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U3A Writing: Strange Landscape

Jan Kennedy's story concerns a new outlook on the world.

It's a beautiful world. A strange and lonely landscape of white on white. Undulating hills meet billowing clouds that beckon and tempt. She can run, dance, spin around with arms outstretched. No more dragging steps, aching limbs. She is as light as a kite, rising, soaring over the land. Lakes, streams, trees and rocks - all white, light and shining.

In the days since her stroke, she had lain immobile in her bed in the Royal Melbourne, and sometimes patiently, often angrily accepted the kind, patronising, persistent attentions of nurses, doctors, physiotherapists and her family to draw her back from the whiteness of her new world.

"Emily! Can you hear me?" It's that uppity young doctor again. I'm sure he's only twelve years old.

"Of course I can hear you." Crossly. "Do you think I'm deaf?"

"Mum, it's Susan. Can you hear me? Squeeze my hand if you can."

"Oh, alright." She always was bossy. "Silly girl. Why ask questions if you're not going to listen to the answer."

"There's no reaction, Doctor. Why doesn't she respond?" Mutter, mutter, murmur, murmur. They fade away.

"I think she's going." A new voice. Sympathetic and accepting. "We can't do any more. She's given up the fight."

Bright bulbs, blurred faces looking at her with anticipation. “What do they want?"

"Can you see my fingers? How many am I holding up?" Different Doctor.

"Three?" Her voice sounded strange, young again, tentative.

The blurring ceased. Strange faces. Strange people. Turn, look out the window. No white and endless landscape, only a vague familiarity. Surely that's Lake Burley Griffin, Parliament House, the Captain Cook Fountain. How on earth did she get to Canberra?

"Well, the corneal transplant has been an amazing success. Thanks to the generous gift of an anonymous donor, your sight is restored, Jacquie."


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