At the very bottom
Down! Down, hand in hand, slaps against the tiles. Pulls himself over me, curls long around me, wet, sweaty, nose in my neck and knees in my knees, hand in hand. Lie still.
Lying, listening. Listening for trains. Honk. Honk. Honk. Near me. Close. Fragments of bright blue sky fall across my face.
Stops. Looking at me, breath on my lips. Touches me. The damp on my eyes. He says ‘God,’ and then he says I need to get to a hospital and his breath smells like mint. Silent.
Hand in hand. He pulls me up and the sun is on my face and my arms and somewhere an alarm is whirling around and a woman is screaming and screaming and his hand is soft and his arm pulls my arm and out on the street everything is so loud. Alarm. Screams. Ground drops.
Says he is Peter, says it means rock. Coming up
Swanston Street where the traffic hums and hollers and splits down Flinders and we are running to catch a green light, he says. Says he knows the way.
Clouds blot the sun on my neck and my shoulders and my feet ache and thud and trip-trap and stumble across tram tracks and he pulls me out of the way. Away from the bombs, from the hundreds of bombers I saw on the sky.
Pulls me down. Fingers down my cheek. Bloody and sticky and snot and I want to cry and shout but my throat is bloody and gargle instead. Instead I wipe my cheeks with his fingers, hands, wrists, arms, fall into his chest and it is warm and heaves up and down and all he says is ‘It’s ok. It’s ok.
‘We are in Mc Donalds and it is lunchtime and it is busy and kids and stoners are pulling food from trays and staring at the street, like something is going to happen or something. Anything.’
Fingers in my hair and I convulse and cough into his lap, pulls me in and his ribs poke out and the skin on his neck is dry and his cheeks jut out from his cheeks and he takes my fingers in my fingers and says something. Something like ‘I know, I’m thin. But I sure beat the obesity crisis.’ Laughs. Some hollow laugh. Convulses. Up and down. Scares me, his knee bones and hips and shoulders and he holds me and laughs and says it’s ok.
‘We’ll get up and we’ll walk out of here and down Swanston Street, past the town hall and we’ll get caught in the crowds in the footpath and if we are lucky then we will get a tram and we’ll ride the tram past the Asian restaurants and the hipsters in the alleys and the businessmen and Chinatown and the creeps in Club X (laughs) and QV and Melbourne Central and then on to the university and we’ll walk through the crowds of sleepless students and the buzz of endless conversation and across Royal Parade beneath the big oak trees to the hospital and it will all be okay,’ and he touches my cheek with his cheek in a clap of thunder and his ribs against my breast and his shouders and my palms in his palms and my knees and I’m up—
Running and the doors open into the street and the thunder is falling, between cars, swerving, across the road, up the road, past the adult bookshop and across Collins Street and past the town hall and the claps of thunder and trains and screams and sirens and soon I will lose him in a crowd trying to get out of the rain.