A Time to Fight

I’m standing on the edge of a precipice, all my senses tingling. My arms are slightly extended and I’m half up on my toes as if I’m about to take flight. I’m waiting for something to change, something to give me a reason to fight or take flight.

Scenes pass in front of my eyes: Sitting in front of a fly screen door with my father, pulling my dummy out and saying “car” as one zoomed past the house. Sitting on a red swing in a sandy backyard with my little sister on the other end, smiles on both our faces. Running through the backyard, naked as the day I was born, sprinkler water raining down on me, cooling me in the middle of the summer heat. A picnic in the bush, my littlest sister in my mothers arms, my little sister beside me on a log, smiles and laughter everywhere. Walking to a brand new school with my little red case all by myself feeling nervous and a bit sad. Falling from the top of the play gym at school and laying in the sand, winded, until one of the bigger kids got a teacher for me. Making play tents in the backyard with my little sister with old picnic blankets and having the time of our lives. Riding our bikes in the summer time around our neighbourhood until the street lights came on and we knew it was time for dinner. Climbing trees in the park and watching in horror as my little sister fell out of it. Lying over a canvas table while being percussed and coughing up thick sticky mucus into a cup. Being packed up and sent off to camps to meet and play with other kids like my little sister and I and making friends who also had to have chest physio and nebulisers and take tablets every day. Being woken in the night by a rough, drunken voice to be told we are useless and lazy and take up too much of our mother’s time with treatments. Playing “schools” with my little and littlest sisters, taking turns in being the teacher and the students with an array of teddies and dolls as classmates. Changing schools and feeling like the loner loser I’d felt like in my first school, spending the entire year trying to fit in but failing miserably. Finding my first friends in Year 4 and feeling so elated that I had people to hang out with and do things with, including marbles and hide and seek and sharing food at the canteen. Moving house, yet again, and getting lost on the bus route with the little sister… Feeling blind panic when we realised we were in the big city rather than safe at home. Being driven across Australia by a relative stranger because Mum “needed a break” and feeling scared and confused… Were we ever going to go home? Why did Mum need a break from us?

The scenes flash faster and faster. I come down off the tips of my toes and lean into a crouch position, tucking my arms into my chest. I am preparing for fight mode. My time is not quite over yet. There is so much left to do. Flight is not on my radar right now. Maybe later. When I’m tired. For now, I will fight for time. For love. For them.

© Melinda McKeon 20 June 2021

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