Mid-north South Australia, summer 2014
“Let’s disappear,” she’d whispered in my ear.
“What?” I mumbled as I tried to kick-start my brain through the early morning fug.
“Let’s just disappear. We could go off without telling anyone. No one would ever find us.”
“Why?” I asked yawning. “Why would we do that?”
“Why not?” she asked cheerfully. She had obviously thought about it a bit. I was slowly waking up now and thinking more clearly.
“Where would we go?”
“We could go anywhere we wanted. Let’s buy a map, stick a pin in it randomly, and go there.”
I began to realise she was pretty serious about this.
At that point, I’d known her for about three months.
She turned up one day just outside the little town where I lived. She was walking down the road not far from my rented old farmhouse, hitchhiking. I don’t normally give people a lift, but she looked so hot in her little denim shorts and crop top, how could I resist? I’m just a man after all. And I’m a nice bloke. Some evil person could have come along, picked her up and she would never be seen again. I was doing a good deed. Protecting her from dangerous people with devious minds. A knight in shining armour, that’s me.
I asked where she was going and she giggled. Said she didn’t know, didn’t care. Where was I going? She’d go with me. I was a bit breathless about the idea of her coming with me. Who would have thought it? Me, having some gorgeous chick wanting to be with me? I said OK. She smiled, grabbed her backpack and got in the ute.
She avoids talking about her past and I don’t push her about it. I like her and she likes me and we get along really well. She doesn’t ask me personal questions and I don’t ask her personal questions either. She doesn’t have any money but that’s OK, she doesn’t eat much and doesn’t ask me for anything. I’m pretty handy, do casual labouring around the place which pays the rent and keeps me adequately fed. I do a bit of busking on the weekends for some extra cash. Turns out she’s got a really nice voice and we sing together while I play my guitar. I get more money now because of her. She draws a good crowd. The guys give money just to see her smile. Can’t blame them for that.
I noticed she was interested in the newspaper headlines the other day when we were in town buying groceries. Didn’t think much about it at the time. She wanted to watch the TV news that night but again, I didn’t think anything of it. I’m a bit slow on the uptake at times. When I thought about it later, I remembered it was something to do with a murder trial and a missing witness.
I told her I didn’t want to move somewhere else; I liked it where we were. Nice quiet little town, enough work in the district to keep me busy. I like the comfort of having somewhere to call home. She looked sad; disappointed. I kissed her, got up and got ready for work. Told her I’d see her when I got home and went off in my ute. I’d be helping Jim with crutching of his sheep today. Not a job I loved, but it paid the rent.
When we went to bed that night, we made love just as we always did. I really cared about her, and I could see when she looked at me, she felt the same about me too. She snuggled up to my side.
“Couldn’t you reconsider?” she asked softly. “Couldn’t you just leave this place behind and find somewhere new and exciting to be. I think we could be happy together just about anywhere.”
“Aw honey, I don’t want to leave here. This is my home town. I feel comfortable here. How would we find a place to live? Where would I get a job to pay our bills?”
When I woke in the morning, she was gone. I jumped in my ute and drove like hell up and down the roads searching for her, but she had just disappeared. I drove back home, and dragged myself inside.
I sat at the table just staring at my warm beer. She was frightened. I couldn’t see it before but it was plain as day now. I should have protected her. Now she’s alone and on the run.
Funny thing, I was doing all right before I knew her. Now my life feels hollow.
I wish I’d disappeared with her.
Stereo Stereo #558