by Vesna M Teki
North from Adelaide and finally out of the City. Over the range the land was beginning to plateau out.
She stands on the verge. The verge of that mottled blight man calls a highway fingering out like a web across the nation. Scouring and weaving as it scarred, with little respect for the 'Mother' it ravages or the traditional custodians it insults.
On the verge, as always. She is wishing that a car would stop, any car really. She'd be willing to scrunch up in the rear with kids and animals. Hell! She'd be willing to put up with sexist drooling truck drivers.
The midday summer heat is pushing her to the verge. Intense in its punishment as it hits the bitumen and glances severely up into the young woman's face. She starts to think of water, bodies of it, and icy cold beer.
She is thinking of nothing much, just rolling lost in the feeling of freedom and aloneness when suddenly the car is upon her. There before she has registered the quiet arrival. The vehicle has slowly come to a halt several yards further up the road. As if it too has nearly missed the meeting.
The young woman standing on the verge of that mottled highway takes only a second to register that a fortuitous ride has presented itself. Instant relief at the thought of getting out of the punishing midday summer heat brings forth an irrepressible grin and the day begins to look up.
The deep green compact has slid to a halt, neither moving on nor reversing. Green she thinks. Not the pastel green or any shade of light pithy green but a deep darkly intense passionate green. Christ! She thinks, I really am on the verge. She grabs her pack and pushes forward toward the car and the woman who is driving it.
Instantly she recognizes that this is a woman in control. She has a moment to question why the blatant eye contact unsettles her before she remembers to be polite. Lured by the directness in the gaze, lured by eyes unclouded by doubts or life's insecurities, she is uncomfortably mesmerized by the unflinching honest appraisal that greets her.
She notices how the driver's body relaxes with comfort and ease into the soft tan leather of the seat. Controlled and casual she muses. With the smell that only fine leather gives off.
The smell of money and power and all things foreign to her, acting like aphrodisiacs to her senses.
The cool air streaming out from beneath the dash board revives her flagging spirits. She immediately becomes aware of the spaciousness of her surroundings. The interior is far roomier than she first predicted. As if on cue her eyes stray to the woman beside her. She notices how the driver's leg is slightly bent at the knee and unwittingly appreciates the long manicured fingers which are loosely coiled around the leather bound steering wheel.
In-between weak conversation she gains small opportunities to study the profile. South American 'dark', and once again smiles at herself as she silently acknowledges the inane generalizations that go with instant physical attraction.
She forces herself to resist the avalanche of emotions, the subsequent emerging urge to touch. She panics and recoils at the intensity of the feeling. She recognizes the yearning and the verge looms closer. Like the car and the woman in control of it, the longing is quiet in its arrival yet powerful in its meeting.
Frustrated at her immature reactions she violently wenches her head around choosing to get lost in the vista before her. Way beyond the bitumen verge and far beyond the scarring tarmac hissing beneath the wheels. She seeks out some small sense of solace and balance. As the tension starts to invade the intimate surroundings of the car, she is forced to tamp down her feelings of frustration and embarrassment. Angrily she clasps her hands in her lap, fiercely linking her fingers together. Taking a deep breath she relaxes and pulls herself back from the verge.
Deliberately losing herself in the beauty of the passing landscape, asphalt, moments and polite conversation fall away to be replaced with the slow awareness of muted reflections in the windshield glass. Mirroring back blurred images the reflections reveal very little. She instinctively knows that they are two very different women and similarities will be few. Still she ponders those differences and stealing a covert glance sideways desperately seeks out any similarities. Earnestly hoping to find a common ground other than 'Woman.'
And suddenly she is caught! … Caught in the blast of direct contact she spirals into those piercing dark pools of vision and is once again drawn irrevocably closer to the verge. Her feelings of frustration, anger embarrassment are lost to her. Gone with the passing miles and left amid her youthful trials. In the smiling lift of the lips, the laughter in the dark pools of knowing, all her questions are subtly and silently answered. The common ground is subtly and silently understood.
Is she on the verge of unexplainable passion? Is she on the verge of womanhood and all things unknown?
Relaxing deep into the folds of the deep tan leather, deep in comfortable thought, surrounded by the smell of power and passion and all things foreign to her she anticipates… stepping off the verge.
In the mid-1990s a group shared their experiences at Ten Forty dinner and discussion evenings. Their stories were recorded on tape and now we've made them into a podcast.
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