Saturday 17th June
It was quite soon after Harriet left that Jane started hurting herself. She felt so dependent on her sister that as soon as she was gone for a few weeks, Jane couldn’t even cope and had just let herself go. Or had she always been insecure, relying far too much on Harriet than was good for her? Was she really so useless on her own, or was it something deeper inside her, that gained comfort in suffering? Would she have ended up like this anyway? She really don’t know.
At the time she blamed Harriet, or rather her dependence on her, the fact that Ishe had let her so dominate her that without her sister she couldn’t see any point in anything. Whatever the reason, whatever justification she might try to come up with it didn’t change the facts. She was hurting herself regular as clockwork; every two or three days the wound would stop itching and a roove would form as the blood dried and started to block out the pain, and then she would do it again, and sometimes she would just scratch and scratch her forearms and send all the scabs flaking and breaking away and scrunching under her nails where she would nibble and eat the dried blood and her arms would just be awash with streams of blood, and the gorgeous release of pain would ecstatically sweep her away again.
And she had no idea she was in any sort of trouble, she never once asked herself if this were anything like normal behaviour. She never once questioned why she had started doing it, it just became a habit and like all habits, although occasionally a demonic little voice would tell you this was bad, the pain was so glorious and really sharp and bitter and a release at the same time that she just kept on doing it. Reminding myself how miserable she was became an end in itself.
Deep down she must have known why, but there was something, some mechanism blocking her from telling myself or anyone else come to that the reason, and of course the reason was Harriet.
Let’s go back a bit into the months and weeks before she left for University. They were both nervous as fuck, Jane because she was losing Harriet, and Harriet because she was going from this quiet little world where she ruled, where she was everybody’s favourite and into a new world altogether. Jane knew that deep down Harriet was just a bundle of uncertainty like the rest of us, she just wore it better; she never gave the slightest hint that anything might scare her, might intimidate or threaten her in any way. But she couldn’t help noticing how even in those few months between taking her ‘A’ levels, which to Harriet were just a formality, and going off to Leeds, that she was incredibly restless. But not restless just with anticipation, because of course her life was about to change so radically, but restless with herself, and restless with Jane too. It seemed as if Jane didn’t matter to her so much anymore, it felt as if she had lost any interest in her and it felt awful. And it was a hot summer too, so they would sit around what they had once thought of as their magnificent pool, and look jadedly at this pathetic heath-robinson construction with its leaves and dead insects and skin of shiny slimy water that neither of them wanted to break even though the heat at times was quite unbearable.
Harriet would drift around town, in and out of the Mikado, drinking a bit too much in the evenings at one or other of the pubs they used to hang out in. Sometimes Jane joined her, but it all seemed pointless and she got bored with the monotony of it all. Obviously Harriet did too, because she suddenly discovered something to take away the monotony, though heaven knows it became so monotonous for her too in the end.
They had read in 1966 in the News of the World that the Beatles smoked marijuana, or cannabis, and they were totally amazed. What could it be, this dried extract of the cannabis plant that obviously had helped them to create such weird stuff that was creeping into their music, especially John’s stuff on ‘Revolver’. Well it wasn’t long before the papers were awash with it all; all the flower-power stuff, the hippies and the Stones being constantly arrested for possession. And suddenly their little world was awash with it too. They had never heard of dope, or indeed any drugs at all before, and suddenly they were being offered it at parties all the time.
Jane never actually smoked the stuff at all. She ‘smoked’, yes, well they all smoked cigarettes, but whereas everyone else was doing it for real, Jane was just pretending. She had tried, and kept on trying to smoke cigarettes; she couldn’t possibly let the side down – She couldn’t not smoke, that would never do. All the cool people smoked. But it killed her, the burning in her throat was unbearable and she always felt like heaving if any smoke got down into her lungs at all. So she pretended, and stood there as bold as anything, pouting and puffing and even learnt to take the smoke into her mouth and let it out through her nose without it going down into her lungs at all.
Only Harriet noticed that Jane was just posing and pretending to smoke so that she would be accepted by these older friends of hers, who all, of course, smoked. And then when joints appeared she would pretend to smoke these too. She did feel some effect from the smoke but it obviously wasn’t what everyone else was feeling, so she pretended to get stoned too. And she would put her head back and exhale and sigh and go all bleary-eyed too. But the Music was enough for her anyway, it was all getting incredibly creative and exploding into psychadelia and all that heavy stuff Jimi was doing, Jane just loved it all, and even though she knew that it was the dope and the drugs making most of the Music, she just didn’t need to be stoned to hear it and to love it, she loved it anyway.
But what she didn’t realise until later was that Harriet had moved on from dope. She was always a few steps ahead of everyone else, and had discovered all manner of pills too. I won’t bother to make a sad catalogue of the stuff she tried, and Jane had never heard of most of it before, but this is the terrible bit, she was never satisfied by any of it. Everything she tried just made her bored and so she tried something else, something stronger. This must have been in the first weeks after she went to Leeds, as I am sure she hadn’t done anything like that before, and the change in her was so pronounced that it must have been at Leeds that she tried that stuff. And Jane never knew the reason, not for ages – she saw that she had changed but didn’t know why. That little conspiracy they had, that sharing of everything, the late-night sisterly chats had all gone by the board ages ago. They were now on their own, and on their own they shared nothing; Harriet didn’t tell Jane about the drugs, and she didn’t tell her about making herself bleed. So a really nice couple of loving little sisters they were after all.