Our house on the cliff is a scaffold. All the windows and doors are open. The walls sift the shifting breezes. It’s Sunday afternoon.
I’m asleep in the bath.
Wallington is asleep on the couch in the long room.
Eve the cat is asleep in her basket out on the deck.
The burglar is asleep in the corridor with a sack full of disappointments.
Santa Claus is dead in the chimney.
Butterflies doze in the garden.
It’s an opium den with a hot bath. It was the bath that put Wallington and me into stunned sleep. Wallington first. She has a bath so hot it scalds. Per Morrissey, who then changed the lyrics, ‘the bath burns through to the planet’s core, but it isn’t enough, she wants more’.
Her bath boils the kettle out in the kitchen. Tulips wilt in a vase two rooms away.
When she emerges from her bath, red, beautiful, at risk, Wallington calls me in from the garden.
‘It’s all yours,’ she whispers, passes me the pipe and kisses me. Wafts away.
I pour a glass of the 2003 Tahbilk shiraz and grab a novel that I found on a wall in Balmain when we visited our friends there yesterday: Acts of Omission by Terry Stiastny. While I undress I add about five litres of cold to the scald.
It doesn’t work. Soon I’m in a hazy hot swoon and I hitch the novel over the edge of the bath and close my eyes. I was up at 6am watching New Zealand pants France in the Rugby World Cup. I’m exhausted. I’m asleep. I can hear the cat snore. I’m sort of asleep. Maybe it’s me I can hear snoring. Maybe it’s Wallington.
Rainbow lorikeets use the wide open side window to fly through the sunroom.
We have liftoff.