Clare lowered herself into the bath. She sunk her head under the water and looked up at the ceiling. The room was filled with steam. I drew flowers on the mirror while she gurgled at me with her bubbles. All beginnings, I wrote on the mirror, the script trailing off into a line. I left the room and turned off the light as I did. Some hours later Clare confronted me from the top of the stairs. Her face bore the signs of a furiousness I could not decipher. She threw fruit jellies at me, which stung as they hit, and I was forced to shelter under the dining room table. Outside the wind continued to howl and occasionally I thought I heard the voice of my cousin Raymond with whom I used to catch fish. The misery of the day pressed itself against the glass. Trees were tickled and bent in the wind. A flock of gulls floated amid rubbish on the harbour. Clare sat on a ball. We had fun didn’t we? she said. Remember that day when we went driving together, and listened to the songs we liked; when we walked along the bush track and paused at the edge of the hanging swamp; how we discussed camping, maybe in August; how you became annoyed at my antics and then how those feelings evaporated, and how with the walk we got to know each other better? I do, I said to Clare, still watching the gulls. I remember the particularly bright, slanting winter light in the car as we drove along the coast, how a particular song and your company made me feel weightless, how your mother and sister phoned to ask if you could get some bread. I remember the chicken burgers that we ate, and you waiting for me on the beach while I swam. I remember how with the onset of night everything became still, unseasonably mild, and how we talked out of a sense of comfort, and warm excitement outside the pub, listening to the faint music and sharing cigarettes. How I thought about you when trips to the toilet required we spend some time alone. How those moments of solitude that punctuate such happy company leave a lasting impression.
I could hear Clare fixing something, the sound got softer and softer. Higher up in the sky two gulls pestered a sea eagle, riding and darting through the wind. I thought about the recent walks I’d taken with Clare, and about the different jumpers she’d worn during our time together. I thought about the smell of her hair, and those moments when we warmed each other. When I turned around again there was a picture Clare had painted on the wall in thick, black brush strokes. I couldn’t make out what it was, a loop into which something was falling, or a sound coming out of someone’s eyes? Clare, I yelled, Clare! But there was no reply. I turned back to face the patch of sea I’d been staring at. The group of gulls looked to have shrunk. The day dimmed. I watched my breath collect as mist on the glass and Clare’s figure appear behind it, chasing a small dog, which she followed into the darkness of the bush.