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The Opposite Direction

Page 2

Peter Farrar

I'd slept with his wife twice. A pinkish scar mottled above her stomach. I’d first seen it, glanced away, then looked back again, the way I did when noticing a misprint. Felt it against skin, how a loose thread irritates. The second time I visited her, she met me in her wedding dress from eight years ago. The swirling white material dull, diamantes popped, probably lying like gravel in the bottom of a case. Her carved collarbones fell with breath.

“In this,” she said. “Come on. Maybe he’ll find out. That’d be the first truth between us for a long time.” She cupped a hand over my shoulder for balance, shaking her left foot, then right, wobbling off white high heels clopping to floor. Writhed out of the dress. Misshapen and bunched, it sank from her. Bodice first, rear zipper then waist. Her scar reminded of a rip through fabric, stitched with cotton that didn’t match. We barely spoke afterwards. No notes, phone numbers on the underside of my arm, contact details pressed into my mobile. Just her saying it was late, and she had to be somewhere.     

I lost my first twenty dollars. It lay next to Gary, balled-up like a used tissue. Port tasted waxy and sweet. Through a window my car glinted under streetlights flicking on. No doubt the upholstery still oozed warmth, despite evening air. At night, spaces smelt of compost and apricots splitting in heat. Crickets called underground, like water trickling. Nigel stared at cards the way I sometimes examined old photographs, working out who was that next to me, and had I changed that much. He slapped them down.

“Earning faster than my superannuation fund against you two.”

I pressed fingers into temples, massaging deep where bones dipped and ached. I could keep playing and finish the Friday night like four weeks ago. When I went home with all my cash in Nigel and Gary’s pockets. Drive three quarters drunk through streets so choked with bushfire haze it reminded me of fogs last winter, air heavy as bronchitis in my lungs. And I’d forgotten to pick up milk and bread. In the morning Shard hovered above me as I snored myself awake. 

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