Sunday, 11 January 2009 - 7:50 pm


We’re finding out why there’s no-one left here.  It has been sucked dry and left to pucker under this strange orange sky.

We tried three vehicles, but none of them would start.  They coughed sadly, but they wouldn’t start.  It took us a while to discover that their fuel has already been siphoned away.

Our supplies are running low.  There’s no water left at all now, and not much food.  We went into a couple of stores, but there was only dregs left.  We even went into a few homes here, only to be repulsed by the smell from the fridges.  Most of them had already been pilfered, the front doors broken in, kitchen cupboards listing emptily.  We managed to find one cupboard that had been missed, and that gave us something for dinner.

It’s clear now that whoever was left here has moved on in favour of finding food and water elsewhere.  I can’t imagine what place would be any different to this, though.


I never, ever want to eat a can of cold food again.  I will, I just don’t want to.  I’m so sick of swallowing something clammy and slimy.  It’s hard to know if my stomach is turning in revulsion or hunger these days; it all feels the same.  I wish my tastebuds would realise that any food is good right now.

We talked over our small, slick dinner, mostly so that we didn’t have to look at the food and wonder what the hell.  We’re going to push on again tomorrow, try to get out of this area.  We spent so much time searching that we made almost no progress at all today.

We’re so close now.  If we walk and don’t stop, we should make it to the hospital before the rain comes again. 

I’m almost afraid of getting there.  Afraid of what we’ll find.  Afraid of what we won’t find.  The hospital feels like a myth, feels like a mecca we’ll never reach.  It’s our carrot.  It’s all the guidance and purpose we have.  It’s our hope.

We’re so close that I can’t sleep.  I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop, for a crevasse to open up between us and that illusory place we’re all striving for.  We have to get there.  It was the last purpose of a man who melted in the rain; it’s the last hope for a child who won’t wake up any more.

Just one more day.  For all our sakes.

Monday, 12 January 2009 - 1:39 pm

Hollow hope

There was no crevasse.  There was no obstacle that robbed us of our goal for yet another day.  It took us most of the day, but we got there.  We stretched ourselves to make it before the rain came again, until we were taut and thrumming with the strain of it.

We stopped when it came into sight. The sight turned my stomach over like a limp pancake.  It rose against the burnt sky with hunched shoulders and shattered teeth.  Smoke curled out of one corner.

Our myth and hope, our target and purpose, is a dirty reality with broken eyes.  Our mecca is made of cracked concrete and sliding doors torn off their runners.  The closer we got, the more we wished that it had stayed a mirage pulling us through this desert.


As we neared it, a part of me realised that there were no lights.  Somehow, I had pictured the hospital being all lit up, all this time.  There would be a breeze that lifted the hair away from the back of my heck, and someone brusque and efficient to chivvy me out of the way.  There’d be white and greens everywhere, and rapidfire voices, and nurses with frazzled buns trying to keep up with everything.

I had pictured the hospital as part of the world I knew.  But it’s not.  It’s a part of this post-world, it is ravaged and torn, just like everything else.  Just like us.  It is hope and hopeless, just like us.


The clouds were ganging up overhead, so we went inside anyway.  The rain started only a few minutes later, trapping us inside.

It doesn’t smell the way a hospital should; that antiseptic tang has skittered away from the air in here.  Worn away by everything else that has passed between its fingers.  We moved through it like ghosts, not wanting to breathe it in.  Even our steps were hushed, in case we were treading on the last vestiges of an illusion.

There was a triage here. There are coloured scraps of material that were used to mark the severity of the injured, lying limply on the floor.  There are gurneys lined up haphazardly, there are carts of equipment and supplies abandoned everywhere. There are stains on the blankets and the floor.  There are long black bags lined up in a corridor that leak an awful scent.

It must have been chaos.  All those people rushing here for help.  All those people we sent over the bridge to them.  They must have made it.  Some of them must have lain here, felt the touch of professional hands.  Received care.  Got what we are looking for.


We were deep inside the building before we found a room clear – and clean – enough for us to unshoulder our burdens and rest.  I think it was a staff room, once upon a time.  No-one has said anything; we don’t know what to say.  We’re just sitting, and breathing, and trying not to cry and shout at the walls.

I don’t know where all those people are now.  The injured, the carers, the doctors and nurses.  Who was looking after them?  How did they cope without power, or water?  Did they all go home and never come back?  Did they realise that it was pointless, that we are all doomed, and give up?  Did they decide to hole up in their homes until it was all over?

I get it, I really do.  But how could they?  How could they do that?  How could they leave us alone here?  How could they take this away from us?  How can they let people die when they could stop it, when they could save them?  How could they not be here waiting for us?

Where did everyone go?  Where will we go now?

I wish Carter was here.  I wish Dad was here.  And Matt.


I can’t think about them. Carter’s gone and I don’t know what’s happened to Dad, or Matt, and I can’t wonder about all the awful things that might have fallen on their shoulders.  I don’t have the strength for it.  I already see their faces melt in my dreams, dissolving as they call my name.

There must be something here.  There has to be.  I won’t let this place be empty, let it spit us out onto the street in pieces.  We’re already in pieces.

I’m not going to sit here and listen to the rain wash everything away. 

Monday, 12 January 2009 - 5:48 pm

Signs of life

After that last post, I went scouting and found a lot of things I didn’t want to.  I also found a few things that might be of use.

There are a lot of bodies in the building.  Whatever happened here, a lot of their patients didn’t make it, and there was no-one to… dispose of them.  I hate that term – people should not be disposed of – but that seems to be what these bodies were waiting for.  Lined up, piled up in some cases, in others just left on their beds covered in soiled sheets. 

And now they’re decomposing, rotting away.  Some of them are not as big as they should be, I think: they look like they’ve been disturbed.  I didn’t want to look too closely and I really don’t want to know what’s been chewing on them. 

If they were outside, the rain would take them, but I wouldn’t wish that on the dead.  At least this way they leave a stain.

The hospital’s supply rooms have been ransacked, just like the houses and stores between here and the tunnel.  The cafeterias have been emptied, and the drug caches thoroughly pillaged.  I’m not surprised by either, though I had hoped that the latter wouldn’t be true.  I have to go back later and look through what’s left, see if there’s anything we might be able to use.

The more mundane supplies have been largely overlooked.  Like some of less pharmaceutical medical supplies around, too.  Bandages, dressings, that sort of thing.

Best of all, there’s a vending machine in a back stairwell that seems to have been overlooked.  We’re going to go back and see if we can crack it open, like a Kinder egg.


I think there are people here. I didn’t see them, but I heard them.  Shuffles in the distance, voices murmuring back and forth.  They’re on the top floor, towards the corner where the smoke was coming from; perhaps the fire was a sign of life rather than the opposite, for once.

I don’t dare hope.  I don’t want to hope.  But once we’ve had a chance to regroup, a few of us are going up to see who they are.  If they’ll help us.

Tuesday, 13 January 2009 - 3:50 pm

The high place

We found out where all the drugs went.  I wish I could say that it was a shock, or even a surprise.  The world has gone to hell in a handbasket; who doesn’t want to get high and forget any of this ever happened? 


We climbed up to the top floor – just four of us, after we convinced Sax to stay with the injured.  Where he should be, for his sake and theirs.  Thorpe tried to suggest that I should stay behind as well, but he stopped when he saw the look on my face.

I wasn’t going to stay behind.  I wasn’t going to linger there and wait for someone else to sort this out.  All I would have done is sit and think and wonder.  Or type nonsense into this record in an effort not to do those things. 

It’s not that I don’t trust the others to do the right thing.  It’s because I have to do something.  I don’t want to be helpless, or weak, or just waiting.  I have to go and see for myself, to replace fantastical mental images with banal reality.  I have to be in motion; my body doesn’t know what to do with itself when it’s still.  My arm aches more when I’m not doing something else. 

And, as Dad would say, my legs aren’t broken, so I might as well go do it myself.


There was this weight against my back the whole way up to the top floor.  A small, hard pressure just above my belt, warm from my skin.  It had been there for days, but I was hyper-aware of it as we climbed the stairs.  We were walking towards a group that might attack us, like the tunnel-dwellers, and the knife seemed to know that.

All the windows are open up there.  I suppose that’s to let the smell out; it certainly isn’t good, even with the ventilation.  Not so much rotting bodies as rancid human waste, the by-product of plumbing that no longer works.  The stench of unwashed bodies and unclean habits.  The gut-turning aromas of the living rather than the dead.

My nose has dulled over the past couple of weeks, after the smoke and dust and then none of us being able to wash properly.  I can barely smell myself or the others in the group any more, but I smelt these people from a corridor away.  There wasn’t much in my stomach, but it still wanted me to throw up.


There were about a dozen of them, down in the geriatric ward.  The patients were all long since gone; this group had taken over the ward and made it their own.  Blankets had been piled near one set of windows and set alight; it was smouldering when we got there, small and sad.  That must have been the smoke we saw outside.

The group might have been a threat if they had been at all capable of it.  They were sprawled in various stages of consciousness, on gurneys and beds, or just stretched out on the floor.  One fella spent the whole time giggling at a painted stripe on the wall.

It was both a relief and disappointment.  They were no threat, but that’s because they’re useless.  They had taken a hospital full of medicine and used it to get completely out of their trees.  The acid is stripping all the trees down to nubs, but they are far too spaced to care. 

I tried to talk to a couple of them, but all I could get out of them was requests for more, and what did I have with me for them?  There was no food or water that we could find.  Lots of spent needles and empty bottles and packets, but no sustenance.  They were suspended on drugs alone up here.


I had to pull Dillon away from a curtained-off bed.  I caught a glimpse of pale white buttocks moving in time with huffed breaths, of a body poised above a girl with empty eyes fixed on the ceiling.  I’m aware that it’s strange to put him in danger by taking him towards potential violence and then to refuse to let him watch a stranger screwing.  He’s just a youngster, though.

There was something not quite right about what was going on in there, too.  She must have been very high to be so still.  I hope she was high.  I hope that he wasn’t doing all the moving in there, because that’s what it looked like.  It looked like she was so far beyond caring that she was never coming back.

We were just looking at each other with clueless confusion when the pair of white buttocks came out from behind the curtain.  He was doing up his pants – thank goodness – and he had a blissful glow about him.  He smiled at us, blankly cheerful in his fuzzy world.

I was going to give up and leave when I noticed that he was wearing a white coat.  It was stained and torn, but it still had a nametag attached to it.  Doctor Masterson.  I didn’t realise that I had read it out loud until he blinked at me vaguely and said, “Yes?”

Everything changed then.  We all started talking at once, which made him look from one to the other and then giggle with delight.  It’s strange, hearing a grown man giggle like a child.  He thought we were the funniest thing he’d ever seen, and his mirth creased him where he stood.


All of a sudden, I was so furious with him.  Thorpe was swearing, and that was exactly what was going through my head.  I mean, how dare he? We have people who need help, people we have kept alive through luck and cobbled-together care, and this is what we find? A doctor, someone who’s supposed to help people, incapacitated because he just had to get high.  Useless – worse than useless: a fucking waste.  A stupid, giggling mess that used to be someone who, once upon a time, chose to save lives.

It was so selfish, turning his back on everything and everyone else like this.  To wrap himself up in a hazy cocoon and damn the rest of us.  Doesn’t he know what we’ve done to get here?  Doesn’t he know what all of this means?

I didn’t realise that I was shouting at him until Thorpe put his hand on my arm to hold me back.  He thought I was going to smack the doctor, and he might have been right.  I didn’t, though. 

I subsided, stepping back and letting Thorpe deal with him.  I was shaking all over.

The tall fireman looked at the doctor – who was clueless, though he had thankfully stopped that stupid giggling – then asked if he’d come with us.  Masterson nodded easily enough; I don’t think he understood the question. 

But he did come with us.  He’s with us right now, asleep in the corner, soaked through with sweat.  We’ll have to wait until he sobers up to figure out if he’s going to be of any real help.

Wednesday, 14 January 2009 - 12:24 pm

Something has to give

I’m not proud of what I did yesterday.  I’m angry with myself for going off and, if I’m honest, a bit scared.  I had lost it again, let my temper slip out of my mouth and spill venom on someone.  I hadn’t meant to, I hadn’t really been in control, and that scares me more than anything else.

There’s a knife tucked under the hem of my shirt, within easy reach.  Maybe I should take it off.  Maybe I should put it in my pack, or give it to Thorpe or Dillon.  I don’t know if I trust myself with it any more.  What if I get so angry that I pull it out and use it?  What if I lose it so much that I do that to someone?  How will I live with myself then?

I never used to be like this.  At work, I sucked up unfairness and abuse every day, drew it in and breathed it out calmly.  I never snapped, I never let my thoughts outside of my skull.  When I found out about Cody and Bree, when they ripped my heart out, I didn’t vent my pain all over them.  Even when she spread lies about me, ruined almost every friendship I’d built in the last three years through a campaign of hate, I didn’t tell her what I thought of her.  I didn’t even complain, not to her, not to any of those who turned against me.  I didn’t take any of that out on anyone.

Now I’ve done it twice.  Now my group are looking at me sideways again and I don’t know what to tell them.

I don’t think I’m handling this as well as I’d like.  I don’t think I’m handling this well at all.  I can’t sit still, I can’t stop for more than a little while at a time.  I’m so tired, right down to the bone, but I can barely sleep.  I’m a body full of restless limbs, twitching with their own agenda.

I think I’m trying not to fall apart.  I’ve seen it happen, in the CBD after the city came down.  I’ve seen the broken eyes and empty movements.  I’ve seen people whose purpose has died.  I don’t want to become that.  I have to find a way to keep myself going, and that means keeping everyone else going.  It means that I have to keep moving.  Always pushing forward, even into the teeth of the storm.

I can’t keep going like this.  Something has to give, and I think it might be me.

Wednesday, 14 January 2009 - 5:04 pm

What it means to be useful

I’m calmer now.  Part of that might be because the doctor is curled up in the corner, whimpering and shivering.  He’s going through withdrawal.  I feel sorry for him, but I don’t know how much of that is guilt over shouting at him yesterday.  I want to be sympathetic to his pain, but it’s hard.  I keep remembering the girl with the empty eyes, I keep wondering about what was really wrong with her.  I keep wondering about what he was doing with her, and then getting revolted.

He’s getting closer to being able to help us, though.  The others need him.  I guess I need him, too, for my arm.


I went prowling after my last post, because of that need to do something.  Just wandered around the building to see what I could find.  Dillon followed me – he usually does, but I think he was worried about me.  He kept asking me if I was okay, but I didn’t know how to talk to him.  Poor kid, he was only trying to help.

We cracked that vending machine open.  We now have lots of candies and chocolate, and, best of all, some muesli bars and chips.  It’s crap, but it’s food and better than nothing.  There was a vending machine with drinks in it in the same stairwell, so now we have liquid to keep us going for a little while.  It took us three trips to get everything back to our group’s room.

I also pilfered every useful piece of equipment I could find.  Fresh blankets and pillows, dressings and bandages, that sort of thing.  Even some clean gurneys, for the injured.

Masterson and his crew only took the drugs they could use to get high, leaving the less fun ones behind.  So I grabbed one of every other kind of drug, and I’ll ask what they’re all for when he’s sober.  I recognised one or two antibiotics, and Ben and Sax should take those.  Just in case.


I feel useful again.  That makes a bigger difference to me than I had realised.  Hearing the thanks of the group that I am so viciously attached to.  Seeing the surprised smiles they gave when they saw the food, the relief in their shoulders when they cracked open a can of soda.  The way they relaxed back on those pillows.  Even the way Ben tried to catch me and ask me if I was all right, though it was too early for me.  I don’t think I could answer that question without cracking, so I moved on without answering.

I’m not all right.  I know that now.  But I’m better than I was.

I suppose it is all about purpose; it’s the futility of things that has been getting to me.  The hollow hopes and ashen promises.  The knockbacks at every step.  The things that I can’t do anything about.  The things piling up against us.

I know there will be more knockbacks, more mountains that will rise in front of us.  I know it’ll seem impossible and I’ll feel tiny again.  And it’s hard to think that I’m going to feel like this again and again. 

I just have to keep reminding myself that we have to keep going, and that will have to be enough.

Thursday, 15 January 2009 - 11:47 am


It was almost like sleeping on a bed last night.  A thin pad of blankets and a pillow make a wonderful difference to hard floors and lumpy packs.  I don’t think I’ve slept that well – or that long – in weeks.  The others were talking quietly when I woke up, and that was a comforting sound.  I just lay there for a little while, listening to them, to the cadence of their different voices.

They were talking about the doctor.  About how it might take him days yet to get over the withdrawal. 

Masterson started begging for more drugs last night.  Begging to go back up to the reeking rooms upstairs, he had a secret stash, he’d be willing to share.  Please, please, he just needed some more, it hurt so much. 

I did feel sorry for him.  He has his own winds that he’s prey to, only his are on the inside.  Ours are on the outside, blowing us from disaster to disaster.  All he wants is some relief from the pain.

We need him, and we need him sober. But I couldn’t bring myself to be the monster, to say no to him, to lock him away because it’s best for everyone.  Who am I to do that?  Who am I to force someone to my will, just because I can?  Even with Nugget still fast asleep, even with Ben barely able to lie still with his burning chest.  Even with the support of two big guys and their strong arms.

Sally took him into the next room when he started whining and moaning so loudly that none of us could sleep.  I think she stayed with him for the whole night.  There’s no lock on the door.  There’s no-one holding him back.  He can go and get his fix if he wants it.  It feels like giving up, but sometimes you can’t save a person from themselves.  Sometimes, it’s up to them to do it. 

Will he be sober in time to make a difference?  Will he get sober at all?  I don’t know.  It’s not up to me, and I hate it.

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Thursday, 15 January 2009 - 3:39 pm


Nugget woke up.  I can’t believe it.  She just stirred and opened her eyes, without warning.

Sax was closest – he usually is – and the first the rest of us knew was his deep voice saying, “Well, hello there, little one.”  Then he asked for a bottle of water and gave her a drink, very gingerly.

She’s still pale and so terribly thin.  She is sitting up, though, and she’s gone through most of a bottle of water in the last little while.  I gave her a small section of a muesli bar to eat, to get her stomach off to an easy start.  It hasn’t had much in it for a while now.  She ate very slowly, but she put it all away.

We asked what her name is, and she just looked at us.  She doesn’t seem to remember the attack, though she recognises us, I think.  Mostly, she is sitting and watching us, drinking us in.


It’s hard to believe that this is a good thing.  I mean, of course it’s good, but there’s a part of me that is wondering if it’s the prelude to something awful.  Waiting for the other shoe to drop.  Wondering if maybe she has woken up only to leave us properly.

I shouldn’t think like that.  I’m not wishing it on her – of course I’m not.  I should be smiling and thankful, I should be walking with a bouncier step, like Dillon is right now.  I should take this as a sign to be optimistic.  This is a good thing.  She’s brighter than she ever has been, and she has been awake for hours – the longest since I’ve known her.

Maybe she won’t die.  Maybe she’ll make it.  After all this time being carried and cared for, after making it all the way to our ruined mecca, she might finally be getting better.

I feel too old and dented to hope, but I want to.

Friday, 16 January 2009 - 5:56 pm

The doctor’s visit

Doctor Masterson is feeling better.  He came in to see us today, standing straight and looking alert.  A little too bright-eyed; I’m fairly sure that he got some of this drugs.  He didn’t smell good – I think he did something disgusting in the room next door.  I guess you can’t have everything.

He almost bounced over to examine the injured and the rest of us followed him; I don’t think any of us trusted this new, alert doctor.  I was a little afraid of what he might do, due to the drugs.

He seemed to be thorough and on-topic, though; he chattered the whole time, and it was all about the patients.  He looked into Nugget’s eyes and asked her some questions.  She didn’t speak, but she did shake her head in answer.  I heard him take Sally aside and tell her that the kid might have some permanent damage from the impact to her skull.  That she might not ever speak or come ‘quite right’ again.  I don’t know what I think about that, yet.

He made faces over Ben’s burns and showed us how to dress them properly, and then went through the whole thing again for Sax.  There are no painkillers left, he said, but if we keep the wounds clean and dry, they should heal just fine.  I’m not entirely convinced – there was something in the way he said that, entirely too cheerful – but it’s worth trying.


Finally, he looked at my arm.  I didn’t really want him to, even after all this time of struggling to get here, fighting to get seen to.  I was afraid of what he’d say, what he’d find; so afraid that I almost refused entirely.  I wanted to, I really did.  I caught myself holding my arm against my chest, looking at him, ready to tell him no.

I knew I was being stupid, though.  So I took a deep breath and I let him.  It’s been days since it was unwrapped; the bruising is much less vivid than it was the last time I saw it.  My forearm doesn’t look like a graffiti artist vomited on it any more, though it’s still weirdly yellow and green in places.  It still hurts like hell, especially when he poked it.  No X-ray machines, he said, so he had to do it the hard way.  ‘Painful way’ is what he meant.

He rubbed his fingertips over a spot in the middle of my forearm and I couldn’t breathe.  It hurt so much I was seeing spots and I thought my heart had stopped entirely.  “There it is,” he said, and did it again.  I pulled out of his hands then; that was all the motion I could force my body into.  I thought I was going to pass out.  The only reason I didn’t fall down was that I was already sitting.

He was talking – babbling again – but I couldn’t hear the words.  Blood rushed in my ears; all I could hear was my heartbeat and the fire in my arm.  I couldn’t even see him.

Was he that rough with the others?  To the boys with their burns?  I can’t imagine what they must have felt.  Why the hell did we let a high doctor look at us?  Why did we trust him – because of his stained white coat?

He tried to wrap my arm up again and I wouldn’t let him.  Don’t touch me, get away from me.  I might have been more forgiving if he hadn’t poked it twice, on purpose.  It still aches now, hours later, where he prodded and rubbed on the bone.

He backed off.  It took a few minutes and several deep breaths for the blinding pain to subside, and by then Thorpe was telling him that it was about time he got the hell out and back to his stinking den upstairs.

I still had questions; I didn’t want the doctor to go.  But Thorpe was escorting him out of the room and I couldn’t fight both of them.  I just sat where I was and watched them, with a creeping, numbing feeling sneaking out from my stomach.  Like everything was wrong.


Dillon came up to me a little while after that and sat down next to me.  He had been out to check the supply rooms again, and he’d brought something back for me.  He didn’t say anything, he just gave it to me: a proper forearm brace, with velcro straps.

I hadn’t wrapped my arm up after the doctor looked at it; I didn’t want anything to touch it.  And he’d gone and got me what I needed for it.  On his own, without being asked.  When I looked at him, he seemed nervous and shrugged at me, answering a question I hadn’t asked.

Dillon told me that the doctor had said my arm had definitely been cracked, but it was knitting and just needed support.  That’s why he went out and got the brace.

I put it on – it feels so much better with it on – and then gave him a hug with my good arm.  He didn’t know what to do with that, and it was a bit awkward, but I didn’t know what else to do.

I’m not good with kids.  They’re like little aliens with desires and expectations that I can’t quite get hold of. I thought teenaged boys were supposed to be brats; Dillon hasn’t been like that once.  He’s trying so hard with me.  His gift was so thoughtful that I burst into tears all over him in the middle of the hug, and he patted my back until I was done. 

I never thought I’d say this about a kid, but I’m glad he’s here. 

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Saturday, 17 January 2009 - 4:19 pm

Dead rats and flaming birds

It feels like we’re in limbo now.  A grey-walled, dim-lit limbo with chocolate and caffeinated beverages we’re sucking down at a great rate.

The injured are being tended, and Nugget seems to be losing that awful pallor.  The food might be the reason for that.  The little one is so thin that she seems to be made of bone and air.

The doctor’s visit seems to have achieved nothing.  He didn’t do anything we hadn’t already been doing, and all he told us was what we already knew, or had been hoping was true.

He allayed fears, I suppose. I won’t worry about my arm so much any more; I can feel the lack of that crawling, nibbling rat in my abdomen.  The rat has lots of friends still there, but that one is gone.  It’ll heal in a few weeks.  It’ll be okay.

So maybe he was of some use after all.


Thorpe asked me why I didn’t get the doctor to look at my back, and I just stared at him.  I had no idea what he was talking about at first.  When I realised that I still had the scraps of a dressing taped on it, I laughed.

I think it’s the first time in a long time that I was honestly amused.  Really laughing, without any hysteria or the threat of tears.  Of course, Thorpe didn’t take it well; his face closed down like a trap even as I tried to explain.  It didn’t help that I saw that Ben was watching us and smiling; he knew why it was funny.  He asked me about it once, forever ago.

I had forgotten about the tattoo again.  So much has happened that I hadn’t even felt it being taut, or painful, though sometimes it itched.  Now it’s healed and doesn’t bother me at all.

Thorpe didn’t find it funny.  I think he thought I was laughing at him.  He stormed off and I felt a little bit guilty.  Sometimes he’s so touchy.

I asked Ben to take the dressing off for me.  It was so good to feel the air on my skin.  It’s funny that sometimes you don’t realise how much you’ve missed something until you get it back again.  He said that it looks good, that the design hasn’t been damaged despite all the abuse of the past few weeks.

It’s something.  It’s something that this whole mess hasn’t ruined.  I can’t see it without a mirror, of course, but I know it’s there.  Maybe I’ll go find a bathroom and take a look, see this fire bird rising for myself.

For some reason, I feel lighter.