Francesca's Garden [working title!]
I'm not sure what this is yet, but it involves crying.
Dave slammed into me on the kind of sinful dance floor where people felt each other up and woke up the next morning in a strange town without their pants. I was there to support a friend; her grandmother had just died and finding a man to thigh strangle seemed the obvious tonic to her woes. It wasn’t Dave’s kind of place, I’d learn later. While I slammed shots of vodka and pawed drunkenly at his long lashes and doorstop arms, he told me about his life on the family acreage, where a woman called Francesca weaved oregano and stories and embroidery cotton.
I woke up the next morning in my own bed, wearing my own pants, but with 10 digits on a scrap of paper in my pocket. He took me to a dingy Italian joint by the river and we sat a the smallest table in the darkest corner and he told me his secrets. I curled my body over a bottle of red and told him I had none, but when he dropped me home I was too afraid to let him in.
We fell in love the old fashioned way. One night he picked me up with a car full of romance and we ate salmon roe with a plastic fork at the open air cinema. The following week, he invited me to his place and cooked me the best lasagne I’d ever tasted, and we sat on his tiny balcony and he asked me about my hopes and dreams. ‘Happiness,’ I said, because I was twenty-four and thought I didn’t need anything more.
‘What a coincidence,’ he said. ‘That’s what I’ve got to offer.’
We spent an evening walking laneways hand in hand, with bad graffiti and good graffiti and too-cool bars that were not much more than a door in a wall. It was winter and the Yarra River swam and jived as the rain poured through, and at midnight Dave pulled me under the bridge and he touched my hair while he kissed me.
There were parts of his story that I wasn’t included in. I knew that his father had died when he was a kid, but he didn’t tell me why or how. I knew he had three brothers, but he only spoke of two of them. John let us down, he said, but when I pushed him for more he feigned sleep. He captivated me: he was an enigmatic man, handsome in his own way, square but soft.