Your baby boy eyes in a grown man’s face, an open face, as wide as a plate. You’d be bald now if you were still alive.
Gordon Lightfoot on the radio, ‘If you could read my mind love, what a tale my thoughts could tell’. You introduced me to the singer and his lyrics spoke to me.
‘We could go down the coast for the weekend,’ you said, just like that and my stomach somersaulted with joy.
I took a train down the tracks to Edithvale and your parents’ house where you were ready and waiting with a small holdall.
‘Travel light,’ you had said. ‘We don’t want too many extras,’
So I brought a carry bag, bigger than yours, enough to tote spare jeans, a jumper against the cold, underwear and toiletries.
We walked back towards the station but once we reached the highway you changed your mind.
‘Let’s hitch hike’ you said. ‘It’ll be faster.’
My brothers hitched rides when they travelled interstate or to the country but girls only hitchhiked in the movies where there was often a sense of impending danger.
With you it was different. With you I was safe.
You took the lead, your thumb out at an angle tilted towards the road.
I tried to imagine how the people in the cars might see us. A young man and his girl friend; in jeans and t-shirts, the man clean-shaven, and the woman with all the innocence of her long fair hair.
Nothing threatening here.
Then my thoughts shifted to our potential driver. Would we be safe with him?
A man who might pull up because he saw an opportunity, not only to rob us but also to have his way with me.
My mind ran wild but not long enough before a yellow Toyota stopped and we ran after it.
A couple in the front seat, man and woman, elderly, and I was awash with relief. Older people were safe.
‘We’re you headed?’ the man asked.
‘We’re wanting to go as far down the coast road as possible.’
‘We can take you to Mount Martha,’ the driver said and there the conversation ended.
The wind erupted during the course of our drive and the sunny day we had hoped for had turned to grey. Undeterred, we booked into in a boarding house over the road from the beach. From our upstairs room we could see out to the ocean through a thick line of tea tree. The sea was choppy.
No matter, we could spend an afternoon in bed, an afternoon between the sheets.
‘If you could read my mind…’
Not that you tried. You were always so sure of yourself, so confident of your direction and I followed along, my own agenda, hidden.
My own agenda, one of wanting only to fit in with you and be loved by you, no matter the cost.
I leaned back against the pillows and thrust out my chest hoping to entice you with the slope of my breasts, covered under their thick jumper, but you were reading the form guide and had started to fiddle with the dial on the radio beside our bed.
I tried to look as though I was not fussed about your lack of attention to my body.
I could wait.
‘If you could read my mind, what a story my thoughts could tell…’
I had eyes only for you.
But you weren’t interested in the contents of my mind. You wanted only to check whether your horse – the one you’d bet on at the TAB that morning – would earn you a fortune by winning.
When the race caller croaked out the words, ‘Dark Sorrow by half a head,’ I knew we were safe at last, bills could be paid and no more races until, the following week.
I knew you’d be ready then to open yourself to me, at least to open your body, for your mind stayed closed.