Lily – A Horror Story
(She sits on the stage, fingering a shawl in her lap throughout.)
Lily says I don’t love her.
Of course I love her, but it’s hard lovin’ a fifteen year old sometimes. Sometimes it’s very hard.
You get the language, don’t you; and the attitude, and the mood swings. God, the mood swings! One minute she can be the old Lily, lovely Lily, and the next she’s just evil; Evil Lily.
And now she keeps disappearing: sometimes for days at a time.
I don’t know what’s worse; when she’s here or when she’s away. When she’s not here I can’t stop meself worryin’ about her but when she is here… well. And as often as not she has someone with her; a crowd of ‘em, sometimes. And they’re worse than she is; some of ‘em.
She’s here tonight, is Lily. I saw her a bit ago. Anyway, she won’t have gone far; not tonight.
Thinkin’ back, I’m not sure if she’s ever done what she was told. But then mebbe I never had to tell her to do anythin’. I think mebbe we just sort of got along. We talked, that’s what we did. We talked and talked and we just sort of knew what each other wanted. Now I spend all me days tellin’ her not to do stuff. Like she would listen.
“I don’t want him in the house,” I keeps tellin’ her. This is the one she’s got taggin’ along after her. He was a bad man, I knows that much. A real bad man.
“Was,” she says. “He was a bad man. He’s not a bad man now, is he?” she says.
I don’t know what he is now, but I know he’s no good for Lily. Then again, maybe she’s no good for him. She tells him to treat the place like his own. So there’s bottles and fag packets and all sorts lyin’ round. And razors. Knives and razors and bits of broken glass. I don’t like that. I never liked that. I know kids hurt themselves these days but I don’t like what our Lily does; our Lily and her friends. They don’t cut themselves, they don’t: they cut each other. They cut each other’s arms and legs, and that’s just the bits you can see. He’s the worst. He’s the one gets them to do it.
It’s a phase, I keep tellin’ meself. A phase; she’ll grow out of it.
The best time was when she was young. Five, six years old. We’d stay in then, all the time just me and Lil. And we’d talk. We’d talk about all sorts of stuff. She was a great one for questions was Lily. Where do people come from? Where do animals live? What’s real and what’s made up? Questions about me family. She wanted to know everything, but she never wanted to go to school, mind: would not go to school. Not that I blame her. Can’t say I went to school much meself. Doesn’t mean she’s thick though. She’s sharp is our Lily. So sharp she’ll cut herself, I used to say. Seems I was right.
Mebbe I shouldn’t have told her about me family. Family, I ask you.
D’you want to hear a bad story? Do you?… Me mum died when I was born… And d’you know what killed her?… Guilt… Guilt about bringin’ me into the world, I reckon.
Me dad always blamed me. Only he wasn’t me dad; not really. Chances are he wasn’t me dad anyway: he was her pimp. Me mother’s pimp, that’s what they said. And she was his bitch; they said that ‘n’ all. She did everything for him, and I mean everythin’. She had to, I reckon. God knows what he’d have done to her if she didn’t. Any road, once I’d come along, and she’d died of guilt, he must have decided I was there to take her place.
Mebbes it wasn’t so bad when I was really little. Who knows? I can’t remember. But I guess it wasn’t too long before I had to pay me way. And there were a lot of ways I could do that, he said: on me back, on me belly or on me knees.
They were the bad years.
Anyway, one day he died. Wasn’t me what killed him, wish it was, though. One of his friends, I reckon: one of his friends what would pay him to see me. Anyway, they carted him away and left me here on me own.
People came. People came with food and drink. And money, sometimes, but what did I know about money. I never had money. They came for a while anyway, ‘til they said I “wasn’t meself any more”, whatever that meant.
And then there was Lily.
I couldn’t have kids. Not of me own, anyway. He made sure of that. “I’m not losin’ you the same way we lost yer mother,” he said, and he had me “fixed”. Don’t know what he did but I know how much it hurt. I would have killed him then, if I could have walked.
But Lily came anyway. One night. One night she was just there: a new born baby sucklin’ at me breast. Dead cold she was. Freezin’ cold, but she was sucklin’ right enough.
She needed me. I didn’t know where she’d come from but she needed me. And I think mebbes I needed her. I didn’t know who’s she was or where she’d come from but until someone came to get her back I was gonna keep her. And I called her Lily: after me mother what died. She seemed to like that, did Lily. She’d always calm down a bit, whenever I said her name. (singsong voice) Li-ly.
Mind she could scream. She could scream like a banshee sometimes. Never heard a noise like it but I think all babies get like that. Screamed like they was stickin’ pins in her. She still does, sometimes; even now. She has nightmares. She had nightmares back then, but I don’t know what a baby’s got to have nightmares about. Anyway, I say her name, over and over… Li-ly…Li-ly… and she suckled at me breast and the screams would ease. Tell the truth, that’s what I still do now, when she gets so upset. I say her name and stroke her hair and let her suckle a bit.
Any road, when she was a baby was when I got me act together. I’d always kept the place clean. He saw to that, but it had slipped a bit. Now I had to keep it baby clean, and I did. And I got me benefits sorted. That took some doin’, I’ll tell you. And I never told no-one about Lily. I didn’t want anyone pryin’ around, see.
So there was just me and Lily. She learnt everything she needed from the telly, and I told her the rest meself. For years, there was just me and Lily. It was the best of times. The best.
It wasn’t always easy, mind. I think she wanted company, even back then. Someone to play with: someone her own age. I got her a cat. That wasn’t a good idea. She didn’t know how to love a cat. She was rough. And when the cat scratched her she bit great big chunks out of it. I’ll tell you, that cat screamed worse that she did, nearly. But I comforted her, and the cat died soon enough.
We left it a while but we tried again. Another cat, but this one was no good neither. That was when Lily was about nine; nine or ten.
That was when Lily started to cut herself. I don’t know if it was the cat scratching that had started it but at first she used to pick at the scabs. I didn’t think much of it, not at first. But then it got so there was spots of blood everywhere and Lily’d try to keep her arms covered.
And then one day I found her in the bedroom. She was in our room and she was lyin’ on a sheet: a white sheet only it was covered in blood: Lily’s blood. All around her. Comin’ from her arms, her legs, everywhere. I thought she was dead. She was always pale but never like this. And then she opened her eyes. “Me blood’s cold,” she said. That’s all she said. “Me blood’s cold.”
I’d told you she was always cold, even when she was a baby. Well I’d stopped noticing. She was just a cold kid, that’s all there was to it.
She was still lyin’ on the sheet and she grabbed me hand and made me touch her wrist. Blood was still comin’ out. And it was. It was cold.
And then Lily pulled up her jumper. She’d cut her belly. There was more blood. Lots of blood. Cold blood. And she said – “Do you think mebbes I’m already dead?”
That was when I lost my Lily. That’s when she started goin’ out on her own, not carin’ what anybody said. Never tellin’ me where she was goin’.
And now she has the house full of strangers. Strangers like her. Strangers with cold blood. Strangers what’s dead, like her.
He’s dead. That boyfriend of hers. I knew him years ago and I remember when he died. He was a bad man. A very bad man.
I tried to have it out with her but we just ended up shoutin’. The things she came out with was just terrible. That’s when she said I didn’t love her. She said I’d never loved her. I told her that wasn’t true. Even now I still love her. She said if I really love her then I’d join her.
She gave me this.
(She produces a knife from the shawl she has been fingering throughout the story. She runs it gently over her wrist and throat.)
She said if I love her I’ll do it tonight.
And I do; I do love her.
And she said if I really love her… I’ve to bring someone with me.