The blog is an amazing thing as I am beginning to discover. Not only is this a place where I can dump all the crap that pollutes my mind, but as I am reading other peoples blogs I realise that this is also a place where I can publish my ‘real’ literary genius. Ok, I’m not REALLY a genius, but if I don’t tell myself I’m awesome, no-one else will.
There’s Carat in That
“Hurry up Nick,” I called impatiently, opening the gate to the bottom of our property. “It’ll be getting dark soon.”
I ran my foot over the grass hoping to see a glint of something shiny reflecting in the sun. I didn’t really expect to find it there, nor along the fire trail where we had just spent the last half hour painstakingly scouring the ground retracing last nights steps, so I was not surprised my foot turned up nothing more than some horse manure and a small Green Tree Snake.
We had already gone back to the restaurant in town but they hadn’t seen it. They were certainly shocked to see us back again so soon after Nick had made such a complete arse of himself at dinner last night. I imagine they assumed he would be too embarrassed and hung-over to show his face again in a hurry. Of course I was completely apologetic about his pathetic drunken behaviour, while Nick barely managed a mumbled ‘sorry’. They seemed to find our situation somewhat funny, which pissed me off. We could hear their unstifled laughter from the kitchen as we left and walked down the front steps.
“We’re never eating there again, which is a pity, because it’s the only restaurant in town,” I quipped, shooting Nick an accusing glare. “We need to go this way, this is the way I dragged you home.”
I looked back at Nick who was still traipsing along the fire trail coming from the direction of the restaurant. The sight of him was truly woeful with his slumped shoulders and hands on his hips as he dragged his feet along. The sweat was pouring out of him causing his t-shirt to cling to his chest, accentuating the rise and fall of his laboured breath. He really didn’t look well, poor bastard. I would have felt sorry for him, if I wasn’t so bloody angry!
Nick stumbled as he reached me, “I hope that wasn’t my rock you tripped on,” I said sarcastically, offering him my hand to steady himself.
“Don’t get your hopes up Holly, it’s nowhere near that big.” Nick retorted as he clung to the gate post catching his breath, wiping beads of rum-infused sweat, remnants of last night’s failed attempt of dutch courage from his brow. He stared at me intently, right into my eyes, probably, I realised for the first time since he told me today what he had done, or rather didn’t do. He pleaded, “I just need a minute.” And with that, slid down the fence and sat slumped, with his arms hanging over his knees and his head dangling in between.
I stood there, holding the gate open, for god knows how long just looking at him. Two patches of receding hairline on either side of his forehead glistened with perspiration. I remembered how hurt he pretended to be, when after pointing out my first grey hair, I made mention of the fact that he would soon need a comb over.
I saw that his right hand still bared the faint scar from slipping on a spanner, while gallantly trying to fix my old F100 when we first started dating, even though we both knew he had no bloody idea what he was doing. Then I noticed how well the skin graft on his finger had healed. I recall Max and Sophie wouldn’t even hold that hand for months until it got better and they would fight over who got to hold his left hand. At least, as a result, we no longer eat anything deep fried, which is good, because I worry about his cholesterol and my kitchen catching on fire again.
Just thinking of the twins, mucking around helping their dad make dinner, evoked a strong emotional memory of him sobbing into my hospital sheets after they were born, while I rhythmically rubbed his back and kissed the nape of his neck, holding him until his tears stopped flowing.
I could hear the faint strains of Sophie practicing her clarinet up at the house as I shielded my eyes with my hand against the glare of the lowering sun, to stare across the paddock. I could see our horses, Wise Jack Dandy and Buddy Nuisance grazing, and Barney, Max’s rather stupid dog chasing something, probably a fly, dangerously close to Jack’s hind legs. In the distance stands a brilliant testament to Nick’s carpentry skills; the stable he built for me for my thirtieth birthday. And next to that, the chicken coop he built for my thirty-first.
A noise penetrated my thoughts and I realised that Nick was snoring. I also realised I was no longer angry but somewhat amused. After all these years, planning our lives, buying property, raising horses, raising children, living and working and running a farm together, the thought of asking for my hand in marriage made him so nervous that he couldn’t drink enough booze to get the guts to blurt it out. I started to appreciate how he must have felt, waking up this morning to quite possibly the worst hangover he’s had since those teenage binge drinking days of old, realising that not only had he failed to ask me to marry him, but he also managed to lose the ring. Then he had to tell me about it. Poor bastard.
I knelt down next to him. I almost hated having to wake him up but didn’t really fancy having to drag him back up the paddock a second time. I put my hand on his arm and he jumped. “Nick, come on, let’s go back to the house. There’s only an hour of sunlight left and I still have to work the horses. We can come back and look tomorrow.”
Nick grunted and let me help him up. We started to silently cross the creek. I remembered crossing it last night, Nick was barely conscious at that point and I was pulling him backwards. I stepped into the water and slipped on a moss covered rock, fell backwards and landed on my arse. Nick dropped on top of my legs and I had to roll him off to unpin myself. I freed one leg and used it as leverage to free the other. I pushed my heel into the small of his back and shoved him face first into the icy water, before dragging him up the bank and to the house.
He stopped unexpectedly and bent over, hands on his knees as he violently threw up in the creek, as if trying to purge the previous day from existence, as he cleared all traces of last nights courage building session, and probably most of his stomach lining as well. Crouching down to rinse his mouth and wash his face with the water from upstream, he suddenly resurfaced clutching something. He leaned back on his heels, and looked up at me through eyelashes clumped together with water, which spilled down his pallid cheeks to drip from his chin and muttered, “Here,” and dropped the ring into my hand.
I whistled for Jack and Buddy to take us back up to the house. “Tomorrow Hun, after you’re feeling better we’ll go for a ride, we’ll take a picnic,” I said, holding out my hand for him to take the ring back. “On second thought,” I slipped it into my pocket, “why don’t I hold onto it for you?”
By Sophia M