Transgression & Reunion: the Final Week of School (16-22 November)

Monday 16/11/87

I’m not feeling overly happy. And it’s got nothing to do with the fact that I failed my maths, for sure .. it’s to do with mark. [Surprise surprise] It doesn’t bother me [hang on, have I just back-flipped here?] -I’m not sure if it’s really my problem- but there’s some slight depression, unhappiness, melancholy, hanging over me. I don’t know what or how. I can’t explain. Maybe it’s just a “down” period. [Alcohol is classed as a depressant drug, just sayin’. And with hormones naturally surging through your teenaged body, the combined result’s not going to be rosy…] Apparently (I didn’t talk to Mark today only saw him briefly, twice, but he rang me) [privacy omission] thought he’d given me the lovebites and she’d said “Bastard” or something like that. I feel good, but not really -it’s not reassuring enough- I still must talk to him. A Life in WordsI couldn’t tonight – we were getting on so well (on the phone) and he’d said (when I tried to give him shit about [her]) “it’s terrible, isn’t it?” when I said about [her] calling him a bastard. I HATE IT. It hurts me. [Because I interpreted it as him discounting MY feelings. But reading this back now, it seems equally possible that he may have been disregarding her (alleged) response, in order to hearten me. Again, who knows?] I need to let him know: fast. Oh, why me? I feel so down. Got my Euroka [our school magazine/yearbook] not as good as last year’s. May have passed my chem prac. (probly not with my luck) Not at all worried about chem exam- I don’t care. Is 10:00 now – will probly be up a while yet.

Tuesday 17/11/87

WOW. It’s 11:30- I’d wanted an early nite – in preparation for 2morrow. Oh well. I wrote to Lucy & actually, to all the tertiary institutions, that I needed to, so it’s all out of the way, finally!! (Post it all tomorrow) Ugh! What a day! Woke – went to psycologist -she was nice- talked to my ♥’s content – she feels (& I know) it [the accident] has benefitted me – the trauma made me much stronger – self-determined etc. more will & potential to succeed now than I ever would’ve had before [hmm, except academically…] (& the break-up with Mark helped too) So, at home after, didn’t feel like studying anymore[!]– chem exam a big ha, ha. (tho’ I think I shall be better than maths!) Home after Glyn & Cameron popped around ..Glyn saw my [contraceptive] pills (great – I’ll never hear the end of it) Fi’s ringing me back 2 morrow to finalize plans for 2morrow. I rang mark but was at Keith’s watching a video (my guess is [privacy omission]‘s muff) anyway- he rang me – it was almost 10:00, I think! short phone call. Oh god I’m tired. 2morrow nite – I can’t wait!

Wednesday 18/11/87

Well, I woke up to Fi’s phonecall, around 8:00 – I was DEAD! And we were in town around 8:45/9:00. A Life in WordsWe looked around after buying photographic paper, then walked to Fi’s shop to get the car. I failed my learners: one question wrong (because I’d studied from an old book – they’d changed the rule) [I can’t for the life of me remember what that changed rule was] Didn’t see mark at all today. Nor Jo. I couldn’t find a damn thing to wear to the Valedictory Dinner (we picked mima up after her exam-bought her flowers!!) in town, let alone out tonite. Went over to see Cynthia (Fi dropped me there) Had Kentucky Fried for tea; had to rush at home, to get to mima’s (I got a skirt to wear) At Scandals, I had a Kahlua & milk + 2 banana dacquiris – at Croc. Rock, barely talked to Mark, to start with. Had one explosion [the super-toxic, flaming cocktail to which I’d become partial] with Cameron, then another with Mark (his first) we ended up talking (he was quite drunk) alone for ages – about us. I can’t remember everything [he said] & what I do, I don’t have room for!! Was good – he said I turn him on the most all the others were substitutes – he’d put off & put off getting with them. We didn’t get together cause he didn’t want people saying he did it cause he was drunk- respects me too much. Fi came up & told me

Thursday 19/11/87

→we were leaving- he & she talked & when driving me home, she said he said “there’s only one person I love more than you- (that’s elissa)” so, I woke 7:30 – very dead. The art test was boring – not really very easy – just basic (difference!) [Wow. Did I really get on the piss heavily the night before an exam? I never realised I was so badass…] After, I missed mark, but waited round the school area for most of the afternoon (well, a bit: went to Fi’s [parents’] shop & I lay down out the back, trying to get some sleep for tonite (from last nite!)) Jason took me home… I ended up not resting there ..had to rush to get ready for the movies. A Life in WordsLIVING DAYLIGHTS was cool. (Jay drove mima & I there) We walked to Esplanade after (saw Steven at International Hostel [a guy I’d pashed a few weeks back] – he ‘giggled’ mima said) then drove to the school. Mark & Chris were drinking first – it was a mess – it was stupid – idiot K. was throwing furniture etc. Not many there. [It’s pretty much an unwritten seniors’ tradition to ‘prank’ the school for their final day… I’d envisaged organised decoration (the OCD in me) so was pretty disappointed to find a bunch of somewhat aggressive drunk guys just making a huge mess.] Then the guys went for a swim [breaking into the school’s pool enclosure] & threw a bin [full] of water at me (Keith) & the guys all hit into him) [I think I was wearing a white top so was more concerned with modesty than the fact that I was actually sopping wet] then there was a cry of Police. I don’t know why, but some people ran, & [privacy omission] & I did too-straight into the “arms” of the police (juvenile aid) lectured us – searched bags. And took my & [privacy omission]‘s names, addresses, ages etc. WHY US? […I have wondered about this and the simplest conclusion I could come to was that we were the only two girls …and maybe from a (still gender-biased point of view) they were more concerned with our safety, amongst a group of boys …if you catch my drift? But I am purely speculating…] We were going to leave, but went back. [Privacy omission] left with Jay & I rang mum to say I was staying at Mark’s. (told her about that & she seemed OK) so we hung round for ages, till Sandra P came & Chris, Mark & I got a lift to Greenslopes & Pease → walked so far then→

Friday 20/11/87

A Life in Words
Hangin’ in town on the last day of school

→stopped & talked .. about the accident a lot. Ended up sitting down on the road, but in the bike lane part. Talking & saw headlights. I said “he’s going to turn” but he didn’t indicate & looked like he was going straight ahead till he was 3m away- turned really quickly & slammed on brakes -stopping just before hitting us- the Police! (Great – twice in one nite) [you little dissident, you!] They said there’d been a break & enter 2 mins away- told us off & told us to clear out. We walked away & stood shaking .. we’d just been talking about the accident and we nearly got run down by a cop car!!! [yes, I see the irony in that] At Mark’s we mucked around, then got down to business .. then got 1-2 hrs sleep .. and made love again in the morning. He said [privacy omission, even though they were nice things]. So mum picked us (& Chris) up (I got changed first of course) & at school, got photos – bummed round doing nothing in particular. Mark & a whole heap of guys went to Crystals. We ended up Megan, Fi, Jo & I going driving around town (& Saints) I got a big white Tshirt & white skirt from Kaffa, for the Valedictory Dinner. At home I rushed to get ready -got to Marks & went to the DDIAE talks. [….an information session I assume, for one of the tertiary institutions to which I had applied] BORING. The Valedictory Dinner I spent nearly all my time with mima & Fi. Hardly with Mark. He left earlier than I. It made me depressed- it was a massive anti-climax. [I neglected to include the ‘award’ I received – in conjunction with Mark – at the dinner. The photo below will forever remind me of it. Basically, thanks to a couple of large & very obvious hickies Mark had given me at different times throughout the year, I was presented with a can of Aeroguard insect repellant to protect myself  from big mosquitoes (like Mark) in the future. We were both called up for the presentation but poor Mark was left standing there to dwell in his jovial embarrassment empty-handed.] So that, at Brett’s party (seeing there was barely anyone there

A Life in Words
That’s me walking off to the left – slightly embarrassed – with my Aeroguard insect repellant trophy.

Saturday 21/11/87

→anyway, I did not feel like partying (no drink or anything) I felt like a joint -but that made me angrier -waited ages for it, then didn’t get any. FUCKED! I walked back in, myself really pissed off & [privacy omission] outside said Mark went to Freshy school looking for me. I found him.. and the effect of beer bongs hit him (hard) We lay down on the grass & he was deliriously mumbling; I finally dragged him to my place, seeing Chris (& Jo for the first time that nite) on the way- telling them to tell Fi I couldn’t stay. Mark was really stuffed. That was about 1:30. Woken 8:00, he left around 9:10- [privacy omission] I rang mima & Fi & her picked me up- got KFC (Kentucky) ate at Esplanade. At the shop I helped Fi (her mum was sick – mima at hair show practise) till Martin & Mr D came rang Mark at home, then went virtually straight away to his place. Mucked around – Keith came over – we went for a drive to the beach (Trinity) & ate pizza. Picked up my clothes on the way back to Mark’s. Mucked around 4 ages … went to Chris’s late .. swam, drank gin & tarina (!) Then Glyn rang said there was a party (Peta W’s – Jo was there – she’d rung (and told me she was going) at Mark’s) Cameron came (Mark & I rode quickly & got dressed)→

Sunday 22/11/87

→ And we got a cab. Cameron & I got out .. Mark, Chris & Glyn further up.. they ran the cab, and, sure enough, it came back to us. So stupid. [Yep. And since lying is not my forte, the cabbie’s interrogation wasn’t fun for me. We pretended we were just cab-sharing with the other guys and didn’t know them very well. When pressed for any names, the best I could come up with was John Smith. Yep, duh. And Cameron sure didn’t let me live that down, either…] We found them, then Aumuller St ..saw Brendan L & he said it was DEAD. So we walked to Draper St (Samanda C’s) Party .. small party it was & everyone was being told to leave once we got there. Were desperate for a cab lift home – finally got one with Trevor G to chris’s. Mark & I walked to his place & after a shower- bombed. No sex. In the morning I woke 8:45- he woke around 10:00 to the phone. Mucked around right up until noon, I think (yeah, beautiful LM) [←my semi-modest abbreviation for ‘love making’] Bacon & scrambled eggs brekky, wasted time then he dropped me home. Mum, Julia, & 2nd cous. Lyn came home & I rang Jo, then we went to the beaches (at Clifton I looked for Phillip’s place- NO hope! [privacy omission]) At home before 4:00, waited. (filling in diary from past 4 days/5 days) rang Fi waited. At 7:30 I rang him. Said he thought I was meant to ring him (said he was gonna ring me anyway) writing a big letter -prob. is don’t have enough time to make it really big : only 4 pages so far & I’d wanted to write over 32 (novel size!!) [He was about to go overseas on a family holiday and I’d decided to write him a huge letter – yep, like a novel – for something to do …but also, to keep him thinking of me. Oh the things we do…] A Life in WordsMovie was good. But I’m so dead!! [How dead? Apparently 4 underlines worth – see pic]

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Friendship Feelings, A Debut Drive & A Rotting Rodent (6-12 April)

Monday 6/4/87

A Life in Words
duotone doodle of Monique from a photo

I’m a glutton for punishment; it’s 10:45 – another late night & worse still; I did absolutely no HW again today & I have a frigging maths exam tomorrow. Can you believe it? I’m a total dickhead! [No, just a brilliant procrastinator] (Read my ’86 diary tonight getting frustrated like finding out things like – me knowing Monique 8 months ..hanging round her for ≈5 months & only 4 months of true [best] friendship. It isn’t fair… why her? Why this year? [The ultimate, unanswerable questions…] Good day with Mark. Fiona & Jemima are closer now. And I’m left out in the open I think Jemima doesn’t like me too much – wants to be my “best friend too” (that letter) [During my first week back at school, she gave me a letter about Monique. I didn’t actually say much about it in my diary entry other than “I cried” so I won’t include a link back to it. It was on Wednesday 18 March if you’re really keen to take a look…] HUH! What laugh – they do everything together & leave me out. . I don’t mind tho’ I spent the whole day with Mark & hopefully will do the for the rest of the year (see, they both went home at little lunch) who needs friends? I need Monique. She was the best MONIQUE FOREVER. Mark loves me (I mean [privacy omission] – this song by Cameo – he thinks is perfect for me “Candy” – so that’s my name now!” [Suffice to say this became one of my favourite songs. I still like it, but OMG the video… quintessential 80’s… ugh, those outfits!]

Tuesday 7/4/87

Mark told me (on the phone tonight) for the 2nd time ever “I love you” – I’ve said it countless (!!) [What, it’s a competition?] Nah, about 4 I think, or 5. […but still keeping count…] Today started off shaky .. barely talked to him before school & during bio (little lunch was O.K!!) & most of big lunch it was “wierd” – picking on me (I think!) I rang him & we talked about little in particular …oh, I love him so much. Friday night is Glyn’s party, now .. mima & I are goin’ to do something (as both our boyfriends are going to the “stag” party (!!)) (Lord knows what!) […talk about fickle friendships!] Anyway he’ll be at that & on Saturday night he’s working & Sunday leaving from Bramston Beach till Thursday. (I’m not going to school tomorrow – cross country) BOO HOO! I won’t get to spend any time with him! Aaargh – I’ll die [uh huh] Maths exam – big laugh (not really- I couldn’t do anything practically) Bio & english yesterday 56/80 and 6½/10 respectively→ so surprising! I was sure I’d fail (First “fine” day in days today! Still cool tho’.) Love you mark. started writing back to Tania today

Wednesday 8/4/87

What a wasted day- I stayed home from the cross country to “do chemistry study” (I wrote to Tania & Lucy, sunbaked – got burnt & listened to music. WASTED DAY) Julia deliberately missed the bus, after mum left, Mr H came over around 2:30 & put up the pelments [read: pelmets – the framework above windows, used to conceal curtaining fixtures] – the ones in my room (& Julia’s) are too big – for our long louvres. (Yukky) A Life in WordsWhen mum came home, I WENT FOR A DRIVE!!! Was so much fun! Unreal! (Tho I almost drove into Sandra’s car!!) [I vividly recall this: hitting the wrong pedal and speeding up suddenly toward our neighbour’s car as I was meant to be turning into our driveway. Luckily I found the brake in time. What a rush.] my problem is getting co-ordinated – the pedals & gears. Steering’s easiest (tho’ not easy – understand?) [Ok, this I need to explain: the ‘power steering’ that is now standard in all vehicles didn’t feature in the 1979 Toyota Corolla in which I was learning to drive. Those of you who were ‘lucky’ enough to experience driving vehicles without this smooth steering mechanism, will understand why I thought steering wasn’t quite the easiest thing to do. Without this creature comfort, kids, you literally had to wrench the steering wheel to make sharp turns. Upper body strength required!] Oh I’m tired .. man we have bad luck – hot water system broke down & we have a rat (or a very big mouse) in the house. I’m busting to go to the loo. It was a ‘nice’ phone call tonight – he was being more “understanding’ I think. A tease, yes, but being “gentler”. Hottish day! (only in the sun, that is) wonder how the cross-country run went? I’ll fail chem tomorrow. Haven’t studied at all. I AM STUPID. No- I’ve just lost interest in school – I just don’t care anymore. [Good correction there, Liss]

Thursday 9/4/87

The doctor wasn’t as overly excited about the progress of my leg as I thought he would be. [It’s funny how the attitude of a ‘professional’ (a superior, an elder) can affect you. There’s no doubt I’d’ve left that appointment somewhat deflated.] I missed biology & didn’t talk very much at all to Mark in maths. Chemistry exam I failed ..I really have lost all interest in school. At big lunch, Mark & I were more affectionate than ever – we both talked a fair bit (seriously) about life. He feels much the same as me . . nothing excites him anymore – wants a big change to happen so he can get on with life – the crash & its effects haunt him, too… feels, like me, that the crash spoilt possibly the best year of our lives ..definitely I agree. [So, I have to wonder… how many others felt exactly the same?] I also talked about my lack of friends – that’s also bothering me a lot. He seems more understanding lately. & gentle. I love that. Boring day- didn’t see jemima or Fiona after chem..probly left together again – I know they went late night shopping together – tried to ring them. A Life in WordsMark also went with Keith. I couldn’t get his chain [for his up-coming birthday] today, damn. Practised gears & clutch in the (stationary) car this arvy. FUN. Haven’t done english assignment -am not going to go to school tomorrow (Am so tired) Mark won’t be there – is going to the beach with Steven. Who knows about mima & fi they wouldn’t take me anywhere anyway [I’d always perceived I’d been more bitter about their exclusive friendship when I was younger, but I’m sensing some intensity here…] 

Friday 10/4/87

Boring day, indeed. I didn’t do my english assignment. After Mr. H came to fix the pelments, we left for town. I finally chose a silver-plated fob chain ($31), but now I think it’ll be a bit too short for his thick neck. [Masculine thickness, of course …not fat!] Oh well. [I know it doesn’t sound much, but $31 was a fair bit to spend back in those days…especially considering we weren’t financially ‘comfortable’. Forgive my ignorance, but I have no idea how that would compare price-wise to silver plated jewellery today; does anyone even buy silver-plated stuff anymore?] That’s another thing . . I’m missing him already. Am planning (if he doesn’t ring me first) to ring him & provided he’s not “dead” from tonight’s “party” at Cameron’s, will see if he’d like to do something. I so badly want to see him before he goes. We saw Nana today – feel so sorry for her – I hope she dies soon & I don’t mean that cruelly. I want her to be with God; feeling no pain. [She suffered brutally with rheumatoid arthritis. I wasn’t aware if there were any other underlying health issues contributing to her ill-health – Cancer was definitely never mentioned – but she had been a long term smoker.] Hottish weather. Is rainy (finally!) again tonight. Beka came over this arvy . . talked for yonks- I haven’t got her anything – her birthday tomorrow & I forgot completely. (till this arvy!) Mark, I miss you already. A Life in WordsThe mice or rats are getting in still: running along the beams on the roof. SHIT I hate them. Think I have another ringworm starting – back of right leg – near my scarring. Oh no. Wanna get brown these holidays- tan around my scars etc. 8:45 early night * * But I’m waking at 11:30pm to listen to the 4CCR Party Nite music

Saturday 11/4/87

Woke rather early.. boring-ish day ..I watched TV, covered my books & watered the plants. I ate heaps too. Went for another drive today! Much better than the  last time. . but still not quite perfect. Lucy rang after I rang Mark … had a longish talk to her Hope to see her Mon &/or Tuesday. Listened to approx. 1¾hrs of the 4CCR Party thing – stupid (didn’t know any of the music last night. Watched Countdown [yeah, that commercial stuff was more ‘me’!] after Lucy rang, then quickly got ready to go to Mark’s. A little late – everybody gone [?] & pizza man just delivered dinner- when I arrived. We watched TV mucking round- tickling mostly a few little kisses. After the TV movie, though, we got ‘down’ to business [Nope, still not what you think…]. . then mum came (dammit!) He said he’d ring & perhaps write (which means yes) Sandra was there quickly, earlier – I showed her & her (2) friends my leg- yukkypoo! Mum’s complaining about a smell (I can’t smell it) But thinks it’s the rat – no more scuffling noises. My blinds are up now. WOW! It’s 12:10.. gonna listen to 4CCR [Um, why? You’ve just said you didn’t enjoy it on the previous night… oh how much more beneficial sleep would be for you!] -in love with M.

Sunday 12/4/87

4CCR was better this week, [touché] but I had to turn off- I was so tired. Woke just after (or before?) 8:00 did nothing – the stench of the rat is strong now. Yuck. Danced to music before going to airport . . [to collect our cousins] Jodie, Michael & Auntie Hilary unpacked- Nana came over. A waste of an afternoon – they bought us [Royal Easter Show] show bags [from Sydney – their home] (I’ve eaten heaps already!) I ate & just lazed around. . . Boring! (Thought about Mark lots … his kisses last night were so beautiful – tender, romantic. Yummy. I love him, I’m sure.) Beka rang – I’m going to town with her & Lucy tomorrow- Jodie, Mike & Jules can come, but they don’t have to if they don’t want to. Oh, Mark I can’t stop thinking about you. Late-ish night – it’s 9:40. Gotta catch 9:00 train. (Big mess cleaning up Nana’s clothes this arvy – they found the rat full of maggots. Yuk. [Now this is confusing. My recollection of finding the dead rat was that it was wedged (of all places) between a ceiling beam and the roof insulation in a corner of MY bedroom. Perhaps this was a different dead rat scenario, one that obliterated my memory of this vom-fest in my grandmother’s clothes? A Life in WordsOh and just to clarify, I expect that we are talking about a garbage bag of my Nana’s stored/unused clothing rather than that which she happened to be currently wearing.] Windy cool & sometimes overcast today. J & M are hot at the moment. Can you believe ….?? [They hail from a place 2,500klms south of the tropics Liss… yes, I can.] Feel like a full, fat pig!

 

Clean Teeth, Therapy & the School’s Commemoration Service (6 February)

Friday 6/2/87

Have tried to get as much info as possible. It really was national news – I couldn’t believe it. Also partly international. We had group therapy today – talking about the accident There was me, Jason, Steven L, Ms Bowles, Ms DeJourdan, Mr Stopford, Yru, Fi, Jacki & Cameron and the social workers. Talking is to help us remember so we can cope. [The problem is, not enough of us were counselled, full stop. Only a handful of us (mostly injured victims) received any kind of psychological support, let alone being encouraged simply to talk, to each other or our families, anyone. Sadly, it’s just ‘the way it was’ back then; ‘Mental Health’ was a shameful, unsavoury topic. I am so, so relieved that society has embraced it in a positive light and it’s reassuring to know that had this happened in this day and age, counselling would be available to not just ALL Year 12 students, but the entire school community, at every other school in the region, and to the general public, for that matter.] A Life in WordsIt was extremely distressing. Oh I love Monique so much. They changed my knee dressing today .. that was painful. Although there weren’t too many visitors today, they stayed longer and helped me feel brighter. Mark’s coming out of ICU tomorrow. I gave him a note, a teddy & a red rose today (not directly, of course – I can’t have) I also had a sponge bath. And cleaned my teeth for the first time in 2½ days Slept soundly last night, but woke uncomfortable this morning because I could’t roll over. [I have always been a side-sleeper] I am so tired now. Jason & Yru went home. Cameron’s on his own (with an old man) next door. [I recall that scenario providing some cheer, thanks to his sarcastic sense of humour.] He’s expecting to go home on Saturday. I got lots more flowers today. Mima gave me a white Teddy Bear in a ballerina suit. It’s name is Monique. [In her previous life in Brisbane, Monique had practised ballet. That was another defining characteristic: she was our ballerina.] Sleep now.

[By the time I came to write about this day in the scrapbook (and incidentally, it’s the point at which I gave the project away) it was literally months after the accident, so my memory was not as clear and in some instances I virtually copied almost word-for-word from my diary:]

A Life in WordsWoke early because I was uncomfortable, not being able to turn over because of my right leg injury. Mum came for a little while, bringing the paper. . and also toothbrush & other toiletries that she had collected from Croswell Hall when she dropped Julia at school. [Clearly that was where the ‘remainder’ of our possessions were housed after retrieval from the crash site.] First ‘teeth wash’ for 2½ Days…

Tried to get as much information as I could… I couldn’t believe it was national (& even partly international) news. But I got a little more ‘personal info’ from 9:30 in the morning, just after mum left… we had group councelling session for an hour. Fiona Ms Bowles & Kay returned [to the hospital] for it & there was also Jacqie, Mr Stopford, Ms DeJourdan, Yru, Cameron, Jason & Steven L (& the 3 councellors) I found it distressing, in fact…cried a lot, especially at Mr Stopford’s & Jason’s recounts.. both of Monique. scrapbook Fri 6:2[I can’t recall much of what was said but I do know that Mr Stopford pulled Monique out from under the bus (she wasn’t pinned) and rested her against a tree; I can’t remember whether he’d had to try resuscitating her. One of them – I think it might have been Jason – mentioned something about her face being a bluish-grey colour. I’d guessed then, that she was the first pronounced dead.] Jason was next to me in his wheelchair holding my hand the whole time. General consensus was guilt that we survived… I couldn’t believe people were dead. After the councelling session and a bit of ‘informal mingling’ everyone left for the private memorial at Cairns High ([those] who could, that is) Yru and Jason were released from hospital so Cameron, Jacquie Ms DeJourdan Steven L & I couldn’t go. A Life in Words[There was no mention at all in my personal diary about the school memorial …did my inability to attend hurt so much that I deliberately omitted it? It doesn’t seem like something I would do…] Mum returned from doing some work and sat with me during it .. I was upset also because I had to miss it, but they promised to video it. In the meantime, I had the dressing on my left knee changed …it was quite painful as they had to remove the drain from the wound [it was not the ‘huge gash’ I’d earlier believed. The right leg injury however…] But the new bandage was much lighter and allowed more movement (not that I’d move much!) Petra and Julia came up after the memorial service ..bearing little gifts ..and stayed with me after mum left around noon. Julia gave me a little chocolate brown teddy which I named ‘Anton’ and Leanne J (her other friend) gave me a little snoopy dog. A little dolly off the flowers Dad and Jenny gave me, I called ‘Lisa’ (after Monique) [it was her middle name]

The Day After: Heartbreak (5 February)

Thursday 5/2/87

8 died. Monique has gone. Erica too, Mark F, Mandy G, Judy F, Jody & Lee-anne & Liz. 7 of them were sitting up the back [but notably, all 8 were sitting on the left hand side of the bus; that which would have borne the weight of bodies & debris thrown from the right-side side at the first moment the ground fell away beneath us]. I can’t believe Monique is gone. It’s unbelievable. I know she is, but I can’t comprehend it. Today was very busy. Heaps of people came. I have a big “hunk” out of my left knee, a small crack in my left femur and a huge gash in the back of my right thigh, where the bus was on me. […almost correct…] Mark is in intensive care. I hope he’s alright. I got a letter tonight – note he wrote before the camp. [privacy omission] I cried a fair bit today. Esp. when dad told me about monique. No one knew about her [in that, whenever I asked after her they all answered that they didn’t know, or hadn’t heard. I can’t imagine how hard that would have been for them: to lie to the face of someone to whom they knew the truth would cause so much pain].. didn’t tell me so I was kind of guessing.A Life in Words Rather late night. Food is disgusting. My head and arms are badly bruised. Cameron, Jason P, and Yru are next door [there was an adjoining ward to ours]. Fi (broken collarbone) Kay & Ms Bowles were released at different times today.

[There are 6 pages dedicated to this day in the scrapbook but they are mostly filled with clippings from a variety of newspapers; mostly from the local ‘Cairns Post’.]

Woken quite early to have blood pressure and temperature taken, then no one (except Fiona, of course) could get back to sleep, so we talked. I was quite determined to find out as much as I could…so asked lots of questions. I remember only Jacque, Ms. Bowles and Kay being interested in the conversation…however not seeming (Ms. Bowles, anyway) too happy to recall the events she remembered.  Jacque said she knew 3 of the dead, but refused to tell me when I asked at first. Eventually she told me Mark, Mandy and…Erica. A Life in WordsI said I knew Erica died (but I hadn’t really, had I?) When the papers arrived we realised exactly how major the event had been (we’d all missed the TV news the night before and had been wondering if it was ‘national’) The headlines greeted us:

“Cairns High camp ends in tragedy: 8 Die in Smash”

The Cairns Post reports virtually dominated the complete paper: front page headlines, continuing on pages 3 and 7.

The Sydney Morning Herald’s reports were very similar to some of the articles printed in the Cairns Post. [I knew nothing of media ownership (eg, Murdoch) back then.]A Life in Words

After breakfast, bedpans and bed washes, people began arriving: lots of people, mostly school friends, came throughout the day. The Brewers were one of the first to visit.  Mum had come, but left Julia [with me] when she had to do some business calls. Dad came.

I remember having asked Mrs Brewer about Monique, and she replied, “we haven’t heard” or “we don’t know”.

Strange: everyone seemed to have been saying that. I thought she was either so okay that she’d gone home straight away, or…but I didn’t think it was that.

I remember the nurses drawing the curtains around me, but, talking to Jemima (Mrs B, Polly & Julia standing nearby) I didn’t take much notice, or wonder why. [assuming more blood pressure tests or something of the like…] Apparently the whole ward was cleared of other visitors. [People have since confirmed this: all visitors were ushered out of the wards into the corridor, and it was jam-packed] I’ll never forget when my Dad came through the curtain: his eyes were quite moist. He said (and an eerie silence fell over the place) “They’ve released the names of the dead…”

I knew it…I had to accept what I had subconsciously known all along….what I hadn’t wanted to have to believe…

“Monique..”

I said it at the same time, my eyes brimming…

“was one of them.”

A Life in Words
Ink portraits of Monique traced from photos, in my scrapbook

The suspense was too much for Jemima, who broke out in (those, oh, so familiar) sobs, and I could sense every other person silently crying. I took a deep breath and wailed for the world to hear –

“MONIQUE, NOOOOOO, MONIQUE, MONIQUE…”

I don’t recall how long I cried for, but apparently, I was sedated and slept for quite some time…

[I have to admit I’m disappointed that my father assumed the role of informer before my mother had returned from her business calls. Knowing my mum, I’m certain she would have desperately wished to be by my side in that moment of need. It feels unfair to me, that the news was broken in her absence. In his defence however, he said he had consulted with the medical staff and it was jointly agreed that I needed to be informed sooner rather than later because of the sheer number of visitors: they expected someone would ‘let slip’ and they clearly wanted to ‘control’ the situation for everyone’s ‘psychological’ sake… the question is, can anyone ‘control’ anything??]

The rest of the day, after I woke, was a blur of people (SO many!) tears (over Monique) and flowers (the first of many I was to receive).

I had not yet a clear understanding of the injuries I’d sustained, thinking I had “a big hunk out of my left knee, a small crack in my left femur, and a huge gash in the back of my right thigh (where the bus was on me)” [clearly I pulled this directly from my diary] It was clear however, that my head and arms were badly bruised, and chest, hips and legs. [I have always bruised easily so this came as no surprise. I ended up with numerous contusions, the largest of which were in the soft flesh above my elbows. The haematoma on my left arm actually left a scar (another physical affliction to which I’m naturally pre-disposed) in the form of stretched and slight ‘greying’ of the skin.]

Fiona, Kay and Ms. Bowles were released at different times during the day…Fiona still oblivious to anything going on around her (still in shock).

In fact, I would have been in a deeper shock over Monique. The tears flowed nearly the whole day…and to any visitors I kept repeating and stressing how I needed friends now, because Monique was gone. They all nodded, eyes watery, in sympathy. [I had just lost the only real best friend I’d ever had. My very own best friend, who’d considered me hers too. It’s all I’d ever wanted, what I felt I’d lacked in my life to date. I was keenly aware that I was the ‘third wheel’ in the friendship trio with Jemima & Fiona, so Monique’s departure not only ripped open a gaping hole but infused it with past feelings of loneliness and alienation.]

Again, most visitors left after the close of visitors hours, including my mother and sister, who then went to visit Mr & Mrs P. [Monique’s parents] for an hour or so afterwards.