S.H.I.T. (She. Him. I. Them.)

By Tallulah Harvey

In a rattling car my mum told me that she hoped none of her kids were gay. With a childhood full of feather boas, ball gowns and nipple tassels, it seemed strange to hear those words slip out my mother’s mouth. I counted the passing cars, my feet dangling over the edge of the passenger seat, unable to touch the ground. When I was eight, my dad told me that straight men scared him.

My friends were woken up at seven o’clock sharp on Mondays; their parents laid out their uniform and scrambled them up some eggs. I crept downstairs each morning, climbing carefully over glittered and bejewelled men, their bodies strewn around the house, their chests rising and falling with each snoring breath. I ate my cereal standing. A man spoke to me as I tied my laces with—what I know now as—drug-induced rapidity, words tripping over each other in their desperation to escape his tongue. Once, I found a small child in my bed, sleeping soundly through the laughter and music that dribbled up through the floorboards. When I was thirteen, my dad told me that his first girlfriend was a lesbian, though perhaps he meant it as euphemism. She liked to drink beer.

I sat opposite my father in the local pub and fondled my pint nervously. I remember the terror. My internal organs coiling themselves into tight knots, making it harder and harder to swallow my Guinness. I couldn’t lose another parent. And yet, when I half-crawled, half-stumbled out the closet, my dad was not angry. No. My dad stole my thunder and came out to me. When I was twenty, my dad told me he never really worked out how to have sex until after my mother left.

I’m not sure it was me She was talking about in that rattling car. It must have been hard to be married to Him. I think she already knew about me. All those ripped petticoats? The pictures I hid under my bed? Or maybe it was Them that hurt her the most. They lent me their wigs to play with. False eyelashes stuck to my feet as I padded around the house. Nonetheless, her words stunted my growth, seeped into the brain of the nine-year-old me and lodged themselves there. It took me a long time to understand this about myself, but she was long gone before I could tell her. When I was nine, my mum told me something she shouldn’t have. I don’t blame her, though. I simply miss her.

Tallulah Harvey

Tallulah is a non-binary writer and lecturer based in South-East London. They are currently working on their debut novel as well as producing a collection of eco-feminist short stories. Tallulah has several publications out this year and their screenplay I Don’t Miss Her (2019) is currently in post-production. They are particularly interested in telling stories about human/nature cohabitation and in creating spaces for voices from underrepresented background to be heard. Please visit their blog for more info: www.sexyvegblog.co.uk