Girl in a Shirt, August 2013 Issue: Tanya Smart

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“Come to room 323.” It was a humid night in Coolangatta and I was every bit of 19 years old. There had been something of a surf contest going on (from what I recall), and The Schooner hotel was like College meets Cancun. Most of my cognitive functions were drowning in overpriced lager, but I would be damned if I didn’t make it to room 323.

I pound on the door like a fireman ready to spray the raging blaze of a hot 18-year-old. Much to my dismay, a fully grown man opens the door. “This must be a joke,” I think to myself. I had been had. But then I notice, behind him — there she was. Her eyes gleam and her smile belongs to the devil. I come to learn that the grown man was her father and that he is about to go to the bar. But before he goes, he invites me out to the balcony with him, where I take a seat in a plastic chair. Was I scared? Was I excited? Was I just plain drunk?

The father nips a bottle of spiced rum and gathers his belongings. Before he walks through the door, he stops at my toes. I am still sitting in the chair and he hovers over me like Goliath, reaching his hand out to firmly shake mine. I look at him with my Toohey’s stare, but his eyes eventually win the battle and I feel his soul crushing mine. I squirm, nauseated. He releases my hand, saying nothing and he exits the room — closing the door just hard enough to reinforce his authority.

She tosses me a beaded necklace and says, “If you throw me those beads, I’ll take my shirt off.” I throw a heater right over home plate, she makes good on her promise, and I steal all four bases. Australia is for lovers.