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GOTHIC GALLAE (Laura Seabrook) is a fibre-art artist who also writes and cartoons (she produces an irregular comic HYPERGRAPHIA). She lives with her dog Pegasus and cats Xena and Gabrielle in the Hunter valley, and is also pagan and transgendered.
I dialled the number cautiously, secretly. I'd told Fiona that I was going down to the corner deli to get a newspaper, but I went to make a phone call instead. I could hear the number ringing as I waited in the cold, draughty phonebox. Maybe I should hang up now, maybe this wasn't such a good idea.
"Hello, this is WANT, can I help you?" said a woman's voice abruptly at the other end. Too late.
"WANT?" I queried.
"Western Assistance Network Trust. We're an umbrella organisation for dozens of self-help and community groups here in Perth and Western Australia. Now what can I do for you?"
"Ah, well, I have this problem you see, and I, um, met this guy in a pub, and he said there was a group for people like me..." I let the sentence dangle, hoping that she would pick it up, so that I wouldn't have to explain.
"Yes, well most of the groups here are for helping people, and most are formed by the people needing that help. So what's your problem?"
"Well, you see, that is... ...sometimes when my girlfriend's out I get these urges. It's, it's like I'm someone else, you know?" I hoped she did, but didn't expect her to.
"I see", she said in a calm voice, "well that's nothing to be ashamed of. I have some contact details here for a group called `Transformers' that might be able to help. They meet here every second Thursday and the next meeting is tomorrow night at 7pm."
She told me the details, which I wrote in my notebook and quickly put in my pocket just in case anyone should see it. Silly, really -- who really cared about this dark secret of mine except me? I tried telling myself this, but I didn't believe it. This was a dark secret. I didn't dare tell Fiona about it. She'd leave me for sure. But I needed to talk to someone. Maybe this "Transformers" group could help. It was worth a try.