Someone Like You

By: Victoria Purman

And then he pulled himself up. Why are you thinking about the colour of her goddamn hair, McSwaine? Hell, he might be a sorry-arse excuse for a man at the moment, but he wasn’t dead.

She was walking off into the distance with a spring in her step, her arms swinging by her sides, the late spring sunshine all around her like a spotlight. She looked like she didn’t have a worry in the world and part of him envied her. Dan tried to remember how long it had been since he’d felt like that. Too long. So long that he’d begun to distrust the memories of his other life, figuring they were coming back to him through a distorted lens.

There would always, from now on, be the time before the accident. And everything after. And the stuff that came after, the reality he was living now was, for the most part, shit. The only bright spots in the past three months, besides getting out of hospital, had been leaving his old life behind and buying the beach house. Just as he’d hoped, it had given him a place to escape. A place to hide.

When he took a final glance at Elizabeth and realised she was empty-handed, he shook his head. She’d left the damn food. His spine stiffened and he scratched his jaw. Since when did Ry and Julia – or Elizabeth for that matter – think of him as a charity case?

When he’d moved down to Middle Point, he’d flat-out told his best friend that all he wanted was time and space. He hadn’t wanted Ry or his fiancée hovering around him waiting for some miraculous recovery. He knew he would need time to get his head around what had happened on that dark winter’s night. Or rather, what had almost happened, when his car was slammed by a truck on the winding road back to Adelaide.

In the days and weeks after the accident, Ry had done the best friend thing and taken care of business. He’d said afterwards that it was no biggie, that it was what best mates did for each other. Ry had been at the hospital every day; he and Julia had taken charge, flown Dan’s parents thousands of kilometres from Queensland and fed and watered them while he recovered. He’d managed to convince his mum and dad that he was okay. They had returned to their caravan and were grey-nomading around the country, which suited Dan just fine. Last time he heard from them they were in Broome, in the far north of Western Australia. Which was about the right distance away, he figured. Having his mother around fussing over him would drive him bat-shit crazy.

And now everyone else was starting to drive him bat-shit crazy. Ry and Julia were still trying to take care of everything and that included trying to run his life. Ry had refused to let Dan go back to work as the Director of Special Projects at Ry’s company, Blackburn and Son Developments, even though he was still paying him his regular salary. That just didn’t sit right with Dan, considering he’d been sitting around on his arse for the past three months. And the happy couple had tried to pop around every chance they got which, considering they lived in the glass palace next door, was way too often. He hated seeing the worry in their eyes when he turned them back at the front door, pleading whatever the hell lame excuse he could come up with to be left alone. He didn’t want company. Liked it better on his own, with music cranked up so loud that he didn’t have to listen to what was flying around in his head. Ry and Julia had persisted longer than he thought they would, but had given up in the past month.

Funnily enough, the only person who hadn’t come knocking on his door was Elizabeth. She hadn’t once visited him while he was in hospital either. He hadn’t seen her in all the months he’d been back in Middle Point. Until today. So why now?

And what did he care anyway?

Dan was simply going to have to tell Ry to fuck off and leave him alone. Mates could say that to each another, he knew, and it would be taken in the spirit with which it was intended. Which was, ‘fuck off and leave me alone’.

Dan turned from the window and wondered where the hell his phone was. He wanted to make sure Ry got the message, loud and clear.

Lizzie squinted against the scorching wind and the burning hot sun. It felt like a bushfire day, the air was tinder dry and ready to snap, the low-lying hills behind the Point already transformed from their winter patchwork of green fields to parched brown fire hazards. It wasn’t unusual to see such a hot day in November, with the northerlies blowing, gathering up every molecule of desert heat from central Australia and dumping it in great gusty draughts on Australia’s southern coast.

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