Friday, 24 July 2015

Street Talk: The Lady Whose Name I Didn't Quite Catch.

She was straight in front of me as I opened the back door, rugged up to the bejesus because it was bitingly cold ... sucking on a ciggie like it was the last one on earth. We both said hello at the exact same time and laughed.

"It's a bloody cold one this morning!"

"I know ... we need balaclavas. And onesies."

She laughed. I like making people laugh.

I saw her again later, huddled on a chair, all dressed up in different clothes this time because her husband was taking her out to dinner. We had the most intense conversation I've had in some time .. the kind of conversation where you're free enough to just let it all hang out because you know you're never going to see each other again.

She'd been married three times. Her first husband was abusive and alcoholic. Her second husband kept cheating on her and her kids hated him and told her they wouldn't speak to her unless she left.

She left. It was hard.

"I had to stay at friends places for a while. It was hard, really hard. Even though my kids were in their twenties and had left home .. I didn't see them much and was really quite low."

Her voice lowered gravely and she bent forward, ushering me in to her secret.

"I took the train up here, to the Blue Mountains. I always used to come up here as a child with my parents, fifty years ago. To this very hotel .. it was called something different back then. I got up one morning and just walked and walked ... found myself at Echo Point, looking down at how far below the trees were. And I stood and looked, and looked, and thought all sorts of things and wondered ..."

Her voice trailed off and she didn't need to tell me what she was contemplating. I'd already told her about my brother. I'd already told her everything about me. She reminded me of my mum, both in looks and what she had been through.

"And then I thought to myself don't be bloody stupid and I walked back here."

I saw her a few times after that, we always had conversations whenever we bumped into each other - the hallway, the powder room, in front of the fire. Her husband had a red face and always seemed cranky. He had cancer, with only a few months to live. Her eyes were sad but I could see she knew what was coming and would make it through. She'd made it this far.

Sizing Rocco she stared at him.

"You're the little boy who threw a snowball at me."

Rocco was mortified, I was glad he felt bad. He apologised, without me prompting.

"I'm so sorry ... if I knew it was you I wouldn't have chucked it!"

She laughed, told him that was ok and with a glint in her eyes told him to not do it again. She was spending one more night in the hotel by herself, her husband had left that day to go fishing with mates.

"I've got the whole bed to myself tonight .. I can stretch out if I want to. But I always find myself still sleeping on one side."

I told her I did that, too. Sitting in front of the fire with a whole bottle of red to herself, we made plans for me to drop her up to Katoomba station the next day. And I did, carrying her bag downstairs and helping her into the car. I apologised for the mess, even though it actually wasn't that messy but these days I find myself apologising for everything.

I drove her up the street, until she asked to be let out near Rivers because she wanted to buy a jacket for her daughter. We looked at each other fondly and said goodbye. Didn't kiss or hug.

"Now, you take care of yourself. And remember .. it's all going to be ok."

I told her thank you, I knew it would be. Because it will be.

She thanked me for the chats and she walked away. Everytime I saw her she had the same black boots on.

I never did tell her my name and she never told me hers. We both knew we were in this together.

That's all that mattered.

Previous Street Talks:

1. Noelene the Young
2. Megan the Mouse
3. Harpal the Australian
4. Darren the Artist
5. Jo the Interesting
6. John the Telstra Guy
7. Michael the Photographer
8. Peg the Lady
9. Jeff the Preacher Man
10. Andres the Cobbler
11. Honey the Prostitute
12. Mark the Masseur
13. You the Blog Reader
14. Jo the Podiatrist
15. Casey the Uni Student
16. Dream the Horse and Carriage Driver
17. Tamas the Hungarian Accordionist
18. The Dignified Trolley Ladies
19. Alex With The Studded Hot Pink Belt
20. Leaf The Fallen
21. Bel Of The Library
22. Jay And His Big Issue
23. Emma The Adult Shop Cashier
24. Teena, Saver Of Dogs
25. The Luna Park Face
26. Gary The Missing
27. Kristen at the Elephant Bean Cafe
28. Uncle Paul
29. Jess The Mama
30. The Two People At The Checkout
31. Alfie The Pourer
32. Breaking The Rules With Captain Starlight!
33. The Woman In Line At The Bakery A Few Weekends Ago
34. Dog The Dog
35. Julia Gillard The Person
36. Nancy The Badass
37. Bruce From The Psych Ward
38. Jeremy The Costumeless
39. The Women in the Morgue

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Write to be understood, speak to be heard. - Lawrence Powell

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