FLASHBACK FRIDAY: Kings Of Leon “Aha Shake Heartbreak”

Rise and shine all you gold digging mothers

Are you too good to tango with the poor, poor boy?

We are laying on the spare bed in your sister’s tiny flat. The sun pours in through the window and warms our legs.
This is the first time you’ve been kicked out of your mum’s house. It won’t be the last.
You didn’t bring much with you. You just grabbed what you could and went on your way.

Then, you called me up and I came over.


We can reach anything from this grey island bed. It seems huge, but the room is just very small.
There is an old chest of drawers and a CD player – the kind that lets you put 5 discs in at a time.
After a while you sit up and pull over to a stack of CDs. Of all the things to bring. 

I see what you’ve selected: I would know that cursive anywhere and I groan in disapproval.
You ignore my protests and I watch from the corner of my eye as a flash of red disappears into the player.
We lay there and listen to the entire album. I don’t think we speak once.

In the morning, I have put the CD into my bag and I’m sure that I’ve left you smirking to yourself as I step onto the bus.


You have loved Kings of Leon as long as you have loved me.                     Longer, even.

You say it a lot: “love”. When you hang up the phone; when you’re laughing; whenever we part ways.
They’re like hugs. You kind of just give them out and I guess that’s cool.
Except I don’t really like hugs and I’m particularly bad at giving them.

At school you greet me with your hug and we talk about the weekend. I have listened to everything you gave me.


A lot of people we go to school with seem to think they’re better than you, which is confusing because we all go to the same public school in the western suburbs. 

You start to skip weeks at a time. Then, you drop out.



You seem better this way but we fall apart and it feels strange.

Not bad.

Just strange.


It’s Saturday afternoon. Which means we spent the night before at a show. Which means I’ve been at Spanish School. Which means you’ve been cooking with my mum all morning.

Except this Saturday is different because I’m usually home by 1.30 and instead it’s almost 2 and I’m two houses away on the ground feeling like someone is wringing my heart out from inside my chest and I can’t get any air in.

By the time you step outside to look for me, I’m clawing my way towards the house like some fucked up extra from one of the dozens of horror movies you’ve made me watch over the years. My mum says something about me being over-dramatic. You ignore her and pull me onto the bed and hold me there until I can control my breathing again.

Then I go to sleep.

I don’t go back to Spanish School and I don’t get VCE credit and for a while, you don’t come over.


I used to see you every day
Used to see you every day


I’m passed out in your garden

It’s just after 7am and I’m laying on the red couch we pulled out into your backyard before the party.
My eyelids flutter as I float around somewhere in that space between asleep and awake.
Everyone else seems to be wide awake. Hungover, but awake.

We lit at least two fires.                                        I didn’t get that stupid badge for nothing.


Everyone else slept outside in the summer heat; or in the garage; or in the tent but I shared your bed, a fitted sheet and a single pillow with three other people and sleep was scarce.

Your brother woke us up by throwing a dildo through the window and jumping on the bed, so at dawn I crawled outside to try and sleep.

I hear my name being called.
The smell of Herbal Essences eventually forces me to get up.
Breakfast is instant coffee and the one Freddo Frog ice cream cake we didn’t eat.

Screaming like a battle cry
It’s more if I stay

Let the good times roll, let the good times roll


We go to a party where we don’t know anyone.
Or we know people, but we don’t really know them.
There’s a not-too-terrible band playing near the china cabinet and a DJ in the sun-room and mattresses outside.

It’s perfect.

My arm gets sliced open on a broken window but I don’t notice until you ask me where all the blood is coming from.
We surf a couple of ironing boards down the staircase and race mini balloon cars and make friends with a police officer who is so off his face that he’s serious about getting your name tattooed on his arse.

You clean my blood from the window once it dries.

You always put your arm out in front of me when I try to cross the road like I’m a child because one time I crossed against the lights and you watched with my brother as I almost got run over. But I don’t remember seeing any cars; or the sounds of horns blasting; or hearing you both screaming from the footpath. When I turned around on the other side, I couldn’t understand why you were both so pale and so far away from me.

We go to a club we used to go to when I had just turned 18 and there are kids you used to babysit here. We are about to leave but then King of the Rodeo comes on so we do a line dance in the middle of the floor and embarrass everyone we’re with. Then we leave.

Tell me the one about the friend you know
And the last goodnight that we toasted to

We have an argument. It’s silly and awkward and about what season Kings of Leon are. You say they’re winter; that they sound like rain. We’re on the phone as I’m going to work so you don’t see the face I pull, but I know you know it happened.

You’re wrong: they’re summer. Dusty and orange and drawn out. All I can hear is the desert of liquid gold I surfed the summer I went away and everything seemed to shift just enough for us to feel                                                                                                different.

We go to see Kings Of Leon a year after we bought tickets to their show. They postponed because some birds shat on them and someone went to rehab.


We go and you’re really excited but it’s kind of over for me already. They don’t play any of my favourite songs and the people in the GA are arseholes in high heels yelling at everyone to give them space. We are right in front of the stage and they’re the worst band either of us has ever seen live.

We think about hanging around to try and catch them as they leave, but when we exit the arena, we just keep walking. We see their van and we hear the screams and we just go home.


I called and I called, but I can’t get through

I haven’t answered a single one of your calls in months.

I pace the hallway of the gym, sweating.

Your brother is laying in a hospital bed, convulsing.

You’re not coming out for my birthday, you just want to be near him. I’m selfish and I would do anything to cancel birthday plans. I would even watch your heartbreak. I ask if you want me to visit him with you.

“Just go out and have fun.” – or something to that effect.

I wake up in the west at 6.30am on the Saturday that is my birthday because I have to cover an event. In the afternoon when it’s over, I cry on the 86 all the way from Northcote Town Hall to the CBD. I don’t know why but I do know this is the worst birthday I’ve ever had.


This party is overrated but there ain’t shit else to do


Thanks for the insults and compliments
You’ll never forget my face no more

It’s your 25th birthday and I’m too drunk and I have decided that I hate your work-friends. Someone orders flaming shots, which I also hate but they’re free so of course I suck them down, blue flames warming my chest.

The entire night has been surreal. People I haven’t seen in seven years are here and I feel guilty about wishing they weren’t.

All the drinks are blue.  

All the questions are cold.

I don’t tell anyone I stopped singing. They already seem too let down by everything I’ve said so far and the fact that I have makeup on.

I look for you but all I find is your brother, talking to your sister.
They leave early and I wish I went with them.


We are in my garden and you’re leaving.

You walk back to the car “Love you!”

I try to say it back but my words come out in a malformed squeak.
I walk back up the path to the front door, my socks are soggy from the bricks.
The dog follows me.

It rained while we were inside.

Do you?


At least there’s a record that I love to play.


Is there?