In all the days we wrote: the lazy mornings of piled limbs and shared breath, lunch in the sun, slow afternoons walking by the river and talking.
“One summer we ate nothing but mangos, they must have been cheap that year because Mum bought trays of them. We’d eat them over the sink with the juice all over our faces, dripping down our arms, smeared through our hair. There’s a Cantonese saying that eating too much mango hurts your arse. Well it’s true.”
“That fluttering in your chest when you think about the sheer fucking miracle of being alive, of this being the time out of billions of years that you have consciousness and that any second it will end. That the world is just so beautiful and unlikely and how is it we’re here? On this round floating green and blue thing in the middle of a universe that might be limitless. That at this precise moment all you really want to do is watch reruns of Friends.”
“Sometimes I can’t stand the itching feeling in my skull when I think about the universe. Once I was camping by the beach. During the day the sand was almost too hot to touch but at night it went cold. There was no moon but it still glowed white. Someone told me there are more stars in the universe than grains of sand in the world. That night it was all so clear, the Southern Cross, the saucepan which is actually Orion’s belt if you look at it upside down. A spray of light, light that’s taken so long to get here maybe the stars it’s from have already died… I just wanted to curl up in my sleeping bag, forget about the whole thing.”
“It was night time at my Grandpa’s house, he lived on an estuary. If you put your hand in, the eddies of the water were filled with sparkles, I think it’s called phosphorescence: thousands of pinpricks of light. I jumped off the wharf, kept my eyes open, the water exploded around me like stars.That summer I’d tie the lilo to the wharf and lie on it looking up, watch the lights of the airplanes making their way over the mountains to Sydney, listen to the shuffling and scurryings in the gumtrees, the comforting monotony of the old generator. My feet skimmed the dark, silk water. I smelt of salt and mud. I was 16, I was dreaming of escape.”
“The first time I left Australia was when I went to Thailand with some mates. We got stoned, drank buckets. Adam was trying to convince us to find prostitutes, but I didn’t want that. I walked and walked and I went to a Watt, a temple. I found myself in some storage area out the back, there were thousands of Buddahs, the old ones they didn’t need anymore I guess, splinted wood and peeling gold. Stacked against the walls, all sizes.”
“Aphra Benn was a writer from the 17th Century. The first professional woman writer. I learnt about her in my English class at uni. Virginia Woolf said all women should throw flowers on her grave. When I went to London I went to Westminster Abbey to find it, it’s not with all the male writers’ graves inside, it’s laid out on a pathway outside, there’s a stall there that sells coffee there so I got one, I just sat there next to her and drank it. Then I went to Oxford Street. I got a really nice jumper in Topshop.”
“Do you want to know the most beautiful moment of my life? I was snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef, I dived down flying through water over this vertical bommie of coral, like a massive brain, when I dipped, started coming back up I was in the middle of a sparkling dazzle of tiny fish, the whole world, the feeling of gliding, this vast happiness. That was it.”
The stories we told one another. Words and lips and tongues. The meaning of skin on skin, of dredging up ourselves, turning ourselves inside out for each other, laying out the shells and driftwood, the leaves and bits of bone, saying: Here! These are my splendours, my secrets. Examine them, turn them over in your hands.