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. As always, the two of us found the first few questions stupidly easy, and the rest impossible. I looked at him out of the corner of my eye every time I had a chance to joke about the fact the closed captioning was entirely incorrect. It was hanging onto meaning the way that only robots can.
‘The latest please for inn oh sense comes from the defendant’s lawyers…’ I read out loud, which didn’t sound as funny as I’d hoped.
The news wasn’t as good a distraction for him, and I kept hoping for something good and inn core ect to make him laugh. He hadn’t laughed since we’d come in. Except for his dry scathing ‘hah’ that is even worse than a lol.
I was starting to suspect he really had only come for the cheap party pies afterward. I felt the icy scratching of the needle in my arm, trying to divert my attention away from looking after him. My tongue felt thick. But it would take more than nearly passing out from fear or blood loss to stop me.
I’d dragged us to donate out of the same kind of misguided civic duty that makes me try to break up fights on public transport. I’m desperate to be seen doing some good, even if it just ends up with my blood all over the place.
‘Oops, seems you’re a bit of a gusher,’ the nurse said, trying to tamp down my vein with wads of cotton wool.
I leaned over to see how Gabes was doing. He’d finished before me – always the high achiever – and was sitting serenely. They’d even let him touch his bag of blood, and it was warm. He poked it like it had never belonged to him. I felt sick.
Years later I would try to go alone, and find myself deemed too weak for duty. My attacks of the spins that happened 50% of the time after donating made me too much of a risk. I still have one of their small letters, like a Christmas card from someone you don’t like but can’t throw away. It says ‘fainting’ in bold red text – everything was in a red or white font – and it makes me hate myself. I think of no longer being allowed to do this one good thing, and I’m swamped with more self-loathing than I ever was with nausea.
Gabes still goes regularly, though. And he doesn’t even make a big deal out of it. Just sits alone in the Millionaire hot–seat and saves lives with a self–sacrificing comfy–dance that I only wish I could aspire to.
A recent Creative Writing graduate and a founding member of Dead Poets’ Fight Club, Rafael S.W has been published in The Big Issue Fiction Edition, The Sleepers Almanac, and Award Winning Australian Writing. He also regularly contributes to Going Down Swinging online (http://goingdownswinging.org.au/site/tag/rafael-s-w/) and competes in poetry slams and giant-sized chess games.
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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