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Guess what I’m doing right now. Right at this very moment. Go on, take a shot.

Yep. I’m listening to my iPod. Chilling out to the sweet tunes of U2. Ahh.

I owe Jamie big time. He was fantastic, by the way. It was a kind of scaled-down version of the original Bugsy Malone, but they kept the big song numbers in, and, of course, lots of cream pie throwing. It was a real hit. Jamie hammed it up like anything, and he and the girl playing Tallulah stole the show in their little witty banter scene.

The kid’s got a bright future ahead of him. At the very least as a guidance counsellor.

I sauntered in to work on Friday night. Lloyd was bouncing around as usual, radiating waves of Lloydness that seemed to have the very walls shivering with irritation. I wandered over to the bar to start serving the few customers that were either lingering from the afternoon or starting early for the night. Sure enough, I’d barely served the first Crown when Lloyd was behind me, talking into my ear.

“Gotta guess tonight, Artie, or I’m keeping your iPod. For good, Artie.”

I resisted the urge to turn and kick him in the crotch. I kept very calm, and affected a note of disappointment in my voice.

“Oh dear, Lloyd. I’ve almost run out of ideas. How about… um… Lettuce? Breadboard? Kittenbrush?” I refilled the water jugs.

“Artie, Artie, Artie, you’re not trying very hard are you? Guess I’ll be keeping it.”

“Guess so.”

“Well, I’ll let you keep guessing til the end of the night, Artie. Think hard.”

“Okay, Lloyd. I’ll think on it.”

I spent the rest of the night making sure it looked as though I was pondering the problem with intense concentration. Occasionally I would make some other stupid suggestion like “Trufflebag” or “Papermug”. Lloyd was practically jumping from one end of the bar to the other.

He’s such an imbecile.

By the time close rolled around, I was already feeling pretty tired. Fridays take it out of you. But my mood improved considerably as Lloyd pushed ahead of me into the changeroom.

“Artie, Artie, it’s the end of the night and you still haven’t guessed. Which means I win. I win and you l-” Suddenly he spotted the note stuck to his locker. I had photocopied a page from Jamie’s large book of Grimm’s Tales and circled the relevant sentence in bright pink highlighter. Lloyd’s face fell faster than a drunk giraffe.

“Very unoriginal, Lloyd. Really, it was almost disappointing to find this.” I leaned over his shoulder and spoke directly into his ear. “I want it back by tomorrow.”

And it was in my mailbox first thing Saturday morning.

I spoke to Joanie last night at work, too. She wanted to tell me that Abi had really improved since our lunch last week, and to thank me for bringing James.

“She’s so much brighter, I can’t even begin to describe it. I was so worried, you know, that the depression would drive her to do something silly,” she confessed. “It’s horrible to have that thought running around your head all day.” Then she laughed. “He rang yesterday to speak to her, and I’ve never seen Abi move so quickly from the lounge room to the hallway. I think there may have been a land-speed record involved.”

I grinned. “It does get that way, I suppose, when you’re young.”

Joanie laughed at me. “Because you’re obviously getting on in years. I would go so far as to describe you as geriatric.”

But tonight was the real icing on the cake. Sunday again, nice and quiet. James came in wearing a huge silly grin on his face that made me wonder for a second whether he was the same person I’d been working with for the last two months.

“So,” I said jauntily, “having a good day are we? Did you speak to Abi again?”

“Yeah,” he said, almost dazed, “yeah, I did. She’s fantastic, isn’t she? I’ve never met anyone like her, she’s so…” He made vague swirling gestures in the air, twiddling his fingers. “Sparkly.”

“She’s a real gem, yes,” I laughed.

“But Arthur…” He grabbed my arm. “Arthur, that’s not all. I got a letter today.”

“Really?” I felt a jolt of excitement run through me. His energy was contagious.

“Arthur, it’s Hannah. She wrote to me. She’s okay.” His voice shook slightly. “She’s okay.”

“Do you know where she is?”

“She said… she said she can’t tell me yet, but that she missed me, and she’ll come back eventually. She says she’s coming back.” He paused. “It might take a while, but that’s okay. I’ll see her some day.”

A shining white pebble on the forest path. Mark another one up for Jamie.

But when I got home this evening, I found a message of my own. I turn my phone off during work, of course, but not many people ring me anyway. Tonight, though, I had a little reminder telling me to check my 1 New Voice Message. I dialled the voicemail number.

“Uh… oh. Um. Hi. Er, it’s me. The, um, it’s Eva. The girl, from the hospital? Yeah. Sorry, I hate answering machines. Uh, listen, I was wonderi- well, you gave me your number, so, so I guess, what I’m asking, um, would you like to go get some coff- well it doesn’t have to be coffee, I mean I just wanted to say thank you, and you don’t have to, but if you wanted to go get something, sometime, that would be… great. Uh, so, here’s my number…” She reeled off a string of digits. “And, guess I’ll see you soon. Or… not.” Beep.

I’d spent enough time perusing Jamie’s books to get a fair idea of where Eva might fit into this whole thing. The thing is, as far as I can tell, her story never really finished. I mean, you hear about her sister, and the wedding, and they live happily ever after, etcetera, but Eva’s story sort of cuts off at the point where I found her. So where do we go from here? How does this part of the story end?

I’m tempted to think it’s not the end at all. I think Jamie would probably agree it’s a whole new story altogether. Let’s see how it goes.

I’ll call her tomorrow.

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So here I am, back in Newcastle.

You know what? Nine year olds are smarter than we think they are. I’m sure I was probably convinced of my own superior intellect as a nine year old, but I think that as a general rule they’re a vastly underrated contender for mental capabilities.

I got here this morning just as Lily arrived home from taking Jamie to school, which was lucky. I could tell almost straight away that she’d had another row with Josh recently – there’s a certain set to her shoulders, specific lines that grow deeper on her face, a distinct glaze to her eyes that are sure-fire signals that she’s had to listen to yet another three-hour session of far-fetched excuses and wild accusations, and come out of it at the end still unable to force Josh to pay child support. My suggestion that she simply not let him see Jamie until he’s willing to take some financial responsibility for his own son is invariably met with a cold glare, and an inquiry as to whether I will be the one to explain to Jamie why he won’t be allowed to see his father. So I skipped it this time, and instead took my sister inside, made her a pot of tea and found a movie for us to watch.

As I was getting up to make us some toasted sandwiches, I asked Lily whether Josh was coming to see Jamie’s play. She gave me a pained look.

“No, Arthur, he’s not. You won’t have to see him, or talk to him.”

“That’s not what I meant. I was actually thinking of you. And Jamie.” But I could see her point. I have really gone out of my way to avoid talking to Josh, ever again if necessary. Anger is not a pretty emotion.

Lily sighed. “Actually, I was thinking. You should tell Jamie about this Leonard -”

“Lloyd.”

“- right, this Lloyd of yours. Or even about Abi. And James.”

I glanced at her curiously. “Why?”

“Just see if he can shed any light on the situation.”

“But-”

“Are those sandwiches ready yet?”

So when Jamie got home this afternoon I took him down to the beach. There was quite a lot of debris along the tideline so we began building sandcastles, using bits of flotsam for decoration. We heaped quite a large amount of sand together and were carving little windows into the sides.

“So, guess what,” I began, “do you remember Abigail, my boss’ daughter, from when you came down to Sydney a while ago?”

Jamie looked thoughtful for a second. “Was she the one with the sparkle earrings?”

I nodded. Amazing, the things they remember.

“I like her. She told me her earrings were because she’s a princess, and she made me a string bracelet. I wore it for about twenty days.”

“Well,” I said, wondering why on earth Lily would want me to tell Jamie this, “a really strange thing has happened to her. She keeps falling asleep, and no-one knows why. She’s really sleepy all the time.”

“Oh.” He added a shell doorway to the base of the castle. “Can they fix her?”

“Well, she’s feeling a bit better lately, because she made a new friend. He works at the pub as well.”

“Ohh… did he kiss her?”

“What?” I fumbled with the seaweed I was trying to place. “No, he didn’t. Why do you ask?”

“He has to kiss her to wake her up. That’s how you wake up the sleepy princesses.”

I looked at him. Kids are funny – they’re so earnest when they tell you these kinds of things. He sounded so certain. Bam, there’s the solution. Doesn’t he realise life is more complicated than that? Of course he doesn’t. He’s nine.

I didn't manage to get a picture of our castle, but it was pretty close to this

A wave rolled in and knocked down the castle. “Oh, no,” I groaned, disappointed. But Jamie just stood up and started collecting some twigs.

“C’mon, Uncle Arthur. We’ll build a better one.”

So we started collecting sticks. We built them into a kind of teepee shape, and piled the sand up around the framework.

“So is her friend a prince?” asked Jamie, fixing a crab claw to the very top of the castle.

“Hm? Oh, no, but he’s very nice. He’s pretty sad sometimes though. You see, he and his sister had to leave home, and they ended up in a house with a woman who wasn’t very nice – ”

“A witch,” stated Jamie firmly. “Did they push her into the oven?”

“Jamie, where are you hearing these things? You don’t push people into ovens. People go to gaol for things like that.”

“Was she holding them prisoner?” So nonchalant. Unbelievable.

“Um. Sort of. But they locked her in the bathroom and escaped.”

“Ha ha!” Jamie seemed to find this a great joke. Then he paused. “So why is he unhappy now?”

“Well, when his sister went to a different home, she ran away again, but now James can’t find her.”

“His name is James? That’s like my name!” We started digging a moat. “He just needs to follow the trail.”

“What trail?”

“Breadcrumbs, you know. The birds might have eaten some though. But he’ll find the trail again. She always leaves one.”

Again, very similar to ours. In fact I think they may have stolen our idea.

Again, very similar to ours. In fact I think they may have stolen our architectural techniques.

The waves were coming in. We jumped up and tried to shield our castle, but even Knut couldn’t stop the tide. Our masterpiece was again consumed. But Jamie just smoothed down the sand again, and started looking for new building materials. Further up the beach was a line of pebbles and small rocks, so we gathered a sizable collection and began putting together a strong foundation.

I was turning Jamie’s words over in my head. I wished I could have his certainty. The absolute conviction that he knew how the story would end.

I remembered what Lily had told me. “Okay, Mr Smarty-Nephew. What about this one. There’s a guy at work who’s really annoying.”

“Jack MacIntyre is annoying. He broke three of my best pencils last week.” Jamie had worked out how to fix the pebbles together using wet sand as a kind of cement, and was making good progress.

“Well this guy, he’s kind of like that. He’s got something of mine, and he won’t give it back until I can guess his name.”

Now he was looking at me like I must have been hit over the head with the stupid stick. “How many tries have you had to guess it?”

I thought about that. “Well, I’ve had a while, but I’ve probably only had two real tries at it.”

“That’s good.” He kept building. I waited.

He kept building. It was really quite an impressive structure.

I waited.

Then I couldn’t wait any more. “Well?” I asked. “What’s the answer? How do I guess his name? What is it!?”

My young nephew looked up at me with a face that seemed older than his years. He shook his head, grinned mischievously, and said, “Uncle Arthur, you’re really dumb sometimes.”

Then he told me.

The tide eventually reached our fortress, but it didn’t have nearly the same devastating effect. Jamie had built it well, and the water swirled harmlessly around the base as the towers stood strong. We watched it for a long time.

Conclusion? I need to do some more reading.

Our finished product... pretty much.

Our finished product... pretty much.

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To read what I have written lately, you would think that I have not thought about Eva for some time. This isn’t the case – indeed, it’s quite difficult to forget someone you met under such dramatic circumstances so quickly. The reason I haven’t written more about her is that I find it difficult to establish any sort of firm opinion about her.

I mean, I don’t really know what to think. Do I still owe her something, some sort of support or even friendship? Does the knowledge that she has no one, that she’s miserable and wounded, and that I’m the only one who knows, cast upon me the responsibility for her welfare? Well, no, of course not. I barely know her. I’ve barely met her. And yet it would seem particularly callous at this point to leave her to the fates, and not spare her a thought nor a second of my time.

I did leave her my number. She took it. She seemed grateful. Is that enough?

Something is telling me no.

Plagued by indecision, I set out this morning in the direction of the hospital. God, I don’t even know if she’s still there. She could be anywhere, really.

I wandered through the University. As I approached the carpark leading up along the side of the hospital, next to one of the University’s residential colleges, I noticed a kookaburra on a railing, making quite a lot of noise and generally broadcasting his existence to the world.

It’s actually amazing how close he let me get to take the picture – my phone camera does not have zoom. I stood listening to him awhile, pondering how the human brain superimposes human speech onto animal calls. I almost wanted to have a conversation with this bird. In fact, scrap that. I did want to have a conversation with this bird. I suspect birds may be a lot more interesting to talk to than most people.

In my mind, this one was cutting me a deal. “Food,” it said. “Bring me food, and I will make you rich and famous beyond your wildest dreams. You will have anything you want.” Kookaburras are cunning things. Anything to get a free meal. I have vivid memories of visiting an elderly relative as a small child, and leaving out tiny pieces of uncooked steak for the kookaburras. They would swoop down like fighter jets, and the morsel would be gone before you knew it.

“Ah, wily kookaburra,” I told it, “it is not that I do not believe you. But fame and fortune are more than I can handle today. Besides, I have nothing to give you.”

“Fine.” The kookaburra ruffled its wings, looked me sharply in the eye and warned, “You had your chance. I can bring kings to the throne, you know. Maybe I’ll go offer incredible things to some other lowly sap. Some other lowly sap with a pantry.”

“Good luck with that.” I waved to it cheerfully and continued on my way. But by the time I reached the hospital my confidence was gone. She does have my number. If she wanted to see me, she would call. She doesn’t even know me. I’m just some strange guy who found her on the street. And one who is arguably not completely in possession of his senses at present. He’s talking to birds, after all.

I hovered near the entrance, watching the automatic doors open and shut. I couldn’t cross. I went home. Maybe the old man was right – some walls are there for a reason, even if they’re inside your head.

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A Good Exchange

I spoke to Lily again today.

“How would it be if I came up on Wednesday just after lunch instead of just the one night?”

“Of course, you’re always welcome here, you know that. Any particular reason?”

To stop myself going mad. To get myself as far away from Lloyd as possible. “I just don’t get to see you guys as often as I should. Do I need a reason?”

Lily laughed. “What’s going on? Still having trouble at work? What was that guy’s name – Logan?”

“Lloyd.” I clenched my teeth.

“Mmm. What’s going on now?”

“It doesn’t matter.”

“Arthur. Talk. Now.”

“Really, Lily, it’s – ”

“Arthur.” Damn that woman. I know, I know she won’t leave me alone until I tell her. I could hang up and she’ll ring me back. I could not answer and she’d probably jump in the car and drive down here and knock on my door until I opened it to tell her exactly what’s been happening the past few days. I talked.

“Sounds like an dickhead.”

I leaned my face against the wall, squashing my nose against the plaster. “Oh, god, you’ve no idea.”

“And so what, you’re just going to keep guessing his name?”

Gently, gently, I banged my forehead on the wall a few times. “What else can I do?”

“Mmm. OK. Well it does sound like it’d be a good idea for you to come up for a couple of days.”

I sighed. “Good. What have you been up to?”

“Oh, you’ll never believe it. Do you remember how Alice gave me that ridiculous oven thing a couple of months ago?” Alice is Lily’s nutbag ex-sister-in-law, who seems to take delight in giving Lily horrendous, stupid and expensive gifts and then dropping in unexpectedly “on her favourite nephew” to see whether she’s using them. Presumably when she finds that Lily’s hidden them in a broom closet or just plain thrown them away, she goes and complains to Josh, thus inciting yet another pointless argument over Lily’s “unnecessary malice” towards his relatives. The latest doo-dad was something called a “Flavorwave Oven Turbo” – something Lily clearly does not need, as she is already in possession of a fully-equipped kitchen.

“Well she went on and on about how it cooked food faster and better and whatever, I don’t know, I clearly don’t need the thing, so I explained to her that I was very grateful, but if I could get the receipt, I’d exchange it for something I really needed,” Lily continued. “So of course she flounces about saying how difficult, how inconvenient, but since I obviously need her charity, she will oblige. Of course she’s worked it so that I HAVE to get an exchange, I can’t just get a refund and be done with it. It’s all online, though, so I sit down and work out what I could possibly need form this stupid place.

“I swear, Arthur, you would not believe the stuff they sell. I had $200 credit, so I just started browsing. First thing I came across was this thing called a ‘Tobi Steamer’, which is this thing you can carry around and it removes wrinkles from clothes and curtains and things. Looks kind of like a small vacuum cleaner. And I thought, well, you know, why not. It’s only a hundred and fifty dollars, and it looks very handy. I was just about to buy it, when I thought – no. What on earth am I going to remove wrinkles from? I don’t own any clothes that are really worth owning a whole bloody steamer for. We don’t even have curtains. So I left it.

“Then there was this thing called a Swivel Sweeper, cleans carpets and floors and all sorts of things. Great, I thought, I’ll get that. A hundred dollars, I’m still getting a good return for Alice’s gift, and it cleans. Right. So I was going to buy that, when I thought – I have a vacuum cleaner, almost brand new. I have a mop. What else do I need to clean my floors? I don’t need it. So I moved on.”

“You’re a terrible example of the typical consumer, Lily, did you know that?” I remarked.

“Shut up. So the next thing I found is called a 9-Minute Marinator. What you do, you whack your meat in before you cook it, add some herbs and oil and marinade, give it a spin and suddenly it’s all tender and flavoursome. Wonderful, I thought. I can make use of that, it’s only eighty bucks, let’s go. But then I thought, how can it possibly make the meat taste any better than the way Nanna taught me? Good old meat-tenderiser hammer, and careful marinating… I like cooking properly. I won’t use it. Nope. I left it.

“After that it was the H2O Mini Vac Turbo… seventy bucks, but hey, it’s still something for free, right? Cleans up dry and wet spills, small, handy, kind of like those old dust-busters. I was literally typing in my address when I realised I hated those old dust busters. They never did the job properly. We went through half a dozen in about two years, d’you remember? Pointless. I left it.”

“The dust-busters were useless,” I agreed, having worked my way through most of a cup of coffee due to not actually having to contribute to this conversation for a while, and feeling like some sort of comment was in order.

“So I searched in vain for something, anything I could use. And what did I find? The Snap N Slice. Fifty bucks. For veges and stuff, you know? Simple. Simple as anything. Perfect, I’ll buy it, send it to me.”

“So you’re the proud owner of a new Snap N Slice?” I queried, peering into the bottom of my coffee mug to see if there was any sugar residue.

“Oh, no. I thought about it two seconds longer, and realised that those sharp blades are a terrible hazard for Jamie. You go around disguising a knife as something else and god knows what kids think they can do with it. I couldn’t have something like that in the kitchen. No, in the end I managed to convince them to just take the oven back without charging me postage and handling. Really, it worked out much for the best. I got the best possible deal out of the whole thing.”

“So what are you going to tell Alice?”

“What I always tell her, though usually in more polite terms – she can take it and shove it. Aggressive gift-buying, honestly.”

One of the more pressing issues of today. Anyway, I don’t like Alice. She used to call me Art, which is only very slightly less irritating than Artie. Plus, it’s nice to know that people as smart and together as Lily still manage to have their loopy days.

Why, Mr T? Why?

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Exhausted.

Did you know that there are a ridiculous number of stupid names out there? I mean, really. Really. Really weird stupid names that you just have to think, what the hell were their parents on. Honestly.

If I trawl through one more freaking page of ‘Unusual Names’ (especially the ones that involve ‘cute and ‘special’ and ‘baby’ and ‘gorgeous’ in the title) I will start screaming. And I may not stop.

I spent last night reeling off every name I could think of from Samuel and Benjamin to Jaewon and Lemuel. And that grinning imbecile just stood there, saying “Guess again, Artie” and cackling. Really, I think it would be rather fitting if Lloyd HAD changed his name to Forsythia, or Kismet. Something in the region of Quintessence or Squarren would suit his ridiculous demeanour and general all-round preposterousness. If not, dear readers, for the fact that his name is already Lloyd. Lloyd. I mean for Christ’s sake, who would choose to go for a weirder name than Lloyd? Think about it.

Oh, and by the way? This woman and also this other person have ‘Arthur’ on their lists. Seriously? My name’s that weird? I’ll forgive the latter site solely on the basis of their explanation: “Who wouldn’t want to have the name of one of the most famous and legendary kings of all time?”

Hell yes. Only worthwhile thing I came across in this whole stupid session of Internet trawling. Oh, aside from this article, which temporarily retrieved my sanity from the brink of the chaotic abyss on which it was teetering.

This is his plan, isn’t it? To literally drive me insane until I spontaneously combust, and he’ll just stand there, laughing, and mixing the ashes into a scotch and coke and serving it up to a desperate, suicidal seven year old orphan holding a gun.

I’ve got to stop drinking so much coffee.

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Lunch & Laughter

An excellent day. I actually really love spending time at Joanie’s house – Mark and Joanie are such great people, and Abi’s a really sweet kid. James came too, which was fantastic. I get the feeling he doesn’t get to spend much time around other people, and you really can’t ask for a more well-balanced and supportive family than the Reillys.

They’d made all the food there at home – salads, panini, biscuits, fresh-squeezed juice, some lovely steaks and to finish off, an amazing fruit crumble that Abi had apparently slaved over all morning. I added my rather tokenistic bottle of white to the feast, and James had brought a log of nougat from the deli. We sat down, and Joanie introduced Abi to James, who gave her a friendly, if a little timid, smile.

It was hard not to notice the tense, anxious looks both Mark and Joanie kept shooting at their daughter, which jarred slightly with their easy jokes and banter. The poor girl did look rather pale, and lacked her usual sunny smile. But she sat with us all the same, listening and picking at her food. James told a rather stuttered joke about a hedgehog and a pineapple, and managed to coax a half-grin out of her, and a compliment on the crumble earned him a warm look and a tiny twinkle in her eye.

Mark told a story about his sister’s best friend, whose husband had been cheating on her. She’d found out that it had been going on for many months, possibly years, and was furious. She got her revenge at a party the couple had attended. While chatting with a group of acquaintances, Mark’s sister’s friend, Sarah, had begun to recount this dream she’d had. In the dream she’d met one of her husband’s female colleagues in a cafe. The girl had been nervous and distant, not meeting Sarah’s eyes. As the girl turned to leave, Sarah noticed (in her dream, she assured the crowd), that the girl was wearing a scarf very similar to the one she herself had given her husband three Christmases ago. Upon returning home, in her dream, she’d gone to look for the scarf, and found it not in her husband’s wardrobe – strange. (For, she told her audience, as they all well knew, Jason was fastidious about his clothing and its organisation.) She called out to Jason, but there was no answer, though she was sure (in her dream) that she had heard someone moving about in the living room at the very back of the house. Further inspection of the bedroom had turned up another anomaly – a necklace Sarah did not own, tangled around one of the bedposts. How strange a dream, Sarah exclaimed to the onlookers. Stranger still, when the dream-Sarah went downstairs to look for her husband, and walked silently into the living room to come across him tangled- (Here Joanie interrupted Mark with a loud “ahem!” and a pointed look in Abigail’s direction. Mark and Abi both rolled their eyes at her, Abi with a weary “Muuuuum” and Mark saying soothingly, “She’s fifteen, Joanie, not three.” Joanie shrugged. Mark continued) – tangled in the arms of another, much younger, woman. At this point in the story Sarah had turned to look at her husband (who presumably was looking rather uncomfortable by now) and flung the incriminating necklace she’d been hiding in her handbag firmly at his face, turned on her heel and swept gracefully out of the room, leaving the adulterous Jason to the glowering disapproval and disgust of their friends. I commented that we were seeing a far classier breed of cuckoldress these days, which earned me a bread roll square to the face from Joanie followed by a grape from Abi. As I brushed the crumbs from my jacket James rather drily commented that it was a real wonder I didn’t have a girlfriend, which finally got him the laugh from Abigail he’d been trying so hard for all afternoon.

As Abigail pealed out her famous giggle (albeit not quite as energetic as her usual self) I glanced at Joanie and Mark. Their faces told a thousand words, as relief and joy washed over their features like the tide. I watched the rain start to fall outside in the garden, and felt like a million dollars.

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Seeking Solace

I woke up this morning still vigorously irritated by Lloyd’s general existence, and feeling otherwise muggy in the head with the unfairness of everything.

To console myself, I grabbed a chocolate biscuit and wandered over to the windowsill in my tiny lounge room to water Jamie’s bean plant. He’d given it to me as a gift – a surplus from a class experiment – the time before last that I was in Newcastle, and the shoots really grow like crazy. I remember growing them as a school kid, watching and measuring ever day to see whose plant had grown the fastest. Mine never won, but I still always felt, secretly, that I had the best plant of all.

This isn't my plant; still, one can hope

This isn't my plant; still, one can hope.

As I carefully measured out the regulatory weekly inch of water allowed, a couple of tiny biscuit crumbs  dropped onto the topmost leaves, nestling against the stem.  As I watched, one of the two hundred ants that seem to perpetually inhabit my apartment zoomed busily up the stalk and started working away at the crumbs, trying to carry both while simultaneously navigating its way back down the stem. I half-chuckled to myself, and reached out a finger to flick the ant away, when something made me stop. I watched its laboured progress for a couple of minutes. Then I made myself a coffee, and tried to think of something productive to do. And couldn’t think of anything. Ho hum.

Joanie rang me last night invite me to lunch tomorrow with her and Mark, and I suggested she invite James as well, and she said that sounded like a great idea as Abi was home from school this week, and might be happier with someone a little closer to her age around. There’s something to look forward to. That’ll do me for the day. I think I might go have another biscuit.

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