And God Said, “Let There Be Light”
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All I can see is white. Clean, pristine, sterile white. I hear beeping. It almost drives me insane. I stare at the ceiling. Mottled white tiles interrupted by the glow of fluorescent lights. I listen to their voices, but they are muffled. Like there is a curtain between us. I only hear snatches of the conversation.
“What happened to him? What is wrong with my husband?
“I am sorry, Maam We are still running tests. We dont know what is wrong. He was like this when the chopper air lifted him in”
“But he was with his brother. Bush walking. Where is his brother? Is he here too, Doctor?”
“No. They found him alone in the national park. Crawling on all fours. He was muttering incoherently. It is lucky they found him.”
The voices fade again into the recesses of my mind.
“Come on mate. Hurry up! Get a move on!” Joe calls back down the mountain.
I call for my brother to wait for me, but as usual, he charges ahead. I struggle up the rock face, searching for footholds. I scrape my knee. It stings. I reach up and grasp a fern dangling down, inviting me to grab hold. I heave myself up and finally reach the top. Joe is there sitting on a fallen log, just waiting for me to catch up. Damn Asthma. It always makes me slower.
“Glad you could join me,” he laughs, teasingly.
I take a seat next to him and stare out across the valley, trying to catch my breath. The brochures were right. This truly is one of the most amazing views I have ever seen. It is perfect. Dense, green huddles of trees, broken only by the occasional sparkling river or camping clearing. The sounds are magnificent as well. Birds twittering tunefully, not squawking like they seemed to in the city. Absolute peace and tranquillity.
The doctor shines his tiny torch in my eyes. A nurse comes over and adjusts my head. I try to say something but my tongue is stuck. She smiles at me as if Im a child and pats me on the head. Then she says something in that sing-song voice that people tend to use around little babies. I lash out. Kicking, punching, screaming, crying, all at the same time. I fight with the sheets. Let me out! I try to get up but I feel claws pushing me back down. They roll me over and I feel a sharp sting in my backside.
My vision blurs again. It is like I am underwater. Drowning. I struggle to move. To raise my arm. To get some attention. But I cant and I feel myself slipping back. Back there
Which way? I ask myself. Which path did he take? I look around for a clue to point me in the direction of my brother, but the forest gives me none. It just stays still. Not moving. Not helping me. I choose the left path as it looks the most trampled, hoping that this is what Joe decided upon. Why does my asthma always have to slow me down? Why did I tell Joe he should go ahead?
The sun sends it rays down upon me and warms the back of my neck as I walk along the dusty, brown dirt path. I scuff my feet and the dust swirls up around me, shrouding me in its cloud. I cough. The dust eventually settles.
There is still no sign of my older brother. Do I go back? Or do I just trust that both paths end up at the same place. I choose to trust the path I am on. I continue along this trail for a while. I stroll past an owl, asleep in the crook of a spindly, deformed branch of a Eucalypt. Its eyes are closed and its head is tilted away from the sun. A wallaby darts in front of me. It studies the sleeping owl and satisfied it is asleep, the wallaby hops off. I stand still and watch it bound down the hillside and disappear into a clump of some of the tallest tress I have ever seen and I decide to follow him. He seems to know where he is going. Perhaps that is the way to the river. The brochure said that watching the forest by the river come alive after sunset was breathtaking.
My eyes jerk open. How long was I out for? I am panting like an animal and I struggle to catch my breath. I try to lean forward but there are metal claws clutching at my wrists and ankles, tying me to the white bed. My eyes well up with tears. They trickle down, turning my face into a stream. I cant seem to stop them. I remember what I saw when I reached the river and tremble. The horror! I cry out loud and the nurse comes running. I am quivering and sobbing uncontrollably. She brushes against my face and I scream. A doctor appears and my backside stings again.
It is dark now. The sun has gone to sleep, but the forest hasnt. It is wide awake.
I scramble through the forest. Dodging this way and that like a slalom skier. I run frantically through the towering trees. Their misshapen, twisted limbs stretch towards me beseechingly like the claws of a bird. I see faces in their bark. Knobbly faces of old men, craggy and creased. Smirking at me. Laughing at me with their evil cackles. Scrutinizing me with their cold, grey, unforgiving eyes. I am surrounded, trapped by the gangs of trees who thwart my every move.
I stumble blindly out into a clearing, relieved to have reached the river. But that feeling evaporates when