Simpson Harvey copy

In the second KYD No. 20 teaser, true crime writer Lindsay Simpson remembers her friend and co-author, Sandra Harvey.

January 2008. I am lying on my stomach on the sandstone rocks at McIvers Baths in Coogee, reading The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying. A few streets behind me, on the top floor of a 60s brick apartment, my best friend is dying. She is forty-nine. She has, although I do not know it, only ten days to live.

I am booked into a hotel nearby and came down to this tidal pool to wait for her. She is not feeling well, her partner said, when I called. I know how much she hates the idea of anyone seeing her like this. I pretend I have come to Sydney on other business so there is no fuss. I wonder if she will agree to see me at all.

Around me at the pool, rubber-capped women and girls envelop me in femininity, chattering like birds. This is the last remaining women’s-only seawater pool in Australia, having been exempted from the NSW Anti-Discrimination Act. Sandra frequented this place when she wasn’t taking her daily dips in the ocean, striking out with those strong arms in all weather and all temperatures, her early morning face bearing the red marks of the goggles.

I first noticed Sandra in September 1984 at the Penrith courthouse that had been especially configured to accommodate forty-three bikies charged over a massacre in Milperra. It was her haircut, a geometric fashionable half-bob, and her demeanour, self-assured and capable, as she zipped in and out of the courtroom filing for AAP, the news wire service. How we ended up at a French restaurant above the main street in Penrith on expense accounts from our news outlets, I cannot remember. It was over a fateful bottle of wine, however, that we made the pledge that was to forge our friendship.

‘I’ve always wanted to be a writer,’ Sandra whispered conspiratorially.

‘Me, too.’

We were like children confessing that journalism was only ever a stepping-stone from the tyranny of the blank page.

Want to read the rest? Issue 20 will be available online 12th January! Be the first to read it by purchasing a print or online subscription to KYD.

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Image courtesy of the author.