It was the first day of June and winter had hit with the ferocity of a shopaholic fighting their way through the doors of the half yearly Myer sales. Thirteen degrees felt like minus five to Sydney-siders. Its residents had just sweltered through the hottest summer on record. The bitter icy wind was a shock to the system. The wind was howling with a haunting whooshing sound as it made its way through the tall unit blocks lined up along the shoreline.
Mark opened his blinds to the sights and sounds of miserable grey skies, and huge white-crested waves crashing onto North Cronulla Beach. A spectacular storm was brewing outside, and it was the type of winter’s day where you want to pull the doona back over your head, and slip back into a blissful slumber.
Mark moved to Cronulla when he and Penny split. His morning surf served as his daily dose of therapy. He decided to skip his surf to get a bit of work done before heading into the office. There were hardly any surfers braving the swell. Menacing black clouds rolled over the horizon like a terrifying scene for a post-apocalyptic movie.
Mark was senior editor at a major publishing house in Martin Place. Penny had never been brave enough to show Mark any of her work, and as he continued to stare out the window, he wondered if she was still writing. She hadn’t mentioned it in a while. Penny was always jotting down recipes, accompanied by funny little antidotes. He had been encouraging her to write a cookbook for years. He made himself a hot, comforting cup of hot chocolate, and set about preparing some notes for his morning meeting.
Having his notes completed in time was proving to be a challenge. He was distracted. He stared at the framed picture of him with Penny and Emma on a trip to New Zealand when Emma was only five. All the photos with Penny in them had been taken down years ago, but this one, he could never quite bring himself to remove. It reminded him of one of the happiest times in his life.
Nobody had ever made him laugh like Penny could. They used to be doubled over in fits of giggles regularly, tears running down their flushed faces. The belly laugh that has you doubled over in pain. Penny would often finish Mark’s sentences for him. He couldn’t believe six years had passed since they split.
Mark wanted to advance his career and worked long hours to get ahead, often leaving Penny at home alone, night after night with Emma. He did this to provide for his young family, yet somehow it led to him losing the love of his life. He still missed her every single day.
Unpublished Work (c) Hayley Walsh 2021