This was first published here.
Tony had no idea why he was there.
Really, it shouldn’t be like this.
What started out as a simple idea to consult a professional relationship counsellor on his impending marriage with her had somehow ended up with him in this field, with two other people he could only describe as nutters.
At the very least, they were mixed up. Emotionally unstable. More so than him. He just wanted a simple answer to his simple question.
“How do you know?”
How do you know when she’s the one? Should he settle down with her and learn to love her laugh? The way she wipes his mouth between courses? Could he truly be happy and sleep well every night for the rest of his life? With her laying stiffly beside him? He doesn’t even like redheads; normally.
The morning sun glared in his eyes. Turning his head slightly, he stared at the other blokes, who were busy sketching. Like that would help. He squirmed uncomfortably on his chair; it was digging into his back. Stupid camping chair!
He felt embarrassed to be there, and had no idea that the early morning bus trip from his new home would end up with him clutching a stick of charcoal and a notepad.
He drew a stick figure. Named it after her. Drew a big sun with arrows shooting out of it.
Nearby a conga line of cows were walking up the paddock; the soft dull bell, the sharp farmers whistle.
He slapped the back of his neck. Insects. A trickle of sweat rolled down his chest. The arms of his leather jacket creaked with each movement, it had always annoyed him. The other men said nothing, just bobbed their heads up and down as they took in each curve of the hill, each rise of the tree line.
He drew a square house, even though he could see none. Their happy home, together. The kind you drew as a kid, without lifting your pencil; with a big cross in the middle. A big, black cross.
The charcoal snapped.