The Invitation

Mors aurem vellens ‘vivite’ ait, ‘venio.'”  (Virgil)

Looking back at it, the cause was indeterminate.  Carol believed that she knew the people.  Paula knew the place.  Nestled in the crook of worn-down mountains, its gimlet, art-deco eyes glowed in the mid-winter murk, warm. and austere.

Fog having delayed flight, delay having undermined their arrangements, the sun was already weak and remote when they set off from the airport.

“It must be the sponsors who put-up the spa weekender for the lottery.”

“So they punish us now?  After all this time?”

Dead tones from the dashboard guide the two businesswomen over stone laid through the sward. Luggage carelessly packed and stowed, some lounging in the back seats and spaces.  Passing eucalypts, blurred pickets of grey, hold their breath as the ladies pass.  No food here, as yet.

If Burke and Wills had mobile phones, they’d still likely perish out here for lack of connectivity, dead of parch whilst their infernal devices buffered.  And indeed, a mile or so from the town, Carol started shivering in the passenger seat.  The pattering rain had not intensified but some apprehension, some feeling of isolation on her part chilled her structures.

It is not important, but Carol saw herself, and was seen as, the lady of the house.

Finally civilisation announced herself, not with a heart-warming traffic light; rather the passive-aggressive roundabout.  Carol peered for some dim signage while Paula looked stoically to her right, and went for broke.  Then civilisation presented more of its discontents:  Paula’s tired head demanded a centre line to point them to their haven, as in a hospital. The roundabout signs akin to what you’d find in a museum lobby, full of information, signifying nothing.  A cul-de-sac here; a blind alley there.  Frantic checks of the digital map, unfolding at a stately pace.

Finally, with Carol still chattering, the curtain of rain drew aside and there was a significant light.

Now Carol and Paula are homing in, you may want to know a bit more about them.  They are neither of them doctrinaire.  They’re in business. Both married before. Paula has a young boy.  They love each other, heaps: it just works.  Natural optimists, this great strength is also a weakness – they don’t emphasise the downside risk of their services, these days virtually a legal obligation.



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