It began and ended in a kindly soup of needs and wants. He turned up on my doorstep as a boatbuilder and I made him a pot of tea, thinking he was about to relieve me of my 20 foot hulk of financial carnage. We sat beside the green wall of periwinkles and talked about boats for an hour. Then he asked if I had any sea mullet left.
I must have looked rather devastated.
"Aren't you here to buy my beautiful carval?"
"Erm, I'd like to buy some sea mullet ..."
So the man, who liked wooden carvals and but sea mullet more, left for the City with fillets wrapped in newspaper and the taste of tannin upon his tongue.
When he returned a month later with a bottle of red and a bit of hope in his heart, a Strange Man on a Motorcycle sat revving his iron beast in my driveway. His hopes of romance didn't include any knowledge of me or my life, it seems. The boat was gone. He stashed the wine behind his back, crabbed back to his car and drove away.
Six months passed. I'd forgotten him ... except for ... something. What is that 'something'? Is it the fusion that feels greater than the sum of two bodyminds? That velvety collision when a cog finds its perfect niche against another? Or is it just plain old biology? That 'something' conspires with the loins and the brain, gatecrashes the middle ground called my heart. I've known that 'something' to be a right bastard and I'm gun shy, these days, of gatecrashers.
'Our way' was to fly just outside of each other's trajectory in a careful dance of the jaded. The earth left the sun and returned again before I saw him. He gave me some books, then. I was leaving town for weeks on his next visit down south. My book was accepted by the publisher. Then I was away fishing. He sent me hedonist texts. It was all ramping up. The butterflies began to swarm in my belly. (Oh, you know that feeling? Of course you do.)
We met again, after my fortnight of planes, trains and automobiles. We sat on the lichen at Pelican Point and watched the dog swim in the winter glass-off. A houseboat floated out in the bay. I knew someone was camped in the redgums behind us, I'd seen their swag and crushed watsonia footways. I wondered if they watched us. Gannets yelled at the dog when he got too close to their nests.
He said, "Can I touch your hair?"
He was a Leo. Bah! The opposite to me in the circle of stars, a crashing battle of bodily spars. He opened me up as the sun does a bloom; as a lion does a carcass ... and then he stooped just enough to gnaw on my bones.
"I feel like an insect in your web," he said, spreadeagled upon my bed.
"It is witchery and nothing more," I said. "Be calm. I'll fix that cruciate and that cold and you will never know that you feel old."
Days later, I felt his softening as his mind hardened into tomorrow's chores.
He is a lot older than me.
I suspected there was a wife.
"Did you find me insincere?" he worried at me.
One night we wandered into a 'private party' at my favourite bar in town. Why did he he choose the chesterfields at the only fireplace with two beautiful young women lounging upon them? Or speculate on their sex lives? Why did he show me the lusty text messages from his boss's daughter? I felt the investment he'd purchased from that princess's predicament. That moment on the chesterfields, our bodies together felt suddenly lumpen and compromised. Why doesn't he just buy a red sports car, I thought grumpily. Why am I here again? I felt my fat thighs and the lines on my face. I felt my (horse) hair. But the taste of his tongue was still upon me.
We walked through the churches and granite gutters laid by convicts. We passed the three cheers from the birthday house and then drove up the hill to my home by the sea.
I woke up in the morning to a revelation. I don't want to wait for a man to text me with hedonistic sonatas - or wait for him to come down from the City to fuck me - or for his midlife crisis to subside - or for him to pick off yet another Albany Girl.
I am no fucking plaything and I don't like butterflies. What I want is someone to love me. I want a partner, not an intruigue. I want someone to love me.
This was a beautiful moment on the verandah, surrounded by that emerald wall of periwinkles and wandering Jew. A moment of realisation, finally, of what I required from this world. I rang him and said all of these things.
He never invited me into his other life. But a few hours later, bless him, he came down to where I was working and gave me hugs, said goodbye, said he would always think to me when he saw a windmill or lichen on stone or a crappy old wooden boat ...
And that was the end of the affair.