Homesick 

By Rebecca Jacobson

The ceiling fan whines as it spins, moving back and forth between two speeds. It’s doing its best to break the heat, but with the setting sun sliding in through the open window, it’s an optimistic attempt.  

Picking the bookmark and envelope off my chest, I stuff them back between the pages. I wasn’t reading, instead consumed by my thoughts about the envelope, about telling them. I twist to place the book on the coffee table beside the couch. My exposed skin, ankles to neck, peels reluctantly from the leather fabric, and I use the opportunity to prop myself up against the end of the couch. The change of position gives me sight of the rest of the living room, front door, and the end of the small corridor leading to the two bedrooms at the back.  

Despite the lack of breeze, the scent of barbequed sausages and onions wafts up from the courtyard three floors below. Letting my head drop back onto the pillow, I raise a hand to shield my eyes.  

Knock, knock-knock, knock.  

A smile overcomes my face as I hear the door open, and I remove my hand from my eyes, resting it on the back of the couch.  

“Hope you don’t mind. The door was unlocked,” says Sherri, closing the door behind her. “Why couldn’t you live in a younger apartment building, or at least not on the top floor?” 

Her free hand is tightly gripping half of a sausage sizzle. She takes a bite while crossing the space between us, before she picks my left leg from the couch, dropping it onto the floor. In the space she’s made, she takes a seat, her back coming flush against my chest. I feel her cool sweat mingling with mine.  

“How’d you luck onto that?” 

Sherri looks at the end of the sausage sizzle in her grasp. “It’s all in the energy.”  

“Couldn’t you have gotten two?” 

“I did.” Sherri turns and places it in my mouth.  

It’s still warm.  

“That was yours,” she continues.  

I choke out a laugh, covering my mouth with my hand. “It was not.” 

“No,” Sherri says, resting her head against my shoulder. “It wasn’t.” 

We bask in the pink glow of the window, the light accentuating the lines and freckles of her face. She looks alive, experienced with survival, and I imagine that Time would be proud of her.  

Knock, knock-knock-kn- 

“Why isn’t the door locked?”  

Jessie steps into the apartment, kicking the door shut. It clicks locked. Her hands are carrying reusable shopping bags, and she eyes us on the couch.  

“Going to help?”  

Sherri opens her arms, a silent request for a hug. Jessie rolls her eyes, but she still smiles and heads for the kitchen. Sounds of draws and fridge doors opening and closing fill the air, before Jessie reappears, three spoons and an ice cream tub in hand.  

She drops onto the other end of the couch, her legs entangled with Sherri’s on the middle seat. Cracking open the tub, she takes a bite before jamming the other two spoons in the ice cream. Sherri leans forward to take the container, and even the humid air feels cool where our skin had been touching.   

“They say the heat’s supposed to break,” I say, and Jessie laughs.  

“And that’s what? The fourth time this week? It’s always about to break.”  

Sherri hands the ice cream to me. It melts on the spoon between the container and my mouth, a mini glacier in distress.  

Mint choc chip. The good kind. 

Sherri leans into me as she turns, and for a moment, I can see Jessie clearly. Her work shirt is distorted around the collar, from one too many stress-fuelled tugs. Crow’s feet adorn the edges of her eyes, softening her face into a permanent happy afterglow.  

I return my spoon to the tub. The ceiling fan whines louder than before, picking up speed, and I catch sight of Sherri taking the book on the coffee table into her grasp. My free hand reaches for it, but I’m pinned under her body weight.  

“No, don’t.” 

Sherri leans back into me, my hand subconsciously gripping the ice cream tub tighter.  

“Please, put it back.”  

Sherri lobs the book, egged on by my discomfort, and Jessie catches it in her hands. She turns it over, lowering it into her lap, and out of my sight behind her bent legs. Sherri’s hands wrap around the ice cream container, my spoon inside, and I relinquish it.  

“There’s nothing wrong with a little smut, Rosanna.”  

I hear the envelope open.  

“It’s not that, it’s –” 

“This.” 

Jessie rests the book on the back of the couch and raises the envelope – ticket exposed – for Sherri to see. The print is clear: 

Stockhill, Rosanna Ms 

From BRISBANE 

To LONDON 

Sherri sits up, our skin separating and stinging cold in the absence. She turns, her face fully revealed to me.  

“What the hell?” 

I can’t force myself to hold her gaze. Orange light clings to the bottom of the window, pushed down by the increasing sea of blue, and the room seems to shrink with it. A hand presses softly against my ankle, and I look up to see Jessie, an encouraging smile on her lips.  

“I’m home sick.” 

I can’t tell if it’s the light, or if Sherri’s eyes have gone glassy with tears.  

“And I know this is home, but I don’t know what else to call it.” 

“So soon?” Sherri whispers, barely louder than the fan.  

I realise there are tears in her eyes.  

“I’m sorry,” I say, catching Jessie’s gaze. “There’s something in me that I can’t find here.” 

Jessie’s head drops to the side, resting against the back of the couch as her fingers draw small circles on my ankle. Sherri leans to the side, placing the ice cream tub on the coffee table.  

“It’s okay,” says Jessie. “You told us that you might go.”  

“Did you already know when you told us? That you’d leave?” 

“Sherri –”  

“Sherri –” Jessie and I lock eyes, but I continue. “Can I please just enjoy this a little longer?” 

Everything is still except the light, the window plunged into darkness, and us with it. I almost miss Sherri’s nod.  

She leans back into me. Jessie places the ticket on the table, and climbs forward, sandwiching Sherri between us.  

“Guess we’ll just have to make the most of it,” says Jessie.  

The ceiling fan whines, almost in protest, and I laugh.  Our breaths are heavy with the scent of onions and barbequed sausages. And I know, when I am homesick, that this is what I will miss. 

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