Let’s live in a weatherboard by the sea. Let’s live in a house that is closer to the fishes than the ferals and the possums and the barrel-bellied rats.
Your forehead will crease when I ask you for the ocean. I know this forehead better than I know my own; I have kissed its salted skin and pattered it all over with tiny kisses. I have watched as more of it has surfaced, as your hair has etched away at the sides like water etching at tide sands. I have hated it—the cruel way it tells me what you would never dare to. I will watch it envelope itself as I wait for an answer. You would rather live in the city, it tells me. You would rather live with the bears with their paws in the rubbish bins outside your door.
I don’t ask you for the ocean or a house made of wood on the sand. We go to the café on the corner with the cheap coffee and read all the music magazines—cover to cover, our eyes never resting—and I decide I will be a quiet sort of a girl, one with the kind of thoughts that would never disturb an evening. You pour your milky coffee with three sugars slowly into your open mouth to brighten your tongue. I pull off bits of sweating escargot and plan my new personality—wholesome, creative, perhaps even slightly unreachable. I will be lovable but I won’t try to suck out your frowns.
Instead of this, instead of perfection, we walk home and I talk and you nod and we sit on the couch your mother lent us and I touch your shirt collar and you look at your hands, your rootless hands, and I tell you a hope story.
Let’s love each other deeply; let’s see each other’s starfish floors. So we cannot breathe or mend it—let’s love like that.
Words by Laura McPhee-Browne
Illustration by Jess Honey