Lisa Allen


When I was a teenager, our road led into another, the way that roads do, and the second road became a close. A cul-de-sac. A dead end.

Robbie lived on the close. He was a bad boy with a lot of chat. I was naïve, prudish, with no chat at all. My head was easily turned.

I don’t remember how we hooked up; what happened to my friends when I started to hang around with his. But I remember the fence: not getting there, but being there.

His breath, hot and ragged against my neck. His strength, pinning me to the spot. His movements: alien and persistent.

I don’t know if it was day or night; I screwed up my eyes and pretended it was happening to someone else. But it belongs to me. My spiteful brain has sifted through nine years of memories and chosen this one to keep.

Creative journey

From birth to age 23, I lived in two houses. I wasn’t sure which to pick for my memoir, so I started by drawing a map of the area around each house. As I drew the ‘birth to 14’ house, many different, fleeting memories came back to me. When I got to the house of my teenage years, one single memory was instantly dominant. I have never spoken about this to anyone. I haven’t thought about it, at least consciously, for a long time. Yet for this brief, at this point in time, I couldn’t have written about anything else.

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