This is a series of posts that profile each of the main characters from my first novel Here Today. Big in heart, foul in mouth. Leith McAuley is Astrid’s confidant and friend throughout the story. She provides some critical perspective, offsetting Astrid’s hesitancy and doubt with spunk and a slew of profanities. Leith doesn’t like therapists or hospitals much, but that doesn’t stop her from meeting Astrid for lunch and guiding her progress in this most unusual of placements. But Leith has her own story to tell, most of which she keeps to herself until it’s too late.
Just when you think you’ve got her measure, Leith surprises you again.
From the novel
Her hair is a shock of communist-flag red hanging in stiff lengths of straw around her face. It’s a stark contrast to yesterday’s green though it maintains the dull flatness of hair that has been dyed within an inch of its life.
‘I was worried it would clash with the tutu, but it works fine.’
‘Who am I to argue?’ The tutu, a plate of pink meringue, may sit neatly over her legs, but it’s awkwardly wedged into the back and sides of her wheelchair. Her black t-shirt bears the slogan punk: the ultimate conformity in neat lettering. ‘I don’t mind the shoes either.’ They’re a pair of heavily scuffed white high heels, old wedding shoes, no doubt fresh from the Paddington op shops.
‘By the state of them, I doubt she was a virgin,’ she smiles, I assume in reference to the former owner of the shoes. Without the slightest effort, she tips her chair back and pirouettes on the spot before cruising to the end of the counter. Leith coasts around in a PhastChair, light and sleek, painted hot metallic red. Large cambered wheels and rollerblade castors set off a compact titanium frame. It’s the Ferrari of wheelchairs and Leith handles it with cool confidence, even though errant folds of the tutu are getting caught in the rims.