Monday 14 July 2008

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Stormy Relations

© John Sawyer – July 2008

Dan Peters sits on his back verandah while lightning flashes and thunder rumbles in the southern sky. The promised meteorological turmoil is nothing compared to the storm of emotions flashing in Dan’s head.

He’s pretty successful in most things; a challenging well paid job in research for a software startup; this inner suburban house is in easy walking distance of Melbourne’s sports and entertainment precinct; he has time to swim at the local pool and exercise at the local gym. When he thinks about his ambitions when he finished Uni, Dan Peters has done very well.

That’s all fine except for one thing. Dan Peters is terribly lonely and craves for someone he can love and who will love him in return.

The big trouble is that Dan Peters is terminally shy and keeps pretty much to himself. After repeated knock backs, his colleagues no longer ask him out to one of the local cafés for lunch and he generally eats leftovers at his desk. After swimming, he updates his monthly lap count on the whiteboard and heads home to make a coffee on his own espresso machine while the rest of the lappers head to a nearby café for coffee and cake. In winter he sits quietly at the football on his own in his reserved seat while the other fans conduct vigorous discussions around him.

Dan knows he’s a loner and while he keeps to himself, he’ll never find someone to share his life, but when he gets into company he gets shy and wants to go away and hide. If the company is female he goes weak at the knees, gets tongue tied and so awkward he usually trips over something or knocks over a coffee table.

There is a particularly loud clap of thunder and Dan resolves to go to the pool to see if he can find that beautiful young lawyer who sometimes swims laps on Sunday morning.

Four blocks away, Kate Rowntree is woken by the same clap of thunder and lies in bed thinking. At 32 she’s pretty much given up hope of finding the love of her life. Kate has no trouble finding dates and has even had a couple of short live-in relationships but when it comes to commitment the blokes run a mile. It’s the usual complaint. All the good men are married, gay or chasing after 20 year olds.

Kate keeps herself busy. When she’s not working, Kate helps out at the local legal service one night a week. She regularly heads off to the theatre with girlfriends and does a fair bit of reading. On Sundays she often goes to the local pool to swim laps. Kate thinks about the computer nerd that swims laps most days. “I wonder why he avoids me. It’s almost as if he’s giving me the cold shoulder when he rushes away whenever I go close. I think he lives around here. I wonder if he’s already married. Today I’m going to push past his barriers and talk to him. Yeah, I’m going to throw myself at him.”

Four hours later Dan and Kate are standing in the rain outside St Vincent’s outpatients, waiting for a taxi. Kate has her left arm in a sling and her sweat shirt has a brown stain that looks suspiciously like coffee. Dan has a black eye, his nose has a butterfly bandage across its bridge, his right arm is in a sling and his thigh has a compression bandage. Despite all this, they are holding hands and smiling lovingly at each other. It has been an unconventional meeting, but Dan & Kate are certainly not complaining.


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