PRESENT FROM THE PAST
HINDSIGHT IS A NOT SO WONDERFUL THING WHEN IT REFERS TO INFORMER’S UNEXPECTED HIGH-SCHOOL REUNION
“FUNNY WE SHOULD CATCH UP LIKE THIS THOUGH. FUNNY OLD WORLD, REALLY.”
It had been more than 40 years and yet I recognised her immediately. Some faces stay with you, I suppose, no matter the passage of time. I said hello and, a few seconds later, she recognised me too and we both smiled.
How were we? We were well. Small world, eh? Small world indeed.
How long have you lived here? Thirty years. You? Less than five.
Been back to Tassie? I was there a few weeks ago. You? Nah, nothing down there for me anymore. Married? Yep. Donkey’s years. Me too. Kids? Two. Me too.
Still love your horses, I said, having twigged the photo on the wall showing her holding the bridle of a gorgeous black animal with a white blaze. I remembered her riding in the paddocks behind our old high school, all youth and poise, blue ribbons and gold trophies in the stables.
She could swim too. Represented the school in backstroke and the relays, didn’t you? Yes, she said, and you were a runner. Sprints, not distance, right? Won a state championship, didn’t you?
Nearly, I said. Came second in the hundred. Third in the two.
I asked whether she was in touch with anyone from back then. A couple, she said. Harriet and Jane. Harriet has five kids and one of them’s a mayor somewhere in country Victoria. Jane’s divorced. Lives on her own. Calls at all hours. What about you? Still in contact with the old crew?
No, not really. Didn’t keep in touch with anyone from our year. But then I went to the reunion in 2016 and a few of us now keep in touch on Facebook. We got together for lunch when I was down in Tassie.
Reunions aren’t really my thing, she countered. Too many … not so much bad memories … just … I didn’t much like school. Me either really, I said. Geez, listen to us. We sound like that Dan Fogelberg song, you know the one, the one that starts “Met my old lover in the grocery store …”
Same Old Lang Syne, she said. I remember we went to the Year 10 Social Dance together. And you walked me home. My dad at the window, ruining things.
Then there was an awkward pause, and we both knew why, and she said, well, there was that one time. In college, wasn’t it?
It was and she knew. As for me, I thought about it the very moment I saw her. We were young, we agreed.
Anyway, she said, you’ve done well. Couple of books, right? And I read your article on the weekend. What’s it called again? The Informer, I said. Or the rectangle. That’s right, she said. You make me laugh. Always could.
Ta. You’ve done well too, I see. Funny we should catch up like this though. Funny old world, really. Yep, she replied. Funny old world. Maybe we could have a coffee sometime. Bring our other halves.
Sure, sounds good. I might even write about this, I said. She laughed and said OK.
With that, there was nothing else for me to do other than pull up my pants, and nothing else for her to do other than toss the surgical gloves in the bin.
Fair dinkum, that was one weird colonoscopy.