Shishir - 2023 Stories - Kim Farleigh


Same Again

By Kim Farleigh


Black bikinis, emerging from blue, highlighted their wearer’s alabaster creaminess, Alabaster’s marble hands wringing out her torso-length, ebony hair, pool lights turning drops falling from Alabaster into pearls, her wavy-haired towel holder’s concern for Alabaster so vast that David quipped: “She fell from Venus to weave magic upon men.”

“Her father is the CEO of----,” Brad whispered.

They were at a party under a Milky Way arch that rose triumphantly over triumphant Alabaster, whose mica eyes peered preciously over the towel that Towel Man had placed so preciously around her.

“No gulf,” David said, “between desire and opportunity.”

Gliding satellites, under gem-studded black, fed earthly receptors, Towel Man as receptive to Alabaster as those receptors were to satellites.

“If she ordered him to sprint head first into the fence, he’d do it,” David said.

Brad’s smile disappeared while saying: “I didn’t have a relationship I wanted in the six years you were away. Missed out completely.”

David’s recent change from sub-zero London to forty-degree Australia matched the gulf that often separates desire and opportunity.

“Are you interested in anyone now?” he asked.

“Yes. She came over from Sydney a month ago to do a traineeship in journalism. I’ll be seeing her tomorrow night at a barbecue at Mike Bull’s.”
“What’s the attraction?”

“No arrogance, curious, bright and beautiful.”

“An alluring combination,” David said. “Given this place’s arrogance, that’s miraculous.”

Alabaster, emerging again from mother-of-pearl, reordered ebony, pearls gleaming in the pool’s lights. Towel Man again enveloped Alabaster in wool. She again peered preciously over her lovingly placed cocoon, desire and opportunity uniting again under diamond heavens.

“I’ll speak to Mike to see if you can come,” Brad said.

“Thanks,” David replied. “I’d like to see him.”

“Davy Wavy,” Mike said.

“El Toro,” David replied.

They hugged.

People surrounded a mahogany table. A painting of gumtrees at sunset faced Brad who faced blue-eyed Diana, whose enflamed cheeks complimented her smile’s warmth. Yellowish hair decorated her bare shoulders.

“Hi!” she said.

No reluctance, David thought. Wonderfully disarming.

Yellow swans decorated her sleeveless red dress. Her Columbian colours made David think: Latin ease. Dangerous for Anglo-Saxon optimists.
“Hi,” he replied. “Welcome to Perth.”

“Lovely to be here,” she replied.

“Because the men here are so beautiful?” David joked.

“I was only supposed to be here for a week,” she said, “but when I saw all those beach adonises, I quit my job in Sydney immediately.”

“You’re only human,” David replied.

Brad’s eyes became titillated slits.

“So, Mike,” David asked, “they tell me you’re the Shakespeare of soup, the Mozart of mousse, the Beethoven of bacon, the Chopin of chops, the Pachelbel of pork.”

“And the Stradivari of steak and sausage,” Mike replied.

Diana’s teeth gleamed amid ovular red. Her excited amusement crushed pessimism.

They entered a patio. Mike put steaks and sausages onto a barbecue. Stars punctured duck-egg blue. Sound cracked through the warm atmosphere as if liberated by the perfect medium for its transmission.

“I don’t know why you live where you do,” Mario said, referring to Perth’s climate and wealth.

“Me neither,” David replied. “If I find out why, I’ll let you know.”

“How long have you been there?” Diana asked. Her twilight-horizon eyes exhibited the sky’s age-defying freshness.

“Six years,” David replied. “The Devil’s number. What can one expect from a handsome devil?”

Her charm stimulated witty self-deprecation.

“Has The Devil seen much of Europe?” she asked.

“Yes. And North Africa, the Middle East and Asia.”

“And the high points?” she asked.

Brad’s right her curiosity, David thought. She’s making the others interested in my experiences.

“The Taj Mahal,” he replied. “The wars in Kosovo and Iraq and flying over The Himalayas.”

“Did you see much fighting?” Mario asked.

“Heard,” David replied, “rather than saw. I’ve seen much more violence in Palestine.”

“Wow,” Diana said. “What were you doing there?” Her attention glamorised the unglamorous.

“Working for an NGO,” he replied. The others listened to what they would not have normally been interested in had she not asked. The newspaper, David thought, chose well.

“People are so used to gunfire there,” David said, “that if they’re not directly involved they keep doing whatever they’re doing.”

“So,” she asked, “a gunbattle could be going on nearby and they continue shopping, for example?”


“I love discovering quirky things like that,” she said. Rife arrogance made her inquisitiveness triumphant.

“Brains and beauty,” Brad said.

“And much more,” David added.

“Don’t stop,” Diana joked. Mike served up steak, sausages, and salad.

“Brains, beauty and world-class cuisine,”Mario said. “What a night!”

“I’ve eaten in Michelin restaurants,” David said, “and nothing they produce compares with the barbecued Australian sausage with tomato sauce downed with chilled Swan Lager.”

Their guffawing reports cracked across adjoining backyards.

“Would you like to be a war correspondent?” Brad asked. Thought shimmered Diana’s taffeta face. Sudden silence boomed.

“Probably unavoidable,” she replied. “The big stories have to be faced.” Beauty spun Brad’s neocortex in an aspiration vortex, the resultant centrifugal force of hope so intense it smashed probability’s dreary barrier.

“Is it right,” he asked, tentatively, “benefitting from people’s misery? I don’t know the answer myself,” he added, eliminating suggestions of criticism.

“It seems wrong,” Diana replied, “but journalists often donate money to organisations that help refugees. And the more informed we are the better.”

“True,” Brad remarked.

He would not have argued with anything she said.



At the site of David’s first ever kiss, the ground dropped to a road that ran beside a river, cars below like toys upon a Scalextric track. That first kiss’s succulent smoothness had produced gorgeous shock, magnifying life’s potential.

He and his university friends had hurled paper planes from there, sensuous flight paralleling the time-arresting delight of that first kiss. He entered a nearby park of preserved bushland, red-orange bottlebrushes amid white bark, green leaves, and red flowers. A couple were clutching, the woman’s yellowish hair unmistakable.


Would telling him, David thought, crush hope?

Mike, entering the pub where David was waiting, exhibited his usual unperturbed self-containment. Seeing failure as normal, Mike told witty stories about setbacks, the miraculous not for him. Brad, however, needed sublimity. When David saw Brad smiling at them, he thought: He doesn’t know!

“Chaps,” Brad said. His new shirt displayed sky blue, royal blue and white checks.

“Has,” Mike asked, “amour stimulated apparel upgrading?”

Brad’s grin reflected the happiness created by his telephone conversation that morning with Diana who had said: “Of course I’ll be there. Why would I avoid such beautiful men?”

“The clothing industry makes fortunes,” Mike observed, “from amour.”

He doesn’t know either, David thought.


Mario’s flicked-back hair sat under a black band. He was six feet tall, slim, and athletic. His immigrant father had made it big, the father’s cafés famous in a city of cafés, Mario’s blue eyes in his tanned face topping swelling, symmetrical lips.

Diana, leaning on Mario’s shoulder, laughed as Mario unleashed his witty charm. Her hair, flicked over her right breast, like an epaulette of golden thread, exaggerated her face’s roundness. Brad felt his insides emptying. He hadn’t known that Mario had recently left his previous girlfriend to pursue Diana. Mario, he knew, couldn’t be blamed. Epicureans hunt beauty, Mario full-force Epicurean.

Brad now faced a climb out of a mentalcrater, bubbles bursting at the crater’s base. The feeling those crater climbs were reality, not temporary setbacks, yielded a hollowness that seemed orchestrated by universal malice.

David sat with him after the others left. Brad, swinging an index finger between his nose and his top lip, said: “Again.”

David patted him on the back. He tried consoling himself while consoling Brad by thinking: Telling him wouldn’t have made any difference.

Despair’s legions amassed in Brad’s throat. He looked down, then up, fighting to fuse quivering lips. He sucked in, lips slammed tight, before saying: “It’s better having bad taste.”

His moist eyes shimmered. David put an arm around him. Desire for them could mean despair, disappointment, delusion, frustration, pain, anything but opportunity.

Brad bit his right fist, fighting the amassed legions, finally saying: “The same thing–again.”

The drops his eyes seeped lacked the sparkles that had flown from Alabaster’s mane.



Kim Farleigh from Spain has worked for NGO's in Greece, Kosovo, Iraq, Palestine and Macedonia. He takes risks to get the experience necessary for writing. He also likes painting, art, bullfighting, photography and architecture, which might explain why this Australian lives in Madrid. He has published his work in more than 100 literary magazines.


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