‘She’s there. She’s standing right there at the bar.’ He looks down, and lifts his head back up. ‘Yep… that’s her alright.’ As if confirming he’s actually standing in the same room as her and not in some computer simulation.

‘Ah-sa! Did you see her too? Kozue is here.’ Chi yells.

‘I know! She’s beautiful right!?’ He says a bit too assertively, oblivious to the fact he’s telling Chi how beautiful another woman is.

She’s shorter than he thought… a lot shorter. Models tend to be tall, at least in his experience, but she’s slight. Her black hair tied back drawing a spine down the back of her white t-shirt. He continues to take quick glances in her direction for another minute or so before something strange started to happen. He forgets she’s there, and his mind starts carrying him elsewhere.

For the first time in a long time, perhaps ever, he doesn’t feel like an imposter. He’s in a room, at a party, metres away from people he’s only ever seen in Vogue and indexed with 4.5million other followers. He takes a sip of his Whiskey, bops his head to the music and thinks how foolish he’s been for placing importance on being judged by others, because for all their ‘judgement’, he’s still in this room, at this party, metres away from everything.

Oxford Street

‘I thought that the moment I said it, that it would be some sort of silver bullet. That suddenly every thought of stress, anxiety, depression, self worth, would all just magically end. That I’d be able to feel normal again and be myself. The truth was that when I said it, my voice broke. I had to say the damn words twice. For some fucked up reason I still was broken even though I’d said what I wanted to say for the last 8 months.’

‘Maybe stress isn’t that simple. Maybe depression isn’t that simple. Did you think about that?’ She taps the side of her glass with the spoon and places it carefully back onto the saucer. ‘These things damage us, repaint us in a new coat that we may not be comfortable or satisfied with, but that’s how mental illness works. One day the wall is green, and then all the sudden you wake up and it’s blue… it won’t be green again until you get the paintbrush out and paint it again.’

He nods and looks at her, placing his palms flat on the table. ‘I’m just… I’m glad it’s over. I’m glad that all the anxiety I created in my head is over.’

‘I hate to tell you, it’s not though. The wall is still going to be blue underneath that new coat. Just don’t forget that also under that blue coat is who you were before. It’s important.’

He smiles, places his right elbow on the table, lifts his palm to his face and leans into it. ‘You’re right. You’re always right.’ He closes his eyes and lets the warmth of the sun in for the first time in as long as he can remember.


Not wanting to break the silence I asked a question.

‘What team do you go for?’

‘Collingwood.’ Marlee answers back quickly.

‘Collingwood!? I live in Collingwood!’

She doesn’t acknowledge it. I quiz myself, maybe she doesn’t know that Collingwood is an actual place? Why would she? It’s a team she goes for. This place is probably all she knows. She’s 2,296km away from Collingwood according to Google Maps.

‘I live right next to their original home ground.’ I pitch as a test to see.

No response.

Marlee waved us down standing next to her white Commodore as we were leaving the National Park. It was pitch black out and I pulled over after watching the Pajero and Lancer ahead of us whiz past them.

I wind down the window ‘Need a hand?’

‘Outta fuel.’

‘Need a lift back?’

‘Got no fuel?’

‘Nah… sorry.’

Marlee looks back at her car and 3 colleagues. ‘Can ya take us back to town?’

‘Yeh easy. Get in.’

I could tell Jay was a little pensive about the whole situation I just created for us.

‘Text me.’ Jay says as I walk back to the car.

‘It’ll be fine. Relax, I’m just taking them back.’

‘You sure you don’t want me to come? You’re my brother I worry about you.’

‘It’s fine. I’ll be right back.’

Marlee jumps in the front and the two teenagers and older woman pile into the backseat. We jet off into the darkness back into the National Park. We talk a bit trying to find something to talk about. I don’t know. How can you find anything to talk about with someone who’s life you’ll never be able to relate too?

I embarrassingly pull up Frank Yamma on Spotify, the only aboriginal artist I know.

‘Yamma! Turn it up!’ Marlee shouts.


Marlee starts singing along.

‘Frank played here last month.’ Marlee says.

‘What’s he singing about?’ I ask.

‘Family. Being with family ya know?’

‘You got a hose?’ Marlee asks as she jumps out.

‘Shit! I don’t.’

Marlee walks back and the teenagers find a 1L Coke bottle in the back of their car to fashion into a funnel. I text Jay to tell him I’ve dropped them off and they’re just filling up the car. I see a fierce lightning storm on the horizon.  It flashes brilliantly and even though it was probably hundreds of kilometers away, its violent beauty was easy to make out.

Marlee starts up the car, waves and drives off. I set off behind.

My eyes remain transfixed on the storm. 

The phone dings with a new message.

Marlee is out of sight and I pull over.

Shutting off the engine and turning off the lights I pull myself up to sit on the window sill looking at the storm in the horizon.

It is so quiet. A quiet unlike anything I’ve ever heard. I can’t hear the thunder from this persistent violence I’m staring at. It’s hypnotic.

As I approach the exit, I see the White Commodore up ahead. I slow down and Marlee’s voice ‘What happened?’

‘I just stopped for a second.’

‘Ah, we were worried you broke down.’ She laughs as I pull away further after assuring her.

She follows back to town, and flashes and honks as I pull back into the hotel.

Walking back to the room I read Jay’s text. 

A thumbs up emoji.

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