At the beginning of this year, my best friend and I drove down the Great Ocean Road. We went around a curve in the road and I drew in my breath because the forests were laid out before me in a startling contrast of gold lace against shadow. The next moment I realised, with another quieter shock, that the shining woods were burned land and the bright leaves were ashes.
It was my first time in Australia, and I loved it so much that I planned to go back this winter. But for a while before that, I was enjoying being in Ireland with Loved Ones, etc.
MUM: So you’re getting ready for Australia. SARAH: Yep, I bought ankle boots! MUM: Cool priorities. You might want to see the doctor before you go, just for a check-up about being so worn down and that cough.
I went in for a quick check-up. I wasn’t all that concerned. Writers are just sick a lot: we have an awesome job, but we also have a weird job where you often overwork and keep odd hours and do not take care of yourself. A guy I know worked so hard he got shingles and lost his hair. One of my close writer friends got pneumonia and broke her rib coughing. I got pneumonia from overwork four years ago, and since then have had recurring bouts of bronchitis or pneumonia, depending on my luck! So I went to the doctor and was like ‘Check me out, not to brag but I haven’t had bronchitis since February and it is September, but if you could do something about the persistent cough that would be great.’
Away I went. A few days later it was my birthday, and my phone rang. I was asleep, due to being a lazy toad who regularly wakes up at I’m-too-ashamed-to-tell-you o’clock. I flailed about in my bedsheets and seized the phone, assuming muzzily it was a Loved One with birthday wishes.
SARAH: Hey, sweetie! DOCTOR: Er, hello… this is your G.P… SARAH: Hey, er… doctor sweetie… I just feel very close to you since the thermometer incident… No. Uh, why are you calling? DOCTOR: So your haemoglobin is half the haemoglobin of a normal person’s. SARAH: Huh. DOCTOR: I would never have thought you were as sick as you are when I saw you! SARAH: I cannot say you have a soothing bedphoneside manner, doctor. DOCTOR: Go to the hospital. Soon. SARAH: Okay, I promise I will. Soon!
(Cut for super length and pictures, but I hope you read on!)
“I cried aloud, shaking my head all the while until I felt the cold blades of the scissors against my neck, and heard them gnaw off one of my thick braids. Then I lost my spirit. Since the day I was taken from my mother I had suffered extreme indignities. People had stared at me. I had been tossed about in the air like a wooden puppet. And now my long hair was shingled like a coward’s! In my anguish I moaned for my mother, but no one came to comfort me. Not a soul reasoned quietly with me, as my own mother used to do; for now I was only one of many little animals driven by a herder.“