Good Girls Don't

So it's in Devon, right? Devon. Cold place. Farms and British grit and all. Devon, and a romance. In secondary school. First between two girls. Then between a girl and a girl masquerading as a boy. Then, a boy and a girl masquerading as a boy. There's insanity. Oppressive religion. Sex. No drugs, but perhaps later. And tea. And walking. But first, a romance, in Devon, with four narrators. All girls. Yeah, something like that.

So to sum up: a romance, involving to some degree all of the four female narrators, in Devon.

[Addition for someone who got upset: The town mentioned is imaginary. I have never been to Devon. Also, I do think that one should actually go and read the story instead of getting upset about the blurb. ]


1. Opening and a Cliff



     We sat together on the bench, her head on my shoulder. We were linked. Her leg rubbed mine through her stocking, coiling around it if she were trying to set it alight. Her hand tentatively snaked into mine under that overcast August sky, her perfume embracing mine. The bench was green, Hunters or fir, she would know the difference, and slick from last night's rain. Maia was embracing my frail body, holding me still, keeping me in check. She gripped a Thin Finger and blew a shale smoke ring.

     "Aromatic," she always said, "Like smoking a stick of cinnamon."

       For that minuscule moment, drawn out forever, there was beauty. The bench sat at the edge of the forest, with a swan dive to the rocky beach below. Grass licked it and creepers from the woods wound wrist-thick around the legs and held it fast. We often came here. At the time, I was wearing blood-red brogues, messy and a bit torn and she was wearing Converses, glistening white and black chequerboard. I took her hand, lifted it to my mouth, and inhaled the cigarette it clutched. My mouth and eyes clouded. Everything was silent. Our bags were damp from the afternoon's rain.

    She turned to me, "Kassie," she said.

 "Yes, what?'' We said nothing to each other for a while, and then-

 "Hey, Kassie...could you do me a huge favour?"


 "I really want to-” She blushed and stared at her shoes. “-do it with Tom, so could you hook me up?"

   That was unexpected. Tom wasn't my property, so I said, "No."

  "No?" She cocked her head.

  “That's right, I can't.” I stood up for a second, and then sat down.


  "Tom's not yours," I said. Every girl who followed Lara could get a boy into bed, as long as they asked nicely. Maia did not, nicely or not, and nor did she follow Lara. Incidentally, Tom was exclusively Lara's toy, and so even if Maia was a follower, she wouldn't be able to get any.

  "Oh, I see. Sorry."

  "Maia, is anything wrong?" I said, sarcasm on the borders of my voice, twitching my words at the corners.

  "No, nothing at all's wrong. My rib best friend-"

 "I'm not ." I said.

  “That's what they always say.” she said, dragging hard and spitting out a grey tentacle of smoke.

  “And when they notice, it's when three guys are balls deep in them.” I laughed.

  “I hope you don't think I'd do that, Maia.”

  “Seeing as...” she trailed off. For a long time, she said nothing, and then

  "I...I don't even bloody know any more." Not this again. Maia took a long drag on her cigarette.

  "I mean, look at me," she said, gesturing at herself with her free hand.

  "What about you?" "I feel as though I just don't care any more. That no one cares. I don't even know if Jesus cares."

  Her Catholicism wasn't a social block. It was moreover that she hid from everyone behind her crucifixes- everyone but me. She did once hit a boy in the mouth with a golf club because he wouldn't leave her alone. Daryl Thomas lost three teeth and had a fractured mandible. Half of his mouth hung down, like a see-saw and he spewing blood and mucus onto the green, while we waited for the ambulance to pick him up. People lost interest.

  "Maia." I said, "Shut up."

  " What? Are you fucking stupid?"

  "Maia, I care." I said, putting my hand on her shoulder. "I care loads."

  "Thank you." Maia toyed with her hair, and looked in the other direction.

  “I mean it,” I said

 “So do I: Thank. You. It means a lot.”

  She gripped the black-iron armrest of the bench and shook as she lit up another cigarette. I watched a lone figure skip stones on the gravel beach. Each one skimming the surface and vanishing from sight, delving beneath the sea. And how I'd love to crack the tension between us. Get up and run away. Start crying. I can't keep saying nothing. Nothing comes from nothing. Or, more pointedly, if you sit on the couch and smoke Bidis, being a lazy bastard, you will die a wasted life. It's like in one of those warzones in some godforsaken corner of the earth where there's one law: kill or be killed. And Kassie doesn't want to be all alone in a two-tone body bag, does she?

    And Maia said, "I love you, Kassie." My heart stopped beating for a second or two. Nervous, fuzzy tentacles wrapped around my throat and face. Time stood petrified for a few seconds. Sitting up, I turned to her and said, "What?" And she replied, her eyes filling with tears, "I...I love you. You."

  Do or die. Run or stay. But before I can do anything, I'm already dead, 'cause she started to run, her hair slapping the sides of her neck, whipping her shoulder blades insecure, her hips rolling and already she's into the woods and there's no way I'm going to catch her.





    I'm confused, stumbling over my stupid uncoordinated feet. Maia, you fool. The briers are pulling out my hair so I look like some poor chemo girl- but all the same I keep running. I'm halfway down the hill and here's the river and a switch of wood reaches up to grab my ankle. A second of free fall and...Oh god that hurts. I don't get up. I stay like I am, bleeding, cut, torn, lying as the river washes over me and baptises me from my sin. This is all contrition really. My life, just more penance for what and who I am. I am in a fucking Munch painting. In the eyes of God I am a dirty whore who deserves to roast in hell. But that's God. Since when did I care what He thought? Since when have I cared what anybody thought? Let me introduce myself, whatever stale deity is listening in on my thoughts. Maia Watford. Sixteen, and embarrassingly, closeted (until now), single, a virgin. Never kissed anyone outside my family. Never been on a real date, but a short thing with Kassie's brother, but that wasn't romance.

   From the day I was born I was forcefed lies and propaganda like a fois-gras duck to make me into a good Christian girl who would go to heaven. All my sisters will. Personally, I never cared for Jesus. He may have died on the cross for someone, but definitely not for me. If He died for me, all I can ask is why. Why would He die for me? Noone's so selfless as to sacrifice themselves for some bitch two thousand years into the future. I mean, I wouldn't. I seriously doubt you would. So why would He? I still pray to him though. Every single Sunday. I still eat the wafer, sip the blood. In nomine patris, filii et spiritus sancti, kill me. Tear me to shreds, O Lord. Put me down, like the mewling monster I am. “Fuck this shitty town with its stiff upper lip and mild disdain for everything,” I'm screaming, “Fuck this county for being so boring. Fuck all the people in it, with their farmers, incest and progressive politics.” And the knot in my stomach curls into a rope and forms itself into a noose. I'm going to puke. “Fuck me. Fuck me vigorously and painfully, 'cause I like girls.”

  I'm one of the forgotten sheep in His holy pack. Tears now, and it's pathetic. It's so cold in the river and the water's up to my shoulders and still I'm crying and the water's stinging me like however many thousand hornets. I'm that freak He decided to use as an ashtray. This is my fault, my fucking fault and noone else's. I'm a bad girl. A heretic going straight to hell when I die at the age of twenty from all that sex and drugs I won't be having. And you know what? I don't care. Hey, up there, you, on your throne with your long white beard and pretty-girl handmaiden whores and your army of seraphs, you with your sick idea of perfection and your religion of peace, fuck you.

  I liked Kassie for a while now. It started when we got drunk together for the first time and I found myself pawing her. My hands around her hips, sliding into the top of her Levis. We were on her bed and she was lying there oblivious, uncaring. Her marble hands over mine. Her lips just parted, eyes closed. My heart going into overdrive, and somewhere, something severed. I looked up, noticed what I was doing, and leapt away like a cat sprayed with icy water. Kassie was confused, and tried to pull me back but I slapped away her hands. When that didn't work, I wrenched my hand away and accidentally hit her in the face. The back of my palm scraping the bloom of her cheek, my nails gouging war paint. I left her moaning on the bed. So I walked home that night across Anderson Common, with Kassie still on my mind. One of those large grassy expanses where kids played football, and bloody gang wars were staged Time trickled to curfew. Home beckoned. I'd be punished if I wasn't home on time. The thought of punishment made my feet throb from past beatings and I soldiered on. Cold, wet and tired, I fell, sober, cut and crying into my bed half an hour later. Hopefully, my parents wouldn't see the blood. It happened in an alley. I was taking a short cut though the back street behind the Bull and Dragon when I got jumped.

   A guy in a hoodie, probably from Greater Anderson, pushed out of the gloom, as if pulling away a curtain. Teeth so white I could see the glint of them off the knife - "Everything." he said.


  "Give me everything. Purse, phone, clothes."

  "And w-w-hy would I want to do that?" I'm trying to be brave, but it's just coming off as a scrap of tender meat begging not to be eaten.

  "'Because, you fucking whore, I'll cut you."

  "Okay, okay." I let my satchel drop, pivoted on my heel, and ran. Normally I didn't run anywhere, because I didn't really see the need to run in a town that lacks a post code. When I did run though, my feet were wings. When I wanted to, one hundred metres in eleven point zero two. When I try, they'll never get me. It was just like playing It. But this time, if he got me, I wouldn't be It, I wouldn't have to stand still until freed. I would be dead. The alleys were a lovely part of Anderson. Narrow and numerous, Anderson's varicose veins, sprouting like spider webs from behind the Bull. You could get lost in them. And when I say lost, I mean raped, stabbed and then stored in the basement of some sicko for elevenses. So I ran, fleeting through over bins and crates, seconds floating into minutes. And I was calm. The world was okay. I wasn't running away from an attempted rape. Together with my heart, my feet hit the cobbles.

  The beat was choral, and I wished myself away to church. I'm sitting in a pew and praying, Oh God, please don't let him catch up please please I don't want this please make him die and it's here where the cobbles reach up to grab me in a cold embrace. Therein lies the rub, or should I say, misplaced stone making me trip. The guy caught up with me, and kicked me a few times. The soft click of a dislodged bone, like a hammer cocking, the subtle crunch of failed expectations; friends, family love. Agony coursing through my heart, and then he took out his knife again, its blade almost beautiful through the pain. I pawed at his leg, trying to make it go away. Curled my body into a pill.

  "Let me up."

  "Shut up," he said, crouching on all fours, his hands inching around my neck.

  "I, I'll do anything, just let me up."


  "Yes, anything." The man pushed me onto my back and pulled up my shirt. I wasn't wearing a bra. His hands were rough, and I tried to cry out before he shoved something soft that I couldn't see into my mouth. My back rubbing into the cobbles, their cool passivity to everything giving me a pinprick of bravery, I tried to bite down and he slapped me, the sound echoing off the alley walls, like an overenthusiastic high-five. It tasted of sweat and unwashed feet. His hands trickled down my front and into my knickers. Some horrible spider, Tickling, gently exploring. A small voice in me said, I wanna kill you, you fucker. Get off me, and I'm screaming this and more into the gag but nothing comes out: just some feeble mewling. I'm disgusting, he's disgusting. This was over. The End, Jesus fucking wept. But then the man stopped, and in that moment, I took advantage. I kicked him off, my boot getting with his balls, and looked around. There were several ruined, half-decomposed crates stacked one against another There was a trash can. And there was a gas tank propped up against the wall, probably for extra heating. Gritting my teeth, I ran as fast as I could for the tank. Gripping it, I tried to heave it onto one shoulder. It was so incredibly heavy, my back was going to snap. I was not going to be able to do anything with it.

Our Father who art in Heaven, the shadow flitted forwards

Hallowed be thy name, he was only a foot away,

Thine kingdom come, the knife flew out,

Thy will be done, I lifted the cannister, just about parrying his lunge, I smashed him in the face with it,

On earth as it is in heaven, I hit him in the head again,

Give us this day our daily bread, I hit him one last time,

And forgive us our trespassers as we have forgiven those who trespass against us, but he still wasn't down, He took his knife and leapt on me.

And lead us not into temptation, My hands were scrabbling, trying to hurt him, trying to shove him off, and his movements were delirious, in the light from a dim street lamp, a great pancake of a bruise clouded his face. But deliver us from evil, I clawed at his face and he rolled off me. I got up and grabbed the cannister. I hit him in the face and there was a crunch. The wet sound that comes from hitting a half-rotten pumpkin with a cricket bat. A soggy grunt, His eyeball was squished into the side of the socket, and it peeked over the edge, like a crushed grape in a vice. I couldn't help myself from giggling. I collapsed against the wall and laughed. Amen. My eyes closed. Amen, AMEN.




Her cigarette had fallen in the grass, the aromatics soggy. Its light had been crushed by her boot heel. A wave of nausea hit me. In my mind's eye, I saw Maia curled up in her bedroom crying. No way to reach out to her. To say something. I reached for my neck, searching for the locket. Opened it, and saw us three. James, myself and Maia. We were together, James smiling, an arm on both our shoulders. Maia with two fingers up in a reverse peace sign, and me combing my hair with my hand. My hair was offside and dirty, my shirt a bit torn. A flash of happier times. When I was thirteen, Maia fourteen, and he, was sixteen, my brother went out with Maia. It was adorable for the time it lasted. It was a generic break up. James invited Maia over to our house, and told me to come into his room too. The Libertines crooned in the dumb-romantic way they did. He poured us both a finger of vodka, and tipped back the rest.

  "Maia," he said, closing his eyes,

  "I, don't know how to say this. You've been great. Totally and utterly amazing. This last week has been so special. I hate to say this, but-"

  "I know." Maia said, "You want to end it. I, I understand."

  “But, can I- can I know, why?"

  "It's because I feel like crap with you- no, not like that- I mean, look, I've got you drunk too many times and I'm sorry. I've been an awful boyfriend, selfish, lazy I just think we're better as friends. I'm-" 

 "Okay. It's, it's fine. I- hey, do you have any more of that stuff?" She gestured towards the bottle.

  "See? Look what I've made you. I can't let this go on, for both our sakes."

  "Yeah..." She took the bottle taking a heavy swig.

  "But we're still friends?"

  "Course. Tell you what, tomorrow I'll take you both out to see that film over at the Arcadia Paradise." I kept my face a mask.

 "Okay, I'll pay."

  "No," James said, "I'll pay." And all of us, smiled. Him: a happy one. His eyes glittered like quartz on slate. Maia smiled with actual happiness. When Maia was happy, her dimples would come out and she'd part her hair with one hand. I smiled in relief. The half-human grin that people use to fake happiness. I kinda preferred my best friend not dating my brother, for awkward reasons. It felt as if my lungs were dating my heart. The two most important people in the world in love. I was a little let down when I was getting home from some work after school, and saw them groping on the couch. Left out, even. Ignored.


   Maia's perfume still lingered in the air, bergamont and myrrh. Her favourite, which she only wore for special occasions such as funerals. She came to James' funeral wearing that and a silk evening dress. She had the irritating talent for out-dressing and out-girling everyone. James had orchid shaped hips and loved berets, especially purple ones. He sipped wine from a shot glass wore his hair over his eyes in an elegantly presented mess and had nearly no friends. In Year Nine, I got denied quite a lot of dates because, one, I hung out with Lara, and two, I hung out with Maia. Boys found psychos and cultists a turn-off, I guess. I'd be sitting on my bed and crying quietly while I listened to an album that Maia'd lent me. James would tap on the door, and sit down next to me. Putting his angular, thin arms around me, he'd hold me and whisper soft encouragement in my ear. Boys aren't scared of you. Love appears at the weirdest times. If you're a bit more confident, you might snag someone. Painted portraits of me, Maia, everyone. He seemed happy with loneliness and isolation; his teddy bears and crying music. He kept me in check, crushed my ego, made me feel better. I told him almost every day that he was my life. He smiled and said that I shouldn't hold onto him so hard. Unlike with Maia or Lara's siblings we had a great friendship. The sort of sit in trees, legs entwined, talking about boys. It didn't occur to me that he even had a sexuality and when it did, it didn't bother me at all. Lara used that on him.

  Faggot was a buzzword for, "I disagree with what you think, you arsehole." Maia said that if James wasn't my brother, he would totally fall for me and our love would be beautiful. The last thing he said to me was, "Kassie, keep your eyes open, stick with Maia, and never let them take you alive. You got that?" He hugged me once. And then he went into his room and locked the door. I was the one to break his window with a rock and find him on his bed. Not moving. His skin paler, his room silent and cold. I tried waking him up, shaking him, slapping his cold, cold face. When that didn't work, I screamed for my parents to come and I didn't stop screaming until I cried, and gave up. At any moment he was going to push me off him, say good morning and ask, confused, tongue fuzzy and eyes watering, why I was in his bedroom. My parents had to break down the door. It was my father who told me. He said some crap like,

  "Kassie, James has gone to a better place now."

  "Why did he go?"

  He said, "I don't know, Kassia, no-one does." He only called me Kassia if he was either lamenting or dealing out punishment. I felt guilty with myself for not being able to do anything. I hated myself for not stopping my parents sending him to Sussex for boarding school. If that hadn't happened, maybe he wouldn't have gone. I wore purple to James' funeral. It was his favourite colour. And Maia wore her dress, beautiful and flowing. Black, but shimmering. Sorrowful, but awakening. A goddess of the night. She let me cry onto her naked shoulder. We sat amongst the witch-hazel on the border of the cemetery and Maia made me a tiara from it and gently placed it on my head . “It's gonna be all right,” she said to me, her voice almost making it a question, and her soft fingers brushing away the tears. “It's gonna be all right,” I confirmed. She was crying too, and we hugged, both our dresses perfect and the rain danced with the mud.

  Maia had asked me once or twice before, fiddling with her hair, kneading her upper lip with her teeth, whether I liked girls. We were sat in a booth at the B&D, sipping Cokes. “Hey, Kassie, d'you think you'd ever play with a girl?” “What do you mean?” I said, squeezing my lime half-moon into my drink. “It's..would you go out with a girl?” Her eyes stabbed into mine. “I don't know. Would you?” I said. “Uh, maybe,” she said. She looked over my shoulder, eyes bouncing around the room. “Yeah, me too,” She touched the ends of my fingers.



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