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Monday, May 30, 2011

"Light" Chapter 12: The Punch

For a full list of chapters for Light, click here.

Tuesday arrived with a bang. More like a smack in the head, actually. It would have been less disturbing if it had been real.

The thing is I awoke early with a dull headache and feeling like crap. Just really strung out. I lay there feeling like a great log. Then the memory of what happened in the creek bed came back to me, and for a moment I felt so dizzy I thought I might be sick. What the hell had I been doing sitting in a dry creek for an hour? Speaking to trees? A feeling of panic suddenly came over me.  Me, sitting cross legged like some wannabe Buddha, just metres away from other uni students on their way to and from lectures? Who knows who had seen me sitting down there? The whole thing was a like lost time – someone else’s lost time. I had been so caught up in the moment I could barely remember any details. The thought scared the crap out of me. I could almost hear the other students at the Hall gossiping about me already. The more I thought about it, the more paranoid I became. In that early morning self reflection, I honestly had no idea who the hell that person meditating in a creek bed was. Who was that guy who had wasted sixty minutes of his life sitting like a madman having a conversation with native flora? It sure couldn’t have been me.

This was typical of my reactions to the weird events of that time. First, something inexplicable would happen - something that was way beyond anything I could understand. Then there would be a brief time when I seemed to be elevated into some alternate state of reality. A new world even. This would then be followed by a return to my normal self, and the whole thing would seem completely unreal. Crazy even. The big, fantastic new world would shrink back to its normal size and its normal dullness. It was as if an elastic band in my mind had been stretched way out - way, way out. When it was out there it was fascinating. Exhilarating. Then some time later - maybe the next day, the next hour or even the next minute – the elastic band would snap back and the whole thing would seem to be like some kind of whacky movie I had accidentally viewed on my computer and confused with my actual life.

I looked up at the poster of U2, stuck at a lopsided angle on my closed wardrobe door. A super arrogant Bono was depicted bellowing into a mike, the rest of the band behind him on the stage. I took some relief from the poster. It was there every day, and hadn’t changed. I knew it was real. But what happened on the way to the library yesterday?  There was no way that shit was real.

“It’s all bullshit!”

Before I could even begin to question where the voice had come from there was an audible thwack!, and my head tilted back from the jolt of the blow to the right side of my face.

The voice was as distinct as if he was right there beside me. It was Paul’s, and I knew right away he was pissed about the day before.

A feeling of intense fear came upon me. Throwing the blankets aside, I stumbled groggily out of bed. The room was empty. I knew that what had just happened was impossible. I had just been smacked in the head by Paul. I ran to the door, threw it open and ran out into the corridor looking for the intruder. I almost ran right into two cute but unapproachable medical students, whom I recognised from the other wing of my floor of the building. They looked at me as they walked right past, giggling slightly from beneath upturned noses. It was then that I realised I was dressed in nothing more than my red boxer shorts. I did a complete 180 and ducked right back into my room.

I jumped right back into bed, pulled the blanket up my noise, and tried to pretend that what had just happened hadn’t really happened. It was all far too much for me to get my head around. A sense of dread was eating its way into me. Shit! Was I going crazy?

Just then my mobile rang, and that may have been the only thing that saved me from having some kind of panic attack. Grabbing the phone off the desk behind me, I saw that it was Amanda calling. I was stunned back into the real world.


“How was your weekend? You didn’t call.” I could sense a slight sense of disappointment in her voice. It was Tuesday, and it had been three days since we met at The Shed.

“Um, I was meaning to call,” I lied. For a moment I actually wondered whether she could hear my heartbeat, so loud did it seem to be beating under my ribcage because of my rising fear. “Um, my aunt was really sick. I got caught up with things.”

“Oh, that’s too bad. I hope she’s OK.”

“She’ll pull through.” There was a moment of silence. “…so I’ve been told.”

“I hope so.”

“How was your weekend?”

“I had an argument with my Mum.”

She went on to tell me about some obscure issue with money she was inheriting from her parents when she would turn twenty one. It suddenly dawned on me that we were from completely different worlds. Her posh world of Sydney’s North Shore was miles away from my working class upbringing in a nameless country town south of nowhere.

“I had a dream about you.”

I paused for a moment. What was that supposed to mean? “Really? What dream was that?”

“You were walking along a road in the morning. You looked lost. The sun was rising. There were a group of people at the end of the road. They were watching you. It was like some kind of endurance test or something.”

“The lost part seems about right.”

She laughed, and I began to relax a bit, my heart slowing down to something akin to normal. “I think some of them were from the meditation group.”


 Eventually she got around to asking me if we were still going to the beach. I couldn’t see any reason why not.

“Do you want to invite Paul along?”

The sense of dread returned instantly to my stomach. Seeing Paul again was the last thing I felt like doing. “Nah. He’s got a big assignment coming up.”

Moments later I was rustling through my undies draw trying to see if I still had those old pair of Speedos. Pulling them out, I slipped them on and hit a couple of poses in front of the mirror. Speedos were bound to impress. I gathered my beach accessories together and packed them into my backpack.

At the last minute, uncertain of my capacity to restrain certain natural reflexes in a public place, I threw the Speedos back into the draw, fished out my trusty baggy board shorts, threw them on and dashed out the door to get bus 101 downtown to Nobby’s Beach.

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