on the arm and walks off down the street with her friends, grinning and shaking her head. They all turn around halfway down the street and look at us. “Awwwww,” we hear them say. Then they disappear into the crowd, all clicking heels and glossiness and knowledge and awesomeness. And they are gone. And I suddenly feel very small. Like a tiny speck of girl on the pavement.
But my head doesn’t hurt too much. And my heart doesn’t ache anymore.
“People like him that come between women like us? Whevs,” says Danni.
All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.4266 Views
Esther Harris is (still) writing her first novel and tweets @writer29