By Ryan Child
Every night the moon shines over to the left of where I stand, its bright white reflection meeting gently with the orange vibration of the city below. It’s 10pm and I’m pissing on the same flowerbed as usual, using the moon’s light to find a place to rest my beer, one handed. One of the local farmers has a green stall about 5 minutes away where he sells fruit, vegetables and 80 cent beers. Needless to say we are loyal customers. Maltese nights are humid and cold. I’m thinking of that word loyalty when, spilling my beer everywhere, I realise I do not know what it means. Loyalty?
It has started raining so we have thrown a huge bit of canvas over the support beams of what will eventually be a tree house. We dance in the mud under the tree, listening to a huge battery powered speaker that is plugged into someone’s old, fat, white Ipod. The time has passed a few hours and the beer has me thinking of ex-girlfriends and again the question of loyalty. The music is playing loudly but I am sat on a wooden door on the ground, watching dancers and feeling overcome in my chest.
It is the feeling of detachment that haunts me when the drinking is constant.
In England the government has offered about £1 million to local councils to allow exploratory drilling for Hydraulic Fracking.
The government is offering money to tempt councils to drill into local land, following a Tory announcement that public spending will need to be cut by £25bn from 2015-17. Like breaking somebody’s leg then offering them crutches if they agree to walk in the right direction.
A girl with light hair and long, thin legs takes my hands and pulls me up.
“I just took ecstasy,” she says, pushing her hair up over her ear and behind her head. “And all I want to do is dance.”
So we dance and we kiss and I feel bored. I wonder again about loyalty. Perhaps loyalty is simply to care. For certain it is important.
A large stone wall separates the farm from the yellow track that leads to the closest town, Mgarr, Malta. I climb over the wall and, away from the cover of curled branches, the moon shines bright white on everything.
On the other side of the track I can see a Frenchman and a German sitting on the top of an abandoned stone building. The German’s white hair is glowing like flecks of gold in alcohol. They are drinking cherry wine and talking about themselves to each other. I feel detached and bored still. Maybe it is because I don’t want them to know my story. Not wanting to listen to theirs is probably more like the truth. Why are people so determined to share everything with the world? Is it looking for loyalty? A search for somebody that cares. But a Facebook Like is not loyalty. It is satisfaction.
Maybe loyalty is to care without thinking about it.
The music has changed to Trance and the ecstasy is pushing detachment into another world. Are people more loyal on drugs? Certainly more interested. We catch each other’s eye again and walk to the campfire. She doesn’t say anything and we have sex under the moon. Towards the end I wonder about being outside and the bedroom tax in England. It makes sense, really. But I think it has been done wrong. You no longer receive benefits for an unused room in a council or housing association house.
She falls down onto the wet floor and we both smile, too involved to laugh properly. Too muddy to care. The idea behind the bedroom tax was to get people who had more space than they needed to move into smaller homes, which would then allow families in cramped homes to move into the then unoccupied larger homes.
I can’t help thinking of the girls I love and loyalty again.
Perhaps I didn’t think about caring for some of them when I should of. Sex can be as fleeting as social media. Caring, being interested but only for a short period of time. That’s not loyalty. Unfortunately, in the case of the bedroom tax, the small homes that people were supposed to move into simply do not exist, which means people hit with the tax cannot move out and families set for larger homes remain cramped in their old houses.
The only real change that has occurred is the increase in rent arrears that local councils have to deal with. People hit by the tax can no longer afford rent for their houses but have nowhere else to live. This means that, rather than receiving the benefit money from national government funds, local councils are now owed huge amounts of money from people that will never be able to pay it. Without the tax, local councils would directly receive the benefit money from the government and, subsequently, would be able to use the money to build more houses. The bedroom tax seems fair and good, it was just implemented too quickly. Without thought, without a commitment to its recipients, without really caring, without Loyalty.
We walk back covered in mud and holding hands. I will never be loyal to her. She doesn’t want me to be. We just wanted satisfaction, which is different from loyalty and easier to find.
At 7am I went to bed alone thinking that as a generation perhaps we should be more loyal. To our world, to ourselves.