There are eight of us at this table looking furtive.

Our soundtrack is the tap class we passed on the way in where seven women (and a solitary man) dressed in opaque black tights and special heels are creating a rhythm together while, in room 2A, someone is trying to say ‘How much is that tomato in Spanish?’

You are the youngest here and I love you even more for that.

In the centre, clutching packs and a raggedy purse, our teacher Deborah, and her wispy plait, is taking payments while checking and then forgetting in equal measure. She ricochets from one thought thread to another pausing only to grab art samples from the banks of materials she has stacked against the wall or to pounce on the whiteboard and cover it in excited sketches.

You yawn and are admonished for looking bored and I wonder if you are actually bored or actually truthful when you deny it.

Within five minutes, Karen, who paid first, is insisting that she had $55 in her purse and holds it open to show only $15 remaining which, she says, is what she made sure she had left over for lunch. She snaps her wallet shut and nods Deborah on to Selena.

You are still yawning while I am already thinking about lunch despite being stuffed full of poached eggs and haloumi.

Selena is clear about her own rarity. She tells everyone that she was the first one in Adelaide and smiles triumphantly at her own exoticism while clutching her two $20 notes. That is until Gwen tells everyone that there was a Selena living next door to her in Rosewater (where she grew up) who would be in her seventies now at least.

You and I giggle inwards and pass notes.

Gwen winks at us over spectacles that hover with caution on the cliff of her nose. She has the best bowl haircut I have seen in ages and is dropping silken one-liners that match her brown velour jacket. She’s already raising an eyebrow at Denise.

I trot out my cashless society sermon in whispers while you check you have enough cash to cover me.

Denise is clutching something she made earlier. It is very clear (made clear by Denise) that she has done this before. On her table she has carefully placed her $250 set of Swiss tools. She fondles them in a more restrained way than we do our own $14.95 kits that have been made in China while looking pityingly at Athena.

You and I touch the sides of our littlest fingers without thinking.

Athena thinks that everything is marvellous and the world is a place of awe. She is talking about the healing energy of clouds and is determined to complete a study of a small leafy sea dragon surround by bubbles and seaweed for her bathroom. She’s still talking about her trip to Sardinia when Deborah moves onto Anna.

You ask me whether Athena was in our last art class and I raise an eyebrow to remind you that not all older women look the same.

Anna, dressed in pink, is someone’s mother. She thrusts forward an offering of her tiny daughter and clutches at lines that have never failed to engender deeper connection before.This silver audience has already been there and done that and is not interested in talking about it anymore.  When Anna looks at us her eyes are full of panic.

But you and I are standing on the opposite bank. Palms pressed together and fingers curled, we can’t offer that sort of connection either.


Read more about Adelaide Stories here.

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