In the year Brisbane hosted the World Expo, I was kilometres away in a city filled with people who were running away. I had run away – from my parents, from the church and from my fairytale delusion that I would be a virgin when I got married. My virginity, fiercely protected for so long, had been recently lost, released and never mourned. I moved to Cairns so I could live in sin for the first time in my life with a blond-haired man who didn’t believe in God.

It was hot. Sweat dripped down my back or pooled under my arms in the moments it took to walk from the shower to the bedroom to get dressed. Damp patches on my clothes were dried off over the cool air blowing from the air-conditioner and weekends were spent drinking Lambrusco in a friend’s swimming pool. The sea was warmer than a bath and infested with stingers.

My mother disowned me, taking down the photos of me from the lounge room so she wouldn’t be reminded of my sin. She stopped talking to me or about me. Because I was no longer the good daughter, she withdrew her love. I was a harlot, a backslider, responsible for making her sick. What the sickness was, I can’t remember.

When the relationship ended, when the blond-headed man accused me of cheating and flirting every time I spoke to another male, my dad rescued me. He flew to Cairns so he could keep me company on the long drive back the Sunshine Coast. He was already sick then. Actually sick, unlike my mother’s imaginary illness. His knees were swollen with arthritis which made sitting uncomfortable and painful. He sat in my car for twenty hours without complaining once.

We stopped at a Chinese restaurant in Mackay to have dinner and I cried throughout the entire meal. He didn’t know what to say or what to do. My concern was that people would think we were a couple. I was twenty-four and he was forty-eight, the same age I am now. I worried people would think I was his girlfriend. It was a strange thing to contemplate. I had never thought about it before.

My dad used to talk about God all the time. ‘Praise the Lord’ was his favourite quote. It was the answer to any question, appropriate words to fill any silence. I was returning home ashamed, rejected and lost. ‘Praise the Lord’ was all my dad could say.

My mother was right. The man I’d turned my back on my family for turned out not to be the one. He hurt me and eventually left me. But he wasn’t bad, just lost himself. He wanted something I couldn’t give him — a guarantee that I would always love him. I am incapable of that even now. The future is so uncertain, so unstable, so unknown. Tomorrow is like a blurred image from a camera — I can’t predict what I will see until the lens finds something to bring into focus.

I can’t promise I won’t change. I am different now from the twenty-four year old girl broken by her first love affair, from the twenty-eight year old woman who made a wedding vow, and the forty-five year old who broke that promise.

I am altered, transformed, so changed now that I barely recognise the person who sipped Lambrusco in a North Queensland backyard pool or cried in a Chinese restaurant.

Nothing ever stays the same. ‘Praise the Lord’

What is the hottest place you’ve ever been? What did your father never stop talking about? Tell me about these two things even if they have nothing to do with each other.

Writing prompt guidelines are here.

About KatieP

Embracing my midlife sexy while exploring modern love & relationships • Devoted to all things beautiful • Master of Arts in creative writing & non-fiction writing

6 thoughts on “Hot

  1. I haven’t really traveled much, so the hottest place I’ve ever been is HERE. It’s a strange place geographically, gets crazy hot in the summer and crazy cold in the winter.

    Seems our fathers both rescued us at one point. When I was 18 the boy I’d been living with got us evicted and I was effectively homeless. My father drove 5 hours in half the time to bring me home. I’ll never forget sitting on my college’s steps, and finally seeing his vehicle pull in and just running across the parking lot to cry in his arms. The thing he never stopped talking about though wasn’t the Lord, he had little faith in a higher power because he too suffers from severe arthritis and he didn’t believe a good God would let anyone suffer like that. His favourite subject was injustice though, how everyone, the world, was being unjust to him, unfair. How everything was too hard, everybody was out to get him. Filing to do everything to please him was an attack to his person. He often says that life is hard and then you die. It’s such a sad mindset, now that I can look at it from an adult’s perspective. I use it as a guide for what NOT to let myself become.

  2. Katie, I really enjoyed your writing today. Religion has such a strong hold over so many of us, infusing our ideas of sex, passion, and love with fear, shoulds, and what good girls do and don’t do. Trying to break free of that and live from your heart and soul, trusting yourself and expressing yourself fully, are a challenge. Thanks for your piece today.

  3. The hottest place I have been was one summer when I was in the late years of Middle School and the entire family and my Aunt went to Washington D. C.. We have pictures of my sister, my aunt, and I plastered against the steps of the Lincoln Monument. I remember little of the trip beyond the extreme scale of everything. It was the largest city I had ever been to. The museums blew me away, that there could be artists who were that important, that skilled.

    I have yet to have my father save me from a relationship like you have or help me back up after such a fall. My father has two loves, books and working with his hands. As someone who worked at a desk all day he comes home to refinish furniture, turn wooden bowls or pens, repair and fix things in the house. I was the tomboy of the family and I sat next to him while he worked, handing him the tools as he needed them.

    He passed both his loves on to me. While I have yet to find the skill in working with my hands that he has, his love of books has defined my life. I have written two books now that I editing and have several poems and short stories that have been published. Get the two of us together in a room and we can talk books for hours.

    No matter how close you are or are not to your family, all of us have to break away from the traditions and rules our parents set at some time. It does hurt to know my father will never approve of my full true life, my mother accepts but my father will be one of the many deniers in my family whom I will never tell.

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