The Seniors Induction & Emotional Rollercoaster Lows (23-29 March)

Monday 23/3/87

Mr Perrem came over this arvy.. stayed for tea. He is very upset still- it’s obvious. He was upset. Said every time he saw me, Monique was with me & told me how she went straight to the phone when she got back from Brissy & was disappointed that I wasn’t home. It was quite sad – but I only cried once. [It’s so good to know that I was important to her: it’s always nice to receive substantiation from highly reliable sources, isn’t it?] Got no HW done consequently. Day at school started off good- A Life in WordsMark gave me a baby picture of him – chubby chops!! (cutey!) 6 months old. Didn’t show many people my leg. Good muck around day. Till after school- – Megan said “Did you hear about what happened Friday night?” I said “What?” – She wouldn’t tell me …then ..Steven & Glyn whispered something. I got all shitty – Mark must’ve done something Friday night .. with [privacy omission](??) BITCH. I calmed down after after school. . it’s his loss.. I couldn’t be bothered ringing him & arguing ..  I’ll ask tomorrow. He’s the one who has to live with the guilt if he’s lying to me. But I know he loves me. I cannot understand you, Mark W. YOU’RE WIERD. [I consistently spelled this word wrong!]

Tuesday 24/3/87

Terrible day. I was preoccupied with my dilemma.. I was a bit vindictive at little lunch- juice (popper) fight. A Life in WordsDuring double biology ..Mark got “picked on” by our teacher .. got shitty after that & I was afraid to talk to him all during big lunch, and after school however 7th period, chem; cameron “told” me he didn’t do anything with [privacy omission]. Megan the rumour-spreading liar [I discovered who was actually being truthful eventually… many, many years later…] I felt embarrassed to have worried at the start. So wrote him a note. Cameron gave it to him.. but he didn’t wave when we “honked” on the way home. & no phone call tonight. Hope everything’s O.K. for tomorrow. Justine came round this arvy. Brent tonite for Fi’s chem book. shame! I’d just gotten out of the shower. must wake early tomorrow -lots to do. Jeez I hope Mark talks to me tomorrow. So tired! 9:30 Uh!

Wednesday 25/3/87

A terrible day; really horrible …he ignored & avoided me. I was so upset at times… watery eyes. A Life in WordsI must’ve pissed off so many people with my mood. In bio he sat at the other end of the bench with Chris (me on my own) & they were saying some pretty terrible things. C: “W, who’re you taking to the formal?” M: “I dunno.” GREAT!! [sounds quite like a contrived conversation?] It got worse this arvy. Fi & Jussy & I helped prepare for the BBQ ..in recreation time – went to Jussy’s to get ready – mima too. They’d [the boys, I assume?] been to the Esplanade.. came around 5:00-5:30. Ignored me ..finally…took me away by the hand…explaining his friends need him ’cause they’re all only just realising about the crash now- upset etc – sorry to “neglect” me ..said he really needs me (thought I was shitty with him.) Ha! Everything’s normal! [Yep… back to your normal gullible self!] – we talked ..we have a “communication problem” & need to “spend some time 2gether alone to fix it.” No HW done – bags under my eyes are disgusting!! Stood up too much today – knees sore. I ran today, too (not fast – not for long) LOVE YOU M&M. [I think M&M meant Monique and Mark]

Thursday 26/3/87

Hung round a fair bit till ½ way through big lunch- he was mucking around telling me not to go near him, talk to him, touch I’m or look at him. But he got too serious for me. [Here we go again…] And now I’m upset. I can’t believe we “fix” it up then something happens again, to break it down. It’s all the other people [oh really?] – we get on better, totally alone. [Well, that’s functional and realistic…] Rainy today ..cool, beautiful. That’s upsetting (not the weather) about Mark, I mean – he’s so nice at times. A Life in WordsI need an early night – almost 9:30 now _ I started a new canvas in art – did chemistry HW this arvy. Am in dire straits, concerning work. I’m not going to do well at all – I don’t know anything .. it’s terrible. [Mum could never have afforded tuition for me, but I probably wouldn’t’ve wanted it being the proud perfectionist I was. Little did I know however, that the entire first term of year 12 was to be excluded from the consideration of my overall achievement for the year, and in fact, my final score was primarily weighted on the second semester alone …thanks to the accident…] Leg’s O.K. getting better slowly, but quickly – swelling no less. Dunno about my hair. I’d like to grow it but everyone thinks it’s better short (mark wants it that way) SHIT can’t we get it right?? [I clearly didn’t know back then that it wasn’t possible to change people…]

Friday 27/3/87

Brent, Glyn, Cameron, Jason (P.) & Mark were away ..at volleyball or baseball trials. A Life in WordsAll got there in time for the induction, however. Rainy & cold (mostly) today .. double english was boring- Nigel & I mucked ’round Mr Grossetti sprung me with bubble gum! “Raced” (ran!!) to art … boring day – painting in art. Induction practise. Was chaotic!! Carrying chairs from the library to the hall! Mark, Cameron & Glyn came just in time. Didn’t see much of them. He’s ignoring me again – shitty. Probably thinks I’m shitty with him. It’s NOT FAIR. WHY, WHY can’t we get along normally?? I love him so much. I wish he’d ring me, apologise & take me out. somewhere. I want so badly to be with him. Stop hurting me, Mark. PLEASE. Love me. [This is so cringeworthy! It is actually ‘painful’ to now see so clearly the poor choices I made, and not even in the ‘name of love’ but simply pure, unadulterated naiveté. Desperately wanting this particular male specimen to be my Ideal, meet all MY expectations… oh I had so much to learn!] Induction – slow & boring, but Edith & I had a laughing fit, though. talking to lotsa people – Mrs B, Cameron’s mum, Mrs K, Mr Roff, at the afternoon tea afterwards. [To be honest, I don’t remember this occasion at all. It’s a formal school tradition, observed annually with each fresh new batch of Year 12’s.]

Saturday 28/3/87

I rang him. It was not a very good call at all..he’s “thinking over” tomorrow & on Monday will tell his decision .. whether we keep going out or not. [You can’t make any decisions, Liss? Beautifully set up for a weekend full of Anxiety…] From what I gather, he is very puzzled as to why I don’t come up to him during school time etc. I said I’m scared ..self conscious [fearing reactions, maybe?] – something he can’t understand. I’m so distressed… if we have another arguement after this that will be the end, for sure Oh, I’m so worried & upset .. I wish we could be on holidays & spend each day together, alone. That’s the best. (Today I slept in late. Did little HW, mucked ’round most of the day – watching TV, eating! Mrs R (Nola) came round tonight – A Life in Wordshad in depth talks about death, eternity & everything. Julia’s at the movies) Got good night’s sleep last night – 9½hrs at least. Rang Fi (before Mark) she tried to help, but I still was apprehensive about calling. It’s 11:25. Am tired, mate!

Sunday 29/3/87

Jeez, I’m nervous. Not too much, but still, I’ll get worse, I know. I have a feeling everything will work out, but I’m still a little worried .. in case it is, by some very slight chance “NO” ..or after it, we have yet another disagreement & that decides it .. we’re through. (I studied bio today – not much (only 1st Ch.) and also went for a swim at Justine’s this arvy – she wasn’t home ..Mrs McP & mum chatted. Otherwise stuffed around) But I woke around 9:30 this morning 9½hrs sleep!! Wow! The day went rather slowly – rainy & sunny – wierd weather. Should have an early night – try to relax ..everything will be fine. I rang Fi & told her- she couldn’t really say much to make me understand him or me. Crikey, I hope it’s O.K. I’ve got to try harder than ever. [Try harder at what?] 8:50 – listening to Take 40 I’ve lost weight for sure – my legs look so slim I must buy high-cut togs – they’d suit me better.

A Bittersweet Return to School (16-22 March)

Monday 16/3/87

My foot did not swell up too much today (But the fact is, it did swell) Well, I thought I did well, walking round – doing stairs at a great pace (ha! wattabout your sore feet & knees – the pain?) [Go easy, Liss! You’ve hardly used your feet and knees for almost 6 weeks; of course they’ll suffer after your first 8 hour day on them.] Well, ..it’ll get better! (Bloody rags today) Dressing- painfully took off the dressing from where the skin was taken looks like a big graize. Euch! Generally good. I was abit nervous this morning. At school, Mark did not talk to me, look at me or come near me. At home, I rang mima tonight (Fi’s run out of things to say- I needed a new opinion) she insisted I ring him. I had a shower -talked to Jodie on the phone, and, after a lot of deliberation, finally dialled. It was a ‘sad’ phone call.. uncomfortable – probly lots more for him (I cried – I couldn’t help it) A Life in WordsHe hadn’t read the letter …wasn’t thinking about me. Angry at my ‘attitudes’ [?] .. finally apologised (made a real mess) … “I really stuffed up this time didn’t I?” [Really? How? By being yourself?] He said “I love you” .. I said “I love you too and you know it & never forget it.” [oh purleeease…] With that.. I rang Fi & told her .. I’m nervous again. It’s like we’re starting all over again… I’m going to be rather unsure tomorrow. [Such deep insecurity…] I’m glad the worst is over though. [Is it?] Euch! I felt confident (in a way) today- felt slim, pretty & flirtatious. [I’m sorry, what? How ironic: insecure, needy and self-deprecating on the one hand and yet….self confident on the other?]

Tuesday 17/3/87

It didn’t go too smoothly .. we didn’t talk before school, during double maths or after art ..at little lunch he came up & talked to Fi .. I stood by. In bio. he sat next to me. we got on “famously” and ..he slipped a note in my bio book. Big lunch-mucked round a fair bit. In art curiosity killed me- I read a beautiful letter of forgiveness & ‘repent’.. [privacy omission]. Still doesn’t think I have total trust in him. But, that’s it! (I also finally got the photo of us in hospital back from Fi!) Good day, all told! I did HW from about 5:00 till 9:50 …now it’s 10:25 – I had to have my shower ‘n’ everything – I knew I’d lose track of time (only doing biology HW, too! mozzies bad!) There was interruption- Justine McP. visited. Cool weather now (not hot at all really- my leg’s good- kept it “up” [elevated] when not in use – and it stayed “unswollen” all day!! Hopefully.. it’ll stay that way!! A Life in WordsMr P. rang tonite ..saying how soon as Monique got home from Brissy – dropped her bags & rang me. And of course, when she finally got on to me, I got to her place in ½ hr. B.F. Always. I LOVE YOU MONIQUE.

Wednesday 18/3/87

My foot’s O.K! Even after bushdancing tonight! Unreal! (Swelling, that is ..not ‘pain’) Yeah, well .. it did ache for some time, but, I’m doin’ extremely well! (Bandage slipped last night.) (Mima gave me a note today about monique etc. I cried.. was so sad.) Mark ‘n’ I did O.K. again… esp. beginning of tonight.. I gave him a kiss when I’d said something bad.. [‘bad’ meaning something that had the potential to be taken the wrong way?] he gave one back (YUM) But later during dancing .. he went off on his own .. I went up to him (outside) but left him alone (he wanted to be .. I’d asked him) that worried me. (wants to cut my hair tomorrow.. has $20 riding [betting] $12 me, $2 mima $2 Julie H. $4 Fiona. Lose, Mark!) I love him & I hope it’s not me he’s upset with (again). [I] Caught up in computers this arvy.. dunno too much though. It’s 10:25 – need to go to hosp. for dressing tomorrow, before school. Wonder if Mark’ll miss me? (Didn’t do bio HW – got marked down & didn’t do tonight’s either ..great -another against my name. I love you, Honey. HOT

A Life in Words
A Google search for “Henry Scott death” generates many links to this poem, so I can only assume that this was what upset Mark. Given all we had experienced in the recent past, it is very pertinent.

Thursday 19/3/87

I can wash my leg now, change my dressings myself. I HATE my leg. It is so ugly. IT IS NOT FAIR .. NOT FAIR .. it’s deformed – I’ve lost my nerves [the wound included some permanent nerve damage; I have no/minimal superficial (dermal) feeling over/around most of my knee and extending part way down my inner calf] .. It’s fat & swollen. I cried for Monique today again. in art. I am a lot more lately. Found out, through Cameron that Mark was given a note “A few words from Henry Scott” or something a quote on death ..and he was upset about Monique..that’s why he was as he was .. he came at little lunch (I came at 2nd period after “dressing” & seeing Ms. DeJourdan) End of big lunch, talked, mucked round – ID. card is revolting I wrecked it tonight cut it up!!

A Life in Words
Yeah, not the best pic…

After school [Mark] tried to cut my hair I got a bit violent in “defence”.. but OK. Brent cut Fi’s instead. I am so angry about my leg ..happy this morning but looking at it open depresses me so much. It’s ugly- I’d rather be dead. I’m only living for Mark ..I’d miss him too much if I went to Monique. Like now I miss her too much .. I’m with Mark. [It’s quite bizarre to think I’d’ve given up my life up for some bodily scarring, and even more so that one random human being was my sole reason for not. I’m fairly sure I knew deep down that Life held more than that…] Is. 9:45. Night.

Friday 20/3/87

Puritty good day!! Sayin’ goodbye was good, but at the time disappointing – a smack on the bum! Double eng …bore! art .. my painting sux – A Life in Wordsbut I’m going to work it and call it “the freaky memory” in remembrance of monique’s & my coincidental experience (concerning Cameron, last year.) [If you missed it, see Wednesday’s entry in this postUnreal! chem. prac boring… lunchtime Mark tried to make me shitty (was funny!) Did no HW in arvy- ready for Ms. Marsland’s CAD dinner party, at 7:10 mark rang! Talked for ages! Finally arrived at ∼8:30. Drank a whole bottle of apple cider (alcoholic) FUN! Boring for me ..dunno ..Monique missing..seemed incomplete (& kept thinking of Mark) Had a go on the video recorder (didn’t eat much dinner – not fussed on Italian food) Trina & me veged! Most left around 11:30.. I, Michelle & Nev (me lift home with Nev.) watched the video after they’d gone. Mark on my mind. (Went to Terry’s – Terry rang Astia there ..Mark didn’t talk to me..) I was under-dressed! Home at about 1:45 (thinking of mark)

Saturday 21/3/87

Woke 9:20!! Got ready – spent morning at Earlville buying undies – 4 pairs!! [Woo!] At home (after visiting Nana – feel sorry for her) Michael B came round while I picked dead skin off my wound. (Kept it ‘open’ today – this arvy – drying – did yesterday arvy too – “paraded” up ‘n’ down street showing neighbours!!) Mark rang. Then wouldn’t speak – Cameron did. Mark “hung up”. Didn’t ring back so after ∼10mins I did. Mark talked ..Cameron did then M. hung up I rang back immediately. I thought he was shitty – wanted me to decide what to do tonight (I watched TV arvy) & he rang back 5:00. MOVIES ..Colour of Money. I was worried – he’d mentioned something about a “TALK” – rang Fi – made me feel better [as she always did…]. A Life in WordsGot to Odeon [cinema] Just 4/5 mins ‘fore him …walked round ..Glyn & Hayley were there! During interval – he came back & (through joke) I think he had “the talk” .. I’m officially his girlfriend!! During movie – holding hands – [privacy omission]. Soooo nice. We dropped him home (mum, after ringing her) I’M IN LOVE!!

Sunday 22/3/87

Woke 9:30!! Slept in yet again!! And, with dressing off all day ..noticed changes compared to yesterday! I can see differences already!! Well, I went down to Amanda’s place with Julia watched the video GODS MUST BE CRAZY silly/funny ..mostly silly. Walking home after, Polly & Mrs B. stopped in the car, invited us up. A Life in WordsDid nothing much at home -not one scrap of homework. . . shit, then went to Brewers .. had a ‘dip’ (very quick) did nothing much- watched Young Talent Time. Rather boring day, really. (Altogether) Can’t wait till I have enough time (on the holidays??) to clean out my room & make my CAMP/CRASH/MONIQUE scrapbook. Rather warm today. Ugh . . 3 weeks till Jodie & Mike (& Lucy) come!! I wish I had more spare time- wish my leg would heal even faster!! I love Mark. I’ll say it yet again. Can’t wait for BBQ on Wed nite (interschool – seniors only! UNREAL!)

Keloids, Oedema & Back on Two Feet (9-15 March)

A Life in Words
Finally, here’s a (poor quality) photo of my original scar in all its Glory. Unfortunately, we’d never thought of taking photos at any other time so this is the earliest I have. (Damned shame we didn’t get any pics of the raw wound.) The large red rectangle at the top of the photo is where the surgeon took the skin for the graft and directly below it is the ‘meat pie’ hole to which they grafted it …around which, incidentally, you can see the horrid suture marks from the first job by the surgeons botched. The scar directly under my finger is, I assume, where I was impaled by the metal which I yelled at the rescue worker to “just fucking rip …out”.

Monday 9/3/87

Did I tell you I’m 60kg again? Well, I was measured yesterday. Oh, and by the way, Mark’s shitty with me again. I said something about all I need is Jemima & Fiona as friends & he (taking I didn’t need him) said he’d never talk to me again, no matter what I said or did. So he’s shitty with me. I s’pose I can expect another goodbye letter perhaps in Wednesday’s mail? Oh well. My appointment was the major news of the day, originally (god its hot) He (the dr.) said it’s excellent. Looks a bit “gooby” to me …but I’M ALLOWED TO WALK AND GO OUT ETC!! WOWEE! That’s what I was waiting to hear. Back at school next Monday YAY!! Although, I dunno; if Mark’s so shitty. I’ve been slowly trying to straighten my leg. IT IS SO HARD. I haven’t yet. WOWEE!!

Tuesday 10/3/87

Hope I sleep better tonight – the last few nights have been terrible – I keep waking. Oooooh! I am doing SO well! I can straighten my leg almost completely back, now & can put most my weight on it for a few secs. And I’m so proud. [Good!] At this rate, maybe I will be walking by the (or for the) weekend! Sandra W rang me this arvy -said Mark understands what I meant ..it’s just he’s upset that I spend more time with my friends at school, than him [what? you haven’t been at school for all bar 3 days of the school term so far…?] (it really matters to him.. he does care) I thought he might ring tonight but no. Oh well. Went & saw nana today. Well & good. . . (boring visit) [oh, to have had hindsight…] also Jo & Mike rang. A Life in WordsThey’re counting the days til they come up. I did no schoolwork this morning again. Justine & Mrs Mac came this arvy, as they left, mima & polly came. Yru gave Julia an enormous leaf of aloe vera to give to me. I haven’t been putting anything on my scars lately UMAH! [I can be ‘religious’ about certain things (obviously!) but it seems treating my scarring was not one of them. I have very soft skin which is a blessing but the trade-off  seems to be that I scar badly: hypertrophic-keloid scars are reddish, raised lumps (you can easily spot them in the photo of my leg above) which thankfully often fade and flatten out over time, but never disappear, unfortunately. While not yet fully understood, keloid scarring seems to result from excessive collagen in the wound healing process; one of my doctors gave me the impression it’s as if your body heals over-zealously?!] mmm… hot, yes. Rain? yes. pimples? Yes – going away? Yes (I hope) Mark – I love you? YES!

A Life in Words
Cairns Post, Wednesday 11 March 1987
Since its completion a decade later, the memorial has been everything our great principal desired.

Wednesday 11/3/87

Mr P [Monique’s father] rang this arvy..sounds so ‘tired’ and ‘weak’ ..Mrs P will not be back for another 2 weeks or so. No call from Mark (of course). Nor any mail. I wrote him a letter which I’ll post tomorrow. Hope it doesn’t sound silly. GUESS WHAT? I CAN WALK WITHOUT CRUTCHES!!!! UNREAL, HUH?! After only 2 days – I can let go and (hobble, limp) walk ’round! (Today I went to Earlville with mum – did shopping but I took crutches – needed them – got tired easily. Oooh runny nose. (Fi & mim came round this arvy, too.) I actually read my novel today (although that was the only schoolwork I did) And didn’t have a bath tonight – just ran out of time. [ew!] Rainy again – but cooler today at times. I slept rather well last night!! Oh, I wish Mark’d ring or something I wish he’d talk to me. Oh I love you. Don’t treat me this way.. PLEASE!!

Thursday 12/3/87

Well, I’m doin’ good . . . walking’ (limpin’ really!!) round! Mum woke me early Dropped Jules at school (went past the seniors – saw him) then we waited an hour or so before we went in. . .took off the dressing. I think doctor Clark was pleased I could walk… I asked questions – they were answered [I’d love to know what I asked…] – nothing to worry about (physically, anyway; I didn’t send the letter to Mark, or even give it to Jules to give to him – will tomorrow – damn, I forgot to re-write it.) Read my play today so .. that’s it. I’ll have to do some solid work tomorrow: MUST. Am going to the movies 2morrow nite with Fi & Jules! Hey, hey! Gonna ask mark (if I get that letter re-written. Shaved me legs 2nite & armpits – didun wanna but had to. [I preferred waxing… but that must have been too large a feat for me to accomplish, somehow?] Ankle looks absolutely revolting – fat (swollen) Leg a bit sore from using it lots I think – it’s looking even better today- I can’t believe it! mm ..hot. rain, though! Fi came down ‘S’ arvy→ ambulance man dropped off some videos drove to fi’s & Watched them. BORING seen before! [I’m guessing they were a collection of news clips/footage that, like everyone, I’d’ve seen repeatedly over the past month.] Oh neckache.

Friday 13/3/87

A Life in Words
This isn’t my ankle, but it could have looked very similar…

Today (not bad luck – much) I took my first WALK. I mean WALK, NOT LIMP!! Fantastic! (And I had a shower, standing all the time!) [I think I can vaguely remember this feeling: the uncertainty of pressing down into my foot was dwarfed by confidence and the knowledge that it was okay to do this, after the doctor’s positivity yesterday. Oh yes, it felt really good!] This morning I hurried a new letter to Mark .. to give to Jules to give to Fiona to give to him. But, we didn’t go to the movies tonight after all – Fi wants to invite mima, tomorrow night (she works 2nite) & even if mima can’t come we’ll still go. So, (Fi was convinced he’d ring me – he didn’t) if he went, we wouldn’t’ve been there – he’ll be even angrier. And if he didn’t go, it means (he didn’t ring) that he doesn’t care. Oh shit. I need you to contact me, Mark. Please, please God, let things be the way they were before the crash. It’s not fair. My life’s the pits. My ankle’s so ugly & fat (swollen) [I failed to understand that my entire leg had been blown up like a balloon during the accident, so the elasticity in the entire appendage (not just the dermis) would have been incredibly tested and it would take some time for it to return to somewhere near normal (thank God I was young and still growing). The fact is, my right leg would never be the same size as its counterpart again: even after a night’s rest, my right lower leg is always 1-1.5cm thicker in circumference than the left.] Beka (came round this arvy) said hers took awhile to go down. [I think she had had a sprained ankle. A somewhat different injury (!) but wonderfully supportive of her.] GREAT. But I walked today that’s something right? [Yes.] And I did some work. And Trina dropped over my negatives & photocopies of photos of Monique. And I sunbaked (towel over my legs so I don’t get a mark from the bandage) & get this – got burnt slightly after only 15 minutes! [Ah the FNQ sun: it cooks you quick!] OH MARK. PLEASE RING ME or come over.

Saturday 14/3/87

No phone calls from Mark, today, let alone a visit. Hope, really hope he didn’t go Friday night..he’d be so shitty (so much more shitty) with me. I rang Fi twice ..3rd time lucky. Mima might not be going tonight – depends whether she gets her schoolwork done or not (speaking of which, I did none) I danced today! (Not really physically jolting- just “bopping” around! I spent most the day writting out the major things that’d happened in the weeks past .. ready to do up my scrapbook. Fiona’s late!! ..it’s 7:20 – movie Jumpin Jack Flash starts at 7:30. Oh Mark, stuff you. (Told Fi, she said she’d ring him tomorrow for me. She’d really expected him to ring me last night.) NO VISITORS today Rather boring day ‘But Jeez, my ankle’s gone down! (I spent ½hr or so in the sun again today – just head & shoulders..wanna bleach my hair. where’s the lemon juice?)A Life in Words [After 4 weeks in hospital my hair had darkened considerably… and as a natural blonde this was displeasing to me. We used lemon juice whenever we could but I don’t know how well it actually worked…] tell you ’bout the movie tomorrow. My ankle – I can’t believe how much it went down, after putting it under a pillow last night. [yeah. I’m sure I meant the pillow was under my leg, not vice versa…] UNBELIEVABLE! Dad & Jenny came over today – this arvy. Amazed at me walking

Sunday 15/3/87

I’m not so worried about school, even though I got bad news from Fi tonight (well..not good .. not bad(??)) I’ll probly get the nerves tomorrow. See, he & Steven & Cameron & Keith were going to see the Stroopers, so they went to Fi’s …she tried talking to him, but he didn’t say “anything”. (At one stage she said “I was going to call you tonight” & he said “why don’t you tell her you rang but I wasn’t home?” Nice, huh? What’m’ I s’posed to think of that? KNOWing me- the worst. [Well, it’s hardly inspiring…] He hates me. But he can’t. I couldn’t accept that.) Wonder what’ll happen at school? (Today I did chem. & nothing much else – a bit of art) I was going to rest my foot as much as possible today so it wouldn’t hurt for school tomorrow… know what happened? (It’d gone down even more this morning (not much more) but more) It swelled right up again. [A perfect example of what happens when sitting for too long… unless elevated of course, which I doubt I would have been continuing now that I was almost ‘back to normal’…] NO visitors of course. Esp. not mark even though they were in the area. It’s too much to ask. Oh I’m nervous. Angela R. rang tonite – is coming over wednesday arvy. Oooh.. I’m worried. I’m hurt. His song’s on the radio now Miracle of Love. [Hmm, don’t remember that. But I still like the song. Check it out below…] SHIT it’s NOT FAIR.

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.