Catching A Ride, Cleaning the Slate & A Kiss Fest (12-18 October)

Monday 12/10/87

A Life in Words
So ‘teen American’…the cool guy driving a hot chick to school in his sweet ride…

Stuart drove us to school today: Jo & I (!!) [I remember reveling in this experience because it felt so uber-cool …you know, American culture wherein the hotshot guy gives his chick a ride to school?] And we arrived, just as people began to assemble for parade. [Oh, what a shame; that means no one would’ve seen you? Bugger.] Double chem went well – doing experiments. Jeez, the weekend seemed so long! Like holidays! So busy & so much fun! Saw Mark outside his maths class, but walked on past .. bopped him with my art [as in, with my my artwork rolled up into a ‘tube’ then used (lightly) as a baton] at end of little lunch & said Hi. Double art was fun & I was generally so happy today- couldn’t get a smile off my face! Big lunch I spent finishing QTAC forms etc [I’d spent the day prior drafting an application for ‘Special Consideration’ to submit to the authorities (QTAC) responsible for calculating my TE (tertiary entrance) score, pertaining to the accident and its potentially detrimental effects – both direct & indirect – upon my studies. I included a copy of the finished draft so if you’d like to check it out head back to last week’s post for a squizz] (had to escort police to library, wow!) [What for? Why ‘wow’? …it’d be nice to know…] then, talked to Mark, but he talked to Mr Stopford, so I went to artroom to get my tape when I came back talked to Fi, & he walked past & (get this!) PINCHED MY BUM! It was so unexpected. I felt so happy & excited & shocked! [Really? I mean, is it really that big a deal?] WOW! Talked after school, too (not much in biol.) Jo told Nigel about me ([smoking] dope) I told Nigel not to say a word to anyone. [Not the right kind of ‘cool’, in your books Liss?] Sharon rang tonite: she’s bitching at David (good on her) [Again, why? What happened? I can’t remember the story!] & she said something about Fi & Jason (did they…?)→ Saturday night. [I had to consider whether or not to omit this for privacy reasons but decided that, since it was merely speculation (read: unsubstantiated, therefore just gossip) it was safe to include] Mark said he likes SIGN YOUR NAME [YouTube link below] & that revolting untitled song best. Good choice [‘Sign Your Name’ I meant, as I’d drawn an arrow back to it in my diary] Getting v. hot again now. Am feeling so good! My life’s pretty great at the moment!!

Tuesday 13/10/87

Didn’t talk to him till biology. Laughed a lot. Big lunch, I thought we’d talk, (I was laughing so much because he was staring at me-he found it hard to keep his face straight now & then) but I went to Kentucky Fried with mima, Fi, Lisa Vikki & Sharon (W). [Back in the days before deep frying became a truly cardinal sin, KFC was known by its full title: Kentucky Fried Chicken. The company admitted that its formal name change to the acronym KFC (in the early 1990’s) was a specific PR/marketing move in response to the negative connotations of the word ‘Fried’.] Back at school, he talked in the room with Cameron & Nicole A Life in Words(I felt resentment.. building up inside, but Jo & I joked about it after we “screamed” for fun (for me to release my “anger”) [or stress…] After school, I asked about when we were going to finish our talk. He said “we don’t need to” I was kind of puzzled & he just smiled; so I went. Does that mean we’re together again? [Highly unlikely…] I still want to talk & I’m going to tell him so. I don’t want, in a way, to be “going out” again. . I don’t know. I’ll get jealous & possessive again. [This is quite telling, with the benefit of hindsight] NO! ELISSA, YOU ARE FINE – DON’T THINK ABOUT HIM – PUT YOURSELF FIRST. [Ah that’s the spirit! Great self-pep talk, Liss] It’s 9:42 & one of my all-time fav’s on the radio: You oughta be in love by Dave Dobbyn. [YouTube inclusion below, again, in case you wanna listen. What a musical week it is this week!] I wanna do some HW before I go to sleep. [Well that’s gotta be a first?] Can’t wait for the weekend – what’ll I do? LOTS! Keep busy & stoned on Saturday night, with [privacy omission]. YAY! [This is quite a surprise; I thought I’d said when I first tried it (the week before) that it “didn’t affect me”. So why would I bother doing it again? Especially since I also didn’t want people to know?]

Wednesday 14/10/87

I don’t believe how much I’ve changed in the past month (since breaking up with Mark) I am so much more bold.. more confidence (god knows why) (or how!) [Alcohol, first & foremost. And probably the fact that you’ve discovered other guys seem to be attracted to you, so you may not NEED Mark as much as you previously thought? Only the day before you were unconvinced of the idea of being in a relationship with him again …basically because you didn’t like the person you were when you were with him, so…?] Got on well in bio … big lunch was a let down. I still don’t know for sure if we’re going out – I think it’s a yes. [Really?] He had a mood swing while I was talking to him (happy, talkative) then while I talked with Jo about Stuart, after he became quiet & “distant”. I whispered at the end of lunchtime “I love you” and he smiled. So I thought O.K. but after school he was quiet again + didn’t say goodbye. It hurt, but I got over it quick enough..much more so than I would’ve before. […so you think…] In town after school I was so energetic Saw Stuart – talked (exclusively) to me, at one stage. Jo told me today he tried to make Glyn jealous by saying alot about what he’s done with me (+Jo kind of) Apparently – it’s working(?!) [Oh the games people play…] Not that she really cares. So I’ll have to do something with Mark this weekend. [So? This infers that since Stuart is ‘unavailable’, you need to fill the space with another option… the guy you think you are – or want to be – dating is the second-best option? Tell me again why you are ‘there’?] What? Must talk. [Talk, talk, talk, talk…] Hot! Hot Day: Throat is still persistently sore or aching when I swallow. Couldn’t go to indoor soccer – mum wouldn’t take me in there. A Life in WordsSaw PN this arvy, really shortly tho’ tried to find him but couldn’t – going late nite 2morrow nite hopefully He’ll be there!!! [Girl, you have crushes and infatuations (‘distractions’) going on everywhere at the moment.]

Thursday 15/10/87

So pissed off (no, I hate saying that) angry today. [Hmm, interesting: can’t say I like the word angry these days. I’d rather say pissed off. Oh how we can change…] Started off O.K …not great, but at least he smiled once.. then I didn’t speak till big lunch, & he wasn’t talking to me (That’s what gets me: he says he’s not in a talkative mood, yet he’ll yabber away with anyone but me) said wasn’t angry at me, but fuckin’ tell he was. I was so damned hurt but I recovered faster. Fiona & mum both think it’s still the same, [objective views are usually more on point than subjective…] but it’s not: [sounds like denial?] I’m not depressed as long now, and besides, we’ve made a bad start […er, bad start to what exactly? Relationship Part Two that you are currently guessing you’re in?] -we still need to talk a lot (regardless what he thinks) [LOL, that’s right Liss, you wear the pants! Pffft.] Rang him, but was too busy (PE exam 2morrow) to go to movies or late nite A Life in Words(Went with Sharon & Colleen and had a cool time! Phillip wasn’t there tho’ – either one!!) No one was, in fact (oh – David VM, Wade etc) He’s going out tomorrow night – Sharon & I are too. S’posed to go to the movies with him (well, I proposed it, but he’s deciding) – deliberately delaying – hanging me in the air. [You mean, leaving you hanging…] fucked day. My stars were right – couldn’t impress anyone [Ah, good old newspaper horoscopes…]

Friday 16/10/87

I barely saw him. He appeared to be avoiding me before school. I wasn’t feeling too happy, but wasn’t overly depressed. Did lots of work in art Got out of doing english oral – Nigel had been away & had a medical certificate. After school was the first time I tried to talk to him. He barely spoke (didn’t want to go to the movies) when I asked him why he wasn’t talking to me, said “I’ve got nothing to say.” (Laugh) A Life in WordsI got upset, went off [as in, walked away, not ‘threw a hissy fit’]. Mima came – I calmed down & back there Chris, Cameron & Glyn joked with me (cheer me up). I walked down to Sharon (he left totally oblivious to me) tears.. Mum took me home & I did little until Sharon’s mum took us to town, around 8:15. Met Glyn B. & this girl & Justin – Glyn & Janine S went to Playpen – Sharon, Justin & I drank tequila at the Port Authority building [I’m fairly sure we’d bought a bottle to share between us, but can’t remember whether we had a mixer of some sort or were drinking it ‘neat’. Urgh.] (met the nice night watchman, Bob) [Oh how entertaining that must have been for Bob, interacting with three drunk teenagers. I can almost imagine it, now that I’m probably Bob’s age!] Sharon drank most..when we caught taxi to croc. rock, she was sick. bored at C.R. for 1 hr. got a lift to Playpen- met Stuart P: looking for Glyn.. told she was at croc rock so we drove back – many more people ..better! Sharon was ‘off’ most of the time. I ended up hanging around Giles, Praybon, Alan (met at Smithfield formal) I ended up “with” Alan. [Sorry folks, just kissing. I was still quite ‘innocent’ at this stage…] (Stupid) [regret much?] went outside for a while, then tried to find Sharon – to get a lift home with them. Couldn’t so I thought definitely I wasn’t going to miss out on→

Saturday 17/10/87

a free ride. Mikey O’S drove really fast & around Brinsmead Glen, we caught up to …Stuart! + Sharon! At my place, I got out kissed Alan goodbye and went over to Stuart talking (I was drunk) and ended up kissing him. [Oh you hussy!] God, he’s so nice. Bombed at 3:30. Woken at 7:00, walked Sharon to bus stop. Bludged the whole day: no! Rang Mark & went to his place at 11:00. The best talk we’ve ever had – sorting out. I got upset (well, let him know my feelings) about loyalty [fidelity]. His idea of cheating on someone is is sexual (intercourse) – not kissing That is totally different to mine and most other people’s concepts. TOTALLY. [So, with differing ideas or expectations, the potential for more… ‘discomfort’ in the relationship is greater…] A Life in WordsWe decided on wiping the slate clean “meeting” each other for the first time. ie: pretending we’d only met today & disregard the last 10 months of our knowing each other. [Oh, ’cause that’ll work. Pffft. I couldn’t think of anything worse than going back to Square One. How would you learn from your mistakes if slates were wiped clean?] So he drove me home & we were fine. Around 8:30 tonight we got to Jason’s (Fi & I) then to Sharon’s. The Palm Cove party was dead. Pouring in town, when Fi dropped Sharon & I at the Playpen. Mark & Keith were there. Great. I didn’t know what really to do.. I moved around a lot … bored at first – no money for drinks & not many people I knew. Eventually I ended up hanging round Nicole, Keith & Mark. (Scabbed drinks) [Oh now there’s something to be proud of. Not.] (Jo was cool in the [fashion] parade)-(Stuart still likes her) I thought something→

Sunday 18/10/87

would happen. Mark was paying a fair bit of attention to me. The rest to Nicole (I wasn’t jealous – only maybe now & then, a tinge) She was going to stay at Keith’s ..I presumed she’d get with Mark. We ended up sitting near dance floor – Mark & I biting each others noses (ouch!) A Life in WordsBut sometimes gentle – Biting necks, ears. a few kisses – yeah he turns me on..Stuart and (esp.) Alan don’t.. I get feelings all through me when I kiss Mark. So we’ve only known each other one day & we got together (!!) [*rolls eyes*] I don’t think it will be long till we get back together. In the meantime, I’ll try not to get too possessive. Anyway Sharon wanted to go ..so we got a cab . . I bombed (big hickie on my neck again. Wonder if he gave Nicole one? Wonder if they even got together) Woke around 9:00.. Waited 1½hrs till I had to wake Sharon to ring mum. At home, around 11:30 (went to see Sandra next door..talk about the (her) party) [?? I have no idea what this was about] Wasted the day. Mark rang he ’cause he was given a message that I rang him, but I didn’t: I think maybe Nicole. (no, won’t pin names to anyone) […because you recognised that you were only guessing and the likelihood of your being wrong was great, IF you ever found out at all…] Keith rang & tried his (usual) hardest to get me jealous or curious about Mark & Nicole – he could’ve been lying anyway but I doubt it. Of course it hurts to think he would’ve gotten with her, but it’s none of my business and besides, my weekend wasn’t bad: 3 guys!! that’s a first! [Definitely.] And there’s always Stuart – I’m sure Mark’s jealous of him. I could be bitchy to Nicole, but I realised that’d prove to Mark & Keith that it hurts etc. [In other words, jealousy would be my undoing; displaying weakness.] Mum got drunk at the Fishers today & was very upset depressed about Geoff [he ex-partner].. she slept all arvy into nite. [My mum wasn’t a big drinker at all. She and Geoff would’ve been separated for well over eight months by this stage, so my guess is her depression was merely a result of the alcohol, inflating any existing feelings of loneliness, because to my knowledge she never attempted to resurrect their relationship…]

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Doom’s Day (4 February)

Wednesday 4/2/87

A Life in Words
a candid shot during camp pack-up

[Since I typically make my diary entries at the end of each day, it stands to reason that the likelihood of that happening on this particular day is slim, even though the wording seems to suggest otherwise…]

TRAGEDY. After packing up etc this morning I took heaps of photos. Then we boarded buses. Erica, Monique, me, Fiona, mima Mark, Brent, Steven, Keith, Cameron, Chris, Glyn, Judy Jason P, Brett H, Becca G Michelle W. . . all on our bus. At first we had fun .. food fights too. Down the Gillies range I swapped places with Mark- he got the window seat – I snuggled back into his arms. Half Dozing (???) I felt us going really quickly around a corner, too fast .. I saw gravel and the bus rolled. I blacked out. When I woke Erica was on my left – head covered in blood; Jody K & Lee-anne W on my right and Mark underneath me, under a seat too. It was a nightmare. I couldn’t accept it as real, my right leg was jammed under the bus. After ages I was “pulled” out & soon taken by helicopter to hospital. The rest of the night & events are blurred. I went into theatre . . saw heaps of people .. Fiona, Kay H, Jacki W, Miss (MF) DeJourdan and Miss (R.) Bowles were in my ward. I was very tired.

A Life in Words[Make sure you’re comfortable: there are seven pages of the scrapbook dedicated to this one day, with as many details as I could recall…]

Yes, it really was the last day…time to leave. Absolute chaos trying to tidy up & pack up our belongings. Out came the cameras too…until now, we’d forgotten all about them. […that was something I later considered a prescient phenomena: how lucky were we to have remembered our cameras and gotten as many photos as we did, within just hours of the tragedy?] With the cameras came some candid shots, of course! A few misplaced items, but mainly the problem was fitting things back into bags and boxes. Most of us couldn’t wait to get home to get clean – shower, wash hair & clothes. A Life in WordsAfter taking down the tent (I’m sure we left some pegs or something behind) [ooh, Dad wouldn’t’ve been happy about that…] we lugged all the gear up to the covered area, where everyone else was, with theirs. Then, a barrage of photos taken as people stood around talking, fighting & mucking around until the buses arrived. When they did there was a mad rush to pack the buses and grab the best seats, but we were stopped by the teachers. We had to wait till they let us pack…then there was a longer wait til we were finally allowed on the buses. Only one bus was filled at a time: girls got on first…

A Life in Words
Waiting for the word. Our bus is on the left.

We chose the second bus because of its big sliding windows [better ventilation, for a cooler ride] (I also thought we’d have a better chance of getting good seats). Jemima was the first on, and I second. She sat in the second last seat on the driver’s side [what I call the ‘right side’ for future reference…] and I, after a quick decision, [aware that others were very likely queueing up the aisle behind me] slipped into the seat in front [of her], instead of the one opposite, where Monique and Fiona sat. [I have no doubt that the choice I made in this fleeting moment was pre-determined; not a (conscious) choice at all. I was destined to survive.]

The rest of the seats filled quickly: we saved seats for Erica, Monique, Mark and Brent.

A Life in Words
The last photo I took. Erica asleep, Judy’s legs beside her and Jody & Leeanne’s heads visible in front

We left second; the journey started great: we ate any leftovers we had (including Coco Pops and 100’s & 1000’s fights!) Elisia E. had a drink container of water [the contents of] which disappeared as it was passed around the whole bus.

Up a steep hill, the 3rd bus passed us, but we soon overtook it again, as it stopped for Alan D. (Who was sick).

Down the range, we began singing songs…Beatles songs mostly. Soon we all settled down, snoozing and talking quietly to each other. Mark compained about the heat, so we swapped places: he had the window seat. I leaned back against his chest…I don’t recall what time it was. I must have dozed off….

A Life in WordsThe first thing I remember just prior to the crash, was as we were just nearing the bend…I was looking across the aisle, over Jody & Leeanne’s heads, to the view, thinking “we’re going a bit fast”…then (it felt like) we took the corner really wide. [In fact we didn’t at all: the bus driver apparently sounded the horn – of which I have no recollection – as a warning to any oncoming traffic that he intended to – and did – actually cut the corner in his valid attempt to avert disaster.] I must have stood or leaned up because I remember seeing the gravel (the road shoulder) before the drop…then looking to the front of the bus, past the driver, to the bank on the other side of the road, thinking, “Come on bus driver, keep turning and we’ll stay on the road” (which was really wierd when you think about it, because I didn’t know what was happening: that is, that we were actually going to go off the cliff…maybe I subconsciously knew) [Yes, I would have, we all would have…]

I remember the front of the bus seemingly stopping, while the rear slid [out, sideways], and slid over the shoulder, the left side dragging the rest of the bus over. [Which makes sense considering that only the front brakes were operational: with no functioning rear brakes and the added weight of the undercarriage storage also located at the rear of the vehicle, there was no stopping the ‘tail-swing’.] The rest of this, the actual descent, seemed more dreamlike than the events prior to it…I remember pitch darkness…flashes of light (where perhaps windows were?) I couldn’t see anything besides that but I could hear metal crunching and glass breaking…and feeling, well, I was thrown once, twice, then I recall nothing: [I deduced later that the bus would have rolled one & a half times, because it came to rest upside down: that amounts to 6 ‘throws’ in total.] I must’ve been knocked out, but as I was rolling it felt [as if it were] in slow motion, bodies and things brushing past me, not roughly or painfully. It felt much like I was floating…doing flying somersaults.

When I came to it seemed very slowly: like the dream (nightmare) was continuing. […emerging from an inky abyss…] My body was in almost total darkness (I was under the bus) [the roof had sheared off as we rolled down the embankment and, since it ended up upside down, the bottom effectively became the ceiling] and I felt an incredible pressure upon my right leg.. I only remember thinking I was dreaming & telling myself to scream, because you have to TRY to scream in a nightmare, even though your screams are inaudible. There was a hole in the bottom of the bus [the ‘roof’] so I could see out, up a slope. [This confused me in the weeks & even months to come (until I was able to return to the site) because I couldn’t fathom why I could see trees still upright: if we had rolled down the hillside, wouldn’t we have taken out everything in our path? It turned out that the angle at which the bus came to rest in the gully was different to that at which we left the road, so I had a ‘room with a view’ of the untouched environment.] I remember screaming to get the “fucking bus off my leg” and yelling the names of people I saw walk past…some of whom told me to shut up. Slowly I realised it wasn’t a dream. I noted Erica’s head on my right, sticking partly out from under a seat, and I could only just see (from my trapped position) two bodies, whom I believed to be Jemima & Brent, at first, on my left: they were in fact Jody & Leeanne.

A Life in Words
The bus as it came to rest. Apologies for the quality of these photos: I took them from video footage stills

Astia held & stroked my left foot outside the bus and helpers tried to comfort me. There was a pair of legs sticking out from the far end of the seat on top of Erica & I finally realised they were Mark’s. I must have been out for a little while because all those people [teachers & students from the third bus] were there when I’d regained consciousness. [The third bus was apparently only minutes behind us, but long enough for some of the lesser injured to scramble back up the hideous slope and flag them down.] When Mark did, he frantically yelled at and abused me…to “get this fucking person off him” Of course I couldn’t & his anger at me distressed me more. [I had to assume it was Erica’s body, and knowing she was (therefore they both were) under the bus seat that I was also partly on top of, I tried my best to keep my bodyweight off it. Pinned as I was by my right leg, with the earth significantly dropping away into the base of the gully, I had to use my left arm to hold my bodyweight off the seat.] It seemed my mouth & my mind were two separate beings because, although I was yelling and screaming, I was thinking “don’t panic – they’re getting help – they’re doing all they can…” [the Mind versus the Witness?]

A Life in WordsMichelle W. was nearby, but I couldn’t see her…she touched my right leg and also tried to reassure me. [I have since discovered that one of the ambulance officers was periodically ‘manhandling’ my pinned leg for signs of response from me; because it was clamped so tightly but my femoral artery was still pumping blood into it, it had swollen to “twice the size” of my left leg, and I was in serious danger of losing the entire appendage if I lost sensation…] 

I was arguing with Mark…I tried to tell him I couldn’t move Erica because she was…unconscious.  But somehow I knew she was dead. There was fresh blood all through her beautiful blonde hair, and a pool of it in her ear (none on her face). [That still amazes me, to this day.] I heard Jody’s breathing, if that’s what you can call it: he was having tremendous difficulty: wheezing & choking [his lungs were punctured]…but I don’t actually remember hearing him stop.

I didn’t think of Monique, nor Jemima or Fiona. I was thrown into oblivion by the shock, I think. I thought only of my immediate surroundings and not even of what had actually occurred. [Talk about being ‘in the Now’…] I remember at one stage, reaching back to feel my right leg…drawing my hand back into view, I saw lots of blood and dirt and fragments of skin hanging off my fingers.  Mark’s left calf had a tear in it: a ‘hole’ and bright red flesh was hanging from that. Possibly the only reason I was not sick (physically) from the sight of all this gore, was the fact that I was in shock. [Absolutely.]

A Life in Words
An aerial view of the hairpin bend we failed to negotiate. You can just see the bus at the top of the picture

I remember, what seemed HOURS later, when they first attempted to lift the bus off my leg…there was a new sensation…painful only in the sense that it was uncomfortable: the rush of blood to supply the rest of my leg, or be released through my open wounds…but it was shortlived…the great tonne [or more?] of metal was again allowed to rest on my leg, as, I found out later, when the bus was first lifted with only one set of ‘Jaws of Life’, the weight was transferred to the other end of the bus and consequently put more pressure on a victim (Cameron) who was trapped by his chest.

So a second set was [finally] applied and the bus levered up evenly. Again, the horrible new sensation.

A man told me he was going to take some metal out of my leg, “Hold still and I’ll do it gently” But I couldn’t bear the thought of him slowly edging foreign material out of my leg, and so yelled “No! Just RIP it out!” [Actually, from memory it was more like “no, just fucking rip it out”] He must have, because I don’t remember the pain from that.

Possibly the most pain I experienced was when they dragged me out from under the bus…up onto a stretcher…I kept my eyes closed for most of that time. I remember chatting away, as they hoisted me off the ground and carried me (upside down – I remember – possibly to stem the flow of blood?) [or to keep the leg elevated, to drain some of the swelling & keep the blood in my torso, around my vital organs?] to the ‘top’.

A Life in Words
Anyone & everyone (who was able) helped SES workers in the rescue.

I was placed under a yellow tarpaulin…still talking to anyone who was there. [Clearly my automatic shock response defaults to Chatterbox.] They tried to put up another tarp adjoining the one I was just underneath and I remember it falling and me putting my hand up to stop it landing on my leg. [It was overcast but I believe there was minimal rainfall, so the rescue operation wasn’t hampered. Lucky us.]

I have no idea how long I waited up on the road, before I left by helicopter. [Days later, two of my friends said their watches had stopped at exactly 12:57pm, so we all assumed that that was the moment of ‘impact’ …and apparently it was pretty much spot on. As for how long I was trapped, then lying on the roadside before my transit to hospital I still have no idea, other than my sister guessing I arrived at Cairns Base around 4pm] Although, I remember seeing Kay standing up…looking at me and saying “You’ll be alright Elissa.” [God knows what her perception of my leg was. I cannot imagine what it must have looked like.]

When I was lifted and told I was going by helicopter (and wasn’t I lucky?) and to shut my eyes, they carried me past a familiar pair of legs sticking out of a familiar pair of shorts…I tried to reach down to him…”Mark! Mark?” But they moved [lifted] me higher up and away faster. From then I kept my eyes closed…it seemed a fairly long trek to the helicopter. [It would have to have been… I almost can’t picture where the chopper would have been able to land on the narrow mountain highway] Then I felt the overhead propellors and I was loaded inside the ‘copter.

I could see the [back of the] pilot’s head, a man sitting to my right (to whom I kept babbling on) and the perspex roof, through which light grey clouds and raindrops could be seen. [Hardly a memorable helicopter ride, when all you get to see is the sky above you.]

I remember borrowing the man’s handkerchief for some (unknown to me) reason and making sure that I returned it to him when we landed. [Courtesy instilled in me by my great parents.] I remember lots of people in white putting me on a trolley stretcher and wheeling me somewhere, [most likely from the Cairns Esplanade (the nearest open space suitable for a helicopter to land) which is fortunately just across the road from the Cairns Base Hospital] but I don’t remember actually entering the hospital.

I remember being wheeled past partitions in a room, wheeled into an end one: directly opposite a set of swinging doors, Just before I was put in there, I recall turning my head to the left and seeing someone, in the partition before mine, with a totally red face….blood-covered & bloodstained…at first I thought it was Brent but realised later it must have been Brett.

I was in that partitioned area for quite a short period of time…some doctor looking at my leg and asking my name, address, parents’ names and home phone number…then I was wheeled through the swinging doors into an unpartitioned room and placed quite nearby Sean D…who was sitting up, looking OK. Again the nurses asked personal details and, whether they gave me a ‘shot’ or not, I remember nothing else…but passing out.

A Life in Words
The shorts I was wearing were cut off me: I don’t know if the discoloured areas are old blood or faeces stains. I would have had no idea (nor care) obviously whether I’d soiled myself or not…

When I came to again, it was only extremely briefly and I felt extremely groggy…I was in a white room with lots of silver machinery [theatre] and they were putting a gown on me, and taking off my ring and earrings. Then I passed out again.

I came to in a corridor; I was being wheeled somewhere [probably to the ward]. As I was still under the effect of the anaesthetic, I was trying my hardest to keep my eyes open. I saw Julia, Mum (very concerned-looking) and Dad and Jenny, then I said “How’s Monique? What about Mark? How is everybody?” [but don’t recall any responses] I vaguely remember Mum nearly fainting and the nurses putting her on a trolley too. [My poor beautiful mother… I can’t imagine the stress she was under. She had had the utter misfortune earlier of sitting with two of the dead children’s mothers at the very moment they were called to be dealt their worst nightmares.]

The next and last thing I remember from that day was finding myself in my room in Ward C West (floor 3). There were lots of people, mostly visitors, milling around. I can only remember talking to Sharon and Harry B. I was unaware of any pain in my leg(s) or the catheter they had ‘implanted’. I didn’t even realise I had no underwear on. I was wearing a hospital nightie. I remember being quite ‘chirpy’ (obviously still in shock) and asking people questions. I had missed the news but heard that it was a ‘national disaster’. [Oddly, I must admit I felt a little ‘thrilled’ about the whole country knowing and talking about us. It goes to show just how powerful Ego can be. Shock can deny you the gravity of a situation but may have no effect on Ego.]

Although visiting hours officially ended at 8pm, I think the hospital staff had quite some difficulty in removing all the visitors (especially relatives) by 8:45pm.A Life in Words

I remember still wanting to talk when everyone had left: Jacque seemed the most willing, aside from Miss Bowles. Miss DeJourdan seemed very quiet and Kay appeared to do much more listening than talking. Fiona was quite absent from this world…it would take at least 3 calls of her name before she would turn to look at whomever was calling, then when asked a question, would either nod, or just look at you, not understanding or comprehending, even ignoring. She slept the most and longest out of the six of us. I wasn’t sure of my wounds, thinking I had a deep cut in the back of my right thigh, and a severe cut on my left knee. I don’t remember whether I was fed painkillers, but I fell asleep quite quickly and quite soundly.