The Hypnotist's Love Story(10)


by Liane Moriarty

“I am.”

“What a coincidence. I am the king of surveyors.”

“Really?”

Patrick sighed. “No, not really. I’m more like the yesterday man of surveyors.”

“Why?”

“I’m not fond of all the new technology. I still prefer to do all my drafting by hand. So that makes me slower. Not as efficient. It’s a competitive disadvantage, as my younger brother likes to remind me.”

“Is he a surveyor too?”

“No, he’s a graphic designer, but he’s very techy. Are you techy?”

“Not really, but I do like to Google. I think I Google every single day. Google is my oracle.”

“What did you Google today?”

Today she’d Googled “dating a widower: avoiding the pitfalls” and “stepchildren—disaster?” followed by “cures for broken capillaries around the nose.”

“Oh, I can’t think.” She waved her hand vaguely. “Something trivial.” She changed the subject back. “Why did you decide to become a surveyor?”

“Maps,” said Patrick immediately. “I’ve always loved the idea of a map, of knowing exactly where I am in relation to everything else. I had an uncle who was a surveyor and when I was a kid he said to me, ‘Patrick, you’ve got good where-ability, you’d make a good surveyor.’ I asked him what a surveyor did and he explained it like this: He said a surveyor determines the location of things on the earth’s surface in relation to every other thing above or below that surface. Those were his exact words. It stuck in my head. And for some reason that just clicked with me. I thought, Yep, that’s what I’ll do.”

“I think I must have terrible where-ability,” commented Ellen. “I don’t have any sense of where I am in relation to anything. Like, right now—I couldn’t point in the direction of home.”

Patrick pointed over her shoulder. “North. That way.”

“If you say so.”

“Have you got any paper?” said Patrick. “I’ll draw you a map.”

Ellen always made a point of having a beautiful hardbound notebook and pen in her bag so she could write down thoughts as they struck her, ideas for her work and so on. She carefully ripped out a page for him. She didn’t want him reading any of her random scribbles; most of them were the very essence of uncool.

Patrick pulled a slim gold fountain pen from his pocket. “My grandfather’s Parker pen. I’d run back into a burning house for it.”

He rested the sheet of paper on top of her notebook, leaned it on his knee and drew an old-fashioned compass in the corner. Then he began to quickly sketch the inlets and curves of the harbor. He added a ferry and yachts, the Harbor Bridge and the Opera House. It was like watching an ancient treasure map appear before her eyes.

“Here’s where we had dinner.” He drew a little illustration of the restaurant. “Here’s where we saw that terrible play. And now we head over to the northern beaches.” He sketched a beach and a two-story house. “Here’s your house.” He wrote: Ellen’s Hypnotic House. “And now we head back over to the leafy North Shore and here’s my house.” He wrote: Patrick and Jack’s Messy Men’s Hovel. He had beautiful handwriting; it evoked another more elegant era.

She hadn’t been to his place yet. She wondered if it was a hovel.

“And this is where we met for the first time.” He continued drawing.

“And I think that’s about everything—oh, except for this.”

He drew a tiny cross next to the harbor and wrote: We are here.

“That’s the most beautiful map I’ve ever seen,” said Ellen truthfully. She had never had any interest in maps before, but she already knew she would keep this forever.

A faint shadow crossed Patrick’s face. It came and went so fast she couldn’t tell if it was sadness or anger, or maybe embarrassment, or if she’d imagined it.

Then he smiled at her. “No charge this time, darlin’.”

Her heart was melting all over the place.

I’ve got this box.

Sometimes I think if I just threw away the box, I might be able to stop. Once, I got as far as carrying it out to the rubbish bin. I opened the lid of the bin and smelled rotting food and heard the buzz of flies, and I thought, This isn’t rubbish, this is my life.

I lost them tonight. They were going somewhere near Milsons Point or Kirribilli. I was hungry, so I didn’t bother driving around looking for his car. I came home and ate sardines on toast while I watched Cold Case with the box on the floor next to me.

Every commercial break I dipped my hand into the box and pulled something out at random. Then I would examine it as if it was a clue or a solution, as if I was one of the detectives on Cold Case trying to unravel the secrets of the past.

A birthday card, the cardboard still stiff and shiny. Not faded at all. It could have been given to me yesterday:

Dear Saskia,

Happy Birthday from your boys.

We love you,

Patrick and Jack xx

A photo of me and Jack with one of our Play-Doh cities. We spent hours making those cities. I’d spread out cardboard across the dining room table and we’d put in roads and roundabouts and traffic lights. Shops and houses. We’d spend days working on the one city: Jacksville, Jackland, JackTown. I loved building those cities as much as he did. It was like being a town planner without the politics or paperwork.

A boarding pass for Queenstown, New Zealand. Patrick and I went snowboarding for a week. His mum looked after Jack. I remember Patrick stopping to kiss me when we walked back inside for a hot chocolate. Warm lips; cold snowflakes falling around us as soft as caresses.

A map that Patrick drew for me when he was giving me directions to a developer’s office near the airport.

I remember I said to him, “That’s the most beautiful map I’ve ever seen.”

Chapter 4

In this Act, “stalking” includes the following of a person about or the watching or frequenting of the vicinity of, or an approach to, a person’s place of residence, business or work or any place that a person frequents for the purposes of any social or leisure activity.

—Section 8 of the Crimes

(Domestic and Personal Violence) Act

So she follows you? Everywhere? How is that even possible?”