the book of blood and snow

She dotted her i’s with little circles.

I fucking hate that.

I bet she covered her mouth when she laughed, and drank cocktails with coconut milk.

Her writing lilted to the left so steeply the words seemed about to topple over and fall sprawling from the page, with only the lassoes of the i’s to keep them tethered. No backbone at all. The colour of her ink curled my lip; pink, in a god damned Dostoyevsky book.

There was no writing elsewhere, no passages underlined that connected, that inspired, or troubled. Just her inscription inside, loping across the page in thin strokes like delicate strands of fairy floss.

I tried not to frown as I read it, but it was a cold day on Brunswick Street. It might have been the wind that made me scowl.

My S.

I understand why you have to do this….I do. And I want you to know that part of me will going with you to Russia, to walk alongside you on this amazing journey.

But in truth I’ll be back here in Melbourne, longing for your emails, your postcards, your stories….and always, always, longing for you to be back by my side. Just as I know why you have to do this, I know in my heart that we’ll be ok.

I’ll see you in six months, baby.

I love you,



I almost said the word aloud, and surprised myself with the sourness that flooded my mouth. I could picture her, this girl with one foot planted hopefully in the future, and her heart so clearly in the past. She had her hair cut into a bob that she thought accentuated her neck, and smoked menthol cigarettes. Like a girl. I wondered if she changed the spelling of her name to the Russian K when she knew her man was headed there, in an attempt to connect to him even as she was forced to let him go.

He might have sent the emails, and I’m sure that postcards of the snow capped domes of the Church of Spilled Blood would have fallen into her letterbox. They would have traded phone calls, of course, but they’d have tapered off as winter set in, and closer Dushkas with spikier vowels sat at his table and clinked glasses.

I could see her waiting. Longing, and hurting, and telling herself it would work out.

But it never does; and I despised her for not knowing that. A woman in tune enough with the world to appreciate Dostoyevsky should know by now that they never return, we never understand, we’re all broken and snow covered and clinking vodka glasses and trying, just for one moment, to connect.

And we’ll never be ok.

There was no sign of life in the book. The spine was barely cracked, no pages turned down. The fucker had never read it, had thrown it in his backpack and flown. And then a woman like me unearths it in a secondhand bookshop in Brunswick Street, shed like old skin and priced at $7. And she holds it, and imagines, and hates the fairy floss girl for her hope, for her trust, for her need. She should know better by now.

We all should.

The sky was ash grey and my coat was thin. I already had a copy of ‘The Idiot’, and I could use the seven dollars for a coffee and tram ride home. I threw the book onto the table, drew on my gloves. But before I turned my back my fingers reached for the book again, and tucked it gently at the bottom of the box.

Out of the wind.

© bellmusker 2008

Currently unavailable for purchase

the book of blood and snow by 

What is hell? I maintain that it is the suffering of being unable to love

Fyodor Dostoyevsky


snow, winter, life, broken, love, blood, russia, bellmusker, dostoyevsky

I love the words that fall between the cracks; where I have to roll my sleeve up, jam my arm down into the darkness, and yank the stories up by their hair.

I write with black coffee, and bare feet.

Both seem to help.

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  • jcmontgomery
    jcmontgomeryalmost 6 years ago

    God how I want to leave some great, pithy comment to tell you how good this is, how good you are. I am just not feeling eloquent enough to say exactly what I mean or how this piece makes me feel. So I will leave it at that…that I do love this, and you, for making me feel so lucky to be able to read your amazing work.

  • That comment is beyond great to me, my girl! Thank you so much….
    though I have to say that the thought of you being less than eloquent makes me shake my head. I can never see that happening :-) x

    – bellmusker

  • Enivea
    Eniveaalmost 6 years ago

    I timidly enter this esteemed company, just to say thank you. Truly. Thank you for helping me to feel for other than myself.

  • I’m not quite sure what to say….thank you for your kind comments; I always, always appreciate them. Reading work on RB often allows me moments of clarity and compassion when I connect with others and see the world through new eyes. I’m so pleased if my words strike this chord in you.

    – bellmusker

  • Damian
    Damianalmost 6 years ago

    Wonderful :)
    I sort’ve laughed and agreed with the disection of the fairy floss girl, but also felt for her shiner-than-truth take on the world. I liked that the book was tucked away :)

  • Ah, don’t they say that we hit out at qualities in others we despise in ourselves? Perhaps we all have some of the fairy floss girl in us, even though we should know better. I’m still sure she drank pina coladas though :-)

    – bellmusker

  • bearpaw
    bearpawalmost 6 years ago

    i, like Jcmontgomery and Enivea can not find the right words to express how much your writing has affected me…. i will say this though- you have the ability to draw a line to a persons’ heart through your words and take the reader on a journey that otherwise they wouldn’t be on….
    much respect to you Belle.

  • Damian
    Damianalmost 6 years ago

    Yep, exactly why the gesture at the end was so perfect :)
    Haha, but the pina colada is a bit fluffy though! ;)

  • jetsta42
    jetsta42almost 6 years ago

    breaks my heart completely…and the ending…breaks it again all over with tenderness

  • Naomi Downie
    Naomi Downiealmost 6 years ago

    thanks for putting her out of the wind…that tenderness sent ripples through my universe

  • warmsugarcube
    warmsugarcubealmost 6 years ago

    yes, the tenderness overruling the bitterness and cynicism. a beautiful story. once again sisterly affection triumphs :)

  • I didn’t intend to add that last part – my cynicism was meant to slam the door shut. Seeing my fingers write those lines was a surprise… guess I’m not quite as hardcore as I’d like to think ;-)

    – bellmusker

  • butchart
    butchartalmost 6 years ago

    you pull me in everytime….. in your thoughts.. your emotions…. even into your tenderness………. thank you for doing that………… xox………b

  • Ah sweet b, remind me never to read Dostoyevsky on a cold winter’s day when my lover has taken off to the other side of the world. Thank you for your thoughts x x

    – bellmusker

  • PintaPinta
    PintaPintaalmost 6 years ago

    Bell, I could hear the tinny music of snow globe music boxes as I read these words, laced with cold winds, snowy caps and frosty glasses of icy vodka… your writing takes my breath away. I treasure your work as though each piece is a page from the magical book I search for in secondhand bookstores… that I want to lock myself in an attic with and devour like something out of a childhood fable. This is heart-achingly beautiful in its articulation… what a spellbinder you are.

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