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I used to dream a lot. Now, all I see when I close my eyes, is her.
*6 months earlier*
The sun was up, I knew that much. The light crept through the blinds creeping into my consciousness through my eyelids. I smiled to myself knowing today was going to be a beautiful day. Yawning, I grabbed my phone to check up on my usual updates from back home. The time difference back in Australia meant I usually received messages from my family and friends whilst I slept. A pleasant little good morning surprise from down under.
Yep, four messages, three Facebook tags and a couple of Instagram notifications. The usual.
I put my phone down before reading the messages and got stuck into my morning routine. I closed my eyes and inhaled deeply, in, out, in out. Thirty breaths in and out and hold, I held my breath for as long as I could. Perfect, two minutes. The length of time I usually shoot for. Next, I got out my yoga mat and sat down into my practice. I call it a practice but it’s really me stumbling through a bunch of yoga poses, stretching and trying to direct my attention inward. I enjoy it. After my stretches I uncrossed my legs and stood up off my warm bedroom floor. Walking over to the bedside table, I picked up my phone.
I giggled to myself as I watched the video my mum had sent me of the little Pomeranian Trip we all loved running circles around the living room. I was his favourite family member and a pang of guilt rose in my chest that I had left him. Ah well, I couldn’t put my life’s dreams and goals on hold for the little fluff ball, but it didn’t stop me from missing him. I promised him I’d bring him some Canadian maple syrup back after my two-year working visa was up. That promise was made eighteen months ago. I hope he hasn’t forgotten about me since I’ve been away.
Summer, or what they called Summer in Vancouver, was in full tilt and I planned to make the most of it. The weather here during this time of year is roughly comparable to an Australian Spring, which could be worse I guess, but I was used to the blistering dry Australian sun during Summers. My tan was suffering because of my time abroad, yet I still maintained a nice olive complexion. I wandered over to my long mirror that I had lying against the wall in my room and looked myself up and down. My thick dark hair was getting a little long and looked scruffy. My facial hair was a week old, leaving me with the beginnings of a nice full beard. I have my father’s nose and I like that, he is a handsome man. I was happy with my physical shape, considering all the food and travel, but I was maybe a few kilos off my optimal weight. Still, the abbs were visible so I can’t complain. I picked up the tweezers off my bedside table and began to pluck a few hairs, if I didn’t keep these brows in check, I’d only have one.
“Mate, you’re not doing your eyebrows again are you?” The voice that beamed from the doorway was full of sarcasm.
“Chris, you only wish you had bad boys like these. I get compliments on them all the time.” Raising one of the aforementioned eyebrows I turned to my best mate.
“You keep believing that Jax, I won’t crush your little fantasy.” he joked with a trademark smirk.
“Do you think we should hit the ‘beach’ today?” Chris emphasised the word beach as he was always banging on about how poor the beaches were here in Vancouver compared to back home in Western Australia.
“Yeah sure mate. Give me halfa to get my shit together and we will cruise down there. Should we run past The Coffee Joint on the way to the beach?”
“Absolutely we should. I’ll chuck on my clothes and be waiting for you downstairs.”
With that Chris walked out of my room whistling to himself.
What a man.
Chris had been my best mate since the first class of my first day of high school and we had always planned to travel the world together in our early twenties. Canada was our first long-term stop after a stint travelling around western Europe. He was a little shorter than me, around six foot, and most women liked his boyish looks and blonde hair. A real Chris Hemsworth looking Aussie stereotype. The accent didn’t do him any harm with the ladies either.
I finished with my eyebrows and turned to the wardrobe. Opening it up, I pulled out my favourite pair of red boardshorts. I loved a nice statement piece to wear down at the beach and took out my floral shirt that I liked to wear open on warm days. I looked around my room trying to find my thongs. No, wait. Flipflops, they called them here.
They were waiting for me by the door with Chris, who was wearing blue shorts with black swans on them – his favourite pair – and a singlet that showed off his developed upper body.
“Show time!” Chris said as he pushed open the door.
The day was incredible. The maple trees towered above us, the leaves were deep shades of yellow and orange. The sun beamed through the branches and small flowerings fell onto our skin – a much needed hit of vitamin D. Our mood seemed to rise with the sun as we walked toward the end of the street. Chris always laughed at the squirrels running up the trees and today was no exception. Even after a year or so I too still found the little creatures amusing.
We exchanged handballs with my Australian Rules football as we walked. We liked to take the ball down to the beach and kick it around, much to the amusement of the locals. Another small reminder of home.
“Hands, hands!” Chris said energetically, putting his hands out in front of himself.
I handballed the footy to him. He plucked the ball out of the air and ran off toward the end of the street. As we ran, we exchanged short kicks to each other.
“Mate, no wonder you couldn’t get a game back home in the first team. Your kicking skills are yuck. ”
“Yuck? You think I can’t kick?” Chris sported a fake look of betrayal his face.
“You’re dog shit… a seriously crap kick. You couldn’t hit a barn door from five feet away!” I pushed my best mate playfully.
“Alright then. Jax, how about this?” Chris pointed the football toward The Coffee Joint, our local coffee shop.
“What? You’re going to kick the ball onto the roof or smash a window of our favourite café?” I snickered.
“Nah mate, nah. Jax have a look at that chick facing away from us having a chat with her friend. Can you see her?”
I turned and had a look. The woman he was referring to was maybe fifty metres away from us facing the café, standing with two other young women. The café had a lovely smell of coffee beans and freshly cooked food, even from this far away.
“Yeah I see her. What about her?”
“Jax, I am going to prove to you that I am the greatest kick of all time. I’m going to hit her on the back of the head.” His famous smirk was back again as he lined up the ball and pointed toward the girl.
The kick was about one in a hundred chance for even an elite footballer player I thought. To hit such a small target from so far away. Nah, no way he will hit her, the ball will end up in the bushes.
“Alright mate, go on. Have a crack. If you hit the her, I will ask her out on a date.”
“I don’t know if I want to kick it now, I don’t think I would wish that upon any woman,” Chris laughed.
“You’re a straight up savage – you’ve never had a serious relationship before!”
That was true, I had a reputation as a little bit of ladies’ man. Not that I tried for it to be that way. It just always ended up that I couldn’t commit or find one that I thought was worth the squeeze.
“Go on then, let’s see you embarrass yourself. Maybe these Canadians will get a bit of a laugh at your attempt.” I smiled.
Chris kicked the football. It came off his foot beautifully. A nice connection. Fifty metres was far even for a pro to kick and this kick was as good as I had seen. The ball tumbled end to end in the air for what seemed like an eternity. I watched with intent as the ball was making its way toward the earth.
The girl hit the ground like a sack of bricks. Absolutely decked her. I glanced at Chris and he looked genuinely concerned. We both ran over to the girls who were now in a little bit of a frenzy around their friend. They were both standing over her, fretting. I lightly nudged the two girls out of the way, apologising as I did so.
Then I saw her.