Someone Like You

By: Victoria Purman

‘Not in those exact words.’

‘You can’t force him to do anything he doesn’t want to do,’ Lizzie added. ‘Like take free food, for instance. He clearly wants to be alone. So leave him in his man cave.’

And then Ry and Julia did that thing where they looked at each other and had a conversation without saying anything out loud. Lizzie bit the inside of her lip.

‘We need you, Obi-Wan,’ Julia said.

Lizzie replied with an adamant shake of her head and crossed her arms. There were plenty of reasons to stay out of Dan’s life. Millions. Trillions. ‘I don’t have time. It’s nearly summer holidays. It’s crazy busy here until February.’

‘What else can we do?’ Ry said. ‘We can’t just let him hole up in that crappy old house.’

‘Hey, watch your mouth. That was my mother’s house!’ Julia smacked Ry’s arm playfully.

‘Yeah and it’s still a crappy old house, JJ. But Dan seems to love it.’

‘You’re crazy if you think I’m going to go over there and have the door slammed in my face again. No freakin’ way, Jose. And,’ Lizzie added, pointing her finger in the air to add dramatic effect, ‘he keeps calling me Elizabeth, which I hate.’

Julia leaned over the table. ‘Will you just promise me one thing, Lizzie? We have to head up to Adelaide for a few days. Ry has a board meeting and I’m lunching with a potential client for my new business. Will you take Dan something to eat?’

That was a low blow. How could Lizzie say no to her best friend?

‘Oh, for God’s sake.’

‘Just food,’ Ry added.

Lizzie set her lips in a tight line. ‘Food. That’s it. No therapy. No hugs. No pushing.’

‘Great.’ Julia squeezed her hand. Ry shot her a satisfied smile. Lizzie hoped they weren’t expecting miracles. Because in her experience miracles didn’t happen. They were like mirages on a hot bitumen road. Illusory and fleeting. When you reached out for them, they vanished.

The next evening, a cool breeze came in off the Southern Ocean and danced with the trees of Middle Point as Lizzie headed towards Dan’s house. The sun was almost gone for the day, but there were still crowds on the beach. The sand was dotted with sun shelters, retro green-and-white striped canvas awnings mixed in with new blue igloos. Families were gathered around eskies and the zinc-creamed noses of toddlers peeked out from under sun-safe hats. At least someone was still having fun today, Lizzie thought. She’d worked a full and exhausting day at the pub and had aching feet and tired eyes to prove it. Here she was on her way to Dan’s. Again.

The arrangement was simple and clear-cut. All she had to do was drop off the food. Knock on the door, hand over the booty and skedaddle as fast as possible. And if he slammed the door in her face again? That was about him, not her. If it made him feel better, good for him. She had a busy life and she wanted to get back to it.

Lizzie rapped three times on the door. Firm. Efficient. Businesslike. And waited.

Dan heard the knocking and rose slowly from his chair at the kitchen table. A quick glance through the curtain and all he could see was a vague shape through the opaque windows. It was already twilight; the sun had dipped below the cliffs of Middle Point and the curtain was closing on the day.

He scratched his beard. He hadn’t been expecting anyone and more importantly, didn’t want to see anyone. He found a scowl, an expression that was very useful at fending off whoever it was who had good-neighbourliness or conversation in mind.

As he opened the door, he wasn’t sure what hit him first: the cooling sea breeze that whistled in and teased the hair out of his eyes or the smell of clean hair and flowers.

Elizabeth. With a smile so dazzling it made him blink.

‘Hi Dan.’ Lizzie propped her sunglasses up on top of her head. The smile wasn’t just on her lips. It was in her eyes too. They were big and as blue as the ocean over her shoulder, bigger eyes than any he’d ever seen on any other woman. Her friendliness threw out his game plan. There was no sign on her face that she was pissed at him for his behaviour the day before, which he was relieved about, because she had every right to be.

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