It was the warm swirling feeling in Evie’s stomach that alerted her. And the weeping. If she didn’t hear from him one day she was desperate, frantic. Her emotions swung from joy to despair on a constant pendulum. She felt present in her body, the surface of her skin buzzing with life and awareness.
She scanned the missed calls and texts on her phone, unable to think of anything else. On edge, she imagined the worst. He had met someone else. She bored him. She was too intense. These thoughts made tears cloud her vision again.
Late into the night her thoughts tangled and writhed. She kicked away the sheets and wondered what he was doing at that moment. Moonlight coursed through a gap in the curtains, casting a stripe of light across her glistening cheek.
The ringing of her mobile tucked under the pillow jolted her awake at dawn. She answered on the second ring, bolted upright and licked her chapped lips. Her face was smudged with dried tears and mascara.
‘Hi. Sorry I missed your calls. I’ve been away on business for a few days. How’re you doing, gorgeous?’
There was silence as she tried to form words. ‘Okay. Where? Where did you go?’
‘Sydney. There was a function at the Museum of Contemporary Art. You should have seen it, Evie. Everyone was there. All the major critics, Dale Frank, John Olsen, Elizabeth Canning, the director. I was schmoozing like crazy. I would have asked you, but I thought you’d be working. I had a job interview the next day.’
‘I could have come. Taken a couple of days off. So, did you get the job?’
‘Yes. I’m curating Dale Frank’s retrospective next April.’
Silence. Evie ran her hands over the stubble on her calves.
‘Evie? Are you still there?’
‘Yes. Congratulations. Will you have to live in Sydney during the show?’
‘I think so, and afterwards as well. There will be more shows coming up and Elizabeth wants me to curate them. What’s wrong? You sound flat.’
‘Did you think maybe we could have talked about it first?’
‘Evie, we’ve been going out for two months. I thought you’d be happy for me.’
Evie pressed the end button on her phone and stretched out on her side. All energy left her. Tears leaked from her eyes and seeped into the pillow, yet she could not sob.
As the phone shrilled and vibrated, she reached out and made it quiet. Her stomach roiled with pleasure and pain. A part of her enjoyed the purity of the feelings, the way they cut through her—a sharp and beautiful knife through ambrosia.
The phone kept ringing for days until she answered. She dragged herself from home to work, barely remembering to eat. When she spoke, her words sounded odd, ill formed. She could not stop crying, escaping to the bathroom at work and locking herself in a cubicle.
On the third day she pressed the green button.
‘For God’s sake Evie, why haven’t you picked up the phone? I was just about to call your mother.’
‘I haven’t felt like talking.’
‘What on earth is wrong with you? I’ve been so worried.’
‘I love you. That’s what’s wrong. It’s making me miserable. I love you and you’re leaving.’
‘But Evie, I want you to come with me, silly. Do you think I could leave you behind?’
Evie’s stomach swirled again and she smiled, hugging her legs.
‘We’ll need to figure this out, Andrew.’
‘I’m coming over. Don’t go anywhere. I love you.’
Evie pressed the red button and went downstairs. She unearthed a bottle of champagne from the fridge and laid out two flutes. Then she waited, her eyes dry.