How To Build A Skeleton Heart: love letters
It was JP’s last night in London. She is going home to Melbourne. She is going home to her boyfriend. She says that I will be more able to enjoy myself when she is gone. I say that is not true at all. But, I think she is right. We have become a bit too reliant on each other and I want to go out more and she does not want to do that as much.
My new roomate is already living in the bedroom with JP and I. She is from Spain and is here to learn english and work as a waitress. JP and I invited her to come out with us but she had to work. The person in charge expected JP and I to pay the same amount of rent even though another person was living in the room with us for a week. I spoke up about how weird this was and managed to only get 10 pounds taken off our week. The third single bed in the room really does take away what was our dance party space.
The three of us were drinking vodka that JP had brought back from Iceland a few months ago. Angelisse the Spanish girl wan not drinking. She did gibve us fringe trims though. We were going to go out and drink somewhere that JP liked the best. We were meant to meet some people who I didnt know at all. People from JP’s cinema job. She had worked at one of the oldest cinemas in London and it was a truly beautiful building but terrible to work in.
JP had her fringe trimmed with no drama. I sat in the chair with a drunken giggle and closed my eyes so no fringe hairs would tickle my eyes as they fell over my face. The scissors were not salon grade hair cutters, they were dodgy ones fron the kitchen cutlery drawer. Angelisse nicked my left eye lid with the sciddors as she cut my fringe, much to her distress and mine. It was not a worry as she had not cut through to my eye ball, I assured her. Both JP and I marvelled at our fresh and free of charge hair cuts.
JP claims we are running late and so we must have one more drink before making our way to the pub. She pours vodka and soda water into my cup. Thats heaps! I laugh. Man up! she declares. I styart to gulp down as much as I can before pouring the rest into a bottle to drink on the train.
”Would you go home if you were me?” JP says as we sit on the tube sharing the Icelandic vodka filled bottle underneath the glaring glow of the tube carriage lights. It is hard to answer as I really don’t know. She kept saying how if she was single the trip would have been different. It made me appreciate you not making me feel bad about leaving on this adventure. It made me glad that you encouraged me to go. JP and Rick had been together for four years. He is living with her parents at the moment. I want to say that I would not go home. That I would remain determined to live my life for me and not some guy.
‘Yes, JP.’ I say thinking about what I would do if you asked me to do the same. ‘I would.’ Sbe looks at me closely. ‘Your eye lid is bleeding.’ The cut! The acohol in my system must have sped up the capilleries. i remove my glasses and feel at the eye lid with my finger. When I look at my finger its smeared with glostening blood. I start laughing helplessly and cannot stop until I run out of air in my lungs. I take a gulp of vodka. JP looks through her bag for a tissue. I was still bleeding but remain unfazed. Blood seems to be a recurring theme in my life.
‘You know, you are much prettier without your glasses.’ JP comments as she presses a tissue to my bleeding eye lid. My heart sanl as it always did when someone says that. I had expected it from stupid guys at pubs but not from JP. ‘I need them to see.’ I say cheerfully. I know she had no intention of upsetting me. But I now felt like the ugliest person in London and wanted to hide away forever. Telling someone they would be prettier without glasses is like telling someone they would pretty if they lost weight, like these things are in the control of the person being told such reductive and narrow ideas of what ‘pretty’ is. My eyelid eventually stopped bleeding while we continued chatting on the tube. We got of the tube and made our way to Brick Lane to Vibe Bar.
JP’s friend, Chris had been waiting for us for an hour and did not mind at all. He is nice and very…conventional. I am certain he finds me a bit unerving and wacky. He was kind enough to pay my entrance fee into this beer garden and a drink. I was quite sick of this particular place, JP had insisted this be the outing and it is her last night in London.
We sat at a picnic table near a far wallof the expansive beer garden. The tables under cover were all full so we sat out in the crisp cold night air . JP and Chris smoked and we all chatted. I noticed three guys sitting at a table behind JP. one of them was cute with longish hair and wearing a black biker jacket. I ask JP if she thought any of the three guys behind her was cute. Only the one in your direct eyeline. She tells me. That was the one i thought was cute. He pased the second opinion tes. I dont normally go for second opinions and give zero fucks about whethere my friends think someone is cute. I had taken my glasses off on the tube and put them in my bag, in direct reaction to JP’s comment. this was why I needed to rely on better working peepers to better assess my perception of a hot looking blur.
JP ssuggests we go say hi to cute boy and his friends. So we do. Approaching the table with greetings and can I sit heres. I I may have shouted my Hi instead of saying it in a normal volume due to my inebriated state. There was two ways this could go. I could choose to be cute and try and be normal or, I could embrace my inate bent towards silliness and see how far I can go before the guy gets weirded out.
Names are exchanged and the cute one says his name is Rod. This tiny bit of information sets the course for me to take. I grin widely at Rod. ‘Oh my goodness, Rod. Do I have a story for you.’ I say. I tell the table about how after my spinal surgery where I got stainless steel rods placed on both sides of my spine. An aunt and uncle had become obsessed with me growing up and marrying a man called Rod. It annoyed me growing up because it made me feel like i was nothing more than my spine deformity and reconstructive surgery. It made me feel like I had no identity outside of my chronic illness and hospital stays. There was no mention of any other defining characteristics of this imaginary spouse to be other than his name being Rod because thats what a girl with two stainless steel rods in her back, could hope for. But I didnt tell that to the table just the cute part about being destined to marry a man called rod and now here he is.
”Obviously my aunt and uncle were more discerning than I thought. Oh, to think that fate has finally flung us together.’ I say excitedly. ”Our marriage is assured !’ Rod and his friends laugh. I take this as a good sign and get up so I can make my way to sit right up next to Rod. I loop my arm around his and rest my head briefly on his shoulder. ‘Im so small because my mother was a fairy.’ I say softly. ‘I have powers.’ He laughs. ‘What do you do for work, Rod?’ I ask. ‘I work in a bedding factory.’ He says. ‘Oh! Like pillows and doonas?’ ‘Yep.’ He says.
‘Oh, how perfect that my husband to be should work in such an area that so perfectly suits his half fairy wife to be.’
Our conversation carried on like this and mixed in with other subjects that everyone else could contribute to. I would simply interject at certain moments of brief quiet to say something like how Rod and I would move to the beach and raise our children as free spirited creatively inspired individuals.
It came to light that these guys were from New Zealand and later JP would tell me that they were very high. I did not notice because i was not wearing my glasses and because I am too involved in my performance. Rod’s friend, sitting on the other side of me finds out I am Mormon. He says that his parents were mormon. ‘Where’s your CTR ring?’ He says. I have to explain that I am no longer a practising Mormon. I am an apostate. A CTR ring is a ring you wear if you are a young mormon person. It stands for Choose The Right. I did grow up with one. Mormon parents gift them to their offspring as a gentle reminder that though god has given you free will he has not given you freedom to chose your punishments in the afterlife. Punishments for if you drink booze or masturbate.’Oh my gosh.’ I laugh. ‘I have not worn one of those in years! It’s easier to choose wrong when you no longer wear one.’ I say. ‘Was it just your parents or you and your siblings as well?’ I say. ‘It was all of us. but it didn’t last.’ I nod and hug him in understanding. ‘Im so amazed you used to be Mormon as well. We are friends now.’ I say.
When Rod gets up to go to the toilet I say that it would not surprise me if Rod never came back. He seemed to be gone a long time. His friend assurs me that he is probably just trying to figure out his lines for when he comes back.
When Rod came back I hooked my arm around his again and rested my head on his shoulder. ‘Im so glad we met. Are you glad?’ I say not waiting for him to respond. ‘I mean I think you are perfect. Im not going to try and change you one little bit. After a pause. ‘You will cut your hair and quit smoking, after the wedding.’
After a while JP asked if I wanted to go back to Chris’s place to smoke weed. I dont want to but JP reminds me its her last night in London. I consider giving Rod my phone number and then decide against it. Best stay a weird memory, or what he looks back on as a particularly annoying drug induced hallucination.
When JP asks me whats wrong as we walk to the train station, I tell her its the usual problem.
‘You just need to get laid.’ She says. Maybe she is right.
Hope you are doing great!