In my mid-20s, I was living in an inner-city suburb of Sydney sharing a house with an African American singer-songwriter, who was the lead singer of a popular funk band.
He was dating Joan, an attractive girl of Lebanese descent, who was inseparable from her best friend, Mary, a blond pale-skinned Aussie girl. We would often meet at clubs in Kings Cross, the hub of Sydney’s night life, to watch live bands play.
One evening, I was at a club waiting for the band Raging Waters to come on stage when Mary and Joan walked in with a young Indian couple. However, I soon realised that they weren’t a couple: Mary was dating the tall slim guy, and the petite girl with the beautiful smile was his friend, Lorna. She was very attractive: dark skinned with long black hair and sparkling brown eyes that were truly magnetic.
Over the course of the evening, I discovered she was still getting over a bad break-up with an Australian guy. He must have been crazy to let a girl like this stunner slip through his hands!
About a week later, I met her again and although I still really fancied her, I thought better of getting involved with someone who was still getting over her ex.
The following week, Mary invited me to join her and a group of friends on a two-day trip to the Blue Mountains. I was keen to go, as I loved getting out of the city on weekends especially to the upper mountains to bask in its beautiful tranquil energy.
As often happens, in the days leading up to the trip, people dropped out, so by the time we met in the city on Friday after work, it was just Mary, her boyfriend, Lorna and me. In hindsight, I think Mary probably set up the weekend to throw Lorna and me together!
We loaded our overnight bags into the back of Mary’s white Toyota RAV and then battled our way through the rush-hour until we reached the M4, but the motorway traffic was just as dense.
Half an hour later, we could see the Blue Mountains in the distance.
‘They really are blue, aren’t they?’ Lorna said.
I was going to say that it was the haze of eucalyptus that was blue, not the mountains, but thought better of it.
‘What’s the plan, when we arrive?’ I asked.
‘The sun should be setting just before we arrive,’ Mary said, ‘so I suggest we go to our rooms, freshen up, and then head to the motel bar for a drink before dinner. What do you think?’
By the time we reached our motel in Blackheath, hues of gold and purple filled the western sky. I climbed out of our car and marvelled at the blanket of multi-coloured leaves covering the fairways of the adjacent golf course. A kookaburra sitting on a nearby branch was laughing at the absurdity of why people like us would choose to live in the city!
After dinner, we sat drinking cognac around the log fire in the lounge. Eventually, Mary and her boyfriend retired to their room. I was tempted to follow their lead, but Lorna and I went to our separate rooms.
The following day we all had great fun visiting the tourist spots, as Lorna and I became closer. By the time we returned to Sydney on the Sunday evening our relationship was still platonic.
The following Saturday evening I took Lorna out to dinner at a Thai restaurant on Darlinghurst Road near the Cross. We got on really well and I walked her back to her car, giving her a brief kiss on the lips before we said goodbye. We spoke several times that week and decided to go for a trip away by ourselves the following weekend.
I picked up Lorna at sunrise on Saturday morning, and we drove a couple of hours up the coast to Newcastle, a large industrial port city, where we stopped for breakfast.
We then continued north through the Hunter Valley, singing along to the songs of a Pet Shop Boys album. After passing endless crop fields, we entered a large Eucalyptus forest in the Barrington Tops National Park. We pulled up outside our lone rustic log cabin in the middle of a clearing. When I stepped out of the car, all I could hear was the noise of squawking parrots. The sun was high in the sky, and I could tell it was going to get even hotter.
After lunch, we strolled hand-in-hand along a path through the woods until we found ourselves entering a field of bright yellow canola plants that were gently swaying in time with the light breeze. Halfway across, we stopped to admire our surroundings: a tall mountain to our right, the forest behind us and a small trickling river ahead of us. The only sign of human life was a quiet road about 100 meters away.
‘Isn’t this beautiful?’ she said.
‘Just like you,’ I replied as I kissed her on the lips and embraced her.
Our kissing was gentle at first, but soon became more passionate as we fell to our knees. Lorna hesitated.
‘What if one of those people in the passing cars sees us?’ she asked.
‘Don’t worry, they won’t be looking this way, and even if they do, they won’t see us,’ I answered reassuringly. We fell to the ground masked by the plants and began to undress each other.
To this day, I remember feeling the heat of the sun on my back, the smell of the canola plants, noticing the contrast of her dark skin against the whiteness of mine, and more than anything, just how beautiful she looked. I couldn’t help myself, but I was really falling for her!
We returned to Sydney at the end of the weekend, with neither of us sure where this relationship was going. A few days later, I was playing squash with a good friend of mine and during a water break, told him about my romantic weekend away.
We walked back onto the court and he asked, “She didn’t mention anything about a future, did she?”
‘Dunno,’ I said hitting the ball against the wall as I served a lob.
After a short rally, I won the point, and he picked up the ball. He looked me right in the eye and said, ‘Sounds like you’re her rebound relationship!’ before throwing the ball to me.
I caught it and smashed my serve against the wall. He was still laughing to himself as he over-hit his return and lost the point.
I picked up the ball and said, ‘She did say something strange when I dropped her off.’
‘What?’ he asked.
I served again and this time lost the point. I kicked the ball towards him and confided, ‘She told me she wanted to have a child soon but did say she wasn’t looking for a life partner!’
He picked up the ball and gave me one of those stern looks, ‘Stay well away, or you’ll regret it!’
He was right. I was getting emotionally involved way too fast with someone that I hardly knew. I probably was her rebound relationship.
It’s funny, she never called me, and I never called her. And I was okay with that: we’d had a lovely romantic weekend away and maybe I’d helped her to get over her ex. But it didn’t stop me wondering what might have been …