We woke early that morning as the sun lit up the two shared bedrooms, three of us in each one. The thin, printed cotton curtains were no match for that kind of light. We were eighteen years old. It was the first weekend of our first semester at university, and we had come to the beach house armed with our readers and highlighters.
After breakfast we arranged our readers on the wide front deck. Total War in Europe, Torts, Introduction to Biology, French Cinema, Social Work Theory and Practice 1. Reams of printed paper bound into packages of knowledge, which we believed would lead us to careers. With the deferred debt, it seemed like university was free.
We had to get out of the house before we could study. We left our mobile phones at the beach house because everyone we wanted to talk to was right there. We walked slowly to the beach, up the steep gravel road, black wattle and silver banksia lining the way. Branches stretched out into a blazing day. We passed the house at the top of the hill which overlooked the beach.
‘That house is going to be demolished,’ one of us said, the one whose father owned the beach house we were staying at. The house on the hill was a beautiful, white, rambling weatherboard. To knock it down and build something bigger, with a tennis court apparently, was hard to fathom. We would never knock down something we managed to own, we were sure of that.
Down the sandy slopes to the empty beach, dry, crackling shrubs underfoot. The waves rose and collapsed like breath, unfaltering. We stepped into the water and the salt stung our shaved legs. Seaweed looped around our feet and toes. It was too fresh to get right in.