Excerpt from Ghost Wife: A Memoir of Love and Defiance  (Black Inc, 2013). 

Confetti

Tiny snowflakes flew like confetti as I ran down Spadina Avenue. The Toronto wind slapped my dress against my thighs and tousled my armful of flowers. Back home in Australia, it was the second day of summer. Brisbane would be brilliant and hot, the sky impossibly blue. Here in Toronto, the temperature was below zero and the sky was low and grey.

I ran slowly on the icy sidewalk and curled my arm around the tulips and tiger lilies. My friend Egg ran beside me with handfuls of posies, her camera bag swinging from her shoulder. City Hall was close, but not close enough. Somewhere inside that building, a mile or two away, Heather was waiting for me.

I scanned the street for a taxi.

“We’re going to be late! Heather will think I’m not coming.”

My words came out steamy in the freezing air.

“We’ll get there,” said Egg. “Don’t worry.”

I had come halfway around the world for what came next. I had come halfway around the world to be able to marry my girlfriend. In just a few minutes, everything would change. But right then, all I knew was this: I was close and far, close and far, and there was still more running to do.

Tiny snowflakes flew like confetti as I ran down Spadina Avenue. The Toronto wind slapped my dress against my thighs and tousled my armful of flowers. Back home in Australia, it was the second day of summer. Brisbane would be brilliant and hot, the sky impossibly blue. Here in Toronto, the temperature was below zero and the sky was low and grey.

I ran slowly on the icy sidewalk and curled my arm around the tulips and tiger lilies. My friend Egg ran beside me with handfuls of posies, her camera bag swinging from her shoulder. City Hall was close, but not close enough. Somewhere inside that building, a mile or two away, Heather was waiting for me.

I scanned the street for a taxi.

“We’re going to be late! Heather will think I’m not coming.”

My words came out steamy in the freezing air.

“We’ll get there,” said Egg. “Don’t worry.”

I had come halfway around the world for what came next. I had come halfway around the world to be able to marry my girlfriend. In just a few minutes, everything would change. But right then, all I knew was this: I was close and far, close and far, and there was still more running to do.

 

Leaving

People go missing from my family all the time. They simply disappear. I've known this since I was a little kid. Grandfathers, sisters, brothers, aunts - they just vanish. But no one ever told me that disappearances are never total. Absence takes up space. You don't notice is right away, but traces of what's vanished always stay behind to haunt those who remain.

If you watch me there on that icy Toronto street, am I about to be lost, or about to be found? Am I running to some place, or from another? 

***

The night before our departure was hot and airless. In the backyard of our Brisbane house, the cat stalked grasshoppers. Flying foxes shrieked in the mango tree. Our housemates, Dave and Emma, drank beer on the back verandah. Later on, Heather and I would join them, but for now we were packing our suitcases. 

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