Someone Like You

By: Victoria Purman

She stepped out of the shower, grabbed a towel and dried herself off. She pulled on a tank top and loose cotton pants before pouring herself a glass of chilled sauvignon blanc and headed out to her front deck for her nightly ritual. No matter if it was blowing a gale or scorching hot, she had to be out there. The familiarity of the outlook calmed her, took her out of herself at the end of each day. It needed regular and intense study. Rooftops and candy-coloured houses, mangroves in the distance in one direction and the Point at the other, the salty tang in the air, all reminded her that this was her little piece of the world.

Lizzie loved her house. It wasn’t the fanciest place in Middle Point, certainly not a gorgeous summer retreat like Ry and Julia’s place, but it wasn’t a quirky beach shack like Dan’s either. It was a solid brick home, on the rise behind the coastline, close enough to feel the breeze but not close enough to hear the waves. It had been her grandmother’s house and Lizzie had grown up here with her mother and her older brother Joe. It was no surprise that, with three generations of women driving him crazy, Joe had left home as soon as he’d finished high school. He’d headed off to Sydney to forge an award-winning career in journalism.

But there were still reminders of him here. Lizzie grinned. Right ahead of her in the garden. Three pink cement flamingos stood drunkenly in the front cactus garden, faded now. Her grandmother’s favourites and a constant reminder of her brother, who’d suffered years of torment from his schoolmates because he’d lived in the pink flamingo house.

The memory made her smile. Which was exactly why she loved sitting out there in her ratty old cane chair in the dark. The memories of those she loved always swirled around her with the sea breeze, comforting and calming her, anchoring her in this place of childhood and family.

As the stars began to flicker and the deep blues of the daytime sky faded to purple and black, Lizzie let the wine buzz settle and stretched her legs out in front of her, the cool breeze fluttering against her toes. And then, and only when she felt serene and calm, did she let herself think about the elephant in the room.

What was she going to do about Dan McSwaine? There was something wrong with him. She just knew it. Call it a career spent listening to people’s confessions across the front bar of the Middle Point pub. She could pick the problem by the first drink. Heartbreak. Divorce. A lost job. A death in the family. Each type of grief looked slightly different and required its own particular libation. That same instinct was sending her warning signals that there was something going on with Dan that was way more serious than a lack of appetite and a desperate need for some personal grooming.

Could anyone blame him after what he’d been through? Of course Lizzie had sympathy for what had happened to him. It was hard watching anyone suffer but there was something about him, in particular, that made her want to draw a line in the sand. Being a fixer was exhausting and maybe it was time to put herself first for a change. ‘Dan McSwaine is not your problem to fix,’ she told herself.

Ry and Julia had told her that she was their only hope. Yeah, right. So what if she and Dan had shared a few meaningful glances and some flirtation the night of the accident. He’d simply been playing his part as the slick city guy. She’d seen men like that before, every summer of her whole life, in fact.

She wasn’t going to play their game.

At eight o’clock the next night, there was a knock on Dan’s door. He figured it was Lizzie coming with more food and he was kind of glad because he had something in mind to say to her. Not that he’d worked on a big speech or anything. Just something friendly with an apology wrapped around it for the whole slamming the door in her face thing. That’s all it needed to be, a word or two, nothing more. And it was all there, on the tip of his tongue, ready to be said, when he opened the door.

‘Elizabeth, I—’

He realised he was talking to the sea breeze. There was no sign of her or anyone else. But there was food. The sensational aroma of curry battled it out with the faint waft of seaweed blowing off the beach. Dan followed his nose and looked down. There was a white box on his front door mat.

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