He told me I could drop in at any time, but could I take him at his word? What if his flat mate had been right? What if he had a line of women who visited one after the other and I arrived at his doorstep while he was entertaining one of them?
I had already said good night to my mother. My father was asleep drunk. I was alone in my bedroom. It was easy to change into a dress and put on sandals. I did not bother to pack a bag.
It was easy to walk out the front door on tip toes, undetected. My parents did not lock external doors in those days. And so I closed my bedroom door on what my mother could only assume was my sleeping body.
This walk along Warrigal Road in the dark under stars and with the occasional flash of headlights did not trouble me as it might were I on my way home at other times. Such as after university in the evenings when I took the train from the city to Cheltenham and then needed to walk for thirty minutes to get home.
Even as I walked along Centre Dandenong and Warrigal Roads and avoided the side streets, I imagined footsteps behind me; someone preparing to grab me from behind bushes.
On such nights I trembled all the way home, but on this night, almost midnight, when there was no one else about, I relished the solitude.
The only hurdle now involved the knock at his door and the fear I might not be welcome.
He was alone in bed without any of the women of my imagination beside him. It was easy to slip in beside him, to hold him, to be held, to try once more this business of having sex and then when the first rays of light were about to break through the window to dress and say goodbye.
He offered to drive me home but I preferred to walk. I needed to put some distance between me and my mother.
The early morning light had an ethereal glow as if I were in heaven and it was just cold enough to stiffen the hairs on my arms. By the time I had reached home, slipped through the front door and pulled the blankets back over my head in pretend sleep, by the time my mother stuck her head around my door to say good morning, I was hot.
But my mother was none the wiser, or so I suspect she’d have liked me to think, but I will never know.
Can you imagine it, your nineteen year old daughter slips out and is away all night long and in the morning you find her in bed in her pyjamas as usual?
Only she knows what she’s been up to. You have to guess.