fell to the red room

“I love rock and roll”
Joan Jett & the Blackhearts

I’m ten years old with blonde plaits and a dearth of pink. I know how to swing my hips to the sultry beat, but I don’t quite know yet why it feels so fucking good. I learn in record time.

“Girls on Film”
Duran Duran

My friends and I watch the film clip with feet against the sliding door so my parents won’t catch us. It does things to me that I don’t understand and from the sniggers at school I know I’m not the only one. I snigger too, but my feet find the sliding door often that summer.

“Love Removal Machine”
The Cult

A man with waist length dark hair and more eyeliner than I’ll ever use prances on my TV in black leather pants and a ruffled shirt. It’s the late eighties and no-one knows where we’re headed. I am sixteen years old and entranced by the singer’s blurring of gender lines, yet bewildered by the awareness I find it immensely seductive.

“I want your love”
Transvision Vamp

Bewilderment gave way to desire long ago and I stand front row watching a diminutive bleached blonde pout her way across the stage in fishnets and a leotard. The music is featherlight eighties pop but I barely hear a beat as I watch her strut. I realise my desire for women is not going to diminish, and I need to go outside for air. It doesn’t take me long to realise that blondes in pink lipstick are not really my type.

“The Scratch”
7 Year Bitch

A frown rarely leaves my face and men rarely grace my stereo. I listen to feminist punk and write letters to feisty women all over the world whose passion has led them to pick up pens or plectrums. We seduce each other in ink and their words entangle my heart in a way spoken ones never could. I keep their letters in a red lacquered box under my bed, wrapped in ribbons and stored with cinnamon sticks. I still have them.

“I just can’t help believing”
Elvis Presley

I’m buying coffee in an Italian supermarket, singing under my breath to the radio. I don’t notice the song until it slams against my heart: our song. When we were still ‘us’, before the empty whiskey bottles and excuses dulled my eyes and turned my head away. I listen to the lyrics, remember the tenderness and intimacy and for the first time since I left, my eyes don’t fill. I smile gently, and buy my coffee.

“Stagger Lee”
Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds

I love the taste of this one. The sheets are rent with ladders from my nails and the pillows have fallen to the floor. We don’t notice. He traces his fingers along my spine and as the slow, hypnotic waves of music pour through the room he squeezes my skin at the small of my back; hard. I writhe. My bones melt into the bed and he knows I want more. Our song holds so much darkness we don’t stand a chance.

“La Chanson de Jacky”
Jacques Brel

I watch the boy in my shower and almost forget to breathe. Sunshine plays on the sprays of water and his skin is smooth and honeyed. He sings with an abundance of cheer and a lack of self-consciousness and though my French isn’t fluent enough to follow all the words, I know he’s improvising. I love his sense of freedom and play. I work hard to find it in myself.

“Crawling King Snake”
Etta James

Heavy, prowling bass lines crawl across the room. The lamp throws a red glow on the couch and my head rests on his bare belly as my breathing calms and my feet stop twitching. His hands are still in my hair and their gentle movement is achingly erotic. We don’t speak, we just listen to her growl. He says it before I can: “I don’t think I’ve heard anything more seductive in my life.” I smile, and close my eyes.

© bellmusker 2008

fell to the red room


Melbourne, Australia

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Artist's Description

I wrote this in 2008 for the July writers’ meeting on the topic of music. I’m perching it proudly on top of my portfolio because tonight, I’m going to see The Cult in concert….and I couldn’t be happier about that if I tried!

These are just some of the songs that tugged on my heart….or other parts of me.

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