There were three eulogies at my father’s funeral. The first, from an eighty-year-old friend, began: ‘I would probably have to say I am a muddled atheist. In my view, in a well-ordered universe, death would be accorded in strict order of seniority, rather like policemen used to be promoted. Instead, we know it is unforeseen, unplanned and entirely random.’
For Dad’s last birthday, friends and family gathered at the hospital for a celebration. I was seventeen. At the end of his party, Dad said to me, ‘OK, let’s go!’
I didn’t want to treat him like a child, he’d scolded me for that once before. I looked to Mum for help and watched Dad get increasingly frustrated as I searched for the right way to say: ‘You’re not coming home.’
Mum and one of the nurses helped Dad into a wheelchair, and instead of going home we went for a walk around the block. Once we had headed down the hill and were working our way back up to the hospital Mum suggested we push Dad home. But the three blocks was too far. It didn’t seem practical because Dad would get restless and try to stand up. If Mum asked me now, though, I’d probably do it.
When we returned to Dad’s room he was adamant about going home and wanted to know how the three of us were going to get there. I smiled so I wouldn’t cry and he said, ‘Smiling isn’t going to solve the problem.’ That’s the last thing my father said to me. The next time I saw him, he was in a coma.
I was told by one of my father’s nurses that parents often choose not to die in front of their children. My father died minutes after I’d left the room. I’d hesitated after closing the door, and then I’d walked home.
My earliest memory is an aunt of no relation teaching me the birds and the bees. I can recall that lesson with remarkable lucidity.
The way it feels, sitting in the library courtyard, and seeing a baby sparrow at your feet, scavenging the crumbs from your crusty roll.
He used to pick me up in his car, a beat up Honda Civic.
‘You talk funny.’
We’re on the hillside. It’s recess. We’re playing with little toy dinosaurs. I am the orange one, my favourite, and you’re the blue.
There used to be a takeaway pizza restaurant on Waverley Road, where the tram ended. You weren’t really supposed to eat there, but the owner had put a little vinyl table by the window and there were four chairs and a holder in the middle for the serviettes.
We decide to go looking for the troll while fuelling ourselves with petrol-station hotdogs and strong kaffi and, in our excitement, forget to fill the car.
At night, if you’re sleeping on the top floor, floor fourteen, you might hear someone walking on the roof, over its gravel sheet.
There were three eulogies at my father’s funeral . . .
The trees here are white and skeletal – near Marysville where fire ripped through . . .
We met in 2003 at the Wickham Hotel in Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley, while he was on holiday. Tall, handsome, studying English and Korean at university.
We were waiting at Salerno station for the train to Sicily when a woman on the opposite platform collapsed.
We watched television while he bled out on the bed beside me. ‘Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?’ – that rhetorical question that so many people still seem to get wrong.
Elijah is taken on a Monday.
See his kidnappers on the freeway. Holden Kingswood, old and brown. Two men with ponytails and tense expressions. It’s half past three. The road is teeming with cars. The cars are absolutely gleaming.
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