Back in the suburbs, the breeze carried nothing but guarded honesty, with the occasional hint of smoke from the bushfires. She had previously thought that a house was merely a construction of mortar and bricks, generic to the point of boredom and saved only by the architect who threw a keen and discerning eye over its inception; however as she wandered down a street she found this opinion to be increasingly distasteful.
Clean and acute edges along with neurotically trimmed lawns comprised a bland, secure haven. It was as if the wearied architect had reached a pinnacle of perfection after which any subsequent design would be rendered inferior. As a writer, she could relate to that same paralyzing fear which rendered the artist in her immobile. She wondered if the seemingly unshakeable smile of newly anointed housing agents ever wavered as they oscillated between houses disarmingly similar; rudely disrupting their well-oiled sales pitch.
The air here was reasonably steady with pinches of sea salt, yet the breeze carried gleaming undercurrents of promiscuity. The crispness of the air was so dangerously well articulated that she felt like she was flirting with a seductive madness.
The persistent drone, humming, and buzzing of the elements was like an asymptotic orchestra. They drove through gracefully bowed canopies, eventually stopping at a point where the towering trees parted to reveal a breathtaking clearing beneath. The hum of insects intensified as they stared at the houses comfortably nested within the majestic throng of trees cemented on the hillside. A slight mist only served to accentuate the mystique of the majestic specimens who stood bathed in steaming humidity. She felt awed at how these inanimate objects could have a sincerity pervading far beyond her own form of expression. The overwhelming silence brought a strange sense of assurance, as she gazed out at the guardians of the forest who stood resolute.
“If you wake up at 5am, you’ll hear the possums and kookaburras.”
Slow and steady; almost to the point of bastardizing spoken word. The soft, grating monotone was accompanied by a deliberate nod and smile which inched leisurely across his face like the unexpected warmth of a small rock pool near the vast ocean.
The forest was tantamount to a reclamation of his roots; where he left behind the fetid grime of the city and moved into a timeless sphere of blissful obscurity. She watched as his brow gently loosened like the quiet lapping of waves against the ocean; after which he bathed her in a dreamy gaze like a pastel sunset.
He chose a walkway going up to a lookout point and she followed, his broad shoulders paving the way.
The breeze ruffled the treetops and played with his shock of sandy hair – throwing it into disarray; while the earthy scent of the foliage beneath brought back childhood memories of country music under clear night skies. For him it stood out as the embodiment of Australian, filled with raucous laughter and good-natured banter. There was something uncharacteristically optimistic about the frenzied harmonies of the fiddle, where each note leaped about like ungainly toddlers in a rag-tag race to the finish – while the relentless beat of the drums remained true as a headstrong whisky; forming the dogged persistence which marked him as a person.
He caressed her with his voice, marvelling at its progression through time like a fine wine. Singing had always been his first love; a vessel to his soul. A medium of expression for everyday emotions which otherwise remained voiceless. Each note was finely hewn with unguarded honesty, like the routine thwack of an axe cleanly splitting a block of wood in two.
The sunset dappled her hair with streaks of gold as she sat perilously perched on the ledge, feeling a sense of tranquility envelop her like a threadbare cloak. A shy smile unexpectedly turned up the corners of her mouth as their eyes met, only to be replaced by a haunting sadness as acute as the dying notes of the song.
“Hey, hey. It’s okay!”
A protracted reassurance. A hollow smile in return.
His gaze never faltered as he embraced her with a tenderness as intense as a slow burning flame; a question filled with bittersweet yearning.
They walked back; unspoken words clouding the air like the smoky aftermath of a campfire, robbing them both of coherence. The air which had seemed so delicate before now lay flat and lifeless; weary with words left unsaid.
He kicked the jeep into motion; the guttural roar steadily battling against the screeching of the forest’s inhabitants, until their departure caused a hush to fall over the valley once again.