Turner Prize contender Tracey Emin is well-known for making artworks of unsettling honesty. Now she is gaining increasing recognition for her powers as an author of fiction. This shocking short story epitomises her qualities as artist and writer: naive, compelling, and not for the easily offended
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The Independent Culture
Just making love - to fuck.

Insanely -

And to know it doesn't stop

nothing stops - my mind - my vision.

Leaves bud

grow - go brown

and fall to the ground.

The sea - a deep blue keeps turning

the stars shine - the sun rolls and

the earth moves around it -

And sperm doesn't stop

it just goes on for ever -

like pollen blowing in the wind

Rolling in time

The whole idea is so fucking


Making love so insanely - to the point

of oblivion

Swimming eight miles against the tide

we made it - both of us

Against all odds from nothing

except the pure passion -

That brought us into this world.

When I was born - they thought I was dead.

Peter arrived first - ten minutes before

me - then it was my turn - I just

rolled - small and yellow

with eyes closed - I didn't cry

But the moment of my birth into

this world I somehow felt a mistake

had been made - I couldn't scream or

cry or even argue my case - I

just lay there motionless - wishing

I could just go back -

Back to where

I had came

They put me into a little glass box

and slowly I came round -

Peter and I would lay in our cot - he was always

going on about something - no-one could

understand him - only me - But I just lay

there - quiet on my back - with my arms

stretched out towards the sky.

Constantly pulling my hands through the air

holding onto the invisible lines - that only I could

See - the strands that join every moment -

past present and future -

the lines which join every part of

human nature -

from eternity to the stars.

As a baby I had wanted to die -

I rolled against the cot - slowly the

air would leave me -

But Peter would save me - his

eternal screaming - it seemed

Peter would always be there -

looking out for me - it was

hard not to feel resentful -

my soul had been floating along

when somehow a giant hook -

had pulled me down from the sky -

one moment free -

the next a creature -

of this world -

The first words I ever heard

In my head - that were not Peter's - were

The deaf and dumb are one year's

old - one year's old today.

It was warm, a spring day - the sky

was Mediterranean blue - and the white

clouds striped the sky - I rested my

head on my arms - I was six years old

trying to make sense of everything -

where had the mountains gone - with

their snow covered peaks - where were the

fir trees that lined the valley.

Why was the sea now green - when before

it was a beautiful blue - with great fish -

and soft lapping waves -

And the stars - where were they, why

had night time become so dark -

where was my beautiful world -

Now we lived in a giant hotel.


It was six small guest houses joined

together - looking over the winter gardens

A warren - a maze of floors - corridors

80 bedrooms - five lounges - store rooms - a

bar - a dining room - full of a mass of

tables and chairs - and a kitchen

that could cater for the hundreds

and back yards, six of them - joined together

with holes smashed through each adjoining wall -

A world of camps - bases - sheds - chalets -

roofs and garages -

A vast territory - a kingdom - our

domain -

We were rich and envied - I remember

hiding - unwrapped - Christmas presents -

under the bed - just hoping - they'd disappear

and go away.

All Peter and I wanted was to be normal

like other children - but it was impossible -

we were the twins - and we had uncanny

reactions - to each other and the rest of the

world - we had a natural necessity to

demand attention - sometimes we liked it - at

other times we hated it -

We would speak to each other with our


We shared a bedroom - we sat next to

each other at school - and we had shared

the same womb - at the same time -

and every thing was equal - every thing

divided - but somehow the same -

even our thoughts -

We were the twins - and tired

so tired of being special -

We went to her hand bag and

removed the pills and one by one

we put them down the sink -

We didn't get a baby brother or sister -

Instead we were given a rabbit -

a tiny white ball of fluff -

It had a little house - Peter made it

a bed out of shoe boxes - and I

started on its clothes - a jacket - a hat

with two tiny holes for its ears to pop through

and little shoes made of serviettes -

And on warm summer days we would

watch it - roam around the wild strawberries -

and Peter and I would laugh -

The joy of love - unconditional

outside of us -

As we got older and older - we became

closer - unnaturally close - and we

knew it -

It seemed to start around the time our

Rabbit died - well we knew it hadn't died

it had been murdered - by the kitchen staff -

We had been away for a week to London

when we came home - the first thing we did

was to rush through the hole in the wall - to

what we called the Green Garden - where

Rabbit lived -

The hutch was there - the straw - its food

the whole of Rabbit's world - but no Rabbit -

The staff came out of the hotel in twos

and threes - calling - Rabbit - Rabbit - they

looked under pieces of wood - behind doors

under car wheels - in bushes - sheds and bins -

But we knew they'd killed it - Peter and I

looked deep into each other's eyes - it hurt -

The one real living thing for both of us that

we had chosen - that we could love together

but individually - gone -

our white fluffy Rabbit -

Soon after Rabbit died - Peter and I

contracted whooping cough -

We lay next to each other in mum's

double bed - delirious - sweating - coughing

our little guts up - but even in our illness

we were bored - bored with the attention -

the fuss, the gifts - we were desperate -

to break out of this mini hell -

One day I woke up - Peter was standing

on a chair - naked - in the middle of the

room - holding a catapult -

As he pulled back on the elastic - he said

I feel better - suddenly I was screaming -

my eye was burning - people ran into the

room -

WHAM - He's flicked a lighted cigarette

butt into my face - which had neatly caught

between the lids of my left eye -


We were well - but we still didn't go back to

school - and we still carried on sharing a

double bed - we would scream and fight

pulling each other's hair biting and scratching

demanding each other's space.

One day I woke up - 100s of bells

were ringing - the room was full

of smoke - and flames lapped around

the bed - like a giant ocean - and I

lay in the middle -

Ismile Mum's lover - was beating

the flames with his bare hands -

I remember being carried in his arms.

Peter stood in the smoke filled hallway -

smiling -

He'd set the bed alight -

For a while we had our own rooms -

Then there were no rooms - no hotel

no guest - Daddy was gone - the hotel was

boarded up - and we moved into the cottage -

It didn't belong to us - but we had nowhere to go -

It had been the staff house - it was a come

down - but we didn't care, we felt normal -

living in this tiny little home with our mum -

Come on sis - I've got something

to show you -

Peter stood on his bed - in his blue

nylon aertex underpants - pulled tightly

around his willy - tiny bobbles of flesh

came through the holes - I ran my

fingers across them -

Peter took a flying leap across the room -

slamming me on the bed -

He rammed his foot up between my legs.

And pushed it against my minge.


OK - OK - I do - please Petey - Please

you're hurting me -

Mum was out collecting lead - from

the old hotel - me and Peter always got

excited by her expeditions - our mum

leaving the house with a hacksaw and

a shopping bag - like a mighty hunter.

A giant bird - gathering food

for her chicks -

I sat by the tomato plants.

Mum and Dad just screamed

at each other -

I pulled a bamboo stick away

from one of the plants -

The weight of the tomatoes

dragged the green stem down to the ground -

As they argued -

I pushed the bamboo stick through

the top of my thigh -

Blood started to pour -

and they stopped screaming.

She told us - she loved us - that she

would do anything for us -

Strange to think we were an accident -

strange to think - she'd booked into a

clinic - to have us aborted -

And strange to think she had talked herself

out of it -

It was 1962 - she was married and Dad was

married - but of course not to each other -

this wild roaming Turk - who had hit

the London property scene in a big way -

had swept her off her feet -

with the promise - of three days a week

or nothing -

She changed her name by deed poll - from

Cashin to Emin and settled for the three days

a week - knowing he would never divorce

his wife - and now - with his bankruptcy

and a trail of financial disasters - she had been

left with nothing -

The night Peter and I were conceived

was supposed to have been the last -

But some things are to be forever -

And now Peter and I were here,

in the bath room -

Look Tray - I can make it grow

He ran his hand up and down his

willy - it was getting bigger and

bigger - and WOW - a fantastic

white spray flew out of the end

splattering all across the pan -

He smiled - as I stood on the bath

my feet either side of the tub

And picking up the long handled

bath brush - I said well clever -

watch this -

And then one day - I told

Peter - I didn't want to do

it any more -

Because God wouldn't love us -

Peter said - it was all OK -

Because we didn't want

to be loved by God -

One day - a kind of warm

summer day - my mum - was running

down the hill - screaming -

my baby - my baby - what's wrong

with my baby -

I was hung across her arms -

my stomach - was about to explode

I had on my pink and white striped nightie

I felt my eyes rolling -

And my head was gone - Peter was

riding down the hill on his chopper bike.

I remember the yellow -

He was calling don't worry sis -

Sis don't worry - I'll get him for you

I'll get him -

In the hospital I had to shit into a toilet

that had no chain - there was a hole in the

bottom - that collected my shit - they put it

into a little tub - the police woman was

talking to me - but I kept kind of sleeping -

Aunty Joyce was there - she was saying have

you been naughty - mucking around -

playing strange games -

I don't know - what strange games

were - to me it was all real -

I just lay there -

my blood slowly moving

around my body

was I really all alive

had not part of me died -

my world existed

outside of me -

How could I explain this -

to ascend -

and keep ascending -

Dear God I thought -

every part of me

is bleeding.

I stopped eating and took to my bed -

I don't know how long this

lasted - it seemed in the

mind of a child to last an

eternity -

A diet of orange squash

and digestive biscuits -

I became short sighted - thin

and pale - my teeth began to

rot -

And Peter would say - Don't worry

sis - Everything's going

to be fine -

Something - which always disgusted me -

ME - laying across his lap - I could

feel his hard erect penis - pressed

into the small of my back -

And he was rubbing his hands

across my chest - my little tiny chest -

my bony little ribs -


I'd watch him from the

corner of my eye - his hand down his

trousers - always fiddling with himself.

Always looking at me -

Then I'd wake up in the middle of the night

and hear him having sex with my mum -

and I'd wake up Peter - and say

Listen - listen Peter -

Do you think he's hurting her.

Mum worked at the Gay Nights - a night

club - in Ramsgate - sometimes she'd take

Peter and I with her - and while she

waited on the tables - we would curl up

on the red velvet sofas - drifting to sleep

with the sounds of Isaac Hayes

in the background -

And at 2 or 3 in the morning when the

last customer had gone - we'd both be

carried off into the taxi, for our

journey home -

Other times we'd be left alone -

I sat up in bed - the night silence

burning my mind - the covers pulled

up close around my face - my body

saturated in my own piss - too scared to breathe -

my eyes darting around in the semi-darkness

The house was creaking - like it was alive,

as though it was breathing -

And everything became dark - like a black

sea - it would sweep over me -

The world had become so sad

and ugly.

Peter and I walked around the square.

A gang of other kids stood by the wall -

they were all looking at a great pile of

dog shit - on seeing us - one of the kids said

Go on Emu - that was what they called Peter -

Go on Emu - I dare you to walk

through it -

Yeah go on said all the others - I looked at

Peter - and said - DON'T -

Peter put out his hand - and said

to the others, give us all your money

and I'll do it -

Then he just walked straight through

the shit -

As me and Peter walked home - and him

scraping his shoes - I said why Peter -

why did you do it -

He pulled the handful of coins out of his

pocket - shook it around in the palm

of his hand -

and said - it's only shit.

I understood - understood at this

point, that we were different

And that we would grow apart -

When I was leaving - you told

me not to cry -

you said it's not as though one of us

is dying

But for me without you -

part of me dies -

and that part of me - that was

so much alive

may never return -

Please don't abandon me -

I can always LOVE YOU.

Peter was at Mark Golding's house -

And I was alone - another hot summer

day - that it seemed I had no friends -

Mum - made me some sandwiches -

cheese and tomato - I put them in my

bag - along with my towel and bikini.

And off I set for the beach -

It was the height of summer and Margate

was packed - the golden mile was speckled

with a 1000 million people -

I made my way across the sand towards

the sun deck - I found a little space on

the wooden planks - and unpacked my bag

My bikini top - it was gone - my

black wet-look fringey bikini top - not

there - GONE -

I sat down in the heat - there was nothing

for it - I'd swim without a top -

And putting my fingers across my nipples

I made my way to the water's edge -

oooh - it was cold - the little waves

lapped against my feet - it felt so nice -

and as I rolled around

I thought


Some other kids played close by - they

had a giant black rubber ring - I watched

them longingly as they all jumped around

splashing and laughing - and then to my amazement

they beckoned me over -

ME - I thought - they're calling me -

I excitedly splashed my way over to them -

As I rose out of the water to hoist myself

up onto the rubber ring - one of the kids

said - Are you a boy or a girl -

A girl - I said - I'm a girl

There was about six of them - they pushed

me through the centre of the ring and bundled

on top of me -

And below the water - I could hear them

chanting - BOY - BOY - BOY -

I sat on the sundeck - with my towel -

completely wrapped round me - like a little nun -

with just my face poking through a hole -

The clock tower struck 5 - and people in

droves began to leave the beach - it was

evening meal time - for those staying in

hotels and train time for the day trippers -

going home -

I opened up my sandwiches - the cheese was

sweaty and - the tomatoes had made the

bread go soggy - and I thought - I wish

Mum was at home - and I began to cry -

In tears I pulled myself along the now empty

beach - my feet dragging through the sand -

A voice said - what's wrong little girl -

it came from a big brown hairy man -

I started to blubber even more telling him

my whole day's story -

He made me laugh and smile -

he told me I was beautiful -

He gently covered the whole of my body

in tiny golden grains of sand -

And in the water - I ran my hands all over him -

He said I was like a tiny mermaid

And for me he was like a giant bear -

And I pulled on his willy

until a giant spray of white

covered my tiny limbs -

I was only eleven - but I knew

it could feel lovely to be

a girl -

And now I shared a bedroom with

my mum - I felt safe here even

when alone - the warm smell of her clothes

Her perfume - Her make-up - All her

lovely things -

Mum now worked at The Roxburgh a

hotel around the corner - she was a chamber

maid - and on Saturdays I would help her

cleaning the rooms and carrying

the laundry baskets - up the many flights of

stairs - it seemed like we were happy.

I'd started to eat - and stopped

wetting the bed -

I was still very thin and yellowish -

And my teeth were really fucked -

BUT NOW I had friends -

And it seemed like all the

evil had disappeared.

And every Saturday night the girls would stay -

four of us - in my single bed - two tops

two tails -

Barbie and Gaynor at one

end - me and Tracey at the

other -

Gaynor wasn't a virgin any more

She and Kev had done it lots of times

She would show us her love bites -

They went from her knees to the top of

her thighs and from her stomach to her neck -

a trail of purple and blue bruises puffy

with faint yellow rings -

Barbie said she liked to have her tits rubbed

I said - I didn't like to be touched at all -

And Tracey said she liked to put red

lipstick on her nipples and play with her

love button -

Tracey and Barbie swore allegiance to remain

virgins - until the day they married -

I swore to be a virgin until the day I die -

We were only thirteen but it was

hot and exciting -

I didn't blame Peter - for head butting me

And smashing up my front teeth

as I never smiled that much anyway -

It was just before Christmas when Mr

Goldberg the dentist had decided to give me

a pair of false teeth -

And two days before Christmas - I smiled

for the first time -

Mum bought me some new clothes, a

petrol blue mac and a pair of gold star

earrings - it was the best Christmas I'd ever

had -

And on New Year's Eve I went to Top Spot

The Sunday night disco - every body from Margate

was there - I danced to Do The Hustle and

Young Hearts Run Free - and I smiled -

It was time to go home - I wanted to see

New Year in with Mum and Peter -

I walked along the sea front - all the

lights were on - the world felt like magic

and Margate looked like Las Vegas

Stephen Morton called after me -

Tracey he said - where you going -

He walked along with me - we passed the

clock tower - we left the sea front and

turned off into the high street

He slipped his arm around my shoulder

and said how about a new year's kiss then -

we stood in the door way of Burtons -

and started snogging - He put his hand down

my top - and at the same time pushing me

against the wall he pulled my skirt up -

I began to worry - this isn't what I

wanted - He was older than me - And every

body knew - he'd broken into girls before -

And I didn't want to be -



He pulled me down the alley and pushed me

to the ground - and as I lay there on my

back worrying about my new coat -

He pushed his fingers up between my legs -

and rammed himself into me -


His lips were pushed against mine - like

a small corpse, I lay there motionless -

He grunted and I knew it was over -

He got up - and I just lay there - on the

ground - my tights around my ankles -

The clock was striking twelve -

I'd always wanted to fuck you he said

You've got a sexy mouth -

I went home and told Mum


But it seemed like she already knew -

she didn't call the police or make a fuss -

She just gently washed the stains and dirt

out of my coat - and every thing

carried on as ever - as though nothing

had happened at all -

But for me my childhood was over - I had

become conscious of my own physicality - Aware

of my single presence - I had become open

to the ugly truths of this world -

And at the age of thirteen I realised there was a

danger in beauty and innocence - I could not

have both -

This would be something I would

battle with for the rest of

my life.

As I walk along the beach

I see myself - from outside

of myself -

The white cliffs tower above me -

and the sea has disappeared -

The rocks go out for mile and miles.

The horizon a thin white line -

one line which draws closer and closer -

And with it a roar - a sound so intense

it kills all other sounds -

A wave to end all waves - 100s of feet

high - and as I draw nearer I know

there is no salvation -

I turn toward the cliff - and back

to the wave - a giant moving wall -

Smash the weight is unbearable -

I'm going to die -

And as fast as it has come

it is gone -

And I am left - standing

alone -


I was seven -

Mummy I said - one of the girls in my class

it's her birthday - and this evening she's having

a party - can I go -

I put on my favourite party dress - Mum

carefully wrapped up some cheap Turkish jewellery

in a piece of tissue paper - for my gift -

And up the road I went - outside school five

or six little girls stood around - the girl

whose birthday it was arrived with her dad

in the car - and as everybody went to get

in - the girl said to me - you can't come -

and her father sternly followed by saying

I'm afraid you're not invited - you don't

have an invitation -

I waited outside of school for as long as I

could - and after hiding the jewellery - I went home

Mum - asked "did you enjoy the party" - yes I said

it was lovely -

That night - I laid in bed and cried - I cried

myself to sleep - and in the morning I asked -

Mummy - what's an invitation.