Make of this what you will…
It was a Saturday night. My girlfriend of the time was at work until at least midnight and I found myself alone at home with our housemate who, for the purposes of this story, we’ll agree to call Wendy. This sounds like the beginning of one of those tales of infidelity that never end well but rest assured no infidelity occurred. Don’t get too relaxed, however, this story still ends very, very badly.
As was common on the weekends in our little share-house, the night began with drinking. Now Wendy was a pretty unique character in my experience, with quite a way about her. She was a full figured girl of the sort whom these days like to describe themselves as Rubenesque. Not your traditional beauty perhaps but sexy as hell nonetheless.
Wendy was also a voracious flirt but out of deference to my relationship with her best friend (who we’ll call Jenny), kept her flirtatiousness to a fairly manageable level with me. She was a student teacher who’d just got back from a year of living in Edinburgh, Scotland where she’d broken several hearts (Oh the long distance phone calls we would receive) and, by her own accounts, had far too good a time.
It was pretty obvious that she was having trouble adjusting to life back in Melbourne and that she was a little disturbed that, in the time she’d been away, her best friend had met and fallen for me. I could see that over the few months she’d been living with us, I was being scrutinised and assessed as to just how much of a threat I posed to her oldest relationship.
On this particular night, I could tell she’d called a truce on all that. Perhaps she was lonely; perhaps it was just the booze. We fell into an easy kind of loll on the couch and started talking pretty freely about our hopes, plans, and dreams. We were both very passionate in our cups and so were soon putting the world to rights.
Wendy wanted to shape young minds, break them out of their boxes of conformity and show them just how amazing the world can be. I wanted to write books that would change the way people think. We began to realise we were not so different in our perspectives.
You can imagine the energy in that room, can’t you? We were so exuberant, that when Jenny came home around twelve thirty she took one look at our faces and said, “OK, I can see this is not a conversation that I’m gonna be able to get caught up with. I’ll see you in bed in a bit.” With that, she left us to it.
At some point – just as Wendy was reaching the zenith of her plans for world domination – I realised I badly needed to pee. Excusing myself I went into the bathroom and as I stood swaying at the bowl (guys really should sit down to pee when drunk) my whole world suddenly dropped out from under me and a very dark pit appeared beneath my feet.
This was not as great a surprise to me as you might expect. At this time in my life (just twelve months or so after my partner of nearly ten years had left me for another man, taking my young son with her) I had begun to suffer from crippling anxiety attacks. The frequency and severity of these attacks had been growing and they had a tendency to strike completely out of the blue. The first few times this happened I literally thought I was dying but by this stage, I understood what was going on and was getting better at dealing.
I knew the best thing would be to just go to bed and so I went back into the living room to tell Wendy I was done. When I entered the room, all I could see of her were a pair of terrified eyes staring over the top of the couch. In a tiny voice, she whispered “Tones, I’m so scared.”
I was floored. It was obvious that whatever fear had overtaken me in the bathroom had also infected Wendy out here in the living room. How was that possible? How could she be having an anxiety attack too? If anything, she was in a worse state than I was. I tried to reassure her even as my own panic was climbing through the roof.
“Look,” I told her, “I started to have a panic attack in the bathroom. It was probably building the whole time we were talking and you must’ve picked up on it. Guess you’re pretty empathic. I think we should both go to bed and sleep it off, eh.”
At that, she grabbed both my arms. “Can I sleep in your room with you guys? I’m so scared, Tones.”
“No,” I said firmly, knowing only too well what sort of a night I was in for, “you’ll be fine. Just go to sleep.”
I felt bad, the fear in her eyes was very real, but I knew we’d just feed off each other all night if we were together in the same place. I went to my own room and climbed into bed beside Jenny. That’s when the real nightmare began. Every time I closed my eyes I would get a vivid image of a white car going too fast and spinning out of control. I had no idea what it was about, but it was amplifying my fear to the point where I was physically shaking.
In truth, I was going into shock. The shaking became uncontrollable and my body temperature was plummeting. Jenny woke to the violent juddering of our bed and, in near panic herself at my state, began to pile the covers and pillows over me and then lay on top until the shaking finally subsided.
The next morning, the entire incident felt like a prescient episode and so I was only partly surprised later that day when a white car, going too fast, lost control and crashed into the window of the shop on the end of our street. People were amazed that I’d seen it coming, but I was not so sure that the fear I’d felt – and that Wendy too had experienced – could be so readily explained.
A few months later, the share-house broke up and Jenny and I moved into our own place together. We hadn’t been in a full week when we got a phone call in the middle of the night telling us that Wendy had been run down and killed by a car that evening.
I was shocked but not really surprised to discover the car was described as a white saloon in the accident report.
Note; I’ve recounted this story as truthfully as memory will allow. Names were changed out of respect.
Words and image are my own.
– I don’t know if it’s just the Theme I’ve chosen but I find WordPress is hopeless at accurately translating my spacing commands to the final draft. No matter how many spaces I include, as often as not it just jams everything up together which I find aesthetically very ugly. Anyone else encountered this?