Melbourne Train Girl walked through Melbourne Central right on the hour. Tourists with cameras got to their feet under the clock as it began to chime. Couples smiled and wrapped their arms around each other as the galahs appeared and the sounds of Waltzing Matilda filled the air. Melbourne Train Girl has never taken that kind of notice of the clock before. To her it has always been small and insignificant.
To those who have come long distances to experience Melbourne, however, it is something very notable indeed. It is a reason to turn to briefly meet their loved ones eyes, and smile with an uncontained excitement. A reason to squeeze their dearest's hand a little tighter, and draw them just a little closer. And they will remember that night under the old clock with fond sighs and misty eyes.
Melbourne Train Girl has never really been away anywhere with someone significant. Just before her last relationship ended, she and the Late Boy had gone camping with friends. But that was when things were not going so well. The afternoon they arrived was bright and sunny but quickly turned to heavy rain, converting the soft grass of the camp site to thick, wet mud. The Late Boy had left their tent unzipped, and Melbourne Train Girl had discovered their sleeping bags and blankets soaked through. They slept that first night on opposite sides of the small tent, damp and uncomfortable.
The second night they slept dry. Melbourne Train Girl had hung their bedding in the sun when they woke. The Late Boy rolled over to place his arm across Melbourne Train Girl's chest, and she had turned over onto her side. Pretending to be asleep. For a second night they slept on opposite sides of the small tent.
On the third night, as a drunk Melbourne Train Girl buttoned her pyjamas, he began to unbutton them. She laughed and did them up again, and flopped down into her sleeping bag and closed her eyes. Without saying a word he crawled out of the tent and stalked off somewhere. Melbourne Train Girl doesn't know where he went, or when he returned, but she knows that they slept that last night on opposite sides of the small tent.
Melbourne Train Girl hadn't wanted a holiday like that. She has always romanticised about the trips she will take. About sitting under a completely insignificant landmark and feeling as though it were the most magical thing in the world. She has wanted weekend car trips, plane rides interstate, and perhaps even wandering adventures overseas. For almost three and a half years there were no holidays. The Late Boy was too late, and too disorganised.
Melbourne Train Girl has a feeling growing slowly and delicately from somewhere deep inside her abdomen. She is quite certain she has taken several tentative steps onto a path leading to her clock.