Mandy told me a few stories and I told her a few of my own. We were in some place around the Gold Coast, and we were in a hot air balloon and I hadn’t seen anyone but her for the past few days.
“What do you think?”
“What do I think of what?”
“Of the view.”
The sun was just rising and there was orange, a warm orange, and the tourists around us smiled and took photos of the trees and fields near the horizon.
The balloon landed and we all had to roll it up. The organiser then drove us to this winery. I drank and ate as much free wine and food as possible while Mandy smiled, drank water, watched the green hills and the sun’s calm but confident rise.
“You have to drive us back!” I said to her eventually. I hadn’t had alcohol like that in months and I didn’t know how to feel about it.
“But I haven’t driven in years.”
“You’ll be fine,” I said, giving her the keys. She started the car and began driving forward before I had the chance to stumble in. She ran over my foot and I screamed in pain. “YOU BITCH!” was all I managed to say.
She stopped the car. I jumped in.
She crossed her arms. “I can’t believe you called me a bitch.”
“I can’t believe you ran over my fucking foot!”
“You yelled so loudly.” She began crying.
“I don’t get you. Stop crying.”
She wiped her eyes, looking my leg over. “Well, should we go to a hospital or something?”
My foot. I didn’t want to look at it, didn’t want anything to do with it. “I’m fine.”
We drove back to Brisbane in silence; we parked in her guest car park and didn’t say anything for a while.
“I’m sorry I’m like this,” she eventually said. “You know what? I don’t really have friends anymore. I mean, like, I’ve been in a bunch of relationships, but I don’t really have friends, friends. And I don’t even know if it’s a good thing, or a bad thing.”
“I just don’t enjoy socialising as I do working and improving myself. Have you ever been to a swinger’s party?”
“I don’t remember.”
She looked at my foot. “Are you sure you don’t want to get that checked? You don’t look happy.”
“I’m fine.” I wasn’t.
“Anyway, there’s a swinger’s place in New Farm. And I remember so badly wanting to go with a girlfriend once, because I heard they’re not that strict about you needing to be a couple or anything, but when I looked through my phone I seriously didn’t know who to invite. I’ve just been working so much that I don’t know what a normal social life is any more.”
“How old are you?” I asked her.
“You should know that already.”
I thought about Jude and Vail and that was about it. “One day, you’re going to lose all your friends. But then you’re going to make new ones.”
“Like you’re so wise. You don’t even have kids.”
We went to her room, changed, and as much as I just wanted to sleep, she persuaded me to go to the gym with her. I pretended to do weights while she did Zumba.