>Helen returned home one day with an impossibly cute fire engine red scoop-framed Malvern Star with thick white mudguards and a glitter-encrusted chain cover. She wheeled it nonchalantly through the lounge room and into the backyard. She had deliberately waited—it was obvious—until Antiques Roadshow had come on to wheel the bike through. That way, there was no way anyone could miss it. And of course, all heads turned. She had taped an old footy card (St Vinnie’s, 10 for 20 cents) to the frame so it clicked against the spokes; the thick unshaven face of a 70s league player strobed with a leering grin. And Karin cracked first, squealing with delight at the bike, only seconds before Helen disappeared down the back steps. Helen turned her head and flashed a grin that said, I know, I know.

They congregated soon, in the backyard, at the traditional broken picnic table. Helen was there, reading Perec, the gorgeous, gleaming bike leant casually against the back fence. Val came out with two bottles of cider. Tell me where you got it, she said, and you get to drink. Helen smiled, pushing back her reading glasses. Secret Society of Pimped Rides, she said cryptically. Val kicked a half buried tennis ball with her bare foot and it rolled limply towards Helen’s seat. And there’s more where that came from, said Val, if you don’t fess up. The first pink stripes of summer louvered out above them. The fizz of Bulmer’s, the gentle smell of evening grass.


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