Greater City Shadows
It’s ten years since you last saw Beth, at a juice joint that promised so much but only gave you wheatgrass. She told you she was reading The Five Love Languages, bought it second-hand on Barrack. She went through them, one-by-one, and you wanted to say, ‘they’re all just acts of service.’
You told your sister, Tristan, this same story, and she shouted, ‘God, you love her!’ An exciting revelation but years too late, like hearing that song Beth always played, the lyrics only now making sense. In time, you saw her wedding pics on Facebook, and you had to concede that on her special day, Beth was the most beautiful girl you’d ever seen.
You returned to Barrack, your city resurrected, but the bookstore had long gone, so you took the laneway till its end, sprayed ‘Beth x 5’ on the wall. Years later, you came back. A crowd had gathered, filling that same laneway. No longer only Beth; now names upon names, up and down the wall.
You made your way through the crowd, kissed the paint as though it were her blemished cheek, and said, ‘I love you.’
© Laurie Steed, 2020. Laurie Steed is a novelist and short story writer from Perth, Western Australia. His work has been broadcast on BBC Radio 4 and published in Best Australian Stories, Award Winning Australian Writing, The Age, Meanjin, Westerly, Island, and elsewhere. He won the 2012 Patricia Hackett Prize for Fiction and is the recipient of fellowships from The University of Iowa, The Baltic Writing Residency, The Elizabeth Kostova Foundation, and The Katharine Susannah Prichard Foundation. His debut novel, You Belong Here was published in 2018 and was shortlisted for the 2018 Western Australian Premier’s Book Awards.