This story is part 5 of 5 of The Man From Kiama.
There is a romance to allowing oneself to be pulled along by the perceived energies of the universe but it is akin to being enslaved by a master who is not interested in or capable of being in control. Hers was a hopeless surrender.
The days got shorter and then longer again but little else changed. He passed the weeks with study and writing and wine but spared a moment here and there to think of her and look off in the direction she had left.
She would ring him every so often to say hello but the tenor of her being had changed. Her tempo was no longer in step with his own. Their dance was becoming clumsy and forced.
On a warm day in February he wandered toward the lighthouse and watched the mobs of tourists come in waves not unlike those landing on the nearby beach. He had always been happy here but Kiama felt empty without her.
He meandered toward his apartment and past the cafe where she had worked. Past the book store where she had bought him a Joyce. Past the park where they would lie and he would struggle to get through that book for her sake alone.
He rounded the corner to his street and noticed immediately that the hammock on his porch was swinging. The needle of his heart skipped a groove and began to play an old but familiar tune as he saw the sun reflecting off long and unmistakably auburn hair. There was a suitcase on the landing.
He was home.
This story is part 4 of 5 of The Man From Kiama.
She had soured on Sydney and what she called the ‘interminable vibrations of hipster capitalism’. He was sure that he would never understand what she meant by this.
She got a job engineering espressos for locals who frequented her cafe for little more than some company while they read the paper.
The two of them would sit in the hammock and watch the trains chug to and fro. When she first arrived she would lay with her head on his chest but as the months passed he began to notice the surfacing of a restlessness she could not tame. She no longer gazed out at the beach – she was now looking back toward the city beyond.
Over the course of the summer the black roots of her hair grew while the auburn ends were continually trimmed back. The colour had been entirely eliminated when she told him she was leaving.
This story is part 3 of 5 of The Man From Kiama.
She said she would return to Kiama on the weekend but he knew it was a lie. The train accelerated away from the platform and glided over Terralong Street en route to Bombo, where they had spent the previous day walking along the seaside cliffs, and the city beyond.
It would be two months of excuses and last minute work things before she finally made that return trip. He watched her train wind into town from the hammock on his porch and met her at the station five minutes later.
Her hair had grown to reveal black roots that she had not bothered to recolour. Each centimetre of that black hair represented a week since he had last seen her and smelled the Chanel perfume she had been sharing exclusively with Sydneysiders in the meantime.
The bag she brought was bigger than he was expecting. Soon they would kiss and he would effortlessly take the handle of her bag even as he wrapped his other arm around her waist and began to lead her toward the station stairs.
For now, though, they stood and populated a moment.
This story is part 2 of 5 of The Man From Kiama.
The next morning found them walking along the water in the general direction of the lighthouse. The beach at Bombo could be seen arcing into the haze that constituted the horizon on this rather muggy day.
She was wearing sunglasses, which struck him as odd. Had she had these with her all night? Women are so resourceful.
The auburn coloured hair that had looked so bright on the dance floor the night before assumed a new character of luminance under the bright sun. When she turned his way he could see that it framed a square face that had endured little stress. He envied this.
The afternoon was meant to bring rain. They would go back to his modest apartment and sit on the hammock he had strung between two support beams on his porch five years and two girlfriends ago.
Knowing now what he did not know then, he would make the most of this honeymoon period with her.
This story is part 1 of 5 of The Man From Kiama.
The train would get to Kiama at just past three in the morning. He didn’t know this girl save for the aspects of her that were immediately obvious. Her hair was auburn coloured but it was clearly not the doing of God as her eyebrows were noticeably darker.
Circumstance had brought them together at first and then to this platform in the present. He barely liked riding the train that long with himself as company but some incredible chemical reaction brought about by a combination of white wine, cheap beer and heightened adrenaline made him sure that she actually wanted to be boarding the train.
They sat upstairs on the side of the train that would have given them a view of the ocean had the sun still been in the sky. More than two hours to Kiama.
He was sure he would love her by then.