The flight has dehydrated me; I can’t seem to get enough water. I refill my glass constantly with cold water from the twin glass bottles in the fridge. Yet still, I’m thirsty.
We had managed to stay up until just after 9pm before retiring to the spare room with its cushy double bed. The blue cotton blanket, rejected by Michael, is now crumpled at the foot. I can hear the wind rushing through the trees outside, the blind banging gently on the window frame.
It’s only an hour or so later when the time zone change catches up with me. My eyes are tired, but sleep somehow wavers just out of reach. I listen to Michael’s breath close by; at first I think he is sleeping, but soon realize we are existing in similar territory.
We fall automatically into our rotisserie set, rolling together first one way then the other. I slide my right leg between his two fuzzy ones but have to retract it after only a minute, his skin already clammy with Queensland sweat.
I wake just before 7am, groggy, stark sunlight entering the room from the bottom of the blind. We lie in bed watching the rotational click of the ceiling fan for twenty minutes while I try to re-enter reality.
Everybody is already up and about. The breakfast news has dispelled its offerings – text messaging scandals of Australian politics, an Olympic ski medal, the Queen’s diamond jubilee; and the TV has long been switched off. We are greeted by Gilbert the Corgi, bounding up past my knees, flattening his ears against his head, barely able to contain his excitement.
I fill the kettle and make myself an instant coffee, leaving Michael’s tea leaves to brew in the rusty infuser ball before joining Michael’s parents sitting on the patio.
The miner birds are already hosting a noisy party in the grevillea bush. I glance around warily for early morning mosquitoes, my bare legs in their usual protective position folded underneath me. We eat pieces of thick sourdough toast with vegemite and creamy green avocado sprinkled with cracked black pepper.
My mug almost empty, I wander across the thick grass, just a little moist in places. Lawnmower duty is never-ending; with the combination of rain and sunshine, the grass cries out for attention every single week.
I spy the three brown chickens strolling coolly around their dim shelter. The oldest stops briefly to eye me, her red comb wobbling cautiously on her head. I cut a loop around the shed before making my way back to the patio.
We spend the remains of the morning wandering the local Saturday market, browsing stalls selling natural turmeric remedies and coloured mats made from recycled plastic bottles. A woman at the crystals stall, not wearing shoes or a bra, chats to a customer about commune living in a nearby beachtown.
We buy fresh limes from one of the vegetable stands but we have forgotten to bring our own shopping bag and I slip them into my handbag.
Michael orders a traditional chai tea from the stall at the end of the row where customers are sitting on the ground, milk crates acting as makeshift tables. A handwritten sign proclaims “yoga 7.30am.”
The server, also not wearing shoes, decants the chai into a ceramic mug. “I’ll bring this back later?” Michael asks, question mark in his voice.
The server shrugs, smiling lazily.
“Later, next week. Whenever.”