We met at the Commonwealth on the corner of George and Pitt. Felt like smoking. Been ten years but standing there, awkward as fuck, and I feel like smoking.
When she rocks up she’s on the phone. She just taps me on the shoulder and we go round the corner. Scoffed my jacket on sandstone. I felt like hugging her: Not good. But, yeah, maybe I put my arm round her when she finally got off the phone; said hey. She was looking older, all official with a long lovely coloured jacket and a flat brush of make-up –with eyeliner, short hair. She wasn’t smiling like before, or as gorgeous as last time we met, but still pretty.
I asked something about something. She talks about Hong Kong, the new job, her friends and family are stoked. I’m going back to Geelong soon, back home. I aint stoked. But act happy for her.
We get to the place and she already knows which floor it’s on. Up we go and before you know it we’re sitting in front of some guy. There’s other people in the room. This is a cheap -no big deal- public operation evidently. He’s surprised. We’re too young to be signing these papers it seems. Whatever mate. Don’t need this from you too.
He begins in a tone as official as his suit. He might as well have been speaking Italian. Me’ ex understood. I was, all of a sudden, completely out of it. Mostly when he was explaining -he must’ve realised I was lost- cause he was looking at her. He’d leave it to her to translate for me. I look ahead anyway, cause the worst thing is I looking at her and she looking at the bloke. That’s shit. So I look ahead and try not look at her, cept when she translates from gibberish to normal English. And I realise the whole thing was stupid. Sign, this, pay for this, show ID –but that’s not even why it was stupid.
It was a joke; sitting there, getting that stuff done. Tried not thinking about anything. Tried not to remember the fighting or the good not fighting. Did remember the ticket I had bought that morning. Jet Star: It’s alright I don’t mind standing. I suppose she’d have had a ticket for a while now, with a different destination written on it. Left that thought there. Focussed on the furniture. But then we’re outside and I ask her almost automatically if she wants to grab a coffee. I just didn’t want to end it like that. End in pens being passed around and signing and this bastard in his suit. He smiled when we left! What a dickhead.
Yeah I wasn’t gonna end it like that so we went round to a cafe. Actually I don’t like coffee. I grabbed some water and bought her a caramel laté or whatever, a farewell present. And sitting down we can look again in eachother’s general direction, which is a nice improvement. She goes on about her friends reactions. She talks about the flight later that month. Hong Kong. I tell her what I know bout Hong Kong, hot in summer –cold in winter, kinda dirty. Nice tall buildings with this neon light mesh between. She didn’t know anything about Geelong. Don’t blame her. She suggests I visit her someday. Wish she hadn’t, cause I might just end up considering that someday.
I say she should visit Geelong, I bitch about it a lot but actually it’s alright. She humms.
“If I have time,” she says, looking down into the coffee.
I figured she’d be off soon, and then it becomes hard to talk. Like a had a lump in my throat.
“So this is that last time I see you before you go?” I managed to say.
“Mmm maybe. Maybe we can grab lunch next Tuesday.”
I nod. It was a stupid suggestion of hers. But I understood. I hate goodbyes too.
“Hope it work’s out, Hong Kong. I really do.”
“Yeah, you too. Hope the family’s well.”
She finishes the coffee and we exchange the warm cafe smell for the dusty exhaust pipe of the CBD. She’s off to one of those fancy places under centrepoint, I’m heading for the train. We separate at the corner near Town Hall. Kiss her goodbye, almost aiming for her lips by instinct. She notices, smiles at me and fake slaps me. Yeah. She says cya next Tuesday. I say good luck.
Then I walk down those dirty marble steps and into Town Hall station.