When I was young, I wanted to be a modem.
I wanted it so badly, I thought I would burst. My life was like a bad issue of a teen magazine. Each night as I undressed, I would earnestly implore god to turn me into a modem - I would check my beck for a USB port, would feel my hairless arms for an ethernet connection - but all to no avail.
I guess everyone has the same adolescence: yearning simultaneously for greatness and normality. To be special and yet not different.
My childhood development was hampered - literally - by the fact that my first five years of life were spent in a hamper. I didn't go hungry: there were curds and jellies, sweetmeats and preserves, and my supply of bread was replenished daily. But my parents never quite realised that a child cannot live on Harrod's food-court delicacies alone. I was starved of affection and human contact.
School was humdrum. I neither lagged nor excelled in academia. I was a reasonable footballer, never picked first but never picked last. I could get a decent melody out of a recorder, but never mastered the piano. If my clothes were unfashionable, I didn't know it. My name - Gulliver - could have caused me problems, but we lived in a North London borough where strange names were commonplace. There was a Dunstan, a Jolian and a Horst in my class.
And yet I knew that something was seriously, badly, seriously wrong.
Maybe it was my square head. Maybe it was the custard-like goo that dripped from my ears. Maybe it was the tendrils that hung limply from my bloated stomach. Whatever it was, there was something about me that disturbed people. And that disturbed me.
When I was fourteen I fell in love and that made me realise that my appearance was not... normal. When I kissed Samantha Kollins in the gym that afternoon, her head fell off and a jet of hot blood spurted from her neck. Her body fell to the floor, not so much like a rag doll as like a headless pubescent girl. The gym ropes swung gently by my side. I was perplexed
The incident was hushed up by my parents and the school, but it troubled me. I wrote to 'Just Seventeen' magazine, addressing my concerns to Nick Fisher, the friendly resident agony uncle. He assured me that my experiences were perfectly normal for a boy my age and that Samantha was probably just as nervous as me. This calmed me, although it seemed to avoid the fact that Samantha was dead and that I looked like an embryonic alien.
My best friend was Bryan Bristow, a short, fat, hateful boy obsessed with fishing and pornography. He told me that girls shouldn't die when you kissed them, and that I was a godless freak. He seemed to have a very valid point, but he stank of herring.
Then... one day, it happened. It was a Thursday afternoon and I was rushing home from school to see Blockbusters. I fumbled with my keys and failed to notice the raucous noises coming from within the house. I pushed open the door, my green palms greasy with sweat. My mother and father were lying in the middle of the front room, flushed but smiling. My mother's hair was straggled and my father's make-up was smudged. Sitting between them on the carpet was a brand-new 56k modem.
My mother beamed, "Gulliver - we've had another baby. It's a modem. I hope you'll love it as much as we do."
I stared at it, aghast. I didn't want a brother, especially not one that could transfer data from computer to computer. A solitary tear crept down my cheek. My life had been bad before. Now it was war...
...not to be continued.