Day 38

Written 25 April, 2020


Today, 81 deaths in Australia. Please please no more. 20,000 in the UK, 51,000 deaths in the US, 200,000 deaths in the world. No more.

We ran away to here more than a month ago. As I heard Dy coughing this morning, his cough mixed up with birds calling to the morning, so I have to say- that’s him, thats the newly -arrived whip bird, that’s him, that’s that fluffy kookaburra. Everyone has their reason not to get the virus, and mine is no worse than millions of people: But here to hide in such beauty, I can’t believe my luck.



A day with reports of so much death,  I don’t know where to put myself. I pull up a mint plant from my garden and walk down the track to plant it in  F’s garden. I gave her a little one while she was here, but now my mint’s doing so well, I want to share them with her more. There’s a track right around the community in front of all the houses,  for friendship and for safety’s sake, Once, someone built their new house over the track, so we decided we must be allowed to walk up their steps, across their front deck, down their steps on the other side. The track must come first.

The track goes close to the Pink House door, so I shout Knock Knock to warn Dy. We chat for a while, at the prescribed distance, a typical bay conversation about how to live here, in particular his water tank, for its  cover has rusted off and drowned in the tank. His sister says she’s always drunk the water and nothing’s gone wrong, but she hasn’t lived here for the length of a plague. I’ve come to find  comfort from such conversations-  the conversations say that we’re in this together, together we find a way to live with wildness.

K is upset today, beset by change. In her city flat, she lived in isolation. Now, in this quiet haven, ironically, she feels crowded in: we talk talk talk, and NDIS carers on zoom  or mobile talk talk talk. Too much, too much. I hoped it’d be good for her, and perhaps, one day it will. But in the meantime, the bogey of change.

On the deck, to be out of her way, and Gg’s way, I work desultorily on my rejected novel, trying not to reject it. It’s like a necklace, with dull beads and suddenly a shiny one, dull beads and suddenly a shiny one. it comes to me that perhaps a play could come out of stringing together the shiny beads; and after that, a novel that the readers of publishers didn’t reject. After two hours I despair of that plan, pack up, put my work away, and clamber down to our little cove with a tarpaulin, to pick up the logs and sticks that washed up there in the huge storm. It’s a long job, but today much more fun than writing. I set a fire in the 44 gallon drum, piling in dead, yellow  ferns because they make good fire starters, run up the 40 steps to put on chicken soup with vegetables for dinner, and return to watch flames leap higher than the roof, higher than the stars.


2 Responses to Day 38

  1. I think that’s very wise of you, Sue. Like all things this virus will end, it’s inevitable that it will, and perhaps we will with it. Do you think this could be the end? I’m not convinced, not just yet. But take that with a pinch of salt as hushes of a “second wave” begin to spread as quickly as the damn thing itself.

    My pink river melancholy gripped me again last night. On the bright side it propelled me hastily into a lull, bringing with it thousands and thousands of words and a new direction for my major work. Oh, but it wasn’t me who was writing, it was another Sophie. That Sophie is much wiser, much more curious, much more sensitive than the one typing these silly words.

    Usually sleep cures my moods; a brand new day, a brand new start! Years ago, if I woke up in a melancholy I use to force myself back to sleep, even if it was three o’clock in the afternoon. My dreams would rock me into a different reality, reset my mechanisms and I’d wake again, for the second time of the day, ready to try again.

    This method didn’t work last night – and then, at 11.02am today it was compounded. Already in a bit of a state, I lay on the ground in my living room, my sketch book stretched out in lazily in a patch of sun, headphones in, waiting for J to pop up on Instagram and do his read.

    11.00am, no J. 11.01, no J. This was strange for him, usually so punctual (a family trait from Andy’s side, much to Mandy’s annoyance). J is usually bouncing with energy and enthusiasm, eager to read to anyone, ANYONE who will listen to Harry Potter in a gloomy Manhattan isolation. Strange. We’d spoke to J not thirty minutes earlier – Saturday morning – The Good Weekend Quiz – family conference call … I don’t wish to disclose our score….

    11.02, BING, oh good, there he is. I was excited, my spirits picked up for seeing his face and for learning that we were UP TO BOOK THREE, HARRY POTTER AND THE PRIZONER OF AZKABAN! MY FAVOURITE BOOK AND FILM! I was dismounting from my leaky bobbly boat ashore the the pink river; perhaps I didn’t have to go back to sleep today, perhaps J’s energy will fill what I feel lacking.

    “Is that a triplet thing?”

    “Do you guys like, read each other’s minds?”

    Throughout our lives we’d have fun playing with the answers to these questions … either that or we’d roll our eyes after the fifteen hundredth person asked if we were all identical….

    J began reading. I began drawing. Silence. Did it freeze? Was it my wifi? Was it J’s wifi? I pull my attention from my blank page to J’s face on screen. He had gone non-verbal, he was doing that thing we do in my family when we can’t express ourselves and begin to spiral down a dark hole. His hand was clutched over his eyes. His voice broke:

    “I can’t.. today..”

    The screen went black.

    Just as quickly as I was walking down the jetty to the mainland, I did a quick 180 and dragged myself back onto the bobbly boat on the river. I hadn’t seen J cry in years. I mean, he was always the most sensitive in the family so it wasn’t rare to see J become emotional. But as though I was watching a supercut I saw him, forty days into military grade lockdown, with just E for company. No longer employed, his productions shutdown, his visa application in danger, thousands of his people dying in their homes and hospitals, Trump… and no Easter egg hunt victory under his belt. Compounded. Crushed. Not melancholic, just devastated.

    Ask me again, “Can you guys like read each other’s minds?”

    No. But I can feel him. Them both, actually. I called C a few hours later to check-in and discuss a script. I asked him how he was today and he said he felt flat, and that he had a pain in his shoulder that was spreading through his whole body; he had no idea about J.

    I messaged J immediately after his break down. ‘I love you. Do you want to talk?’. He didn’t respond for hours; you could imagine what tricks this played on my mind, and what tricks this played on Mandy and Andy’s minds too. He’s okay. He’s asleep right now, but he’ll be up again soon. Another day in isolation, another day of devastation, another day, another day, another day. I wonder if I should tell him my trick of falling back asleep, my trick of trying to start again.

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