With Fraser in prison and Matthew gone to Bermuda, I had no drama or BMW’s in my life – I was bored. I did a charity parachute jump, to excite me. Marni escorted me, she was bored too. I was doing it for MIND (mental health charity) and had raised £140.00 from my friends at the Samaritans, cleaning jobs and Foggie’s video shop – it paid for the jump too. I was sad because this was Marni’s and my last weekend together for a year, she, like Fraser was leaving me and was off to travel the world, first to climb the Himalayas. Her brother and I waved her off at Heathrow. I felt so alone.
I remained in the flat with Marni’s brother but it wasn’t the same. I lived off iceberg lettuce, spread with marmite and an occasional Ryvita as a treat. Sometimes I mixed sunflower seeds together with marmite, it filled me up and sunflower seeds were good for MS. I drank alcohol every night and ate crisps and nuts in the pub. When I was drunk I might eat toast or have a bite of someone’s kebab or a few chips to the tune of “I asked you if you wanted something and you said no”.
I met a bricklayer called Dan in a club at Elephant and Castle, he had a Triumph motorbike and looked like Marc Bolan. He took me to Brighton for the classic ‘dirty weekend’ but after a gram of speed I could only talk about Fraser, too off my head to worry that this would put him off.
“What gets you going?” asked Alan the physics teacher I’d met at another club, he listened to radio 4 in the mornings. “I want you to have a good time too.” He wanted to please me.
I didn’t need to tell either men about having MS – they were already put off by the very mention of my man behind bars. Each relationship lasted a month or so.
In the meantime, Fraser had been sent back to HMP Saughton for trial. Over the next 5 weeks I received 6 letters from him and 3 from Marni in Nepal. Despite the high suicide rate in prisons, I was more concerned about Marni. She seemed lonely, like me, but far away and going on about how many mosquitos there were, no mention of fun or boys she’d met, none of her usual chat. I knew something was wrong.
“Little Lizzy, its Irene here.” Marni’s mother said. “Marni’s ill, would you get her brother to ring me when he comes in? Urgently.”
“I knew something was wrong.”
“We need to get her. She’s in a hospital in Kathmandu, she’s very sick”
“He’s just walked in.” I passed the phone to Marni’s brother. After the call he packed a bag.
“Mum’s organised a taxi to Heathrow, they’ve got me on the next BA flight.”
I sat alone in the flat for a week with only one letter from Fraser to keep me going. One day I locked myself in the flat, I’d mislaid my keys, couldn’t find them anywhere. I leaned over the balcony and threw some money to a passer-by who got me some fags and put them through the letter box. I’d put the keys in the fridge, that’s how upset I was.
We never found out exactly what had happened to Marni, she’d had all her jabs but they thought it was typhoid. She’d got paranoid about mosquitos and locked herself in her room. She had dysentery too, hadn’t drunk for days. She could have died had a boy from the hostel not fancied her and wondered why he hadn’t seen her for a few days.
When Marni came back to the flat I weighed her, she had lost three stone. Her skin flapped about her bones.
“You’re pale as fuck, where’s the sun tan?” I said, Marni laughed. I was so happy to see her but in the morning we found clumps of her hair on her pillow. Stress or the drugs, we didn’t know. I got the clippers and shaved it all off. She looked cooler than ever, scary too.
“Let’s go away together” she said when the shock of her hair loss had worn off “I’ve spent fuck all of my travel money”
“I’ve got enough to keep me going and I can get Foggie’s girlfriend to sign on for me when I’m away. We could go for the whole summer.”
“The whole summer.”