Fiction: 'Spirited'

A polyphonic movie theme woke us. Perching naked on the edge of the bed, he fumbled for and answered his mobile phone. I glanced at the clock and, having established the hour, waited for whatever disaster or prank hatched itself on the end on the line. I knew, at two o'clock in the morning, it had to be one or the other.

I could hear a woman's intoxicated voice rising and falling sobs. It was his ex-lover. I heard him say her name. They spoke about things I had only heard rumours of - their final weekend together, her infidelity, which he quaintly called, 'surfing outside the flags'. He suggested she sleep it off in his lawyerly tone and hung up.

Lying back on top of the bed, he stared at the ceiling while he gathered his thoughts then began telling me how much he had loved her. Gooseflesh rose along my skin as I listened to what followed. He didn't have the same feelings for me. It had been three months now and he knew we weren't right.

Shocked, I pulled on my jeans and jumper while still under the sheets. It seemed all the more painful to be rejected naked. I begged him to reconsider but he stood firm and asked me to leave.

The evening before, he had taken me to dinner to introduce me to some of his friends. We went to a local fish restaurant and sat at a long table in the back corner. Inside, the air temperature must have been over forty degrees. Either the air conditioning had broken down or it was always like that - none of us were sure but all of us were uncomfortable. We drank copious glasses of water and tried to enjoy our meal while my lover held court, calling me his love and singing my praises.

Drenched in perspiration, a deep flush rose from my chest and speckled up my neck and into my cheeks. It might have been the heat but more likely concern that I wouldn't live up to his expectations.

After the meal we strolled home arm in arm. As we passed the pub, a garrulous drunk confronted us, announcing that we were a beautiful Paddington couple. We laughed as his friends bundled him into a cab and we made our way home declaring the evening great fun, or words to that effect.

Nothing had suggested that I would be unceremoniously ousted in the early hours of the morning.

I opened the front door to the detritus and the half-light. In the distance, I could make out the line of the harbour surrounding the city. I wriggled my toes and pretended I was strolling over the grassy bank of the ley line I had found myself on.

He called out from the bedroom,
It's late. Take the car and drop it back in the morning.

Reaching for his keys, I helped myself to his wallet and searched my mind for an inspired act of revenge.

Sleep eluded me but he would sleep late into the morning, he always did. Waiting, I sat by on the docks watching gulls squabble over scraps of food littering the pier. The harbour came alive. Cruise ships departed and fishing boats returned to the docks at the break of dawn. In the full light of day, commuter ferries dawdled across the harbour from point to point. Yachtsmen began the day's races, circling strategically placed buoys in boats of all shapes and sizes, sails and spinnakers billowing in the wind.

I felt giddy with anticipation and exhaustion.

I pictured him rising, pulling on a pair of shorts and sandshoes, his dog would be barking at his feet, impatient for his run. They would jog to the park and he would let the dog off the lead. Once he had had his fill of rounding up imaginary sheep and odours, they would make their way home. He would stop by the bakery on his way home to pick up a loaf of sour dough, which, on his return home, he would slice and spread with butter and jam.

My phone rang, as I had expected.

He said, as if nothing had happened.
I was silent.

Look, I know you're upset but I'm doing the right thing. Best to end it now. You knew it was coming.

I hadn't but he spoke with such certainty I knew there was no point in arguing, so I didn't respond.

Where did you park the car?

I listened to his silence, then to his quickening breath. Closing my eyes, I recalled its warmth against my back as we lay like two spoons in a drawer. I pictured the contrast of his olive skinned hand wrapped around my pale white wrist. I remembered feeling safe.

Revenge had never been part of my repertoire before but I'd had enough heartbreak to warrant a response. It wasn't so much him I wanted to hurt but hurt itself.

It had been easy. I had gone to an internet cafe and booked him a berth on line, using his credit card. It was duly confirmed. Having locked the wallet in the glove box, I lined up in the queue and parked the car in the allocated place. I climbed the stairs to the dining room and helped myself to the complimentary breakfast. I poured a strong black coffee and nibbled at the edges of a buttery croissant. Smiling sweetly at the purser, I walked back down the gangplank onto the docks and began my wait. I had inflicted my parting blow.

I gathered my strength to tell him and with a wry smile said,
On a big orange floating car park called 'The Spirit of Tasmania'. It's probably somewhere off the coast of Kiama by now.