the freckles on my fingertips

I woke with that itch.

You know the one.

When your fingertips tingle with brewing words.

When your heart dances and your feet tap, and all is well in your world…..because you know stories are coming your way.

I can hear the characters murmuring; choosing their names and arguing over who gets freckles, who gets laughs, who gets hurt. My flame red coat and leopard print bag, and whispers snaking through the treetops as I walk up the hill: come and get us.

Northcote shines for me. I think I’m strutting. I trawl my net, snagging words in my web, and seeing ink in everyone’s eyes.

Him? His hands are shaking as he rolls a cigarette, and his eyes are different colours. I could work with that. He’s….. Jake, with bitten nails and lowered gaze.

The junk shop in Westgarth, where my lover swears he saw a naked man clad in only a cape, leaning against the counter and chatting to the owner at midnight. That one writes itself.

A Doberman tethered to a chair outside Palomino café, his regal posture defying anyone to comment on his eyepatch. No words to be wrought at the corner table, where I sat with the man who kissed my feet and broke my heart; where he shook so badly under my gaze that he spilled his coffee in a steaming arc across my skirt. I’ve wasted enough ink his way.

This shop, here, that’s promised “opening soon” for nine months. A black cat winks at me from behind the curtain and if I lean in close, I swear I can hear a fountain inside. If its doors ever swing open, I wonder what will line the shelves. I envision beeswax candles and books of daguerreotype porn, the edges of their pages curled and browning.

There’s a gypsy band outside 303, slapping the path with dusty bare feet and singing in a language I can’t quite place. I imagine their names, and how a double bass would feel in my craving hands.

I worry about the old men from the Social Club. I’ve been in Northcote long enough to know that before it was a funky young watering hole, it was a quiet hovel that stank of cigarettes and served salty fish and chips. Occasionally I see the old timers creep in, longing for yesterday. They lurk in the corners with a flat beer and melancholy smile, lost in a sea of rockabilly quiffs and cherry tattoos. I try to exchange smiles with them, but they rarely make eye contact.

Melbourne’s mine today. Characters fall tumbling into my net, its fine strands sweeping streets clear and knocking small birds off their feet. Stories trail behind me like the hem of a beautiful gown, and I point my toes as I stride.

I’ve gazed into the windows of countless houses, watched couples fight on street corners and picked first dates in bars. I imagine if he’s in love, in pain or in debt…..if she goes home to paint or if she still longs for that week in New York….if he wants to reach across and tenderly stroke her face, or if he aches to crack his palm across her cheek.

I wonder about them all, and give them names they’d like and pasts they’d hate, lovers with rough fingers and gaps between their teeth, childhoods of aniseed rings and flannelette. I think about them while I shower, listen to them laugh as I brew coffee, pass them the pen while I sleep and wake with my hand outstretched.

Then I see you.

I think you’d be…..Sam. You’d have shaky handwriting and a dirty laugh. You’d drink rum and mispronounce ‘self-deprecating’, but I wouldn’t correct you. You’d hide your Motley Crue CDs and your obsessive compulsive disorders that made you count things at inappropriate times. Our union would be dark and hurt you badly, but you’d deserve it. You just have that look about you. The smell of my gingerbread perfume would make you flinch for months, but you’d harbour a secret desire for redheads from then on.

And I’m running up my front steps, gathering the folds of my hem and shaking them out, characters falling onto my floor and dancing across the carpet, teasing me to take their hand and spin them around.

The joy of itchy fingertips is that characters can amaze you, the ink can spill left instead of right and pool into the shapes of people who never existed before. We can breathe life into new worlds, with new passports needed.

I woke with that itch today.

You know the one.

The tingle in the fingertips that’s pure bliss to scratch.

© bellmusker 2008

the freckles on my fingertips by 

It’s all in the details…….

For the Schreiberinnen.

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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  • PJ Ryan
    PJ Ryanover 6 years ago

    girl, this is exceptional .. absolutely LOVED it ..

    And I’m running up my front steps, gathering the folds of my hem and shaking them out, characters falling onto my floor and dancing across the carpet, teasing me to take their hand and spin them around.

    you’re a creative genius .. your writing astounds me xx

  • Ah thanks so much Nic! Characters have been waking me up in the middle of the night and for the first time in a month, I’m smiling with my eyes and my mouth. And it feels AMAZING, heheh.

    – bellmusker

  • Enivea
    Eniveaover 6 years ago

    Pure bliss… read your words…pure bliss. Wow!

  • You always have the most wonderful things to say about my writing Enivea, and I really appreciate them – thank you! Bliss is what I’ve been feeling lately when I sit with my pen uncapped…nothing more I need.

    Well, there are a few more things, but you know what I mean ;-)

    – bellmusker

  • artypants
    artypantsover 6 years ago

    love them freckles…………….


  • Haha, then we’ll have to follow through with that meeting…’ll get my real name AND freckles! x x

    – bellmusker

  • PJ Ryan
    PJ Ryanover 6 years ago

    for the first time in a month, I’m smiling with my eyes and my mouth

    now i’m am smiling ~ that makes me so happy !!


  • MissKristy
    MissKristyover 6 years ago

    Jesus…you floor me. Absolutely floor me.


    love xox

  • You too, my lovely wench….see you Friday x

    – bellmusker

  • Naomi Downie
    Naomi Downieover 6 years ago

    ode to strangers

  • warmsugarcube
    warmsugarcubeover 6 years ago


  • You make me blush, but in such a wonderful way :-)

    – bellmusker

  • aglaia b
    aglaia bover 6 years ago

    wow, just gorgeous.
    so many favourite parts in this one.
    i must say i always love your metaphors and they are a plenty here. ;-)
    pssst my partner wooed me right out of northcote! hehehe, so all that resonates very nicely too. xox ;-)

  • pssst my partner wooed me right out of northcote! hehehe, so all that resonates very nicely too

    Hehe, my ex-partner wooed me into Northcote, in a sense! ‘Twas sixteen years ago and he wanted to go to La Trobe Uni. I dug my heels into Richmond but finally acquiesced, and our friends moaned that it was the arse end of the earth and they’d never go all that way to visit. Most of them now live in a two km radius, hahaha….and why wouldn’t they?! x x x

    – bellmusker

  • mstrace
    mstraceover 6 years ago

    awwww fracking hell…

    It’s like waking up in the morning to a glass of the freshest best-tasting juice. I woke up on the right side of the bed, clinging to the clearness of the day. So selfishly…I was happy to log on to RB and find new Bell ink. The whole Sam paragraph had me gasping. And words and characters folded into the hem of your skirt…goosebumps.

    Frankly, I just love what you write, how you write, and why you write.


    p.s. and thank you for cheering me up last night!!

  • Sweet martini mama, thank you for your wonderful comment! And if this piece cheered you up, just you wait til the magical news I promised you!! Coming soon in a bubblemail. Getting excited yet?
    x x x

    – bellmusker

  • jcmontgomery
    jcmontgomeryover 6 years ago

    God would I love to tingle like that….like this.

  • Sometimes it just wakes me up in the middle of the night…but sometimes it has to be dragged, kicking and screaming, out of me. Thank god for the former, hey?

    – bellmusker

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