Count Your Digits
Last night I had a dream that I read a story written by you. It was all there in typed Times New Roman, complete and entire. At the bottom of the final double spaced page of writing was a dedication to your girlfriend. In the form of a quote from a Bloc Party song; ‘I love you in the morning. When your still hungover.”
So unlike you. You would never use the word ‘love’. You would write something original and from your own brain, something like, the summer and winter breeze feels the same.
The story was not very good. This is just a reflection of how incompetent my subconciouse is at writing. Not a reflection on your talents.
Oh fuck. I have to have a 1500 word short story draft by Monday and instead of not knowing what to write I’m crippled by not being able to focus on one idea.
I like the idea of writing about my father taking the dog to get an abortion because he was afraid the unborn puppies would kill her on being born. The father had been significantly bigger than little Missy.
Yes I like this idea it is simple yet I could easily make it speak volumes.
Thank you so much for your help, you have been quite helpful in this miniature work shop.
I hope you are not sweating and chattering still.
Poetry book club was good. Steeped in the complexities of real life theatrics. A married man, a recently separated woman, alcohol and liberal morals.
The Moat it a bar next door to The Wheeler Centre For Books, Writing And Ideas on Little Lonsdale street. It had been a mad rush to get there straight from school. My back pack holding my laptop sat heavy on my small shoulders as I weaved my way from Flinders St Station through the post work influx of bodies. Usually we have poetry book club in Phil and Julian’s apartment on Swanston St. Phil was having an interview about feminist literature. So we were cast out to a place where we had to buy our own drinks instead of scabbing free wine.
Everyone sat with their respective copy of anthologies of Tomas Transtromer and each person had a different edition.
‘I did not enjoy this poet at all.’ Kate said. I think because the overall theme of most of his work seemed to about the inbetween times. The moments between awake and sleep. The teetering on the brink between life and death.’
‘It was for that reason, I enjoyed it.” I said. ”That prickly feeling of being almost but not quite in a dream. It makes you appreciate the more concrete things in life but at the same time you get a grasp of just how fragile it all is.”
A red faced man approached the table. he was wearing a red and white checked shirt unbuttoned to reveal a large portion of chest. He did seem to be doing it to be provocative.
‘Is this Josaphine’s book club?’ He looked at us all engrossed in the ferver that discussing poetry shrouded us in gloriouse and drug like. The grey matter pulsing within our skulls.
”No it is not but you can join us if you want” Jane said.
What is you name random cityzen?’ I said.
‘David.’ He said as he pulled a chair from an empty table and everyone squished closer together to accomodate him.
”Tomas Transtromer was only 23 when he published his first book of poetry in 1954. From this his poetry career has spanned 50 years and his poetry has been translated in to sixty different languages.” Kate always comes to these meetings armed to the ears with interesting facts that make me go wide eyed.
”I think we should compare two translations of one poem.’ Harry said.
Allegro a 1962 poem was chosen. Harry and Ross each took a turn reading the lines from the poem. The translator I did not possess was deemed the winner. The last four lines are my favourite, even when translated by Robert Bly.
”The music is a house of glasss tanding on a slope
rocks are flying, rocks are rolling.
The rocks roll straight through the house
but every pane of glass is still whole.”
Sometimes I feel like a glass house with all the panes blacked out so nobody can see inside and realize just how much of a pretender I really am.
The bar women approached the table with a delicate tea cup full of a fruity smelling tea. She placed it in front of Ross with a smile and left.
That smells delicious.’ I said.
‘Do you like tea?’ Ross asked me.
‘We should exchange numbers so I can invite you to my next illegal tea party.”
‘Oh how titillating.’
‘It is not strictly illegal, but the tea we drink at my tea parties simply cant be purchased in Australia. I usually have a theme. The next one will be Alice In Wonderland themed.’
”I really like this poem simply because it is about writing,”
Harry manages to pull the focus back to poetry and the group all writers in one way or another look at him with the kind of excitement junkies reserve for their next hit.
‘Do you guys share your own poetry?” Dave asks.
We all shake our heads.
”This is for sharing the poets we love.” Kate said.
Harry began reading Lamento aloud.
Ross sipped her tea.
Kate sat with her book open to the appropriate page.
Dave looked at Jane .
Jane sipped her white wine.
I heard my phone alert me of two messages. The sound muffled from deep in my back pack. I ignored it.
The heat surrounded us and the pedestrians continued to walke up and down Little Lonsdale street, all making the most of the warm summer evening. Or simply just getting through it.
” He put the pen down
It lies there without mooving.
It lies there without moving in empty space.
He put the pen down.
So much that can be neither be written nor kept inside!
His body is stiffened by something happening far away
though the curiouse overnight bag beats like a heart.
Outside, the late spring
From the foliage a whistling -people or birds?
And the cherry trees in bloom pat the heavy trucks on the way home.
Weeks go by.
Slowly night comes.
Moths settle down on the pain:
small pale telegrams from the world.
Harry looks up and we all take a breath.
It is that time of the evening where people start gathering their bags and pushing Collected works of Tomas Transtromer into bags of similiar size and heaviness. The bags of Academics who refuse the allure of Kindles. Harry , Ross and I go inside the cool quiet and red velvety darkness of The pub to pay for drinks.
‘Jess, you coming to the open mic at the drunken poet? It is only five dollars? Harry asks. He and Kate look at me.
‘Sure. Sounds good.’
I make my way back to the dispersing group to say bye.
Jess do you want to stay a bit and have a drink? Jane asks me. ”Dave is going to order.
Sure. I sit down.
Harry and Ross come out and se me sitting down.
‘I am just going to hang here I think.” I tell them.
‘Ok but do not forget the Lifted brow launch next week.” Harry said.
‘Send me a facebook message?’ I said.
Dave returned empty handed and was followed by the eternally gratiouse bar lady, who placed our drinks in front of us. I grinned with the feeling that overtook me, that of being in a Hemingway short story.
Of course three beers later…
”I wish I had not had kids.” Dave said. He had moved his chair from Jane’s far right to very close to her left.
”That is a terrible thing to say!” In my indignation I knocked over my half finished glass of beer. The liquid spilled all over my lefy arm and leg soakedinto the cotton of dress and pooled in my lap like a dirty puddle. I leapt up and spilled the excess beer onto the floor.
‘Oh! Now I am all moist with beer.” I said squeezing the beer from out of my dress. I no longer looked like a smart and chaste harvard undergrad. More like a homeless alcoholic who had broken into the closet of a particulary tiny but fashion savvy Harvard undergrad.
The bar lady appeared as if materializing from thin air with a white cloth to mop up the mess. A young man came with a mop and cleaned the floor around and under our table. He also smiled without judgement, before disapearing.
‘No it is just you have such expectations of your children to be pretty and popular and it just did not work out that way.’
”I love my boys. Jane said. ‘Want to see my 17 year old dressed as a woman? He does it all the time and he looks so beautiful.”
I looked at the photo on her phone and smiled he was so pretty. The dress he wore was purple and he had large dark eyes framed in black eyeliner.
”My daughter is a drug addict with a boyfriend in jail.” Dave said. He looked at me.
”Do you have any tattoos?
”My daughter has so many, You can barely see any natural skin.”
”I would hate to think that my parents would sit around with other parents or even say to themselves that they wished I had never been born.”
Dave now had his arm flung over the back of Jane’s chair, his hand rested on her shoulder and squeezed every now and then. How easily a man can fall into nonchulant intimacy when there is a boner throbbing between his legs. That little gesture promised so much and lied even more.
I decided to see who had texted me earlier. I pulled my phone from the bottom of my back pack, read the name made up of three letters and felt the pulse begin to race like I was readying to run from something fast, large and hungry for my happiness. The phone was placed back in my bag and the zip rezipped. The phone was put back without the messages being read.
”It just baffles me men in Sydney seem to love me but Melbourne men seen to not be interested.” Jane said. I met one man who has not called me in two weeks.”
‘Sweetie why didn’t you text me?” Dave said kissing her neck.
”Because she did not know you existed.’ I said.
”Do you ladies want another drink? Dave asked.
Within moments I had a fresh frost glass of beer, Jane had a white wine and Dave had beer. I had no qualms about abusing his generosity. I am poor he is obviously in throws of an intense libidinous desire. Why shouldn’t I get totally smashed for free as a result?
”Who texted you?” Jane asked.
”The breath stealer.” I said.
”You have all the power.” Dave said.
”I have no power.”
”Yes you do. If you didn’t he would not be contacting you at all. he would be ignoring you.” Dave said. Jane nodded her brightly haired head and her red lips stretched into a smile.
”If I had power I would be living with him in Footscray, curled up in bed with him watching Adventure Time and X-Files and he would not be living with the exquisite 24 year old.”
”You are exquisite.” Jane sighs. ”You remind me so much of myself when I was young.I just want to shake you.”
”Your an incredibly sexual person.” Dave said.
I picked up my glass of beer and proceeded to drink without taking my eyes away from his. The statement sunk in mid gulp and I began to splutter with laughter.
”Really? gee thanks, Dave.”
”You are, you must be aware of it. you have beautiful hair and an incredibly disamingly compact body.I would very much like to take you to bed.” There was a silence .
”I am sorry I should not have said that.” Dave looked at the ground in sheepish embarressment.
”Dude! do not even sweat it. You are not the first older man to make such blunt sexual comments. It is totally fine.
”You would be prettier if you took off your glasses.”
My smile froze before dissolving completely.
”Tell me Dave, would you tell a lady she would be more attractive if she lost some weight? I need my glasses to see. I think I look good in my glasses; smart and sassy. ”
It bubbled under my skin and bled out my mouth. How I loathed such comments. Comments I heard quite often about the glasses. Like I had a choice. Like I was a fucking hipster girl with a collection of brightly coloured lensless frames to match with any out fit. So I could look like a sexy nerd. I mean why be a nerd that is not sexual? That wont get you married or fingered in an indie club toilet cubicle.
Jane had gone to the toilet. So I had some one on one time with Dave.
”Just a quick warning.” I said leaning in a bit closer so I could more effectively into Dave’s grey eyes. ”Do not suck up to me because you want to bang my friend. You do not need to lie to me. I do not like shallow praise. Compliments can make you weak. I refuse to be weakened.”
Jane returned and I admired her floral 50s inspired dress. Dave put his arm around her again and kissed her on the neck.
So dinner on Monday? He asked her.
”Yes, I think so.”
”Tell me, Dave. Are you married?” I said as they typed phone numbers into each others phones.
He continued taking Jane’s number before answering.
Jane looked up from punching in Dave’s digits.
‘It is a complicated question.” Dave said.
”Let me ask ion a way more able to garner a straight forward response. When you go home tonight to your house. Will the bed you crawl into have a woman wearing a wedding ring given to her by you?”
”I hate you.” Dave said and then he said simply.
I grinned with the kind of arrogant smugness that overtakes me when my blood alcohol content is set to ridiculous.
”We got married young.” Dave said.
”And things have not been the same for a long time now.” I finished for him.
The bar lady came over and placed three identicle glasses filled with liquid to the table.
‘Oh how nice!” I said. ”Free wine.”
After a hearty sip. I realized.
”Oh it is just water.”I said.
The city surrounding us had turned dark but the air was still oppressively hot the heat was molesting my skin. It was all over me like the pervy eyes of an elderly man on the number nineteen tram.
I let Dave and Jane whisper and make out a little undisturbed. I reached into my back pack and pulled out my phone. I called him and hoped he would be awake, not the breath taker, the one who played with my deformities as I tripped between asleep and awake. The one who, if handed a shovel and asked to dig for me, would dig and help me dispose of the body.
It rings exactly twice before he answers and greets me with a sleep clogged, ”Hey.”
”Were you asleep?”
”Yes and I was dreaming of frogs dancing on toast.”
”No it was very uncoordinated as they were trying to dance on buttered toast and the butter kept making them slip and slide very clumsily.”
”I am drunk.”
”What do you want to do?”
”I want to get a tram to your house, hop into bed with you and press myself against your back.”
”Yes, but you have to get your sleep as you have to get up early and if I do come and press myself against your back. You wont go straight to sleep. You wont go straight to sleep at all.”
‘You are very right.”
”So good night then.”
”Goodnight, reader face.”
I look up from my phone to find that Dave has excused himself.
”I am sorry if you did not want me to be so blunt.” I said.
”No, I am glad you asked him. I was dying to know,” Jane said.
”Will you have dinner with him?”
”I will more than likely, yes.”
I drank the rest of my water.
”I think I better go. I do not want to miss the last tram.” I said.
Dave returns from settling the bill.
I keep my phone in my hand and put my back pack on my shoulders. The heaviness makes me wince.
Are you walking to Elizabeth street? Jane asks me.
‘Yes, getting the North Coburg tram from the corner of Elizabeth st and Little Lonsdale st.”
We started walking. Jane and Dave walking arm in arm behind me giiggling. They dropped further and further back until when I turned to check on them once at Elizabeth street. I could not find them.
The tram arrived after only one minute. I climbed up into the bright lit
heat box tram, Chose a seat front right hand side. I opened the messages and read them.
”I’m in a cold moist state my skin is fish fillets, cool wet meat, even when bathing in solar radiation, im full of chatter without words, my teeth on auto pilot. I try to viddy your digits through the window and the binary and the OS on my phone I succeed in staring at it without seeing it.”
I look out the tram window and hold my phone. It hurts too much to cry so my eyes they stay dry. I just squeeze them shut and open them again.
I get of at the seven eleven on the corner of Brunswick road and Sydney road. I walk towards my house on the road that smells like decaying rubbish. Out side number 202 the empty pram still sits out on the footpath. It seems unwholesome for a pram to left outside at night. What if there is something small and evil waiting in the shadows of darkness for me to get close enough for it to reach out and…
I quicken my step past the evil looking pram.
I drop my backpack onto my bedroom floor. The bedroom is empty and familiar. The page ripped from a Broad sheet street press is blue tacked to the wall above my computer. The page is black and the two words are written in white capital letters; FORGET FEAR.
Is it any wonder I dreamt of you?