As a kid, I was convinced it was the white brick that did it. This was a carefully reasoned deduction that went as follows: walking directly past the house yielded no response; nor did skipping, jumping, or running; but touching that sole white brick, even for a second, would result in a bright light flicking on, pentagonal shadows of frangipani cascading down the porch steps and onto the ever present mountain of construction rubble out the front.
I never thought to test my theory further, perhaps by running up the path or by waving my hands near the letterbox. For me, the one brick painted white, and the light that came when I stuck my hand on top of it, was proof enough. That little fence has gone now, and there’s a huge wall that I can’t see over, even with the disparity in height between me, now, and my childhood self. Running past the wall, I wonder if there’s still a security light, inside.
Frangipani shadows on stucco, now.
I walk through the doors and into Fresh Provisions, and notice that the university crowd have just burst from the Velvet Lounge and are scoping for bargains in the bakery aisle. The discount cake section will, late at night, offer delicious bounty to the seasoned patron of the Lounge. Even the most profound beer munchies are sated by a fist-sized chunk of cheesecake. Three dollars. A bargain.
Not now though, my body screams for vegetables.
I buy a container of tuscan salad and retreat to the carpark. I don’t have any cutlery, so I dig in with my fingers. Marinated capsicum has the texture of clammy seaweed, and my fingers are slick and shiny with olive oil. I stand under my tree and watch people disperse, probably to Amplifier, maybe home.
I did this for years.
As I begin the run home, it starts to sprinkle, and my shuffle clicks onto the next song. Casino. The pitter-patter and the mournful horns. She pants in my ears, and the scent of frangipani lingers in the air, brought on by the rain.
I still want the idea of that white brick. The belief in it. I want cause and effect, even it’s the wrong cause, the wrong effect.