‘Mum, are you naked?’ I ask my mum. We are talking on Skype and I can see her bare shoulders. ‘What does it matter if I am? Can you see anything?’ she says. ‘It’s just a bit off putting mum’, I sigh and light a cigarette, My mum keeps on talking, the bottom of the screen just about covering her tits. Yes mum, Sasha is fine, no I’ve not lost weight, no I don’t have a boyfriend. She’s very predictable. I should go and see her. She’s only in Essex but the train is horrible and I have never even considered learning to drive. She always offers to come here but i don’t want her so close to my life. Sasha adores her though. I feel guilt for sabotaging this. I reach for the can of beer I have hidden behind the laptop screen. I take a gulp, out of shot. A belch emerges from my mouth just as I lean back into view. ‘Bloody hell Martha. No wonder you can’t get a boyfriend’.
I turn off my mum and drink my beer in full view of my front room. Sasha is at her dad’s tonight. I think about whether she prefers being there to being here with me. He couldn’t have been more less my type, now or all those years ago. I met him at a party when I first moved here from Essex. He was kind to me that night. Kindness is fucking sexy. I gave him my number without hesitation. I liked his cardigan and the way he held a glass. If I ever have been in love, it was with him that night. I got pregnant the first time we fucked. Well, maybe not the actual very first time but the first few days we were fucking. I didn’t tell anyone when I found out. I didn’t even speak for a week. I stayed home and wondered if I could cope with not smoking and drinking for several months. I went to his flat to tell him after a couple of weeks. He seemed pleased. I told him that we would have to split up now as I am a crazy fucker on a good day and me going through a pregnancy would give rise to a new and frightening version of myself that might destroy him. He laughed and said that he would take his chances with me and that he would look after all three of us. He lasted three months before he said that I was right and that we should split up. I reckon that was a pretty decent effort on his part. This good, kind man, pulled apart by my spectacular rages and his own unborn child. He was still kind of course. He still is. I don’t deserve his kindness but I accept it gratefully. I hope Sasha is more like him. I know she’s not though.
I’ve nothing to do tonight so I smoke and I drink, I mess about on a dating site, I cry at a Woody Guthrie song, I overcook a pizza. As I get drunker, I text people to see if anyone wants to come over. I get a couple of replies ‘sorry babes, out tonight’, ‘I’m in Belgium, soz’. I don’t know if I am lonely or bored or if they are the same thing. I scroll down my phone and get to Marco’s number. Silly fella would be over here in a second, nicked Prosecco in hand. No, I can’t have him hanging around again. Eventually Jimmy replies and says he is coming around. I like Jimmy. He plays in a band I sometimes sing in. He’s huge and he always sits on the floor, like a massive hairy boulder. He rolls me cigarettes and brings beer from the fridge. He doesn’t speak much but it’s lovely to have a presence here with me, even if it is a taciturn drummer.
I wake up on the sofa. Jimmy is gone. He’s tidied up too. My mouth is stuck together. I force it open and drink some beer. It’s 2.13am. A thought comes into my head. What if I will always be alone? Is this a terrible thing or the best thing? I look at my phone and there a couple more texts from friends apologising for not being able to come over. I slump back on the sofa and my mind chases me around in circles. I think about Sash and whether she will end up scared of the world like me. I mean, she can go out on her own so she’s doing better than me. But I’ve protected her, stood between her and any shit that comes our way. I don’t think anyone did that for me.