Excerpt: ‘Blood in Leather’, by Robbie Arnott


Photo by Chris Schmich. Image reproduced under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License.

When I think about pleasure—chewy, physical, primitive pleasure—I see a maroon piece of leather smacking into three poles of polished wood. Two smaller pieces of wood are dislodged from above those poles, and the face of the man who is standing in front of them, clutching a plank of willow, wearing an array of armour that is hard in some places and cushion-soft in others, instantly changes from one of heavy determination to diving disappointment. This is when I feel the pleasure. It bubbles up from the bottom of my torso and zips through my tense flesh, a full-body buzz that thumps behind my burning skin—this burn is real, by the way; I belong to the palest of people, and I have been standing in the sun for hours. I am lifted into the air, where I hang for a second, pumping my fist in an unconscious, uncensored reaction as the pleasure grips and churns, blanking out thoughts and spraying out pressure. It feels giddier than peering over a tall cliff and it tastes better than cold water in a heatwave. It is better than sex.

This piece appears in full in The Lifted Brow #29 — grab a your copy or subscribe and we’ll post you a copy immediately. You can also read the piece online in full as part of the digital version of our magazine.

Robbie Arnott has won the Scribe Non-Fiction Prize for Young Writers and the Tasmanian Young Writer’s Fellowship.