A heart that won’t quit

We’re thrummin’ along on the Wagga-Sydney bus. It’s sometime after midnight. Gordie’s sleeping beside me, his dumb little head bouncin’ against my shoulder.

I got nothin’ to do but think.

I check out his reflection in the bus window and I don’t feel a thing.

That’s ’cause I don’t have a heart.

I mean, I’m not stupid; I wouldn’t be telling you this if I didn’t have something in there going kathump, kathump. But I mean it in the sense my ol’ lady meant when she used to say, “Emma, you got no heart.”

I’d drag her home from the pub or I’d pour her bottle of methylated spirits down the drain or I wouldn’t give her the money I’d panhandled down in front of the laundry. This great cloud would move over her face, lips quiverin’, tears wellin’ up, the whole deal. She’d moan, “Emma, you got no heart.” And you know what? She was absolutely right. I didn’t feel a thing about it. Not a thing. I suppose I coulda felt guilty or I coulda felt smug or I coulda felt all noble, but, nah, none of the above.

I got a lump of stone inside me right behind these ribs and these stupid little tits.

Same thing when I left home. The ol’ lady was drunk as a drongo and one night I just stuffed me extra T-shirt into a backpack and walked out the door. Not a feeling in my heart.

I came back four nights later to get Gordie. Don’t ask me why – I just couldn’t stand the thought of him sittin’ there on that grubby sofa watching reruns and then goin’ to the cupboard to peel the mould off some bread so he could make a cheese-spread sandwich. I figured at least when he was with me, I’D take the mould off the bread. I’d make good and sure ALL the mould came off.

But don’t get me wrong: I didn’t feel nothin’.  I don’t have a great big goosh of love that comes over me like in the movies. I honestly don’t have a heart. I just do stuff for whatever reason.

I also didn’t feel nothin’ when I got picked up for panhandling and me and Gordie ended up down at the station. We spent a few nights at the Protective Services place and then bingo, some super-smiley childcare worker took us for a long drive and deposited us in foster care out on a farm near Wagga. With good ol’ Mrs Wayton. Heart of solid gold, yeah right, and by coincidence she collects $450 a month for each of us. She doesn’t let me go to school, not that I care. She takes in ironing which means I do the ironing and she collects the money. Not that I care about that either.

Did that sign say, “Yass”? What kind a name for a town is that? Yass, I’d like to go to Yass, please. Yass, ma’am. Dumb.

But I kinda like bein’ on the road at night like this.

I look down at Gordie again. I can see a big purple bruise on his skinny arm. Mrs Wayton beat him something fierce yesterday, when he mouthed off at her. After he run out of the kitchen, she stood acrost the kitchen from me, eyeing me with those beady little black eyes set deep in her puffy face. She says to me, “You’re one stony cold little son-of-a-bitch, aren’t you?” I looked right back at her, didn’t say a word, wouldn’t give her the satisfaction. It crossed my mind to put a knife into her but I didn’t and I wouldn’t. Instead I snuck out this afternoon and loaded up with a few hundred in cash from the box she keeps in with her knickers. I picked Gordie up from school and we walked into town. We caught the late bus into Sydney.

I’m not sure how it’s going to work out but it’ll work out. I can make it work out.

Leave a comment


  1. Lenore Redfern

     /  January 29, 2013

    Wow Heather, Fantastic. What can I read next? I can hear Paul saying “you’re good”. Lenore

    Date: Mon, 28 Jan 2013 20:32:13 +0000 To: lenny_loo@hotmail.com

    • hbolstler

       /  January 29, 2013

      🙂 I heard his voice in my head when you said that – and it warms my heart.


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