Esmé didn’t tell Keith about her father for another six months. He never mentioned the scars. He never even let his eyes flick towards her sleeves. But on the hottest days, when a torrid northerly would make Melbourne temporarily uninhabitable, she longed to be able to wear short-sleeved shirts. But she never did. She envied his ability to wear a T-shirt.
One Friday night, they had drunk a little more brandy than usual, and were both feeling mellow. The café had a miniscule back garden, with high creeper-clad walls, and a creaky old bench. They took their brandy snifters out with them and sat at each end of the bench and talked. It was a very warm night, and the air was filled with all the smells of the city: garlic; meat cooking; car fumes; hot bricks; coffee; rancid cheap scent; and also, enchantingly, the sweet heady orange-blossom opulence of the cream flowers on the creeper. From a restaurant a few doors down came the muffled lilt of swing, played by a jazz band in the authentic style.
“So,” he said, “how’s French goin’?”
“Bearably. I have an essay due on Monday.”
“You workin’ tomorrow?”
“Pays the rent.”
They sat in a companionable silence for a while longer.
Episodes 1 to 260 (without pictures, 10 episodes per chapter