Music

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saving grace
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‘Music… Makes the people… nah nah nah.. Come together.’

Her hair framed her face like a soft halo, lit up from the screen behind her. The lyrics to Madonna’s worst track flashing like the red man at a pedestrian crossing. Like a warning.

‘Fuck I love Madonna, babe. Babe I love Madonna don’t I? Don’t I babe?’

I sipped on my beer and looked at the ground, nodding. Yeah babe, you love Madonna.

I’ve been going out with Tennille for two years.

We met on the dance floor at the lively, boozy bar Carlton Club. It was around 1130pm and there she was with her three work mates. The only reason I saw them was because I wanted to glare at the person making that awful fuckin screech that had just followed the slamming of four glasses on the bar.

A blonde, with curly shoulder length hair, threw her arms around a brunette and an Asian, laughing into another brunettes chest. Her teeth glistened with saliva, her spine protruded from the top of her blue singlet top, her eyes were scrunched up in balls of drunken joy, her lipstick worn off in the middle, framing her mouth like a nightmarish clown. They were getting blotto if they weren’t there already. ‘Thrift Store’ by Mackelmore came on and they collectively screeched. They took a few steps towards us and started dancing on the non-existant dance floor.

My colleague Simon – who was a sleazy liability but still the best of the boring bunch that I worked with – elbowed me with his beer-arm, and pointed at them with his eyebrow, tilting his head.

I didn’t need to be asked twice. Tenille’s body was fit, and moving in time to the music – sharp and joyful. Within a few songs, Simon and I had joined the group, she started dancing at me, then was hanging off my arm, her blonde curls sometimes sliding across my cheek.

Then we were pashing, breathing in each other’s alcohol fumes, mixing drinks by rubbing tongues. One of the brunettes pulled us apart and yelled ‘KARAOKE?’. Tenille screamed, jumped up and down and grabbed my upper arm. We all crossed the road to a place that had cheap private rooms with wine jugs included in the price. We sat next to each other singing along to the songs. Shots. Laughing. Screams. Pashing. Microphone.

A week later, Simon and I met up with the girls again, and much of the same thing happened.

It happened again a fortnight later. Again and then again. For 18months. The same routine. And then she moved in.

And then… now. Now, we were here.

Back in this shitty private karaoke room on Bourke Street with a sound system that pitches the lyrics too loudly against the background music. I’m sipping on my 8th or 9th beer looking at the ground, I feel sick. Not enough food, too much mixing, the air in here is gross. Simon has his feet up on the table as he is clapping along to Tenille’s performance and I want to go home. Why the fuck are am I here?

‘Babe – it’s your go’ she points the mic at me, her smiling eyes look like they’re hard to keep open. Her face seems to be hanging. I can see her chin pimples pushing through her make up. The skin around them is dry and white. She stumbles down the single step of the stage.

I reluctantly make my way to her. I think she is going to kiss me but.. ‘Don’t fuck it up’ she spits into my ear. I push her head away.

My song comes up. The room groans. I flick them the bird.

‘This is for you Tenille.’

The song: UB40’s ‘I can’t help falling in love with you.’

Mate, she is a legend and is the fuckin best thing that has ever happened to me.

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