As soon as I graduated from high school, my boyfriend and I couldn’t wait to pack up and leave our small country town existence for the promising lights of the big city. I had no plans or dreams, just vague thoughts of getting through school as best I could then find work and enjoying the life that cities offered. My final year of high school had been a struggle; I found studying so stressful that I dealt with it by spending lots of time with my boyfriend and avoiding essays and textbooks. The final weeks of school were a flurry of parties and exams with no real thoughts of what lay beyond until suddenly I found myself on a bus and leaving behind my teenage years.
We rented a room in a share house, Andrew and I sharing a bedroom and a three-foot wide single bed. He soon found a job in a bank, while I started at a secretarial college to learn shorthand and typing, a worthwhile pursuit for a young lady at the time. At night we would squeeze into that tiny bed, our bodies pressed up against each other with his arm around me and a hand cupping my breast. Night after night for two years we lived that way; it made me feel loved and special as I fell asleep each night with a smile curling my lips.
Andrew treated me like a princess, buying presents all the time and surprising me with the most wonderful things. He was very kind and thoughtful and I was so deeply in love with him that I thought our idyllic life would last forever. On the weekends he would come home with a new record and we would spend the weekend listening to it over and over again, dreaming of the freedom promised in the songs, believing we had found it in each other’s arms. I would sit on the end of the bed listening to the music as he brushed my long hair until we would end up under the doona making love.
Neither of us had a car so we travelled everywhere by bus, walked, or rode our bikes. We didn’t have much money either, so there was no going out or trips away, but on Saturday nights we would walk down to the shops and get takeaway Chinese or hamburgers. Somehow Andrew also made those little takeaway meals seem like the most romantic five-star restaurant. When the cold winter turned bleak outside, we warmed our little nest in the bedroom and made endless love in an island of brightness amidst the gloom.
As the year wore on, I began to realise how tedious my chosen path was going to be. Every day I would wake before dawn, have a quick cup of coffee and walk down to the bus stop to catch the seven o’clock bus into the city for college. It wasn’t at all like school as there was very little socialising at the college. We weren’t allowed to talk in class and the breaks were usually so short you didn’t have much time to chat and get to know anyone very well. Most of the other girls kept to themselves anyway or had groups of friends they already knew and didn’t want to allow newcomers to break into their little worlds. In the classes we would sit for hours at a keyboard learning how to type:
jjj kkk jjj kkk jjj kkk
ggg hhh ggg hhh ggg
jjj kkk jjj kkk jjj kkk
Again and again for hours until my tortured mind began to scream. “Is this the way it’s going to be forever?” I kept saying to myself. In the afternoons I would cry silently to myself all the way home, until finally Andrew got home from work and I could find comfort in his loving arms.
On weekends I was so tired from the long week days that we would spend half the time sleeping. Getting up Saturday morning to do the housework before walking down to the supermarket to buy groceries and then lug them all the way home. When the weather was nice, we sometimes went for a bike ride on Sunday, randomly following the bike paths to see where they led. Once we discovered the way to a pine forest and we would take a picnic lunch to enjoy some fresh air and open skies before Andrew would gently make love to me on the blanket, treasuring my body like a beautiful, delicate flower for an idyllic moment. I remember the mixed feelings of joy and sadness as we rode home on those afternoons; joy to be so in love but sad to be so near another Monday morning and the endless round of typing. Andrew tried so hard to comfort me but I usually fell asleep Sunday nights crying into his shoulder.
Gradually I began to understand that I had missed out on something because I had not worked hard enough at school and hand no dream to follow. The reality of my life in the city was nothing like I had expected and I felt isolated from my friends and family, and isolated from myself so that I didn’t know who I was anymore. I hated typing so much that the thought of finishing college and finding work as a typist left me with a feeling of dread that I was slowly dying and didn’t know what to do about it. Then the world caved in around me when I fell pregnant.
Andrew and I had been so careful, but sometimes my desire for him took control and I couldn’t resist his wandering fingers. We had never talked about marriage but I always assumed that is where we would end up. I was scared when my period was late, but somewhere in my mind was the thought that this might be a way out of the life I was leading. We could get married, I would have his baby and we would have the most perfect little family. I thought Andrew would feel the same, so it came as a shock when he pulled away from me when I told him the news. I was hurt and more confused than ever. Andrew was my rock, the one shining light in my life. I couldn’t understand why that comforting shoulder wasn’t there for me at this time when I really needed it.
We struggled along like this for a couple of months, filled with tears, coldness, and attempts to make up that always seemed to end in more arguments that drove our worlds apart. He wanted me to have an abortion, but I was determined to keep the baby and hoped that he would come around in time.
I began to think more about the future and decided that I needed something more satisfying than a job as a typist. Someone suggested I think about university, a seed that grew in mind like the baby was growing in my body. After much thought, I eventually enrolled in a university degree in social sciences that was to start early the following year. Suddenly life seemed to hold some hope.
Andrew and I made love often enough that I thought he was getting used to my pregnancy, and I was getting more excited about the twin ideas of the baby and starting university. How wrong I was! One day I went to meet him for lunch as a surprise, when he came out of the bank with his arm around another woman. A knifed had been plunged into my heart and I died there on the footpath.