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


Melbourne, Australia

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