I remember it as a most pleasant day. You know Australian blue sky, a sky I have never seen anywhere else in the world. It was mild. Just right. Not humid not cold not alarmingly hot. I sat innocently as a passenger in my own car gazing out the window, looking at the familiar buildings I had driven past most of my life. My wife was driving. My daughter in the back seat.
You’ll be alright, it is time for you to relax. I mean you have done enough, wouldn’t you say.
What the hell did that mean? Did my wife or daughter say that? They were starting to look like each other. They were starting to speak like one another. They felt a need to sum things up. To summarise my life, just for my benefit although I guess they were both experts on it.
Done enough what?
Things. Life experiences. You’ve consumed a lot of time here. And now it’s running out. Time I mean. And you’d expect that. You can’t behave like you have without ruining your body. You should accept it. Not to mention your mind. No, we won’t go there.
What are they talking about? There is an implication about excess candle burning here. Wages of sin kinda stuff. And they enjoy delivering judgments or is that sentences.
But what about my car?
That was my response. Worried about my car.
It’ll be alright.
There was no point in discussing it. Everything was decided.
But who’s going to look after it?
It’s a car. It’s made of metal. The thing does not have feelings. It’ll survive. It’ll still be going long after you’ve kicked the bucket.
I was attached to the thing. Perhaps overly attached.
Don’t worry you’ll get to drive it again.
A female voice said. Wanting to calm my immediate anxiety.
And I had no intention of kicking any random bucket. Why should I? Who would get pleasure out of that? Well not me.
But why are you doing this? Tell me again.
We’re not doing anything. I mean you’ve done it to yourself.
So it was my fault. OK. I thought that might be the case. Historically the answer was correct. There is so much evidence to support this kind of indictment. I have always accepted their accusations without examination. I continually plead guilty.
Come on. We’ve been over this so many times. Let’s not make it worse than it is. Let’s all part on good terms. I mean you want visitors don’t you? Don’t put us off. It’s all up to your doctors now. Talk to them. They know a lot more than us. They’re your medical support team.
Talk to my doctors. Jesus.
Now don’t go all moody on us. We’re taking you there. Come on. Brighten up. Walk into the place with hope. And then expect to walk out one day.
Right. Don’t throw a wobbly. Just resign yourself big boy. Just take it where you don’t want to take it. Bend over. You won’t feel a thing. Honest.
Come on dad, you’ll get better, you’ll be out of there before you know it. Start thinking positive.
Thinking positive? Young people. Where the hell do they get these bland coaxing’s from? She knew that would irritate me.
You gotta be nice to the staff, you know the nurses and all that. It’s so important in a mammoth institution. You get a rubbish reputation and none of them will help you. You know, wipe your arse change your nappy.
Ah. They couldn’t ease up. We all understood they had the upper hand. Just humour me a little, jolly me along, wish me well. But no. There was still poison to be administered. Taunts, wounding’s and direct accusation. They were enjoying our little car trip nourished by an invisible complicity.
And your language. Don’t be so cruel. Think before you need to savage someone. It’ll rebound on you quick smart in there. Trust me.
Right. Got it.
Car’s cool, language poor, be fucking positive.
Am I going to die?
Dad, follow the plot. You know. It’s like up to you. You’re sick. I mean you can get better, they reckon. It’s not impossible.
The professor says our bodies remain here forever. That we never lose them.
Well whatever you believe.
You don’t accept that?
And he isn’t a professor, you just call him that. He’s just another of your crazy friends. You know. One of the loons you’ve collected all your life.
It does not involve belief. It’s a physical reality. Your body is not destroyed.
Just concentrate on what we’re doing right now. That’s all I ask.
It’s gravity. Nothing leaves the planet. Everything is trapped here. Your body might decompose but the individual atoms remain intact. Think about it. There’s just a change in how it’s all constituted. You cannot lose one molecule of your being. Random instead of sculptural.
I hope you packed stuff like toothpaste.
Which means that every living organism that has ever existed on the planet is still here. Nothing has ever escaped. The entire history of life is still assembled.
You should think about getting better.
My room was practical, on the fourth floor. When I finally awoke there was a drip in my arm. How long had I been unconscious? There was no way to understand. I didn’t seem to be in pain. My sight worked, my hearing functioned. Then the sheer artificial silence of the place overwhelmed me. This vast building with the volume held at a permanent zero. I ran a hand over my forehead. I touched my cheek, it needed to be shaved. My body was still assembled.
© Peter Fraser
Peter Fraser lives in Australia. He enjoys travel and writing.