I wait by the gym doors, a dirty grey duffle bag over my shoulder, hair pulled back in a ponytail and tracksuit bottoms I used to wear in gym class, back when they fit me and didn’t ride into my crotch giving me carpet burn.
When I see the right one I follow her. She swipes her card, pushes the barrier open with her hip and I make my move. I start a conversation, ask her name “Sully” and I match my step with hers as though we are gym buddies cheering each other on for bikini weather.
Once in the changing rooms I find the shower and use everything, the mini shower gels, the shampoo, the towel under the ‘take one’ sign. I shower until my skin turns wrinkly and the hot becomes lukewarm.
Afterwards, I ignore the sign that says ‘leave dirty towels here’ and stuff it into my bag. I slip mums necklace around my neck and leave the gym all fresh and clean.
On the corner of Swan Lane, I sneak into the bakery and open my bag to fill it when a piece of paper falls out, torn like the edge of a writing pad and it has her name on it ‘Sully’ and her number.
‘Fancy been gym buddies?’ her writing is scrawled across the paper and her spelling is terrible she says ‘been’ instead of ‘being.’
Under the stairs of a Government building I fall asleep with the note in my hand, and into the same nightmare. My mother falling; her head hits the edge of the table. There is no screaming, just a dull thud like when someone slams the door too hard. My father’s eyes red with rage. I lock myself in my room, stuff my bag with clothes and climb out of the window. Only in this dream, Sully is waiting, ‘Aren’t you the girl on the news’ she says ‘your father is looking for you.’ and then my father is beside her and I realise Sully was never my friend.
I wake sweating, and before the sun can climb too far above the horizon, I leave for the next town.