The Rules of the Game

By Simon Barker

Featured Art: Fishing in Spring, the Pont de Clichy (Asnières) by Vincent van Gogh

I was eating tagliatelle napolitana and drinking imitation Chablis when I remembered that I was supposed to be looking at a house. I said to the others,  “I have to go and look at a house.” “We’ll order veal scaloppine,” they said. “We’ll wait for you.” Veal scaloppine was what you ordered at the Mussolini after tagliatelle napoli. The only other thing was grilled liver but Wendy didn’t like the blood so we never ordered it when she was there. Wendy and David had been married for about a year. Wendy was dark-eyed and beautiful and I was in love with her because she was utterly vivacious and she put up with me even though I was an idiot.

I was carrying a map of Sydney but I still got lost on my way to the house. That was one of the habits that made Wendy say, affectionately, “Richard! You’re an idiot!” The house turned out to be across the road from a vacant television factory. When I knocked on the red front door I could hear a cat miaowing. Julie answered in the big, nerdy glasses she wore for studying. She said, “Hi, come in. Watch out for the cat shit, don’t step in it.” But it was too late and I had to leave my sandshoes on top of the steps. The reason there was cat shit was that everyone thought it was Drew’s job to pick it up seeing as the cat belonged to him but Drew was always out. He played the recorder in a medieval band. Julie began by showing me Drew’s room, which was the one at the front. She said, “This’s quite a good room, except when you’re fucking because then people in the lounge can hear everything,” and I thought well, that wouldn’t bother me since I’m not doing any fucking, but I didn’t say so. In any case Drew wasn’t the one moving out so Julie took me to Toby’s room, which was upstairs at the back and not much bigger than the double bed that was covered in Toby’s black satin sheets. Toby’s girlfriend was the sort who was used to black satin. She was the reason he was moving, along with the disco up the street.

After Toby’s room Julie invited me along to see the room with the balcony, just to show it off. “This is the best room,” she said. When I looked in the door it was full. There was a massive wardrobe bursting with clothes, including a fur coat. The floor was also spread with clothes, especially underwear. Next to a pair of cross-country skis there were a couple of small spare tyres and some miniature pistons that turned out to be for a scooter. On one of the desks was a Pentax camera with a telephoto lens and a sewing machine and masses of textbooks, index cards and notes, and on the walls were pictures of skiing and a big nude photograph in a frame and a gilt mirror. There was also a homemade sound system with Janis Joplin albums and Steeleye Span albums and Bartok albums stacked on top of it. And there was a cello. And also a skeleton on a bracket, a human skeleton, next to a crate of Gordon’s gin. The balcony was covered in plants, especially lettuces. “Whose room’s this?” I asked in amazement. “This’s Heidi’s room,” Julie said. “Heidi does everything.”

Back at the Mussolini I said, “I’ve found this fantastic house,” but what I was really thinking about was the room with the balcony and all the stuff, particularly the spare tyre and the skeleton and the underwear. David said, “Christ, this scaloppine really smells bad today, it smells like cat shit.” And I said, “No, that’s my shoe.” David said, “Oh, that’s all right then. If it’s your shoe.” That night my old girlfriend Edith was waiting on tables and when I told her about the house and what Julie had said about the woman who did everything she said, “That sounds like Heidi.” It turned out that Heidi had duxed the girls’ school where Edith taught English literature before she quit to wait on tables. “It’s true,” Edith told me. “Heidi does everything.” And after that I couldn’t stop thinking about her.

Heidi phoned the next day. She said, “Hi, this is Heidi from the house. The room’s still free, but can I ask you a question? When you do the washing up, what’s the first thing you wash?” I thought, that’s a funny question. At the other houses I’d been looking at, the residents usually asked me how many people I was fucking. But I remembered what my mother had told me and I said, “The glasses,” and Heidi said, “You pass. Can you come to dinner tomorrow?” Then I really couldn’t stop thinking about her.

After I’d finished work I travelled to Kings Cross and as I was walking toward the house I remembered wine. That was another piece of my mother’s advice. Always bring wine. So I bought the imitation Chablis we drank at the Mussolini. It was crappy wine but it came in a two-litre flagon. Which was just as well, as that was the other test I had to pass. Julie had said, “You know that guy who came about Toby’s room? He was nice but he seems really straight.” So they’d decided that if I brought alcohol I’d be okay and if I didn’t I must be really straight. When I brought the flagon they didn’t care it was crappy. They were just relieved. I was the only one who’d asked about Toby’s tiny little room.

Julie said, “Watch out for the shit,” again. There was less shit now since Drew had picked some of it up. But I still had to park my shoes on the landing for a second time. Out the back in the kitchen Heidi was at the stove in high heels and stockings and a Chinese silk dress and she had on an apron and there were four saucepans on the stove and the oven was baking. She was cooking veal scaloppine. Straightaway I recognised what Julie and Edith said was true, this was a woman who really could do everything. I stood there for a while not knowing what to say, just stupidly staring at her. She was tall. In high heels she was a good ten centimetres above me. That was a surprise. On the phone she hadn’t sounded a bit tall. The others were crammed around the dining table. Drew was there with his miaowing cat and Julie, who was smoking, and Julie’s funny boyfriend Nick from two doors down and also this other guy who offered me a big smile and said, “Hi. I’m Ken. I’m Heidi’s boyfriend.”

All at once I realised that was something I hadn’t thought of. I hadn’t thought that she’d have a boyfriend. I also realised that the reason why I hadn’t thought of that was because I was an idiot. Of course she was going to have a boyfriend. How could she not have a boyfriend? At the table I started feeling guilty and embarrassed and I began to wonder what I was doing there. Heidi finished cooking and ordered Julie and Nick to serve the scaloppine as if they were waiters. Heidi’s boyfriend kept smiling and when I explained about the other houses asking how many people I was fucking he found it really funny.  It was embarrassing. Later he had to leave for work. He was a barman. Heidi drove him on her scooter. While they were gone Julie told me that Heidi’s boyfriend had been studying film directing but the head of the directors’ program who was a nasty little runt had failed him so now he was keeping bar. She said Ken was a really nice guy. Of course he was. Heidi left a chocolate soufflé to bake while she was gone. She said, “Whatever happens, nobody open the oven door till I’m back,” and nobody did.

Even though I hadn’t thought that Heidi would have a boyfriend I still rented the room. I was living in the suburbs then, close to David and Wendy. Each day I was getting out of bed in the dark and riding a bicycle for an hour to the depot. Then I was working four hours and having four hours off, usually riding to Bondi for a swim, then working another four hours and riding back home to fall into bed. All the exercise was making me incredibly fit but there were mornings when I stood in the shower and thought that I would probably die soon if I didn’t rest. I also needed to shift farther away from Wendy. It was no good living close to someone you were in love with when you knew that nothing was going to happen.

I made Toby’s old room look neat and tidy with my Penguin Classics and my Rousseau prints. Toby had taken his double bed with the black satin sheets and replaced it with the landlord’s single bed. But that didn’t matter seeing as I wasn’t sleeping with anyone, although sleeping would be the wrong word anyway because the disco in Victoria Street regularly kept me awake. I found Rod Stewart highly irritating and Rod Stewart was huge in discos then.

The others in the house were medical students and they took turns at cooking dinner. For medical students they were pretty relaxed. In the evenings they’d lounge around drinking and watching the landlord’s old TV. They kept watching it even after the set went on the blink and the picture morphed from a rectangle into a circle, like a spyglass, and finally shrank so small you had to guess what you were watching. When it became totally unwatchable Drew and I lugged it across the street and hurled it into the loading dock of the vacant factory where it had been assembled a couple of decades before.

We drank lots of imitation Chablis. As it got late each night the others would go out or go to bed and leave Heidi and me talking well past midnight. I soon fell into the habit of talking about my unhappy relationship with Edith. In return Heidi would tell me about living in college and having three boyfriends at once and getting her scooter engine rebored and trying to play Bartok and about skiing down mountains in Austria. Then I’d tell her more about my unhappy relationship with Edith and the Renoir films Edith took me to see and how much I admired The Rules of the Game with the hero who tried to be noble and self-sacrificing and give up the woman he loved to his best friend but only succeeded in getting his best friend shot. I talked so much about that film that Heidi phoned Ken and made him take time off work to go to the cinema and this made me unexpectedly cross. I thought, but you’re the woman who can do everything so why can’t you see a French film by yourself. I told her it wasn’t very nice dragging Ken off from work just so she didn’t have to go on her own. All she said to this was, “Well, I’m not a very nice person.” When she returned from the cinema she said The Rules of the Game wasn’t such a great film. Ken had seen it many times before.

It was when Heidi told me she wasn’t a nice person that I admitted to myself that I was in love with her. I admitted it because I hadn’t stopped working at the depot and after sitting up past midnight chatting about Renoir I still had to crawl out of bed before dawn in order to make it to work on time only now, instead of standing in the shower and feeling that I’d probably die soon  if I didn’t rest, I felt immortal. There was also the business of not being able to stop thinking about her. When I considered it I realised that I must have been in love before we’d even met, just from looking at her room. But what could I do? It was too late now. Heidi glanced at me once over the fruit bowl in the dining room after we’d been talking for hours on our own and all the bottles were empty and she said, “Where’s this leading?” I said, “I don’t know.” Even though

I was in love with her I really didn’t know.

Each weekday morning she’d scooter off to the hospital. Sometimes on the weekend she’d scooter to the plant nursery to buy lettuce seedlings for the balcony. Once a month her windup alarm clock would wake us in the dark when it was our turn to run the fruit and vegetable co-op and Heidi would borrow the rusted Valiant station wagon owned by the co-op so we could drive to the produce markets to buy fruit and vegetables at bargain prices.

After about a month Drew left. It wasn’t that when he was fucking, people in the lounge room could hear everything. That didn’t bother him. The hitch was that Heidi got tired of the shit. One particularly shitty Saturday morning they had a grand argument and Drew lobbed two telephone books at her. Both the telephone books missed and afterward Drew said he was sorry and wanted to keep up their friendship but he realised it was impossible if he hung onto the cat. Our new flatmate was another medical student named Joe, but I inherited Drew’s room and his double bed. “Everyone will hear you fucking,” Heidi reminded me. I said I realised that. What I didn’t realise was that because Drew’s room was directly below Heidi’s I’d hear her fucking. Not fucking per se as the plaster ceiling was thick, but through the hole in the ceiling rose I could hear the squeaking of her bed frame and it made me feel low. It made me feel even lower than Rod Stewart singing from the disco.

Just before the medical exams we threw a fancy dress party. I invited the dancers from the samba school Edith had made me enroll in so I could make new friends. I forgot to mention the fancy dress requirement so the samba school arrived in their street clothes. They weren’t embarrassed. Heidi was decked out as Cleopatra and I was Jesus. They said, “You really look like Jesus,” though none of them had ever met him. Joe, who used to go to mass at the cathedral, felt I looked particularly like Jesus and shot Polaroids. Later he decided I looked too much like Jesus and he started to worry that something dire might happen. I got drunk and some of Julie’s friends led me up the street to Kings Cross where I taunted the evangelists singing hymns to the junkies on the corner of Bayswater Road. I was surprised how much I enjoyed dressing up as Jesus and taunting evangelists and nothing dire did happen. I was quite drunk. Julie’s funny boyfriend, Nick, was wearing a strapless dress that he had to keep hoiking up with his hand. Joe shot Polaroids of him too, but the Polaroids hardly did him justice. So many people had come to our party that when everyone tried to dance the samba our floor decided to sag and the stereo slid into the middle of the living room and so did the couch. For a while I stood by the wall in my Jesus costume restraining the stereo while people sambaed. I tried kissing a man with a beard but it didn’t do a lot for me.

By 4 a.m. the party was breaking up and by 5:30 there was only me and Heidi left awake. We sat on the stairs. They were too narrow to sit side by side so she sat a few steps below me and fiddled with my feet. She still had the plastic Cleopatra snake. I still had my Jesus costume. She took off my sandals and traced her finger round the stigmata I’d drawn with a red Texta. I stroked her hair, which looked frizzy and stiff but was actually very soft, like a poem. She said, “I want to go to bed with you,” and I said that I didn’t think that would be a good idea and she said, “Not right now, later.” I started to explain why it would be just as bad an idea later and she fell asleep. I felt a bit guilty about not carrying her up to her bed but I was drunk. I could have woken Ken since he was taller than me and more used to carrying Heidi when she was passed out but it didn’t occur to me. I left my two pillows under her head but I couldn’t sleep without them. My crown of thorns had made my head itch. I must have been allergic. In the morning Heidi was gone from the stairs and so were my pillows.

All weekend she was gone. She got back from Ken’s on her scooter on Sunday evening. It had been my turn to cook but there hadn’t been anyone to cook for so I was eating toast. She sat with me and poured herself some lukewarm tea. She didn’t bother making conversation. She just grinned between sips so I knew that she still meant what she’d said on the stairs when she was drunk. I started reminding her how incompatible we were since, for one thing, she regularly fought with people and I never fought with people and that had been the trouble with me and Edith, not to mention the difference in height. She said, “You haven’t even kissed me!” I didn’t know what to say to that. So I said okay and we kissed each other. She sat in my lap and we spent about ten minutes kissing. After the ten minutes I told her to forget what I’d been saying before about being incompatible and we should definitely go to bed. She said, “Well, we’ll have to wait a bit because I need to study orthopaedics for tomorrow.” We did some more kissing and then Julie appeared. I thought Heidi was going to stay in my lap but when she heard Julie she jumped off and did up her buttons and pretended that we hadn’t been kissing.

While I waited for her in Drew’s bed I could hear her cramming through the ceiling. She was taking her skeleton to bits and memorising the names of the joints and the bones. I heard a crash when she knocked it over and the bones clunked on the floorboards and she said “Shit!” Julie sat up smoking in the living room, studying a Harold Robbins novel and waiting for her boyfriend. Well past midnight Heidi sneaked down to my bedroom slowly so the stairs wouldn’t creak. She crossed her arms in the light of the streetlamp and pulled her homemade nightie over her head and announced, “This is what you get.” I almost leapt out of bed. Her skin was as soft and poetic as her hair. She said, “Feel how excited I am” and I said, “Ooh, yes. I’m excited too,” and she said, “I saw that when you got out of bed!” Then she said, “Oops, I forgot to study carpal tunnel syndrome!” and I said, “Shit, how long’s that going to take?” She said, “I’m kidding,” and toppled us both onto the bed.

Heidi stayed until dawn and then she had to tiptoe back up the stairs to pack her notes for the orthopaedics exam. From my window I watched her kickstarting the scooter and I waved goodbye. She was home before dinner. She said, “I think I did well in orthopaedics,” and “Have you ever been on a scooter?” Her spare helmet was at Ken’s so she gave me hers. It was less than three hundred metres to the Mussolini but she went flat out, even down the stairs. She scootered right inside the restaurant as it was actually an old garage and Stephano, one of the waiters, always drove his scooter inside. It was not something I would have done. She said, “Did you enjoy that?” and I said, “No, I was scared shitless the entire time.” With her finger she poked me and diagnosed that I was a weakling. It was a lie. I hadn’t been scared at all and in fact I would have let her fly me there in an aeroplane, even one that she’d glued together from a kit. She thought that was sweet when I told her. We ate grilled liver and held hands under the table. I did a lot of talking. I was about as happy as I’d ever been and after one glass of wine Heidi started falling asleep. “Let’s not drive the scooter back,” I said to her. She said, “You can drive. It’s easy.” But after I rammed a barricade she woke up and drove the rest of the way. I told her, “I think I need a bit more practise,” and she said, “When the others have gone to bed.” So once that had happened she tiptoed back down to my room.

She tiptoed down to my room every night that week but on the weekend she went with Ken. He collected her in the vegetable co-op Valiant. Before leaving she padlocked her scooter to the iron railing of the house and presented me with the key as well as the nail file she used to activate the ignition. Inside her helmet I could smell the smell of her hair. At the Mussolini I talked all about her with my mouth full. Wendy looked horrified when I ordered grilled liver. I told everyone about the boyfriends and the scooter and the skiing and even about Drew lobbing the telephone books. I told them everything I could, given that officially I wasn’t sleeping with her. As Stephano was serving my liver Wendy said, “How can you eat that? It’s still alive.” But after I made her shut her eyes she tried it and she had to admit it was delicious. David said, “Has she got big tits?” He used to say this sort of thing to exasperate his wife. I told him that she was ten foot tall. He said, “Ten foot tall and big tits! I have to meet this woman!” Rembrandt said, “I’ll go for a ride on her scooter any time!” But I knew that if he and Heidi got to know each other better the two of them would fight. Wendy described Rembrandt as an acquired taste, like grilled liver. After our dessert of blue gelato we saw Conan the Barbarian. It was Rembrandt’s idea. We laughed our heads off, especially at the quotations from Nietzsche.

For the rest of that weekend I stretched out in Drew’s bed naked reading my copy of Montaigne. With Julie and Joe away I could put Bartok on the sound system and water the lettuces without dressing. Heidi made a brief appearance to fetch her dirty linen while Ken waited at the wheel of the vegetable Valiant. She poked her head through my doorway and when I showed her what I was reading she said, “My father reads Montaigne. You should go out on the scooter and meet some girls.” I said I’d rather wait until she came home and she said, “You don’t have to wait.” Then she hitched up her skirt and hopped on top of me. When we heard Ken kill the engine we thought he was coming inside so she wiped herself quickly on her dirty clothes. She called out to him, “I’m coming!” and we both sniggered and felt guilty.

I stayed in bed for the rest of the afternoon underlining passages in Montaigne. After I’d dined again with Rembrandt and David and Wendy at the Mussolini they walked me home. A few doors down our street empty beer cans started raining on us. When I looked up I saw that Heidi had returned and was drinking with Joe and Julie on the balcony. Rembrandt scurried around the footpath picking up cans and chucking them back. I’d known they would fight. I unchained Heidi’s scooter and took Wendy for a ride round the block. When I put Rembrandt on the pillion seat the scooter blew out white smoke and refused to go uphill.

Heidi never took days off. She was afraid that the doctors would tell the other students the answer to a question that might be in one of the exams. There were two students called Sludge and Slime who always copied down the answers and Heidi was determined she was going to beat them. She posted a roster on the kitchen wall that organised the cooking. We were like a family, Heidi and I being parents and Joe and Julie the children, and just like parents we kept our affair a secret.

Outside our window there was a streetlight so that when we were secretly in bed Heidi and I could see each other no matter how late it was. I was so in love with her that when I looked at her face in the pale light I thought that it wouldn’t matter to me now if a bomb dropped and obliterated everything because there was nothing more I could ever want. But even though I was in love I didn’t say anything. Heidi once announced at the dinner table, “Love is the feeling you get when you haven’t fucked anyone for a while.” She got a big laugh for this so I decided to shut up about love. I asked her if she was going to tell Ken about me and she said she’d tell Ken when the right moment came.

But the right moment didn’t seem to come. As time passed and Heidi kept spending the weekends at Ken’s house, I started to mull while I was on my own. There was nothing I could do. I started to mull about why it was that I kept falling in love with women who already had some other guy. Edith had had a husband when I met her and I still felt that I’d been the cause of her divorce. And Wendy had a husband. And of course Heidi had a boyfriend. I even had a dream in which Heidi also had a husband, as well as two children. The other thing I began to mull over was why I kept falling in love with women who already had some other guy who was so likeable. Wendy’s husband was appallingly likeable. I would have liked him even if he wasn’t married to a wife I was in love with. That was why Wendy and I never did anything. She gave me lifts when we were students and the two of us would sit in her little Toyota and talk into the night and I’d want to kiss her but I couldn’t because of her husband. It was as if he was sitting in the back seat, being appallingly likeable. The same with Heidi’s boyfriend. Even Heidi’s dream husband was likeable, so far as I could tell. I mentioned to Heidi how I seemed attracted to married women and she said that some people chose to be attracted to married women just because they were unavailable. I didn’t try to argue, but it did nothing to stop me feeling low.

If I heard the bed squeaking, I had to leave my room. No matter what time it was I’d pull on my sandshoes, the ones I’d used for stepping in cat shit, and go out. Usually I’d jog to the Gardens. I’d jump the fence and run along the path beside the harbour. Sometimes I ran the length of the Butler Stairs until my legs stopped working. One night there was a naked man on the stairs and when I came close I saw it was my cousin, Lance, who lived near the disco on Victoria Street. He was slipping down to our house for a spare key after he’d woken to find a junkie burglar in his bedroom and without thinking he’d chased the burglar down his stairs and then his front door had slammed. Lance was screening his private parts with a fig leaf from an overhanging tree. He was an artist.

Maybe because I was feeling low I resigned from the depot and started working at the box office. No one at the depot had been gay but everyone at the box office was gay. They were retired ballet dancers. They were pleasant guys. If I got myself out of bed by ten to nine I could make it to work by seven minutes past so long as I sprinted through the Gardens and didn’t slow to button my shirt. The blackbirds would have to scatter out of my way when I trampled the perennial shrubs. Every morning the guys in the office would compliment my appearance, even though my shirt was half unbuttoned and my hair hadn’t been combed. One of the older ones used to sit at the counter with me in the mornings when it was quiet and the others were on the phones interrogating subscribers about why they hadn’t renewed. The sun would shine across the forecourt and when a woman passed by in a summer dress you could see right through it. I was so unobservant that I never noticed this until one day the older guy said, “Look, you can see paradise.” It was considerate of him to point this out to me since seeing through a woman’s dress certainly wasn’t of any interest to him. But I was in love and so it wasn’t of any interest to me either. It was a complete waste.

When it was Julie’s birthday her mother sent us all a present. It was opera tickets. Her mother didn’t know that if you worked in the box office you were given opera tickets for free since there were nearly always tickets left over, especially if the opera was by someone like Janacek. If the opera was The Cunning Little Vixen the box office manager would give away handfuls of free tickets so that the house didn’t look too desolate because the subscribers would stay at home and watch Brideshead Revisited instead. But Julie’s mother was a nice woman who lived far away and so we didn’t spoil her present. Fortunately they weren’t tickets to an opera by someone like Janacek. They were tickets to Gilbert and Sullivan. Heidi couldn’t stand operas no matter who they were by. But she could stand Gilbert and Sullivan. She and I sat in the dark in the plush seats at the rear of the opera theatre and squeezed each other’s hands and kissed. It was a matinee and there was an interval between the two acts, or possibly there were two operas and the interval was between them. We weren’t paying attention. During the interval we went to the north foyer. Heidi and Julie and Julie’s boyfriend and Joe stood by the big glass windows watching the ferries sail past on the harbour while I queued at the bar. Heidi’s boyfriend was serving champagne and he had on his dinner suit and his white bow tie and I thought how it suited him because he was tall and broad-shouldered. I knew that if I ever wore a dinner suit it wouldn’t suit me at all. A barmaid took my order but Heidi’s boyfriend spotted me out of the corner of his eye and slipped me a silver drinks tray since it was Julie’s birthday and I didn’t know how to carry five drinks at once. An ocean liner skirted the window and the audience waved to the passengers on the deck. We toasted Julie with glasses of sparkling wine so during the second half Heidi and I were slightly drunk and we did more kissing and hand squeezing. The audience laughed much harder than they usually did during an opera by someone like Janacek and there were a lot more of them so maybe I wouldn’t have scored free seats. It was a very silly opera or perhaps operas, but I was feeling very serious. When it was over the sun was still shining. We strolled on the forecourt and I told Heidi about being able to see paradise from the box office. By then the sun was shining from the wrong direction so she had to take my word for it. We passed round to the Quay and got on a ferry to Manly. The others climbed to the upper deck so we stayed on the lower deck where we wouldn’t be seen holding hands. Heidi slouched like Agent 99 used to do in Get Smart so that our heads were on the same level. The breeze blew her hair in my face and we saw a tiny penguin leap ecstatically from the water as we passed the open sea. We didn’t disembark at Manly. There was nothing at Manly to disembark for and so after the captain had shifted to the bridge at the opposite end of the vessel we came straight back. While we were sailing toward the city the sun started to set, the water went very still, the lights along the streets and in all the houses up the hills started to flicker and I stood close to Heidi and held her. It was beautiful. The harbour was beautiful, Heidi was beautiful, the sky was beautiful. I started to feel sad. I thought of how the ferry ride would soon be over and how we’d go back to the house and Heidi’s boyfriend would finish work at the bar. Then I thought about being in love and whether I would ever confess it to Heidi and I decided that probably I wouldn’t because she didn’t want to hear it. I thought of Renoir in The Rules of the Game and how he was in love with the same woman as his best friend and how he tried to act nobly and let her go and only succeeded in ruining things for everyone. I was doomed to keep falling in love with women who were already married or already had someone else and even when I tried to do the right thing it didn’t work out. I’d probably ruin things for everyone, but what else could I do, that seemed to be my nature. Then Heidi stopped looking at the lights beside the harbour and turned to me. She looked very happy and after a moment she said, “I never thought I’d feel like this,” and I said “What?” and she said, “You know. I never thought I’d be in love.”

Simon Barker is an Australian living in Sydney although for a number of years he lived in the Bay Area of California. His stories have been published in the UK, North America, Turkey, Indonesia, Australia and the Subcontinent.

Piece originally published in NOR 13.

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