How To Build A Skeleton Heart: love letters

How To Build A Skeleton Heart: love letters

December 2009

Oh dear it is a strange time here

She just wants someone to take
her to the film version of one of her favourite picture books as a child.
Someone to share a coke with. The trailer just came on television, as she sat
in the arm chair under the lamp counting her breaths in a minute.. A wave of
melancholia washed over her and made her shiver. The tremor it caused tingled
down her spin. The over zealous spine that had tried to out grow her.  There was a pearl of hope that was stumbled
upon, there in the deep dark backwaters of her psyche.

When pleading for things from the cosmos. It was discovered by Jess, that it is incredibly important to be specific. She had asked for ‘’someone’’ and that was given. She should have been grateful and jubilant as she sat in the incredibly beautiful and intimate Lexi Cinema on Harrow rd.  It was only a short walk in the snow from Haycroft Gardens. The ceiling above he and Justin’s head was a series of tiny fairy lights that slowly changed colour from green to blue to purple. Fluffy white blankets had been handed out due to a malfunction in heating. A woman was singing and playing a baby piano down the front, behind her was velvet curtains that held the big movie screen behind them. The woman sang with a sweet yet strong voice, Justin and Jess munched on chocolate and 69pence bottles of generic cola.

On Smith Street in Melbourne’s shabby hip inner city suburb of Collingwood, there is a supermarket with a roof top car park. At the supermarkets entrance, you need to pass by a selection of homeless, alcoholics, junkies and mental illness ravaged individuals. The type of people who need the most help but, get ignored and demonized instead

There is also a particularly pathetic looking dog that is half starved with eyes so full of despair they seem almost human. The dog’s eyes follow your footsteps listlessly. As does one man in a brown t shirt and ripped track suit pants. He is not silent as you pass, he draws attention to your karma and how it will get you very soon in your sleep. Failing that  your karma will seize you in the wakeful stupor you call living. 

It still surprised Jess how close to poverty she now lived and she would often stop to chat to these people at the entrance. But today it was too hot and she felt sticky and tired. She wandered down each isle of the supermarket enjoying the air conditioned comfort as she got the essentials, pumpkin, tuna, rice and a bottle of vodka. She was day dreaming as she did this and as usual was unaware of how many people were doing a double take at this small girl in longish shorts held up with a studded belt and a ripped band t shirt. A bright red basket hanging from one pale arm. Her shiny brown hair was always in her eyes and she would try numerous ways of getting it out of her eyes, by either tossing her head or using a free hand or blowing uselessly upward towards her fringe. 

Justin was watching her the whole time, completely forgetting what he had come to buy. He watched her with confused arousal. Who was this girl? He watched her walk around the fresh vegetable section and tried to figure out how to start a conversation. Unfortunately he was aware that at a supermarket renowned for shady clientele and heavy security, it was not a place where a girl would be most responsive to a come on. Besides he himself was a junky and had nothing in the world but time.

He simply followed her around under the florescent lighting and sub zero air conditioning due to the oppressive December heat. He watched her pick up and flick through a rolling stone magazine. He felt this was a good sign, the chick liked music and he was in a band. It’s a strange phenomenon that creative paupers when male, have no end of bed mates or girls willing  share a bed with them.

Five years later and it’s a cold evening in a northwest area of London. Justin and Jess are making their way home after the movie. Jess had wiped her tears while Justin was using the men’s room.  He either did not notice or chose to ignore the emotional display. The adaptation of Where the Wild Things are, had touched her. She had welled up at the part where Max is saying farewell to the wild things. They are standing on the beach and the ocean is getting rough. Max gets hugged and is told ‘I could eat you up I love you so.’ That one line had done it and she looked to her left to take in the profile of Justin’s angular pale jaw and dark brown eyes. His curly black hair and long fingered hands. They were the hands of a talented guitar player. She searched herself for that intense type of emotion she found it but it was not inspired by the boy next to her. She tried to find enough but it was not there as much as she wished it. She did want to eat him up out of love hunger. He put on an act of listening to her but he would rarely follow or keep hold of any thread of her ideas or stories. He would abruptly change the subject or bring the topic round closer to himself.  That was unless it involved sex. He was fascinated by her Mormon. He viewed it with the same lust and fetish that  other men viewed Spanish accents or women’s feet.

More snow had fallen whilst they
had been snuggled under blankets in the cinema. How eerily silent the falling
snow is, its innate sneakiness goes against its innocent pure veneer.

‘So…when did you first have sex?’
He asked as he stumbled on a patch of icy sleet.

‘I was nearly 25 and I had been
with the boy for a year.’

 ‘He waited a year?’ Justin said in
disbelief.  ‘Wasn’t he bursting out of
his pants?’ He looked at her with lollipop eyes all big and brown.

‘Of course not, he was patient
and understanding, said he cared about me….’ She trailed off not wanting to
continue any more. There was no desire to reveal everything to Justin. He did
not seem to have enough empathy or compassion to hear the full story. She knew
that this was a bad sign, the not wanting to be completely honest. It was
unusual in a girl who was usually honest to a socially awkward and pathological

‘So…? I came close to being your
first.’’ Justin mused aloud and with some satisfaction.

‘Dude, Pahleas!.’ She rolled her
eyes. ‘Like I was going to loose my flower to a guy who chatted me up at a tram

The Bourke street tram stop to be precise and they were both waiting for the number 96 east Brunswick tram. It was a hot Tuesday afternoon and Justin could not believe his luck when he noticed the girl women standing two steps away. He was positive he could feel her glance at him a few times, yet when he looked at her she was staring of into the cloudless blue sky that resembled faded blue denim., with a dreamy smile on her face. Her hair was in two very messy plaits with strands of hair falling out.

Oh god did that guy know I was staring at him? She thought. Gosh what a looser he must thing I am. Justin could wait no longer. He sidled up to her and spoke.

‘Do you live around Collingwood? I swear I have seen you at the Safeway on Smith Street.’ 

‘More than likely you have.’ She answered with faux nonchalance. She was surprised and thrilled that someone she actually found attractive was initiating conversation. ‘I live between Nicholson and Brunswick Street and I do like to eat.’

‘Oh that’s so funny because I live in-between Nicholson and Rathdown Street.’

‘I love Nick Cave too! And the Pixies.’ She said excitedly. She also was keeping an eye out for cameras. Was this a set up for a television show? She thought with worry.

Her face broke into a smile at the coincidence and Justine stared into her face wondering if he was a total sleaze for wanting to fuck a girl with such elfin features.  When the tram pulled up she stepped onto it with regret not thinking he would sit with her. He followed her up the steps and waited to see where she would sit and sat in the seat directly opposite her and continued chatting about bands he liked. She grinned in happy surprise.

He smiled at her.

’Hey,’ he said as if he had just had the idea. ‘Why don’t I give you my number so we can hang out sometime?’

She smiled softly and as if they shared a secret.


He tried not to stare at her legs all bare and smooth in the tiny shorts.

He wrote his name and number on a scrap piece of paper, with a yellow texta he had in his pocket. He handed it to her. The tram pulled up at their stop the corner of Alexandra parade and Nicholson Street.   They get off and look at each other in a moment she will go  right and he will walk left. The day is no longer just another hot uneventful day of poverty and aimless time. Two people now had a purpose, of sorts.

‘O.K well, call me soon.’

‘Yeah sure, ah see you.’ The man turns green and he watches her cross the road.

Once at her own front door with the green paint peeling and the black graffiti on the front gate, she smiles as she fishes out her key to unlock the front door.

That was half a decade ago. Now Justin was staying with her in London, standing with his back to the window facing the street. The curtains are wide open and he is watching with a happy leer as she hops around the room in bra and underwear as she looks for clothes.  For the nearly two weeks he stays with her. She tries to muster up level of affection she should feel for a reformed junkie with dreams. It is decided doing affectionate things for him may help. So she does his washing and makes him things to eat. Sneaks him into the bathroom with a clean towel.  He was a man pet who paid by making her bed springs squeak and hear beat quicken as she tried to muffle moans by biting his pale shoulder. One night they snuck down to the living room when everyone was asleep and they watched a weird art house film called Café Flesh. In the movie a post apocalyptic world has resulted in   most humans being unable to engage in copulation or any form of sexual contact. If they even try they get nauseous and vomit. The small percentage left (1%) who can have sex must do so for the voyeuristic pleasure  of those who cannot.

She tried to will her insides to jump a little when he kissed her, to no avail. When he pressed his lips to hers and touched her, there were physiological reactions conducive to sexual gratification. But that was the extent of it she did not feel her insides jump and try to break away with soul gripped firmly by invisible hands.

 This her rock n roll overseas romance. What an
underwhelming experience it is turning out to be.  The cook dinner at midnight when the house is
quiet. The kitchen is too small for more than two people to be cooking at once.
There is the mournful sound of a mouse dying behind the oven. Caught in a trap
or just eaten some rat kill.

‘Why did you put the pasta in the
water before it boiled.’ He exclaims.

‘Sorry.’ She steps out of the

‘Here let me do it.’ He says
taking her place.

‘What the fuck is wrong with you
today? Your so emotional.’ His words were barely finished before she had to fight
the tearful out burst that was threatening to bubble and fizz out.  Should she tell him that since he got here
she has not taken an anti depressant in a bid to save the 6 she had left?  That as a result of this she was finding even
the simplist thing way above her perceived level of ability.  She wanted to stab him with her fork
sometimes because of who he was and because of who he wasn’t.  She simply reached up into the cupboard above
her head and took down two plates.

‘I am emotional.’ She replied in
a voice like concrete, flat and hard.

It’s a load of rubbish all this global warming rubbish.’ Justin commented over dinner. Jess had started talking about the worrying number of people who still used plastic bags at the supermarket. Not that it was just that. The wealthy cause more damage and take no responsibility at all.

‘Don/t you think its better to be
more careful when it comes to the furure of the planet we rely on?’ She had
asked. ‘I mean just to be on the safe side?’

‘Not if the whole thing is not true.’ He had retorted.

Oh dear. Jess thinks.

 It was incredibly enjoyable pulling a fast one
on Patrick and she knew he knew that Justin was staying overnight but the poor
bastard had no proof.  If he did she
would have to pay ten pounds for every night that Justin had stayed over.  One night as they were snuggled on the couch,
under a blanket. Patrick surprised them by coming through the living room, on
his way out to the backyard for a cigarette. They had been half watching a
movie. The wiry man was holding an umbrella and he pointed it inches from
Justin’s startled face.

‘Who are you and where are you
from?’ Patrick had asked like an inquisition master.

Justin spoke calmly and with
confidence.’ I am from Australia but have been living in Berlin for the past
four years.’  Under the blanket Jess’s
right hand was busy inside the front of Justin’s pants.  When Patrick finally had his cigarette and
left to return to his room. Justin’s breath becomes laboured and he kissed her
ferociously. How are you so good at this?’ He muttered into her ear with hot
breath tickling. Jess monitored her fingers expertly around the hard shape  that bulged from his  underpants. She had kept her hands from going
under the cotton of his underwear and the effect was amusing

To Jess and  Justin felt his brain turn to  jelly as the blood rushed to his groin. She
removed her hand and rested it on top of the blanket. 

‘Let’s watch the rest of the movie.’  The film inspired Jess to give affection. Try the kind that exists between two people who have been together for years. Inspired by the plight of the main character and his unique temperament and issues. Jess decided to just …pretend her way to the real thing. She leans her head on the person who does not believe in climate change’s shoulder. Before she has her full weight rested, Justin shrugs her head of and away from his shoulder. 

‘Am I too heavy?’ She asked.

‘You feel heavier than you should.’ Was his reply. ‘You want to be rescued.’ He sounded so sure of himself as if she was just some silly little girl.

Her attempt had failed and been grossly misunderstood.

Rescued? Why the fuck would she seek saviour from a guy who had not been employed in over 15 years? He had been staying with her!  For the past 11 days! Who was keeping him off the freezing streets of an unforgiving city? He was 42 for god’s sake, a man child! Preoccupied with boyish dreams of rock stardom. It was this that she did find sort of endearing until this little scenario unfolded. The anger and fury were there beneath her cold exterior she presented for his eyes only. The movie had finished and the credits were rolling. Jess struggled out from under the blanket and stood up.

‘I was being affectionate.’ She said looking down at him before turning and making her way to the bedroom. She started up the unlit staircase to bed. Hoping he would not follow, hoping he might apologise, hoping she could care more by the time she reached the landing. All hope had ceased and fatigue took over she was exhausted from pretending.  He crept in as she was almost asleep, and crawled silently into the narrow bed with her.  He kissed her wet cheeks thinking he had caused the tears totally unaware that he shared her with an invisible presence.

When he does leave he takes my Drop Kick Murphys t shirt and copy of Hunter S Thompson’s The Great Shark Hunt. i dont think i will get them back.

I am starting to look for work as a live in nanny or au pair. I mean I have a teaching degree and grew up in a big family. I have the experience.

My hand hurts from writing this.

feel the burn!