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Lie, Naomi, lie.

But instead, the effect of his question was to make her stand up

and offer some tea.

‘Thank you’ he said, smiling slightly.

The unanswered question hung burning in the air whilst she

stood by the kitchen bench, waiting for the tea to brew. She turned

to look at Ted. He was a stranger, yet his casual dress and relaxed

stance on the verandah seemed to presume intimacy. It appeared

that her wariness of strangers and resistance to men did not apply to

Ted Barker; instead, his foreignness made him more mysterious and

attractive by the second. Naomi L. decided he was not a threat.

The following day she went about her daily routine as usual. Ted had

already left for the day when she walked outside and performed her

pushups with the accompanying music of the magpies’ morning call.

She didn’t know what time he’d return (though the bridal creeper

appeared particularly visible today so she presumed he had a long task

ahead of him), but she hoped it would give her enough time to go

about all her usual activities in peace. Most importantly, she hoped it

would give her enough time to do her evening pushups without

disturbance. With Ted’s arrival her emotions were in a precarious

state, so a day to herself was required in order for these emotions to


foreign to her after her sixweeks living under the safety net of solitude.

She had performed her evening pushups and was beginning to

prepare dinner when she heard the sound of Ted Barker ascending

the steps of the verandah. She didn’t turn around, in case her rosy

cheeks from the rising steam were mistaken for blushing (any

inappropriate outpouring of enthusiasm would make her seem mad

and creepy). The house fell silent for a while; assuming he had gone

to the bathroom, she continued on with her task of stirring and


In a rapid movement, Naomi L. was grabbed by her shoulders

from behind. A scream rose up in her throat as a response, and her

heart began to beat as if she’d just performed two hundred push-ups

and was about to go into cardiac arrest.

‘Sorry, I didn’t mean to scare you. I was just going to lend a hand

with the dinner instead of letting you do all the work.’

A Wall Of