Saturday, February 25, 2006


The phone rang five times before it was answered by a woman’s voice – a no nonsense voice.

“City Surgery, Jan speaking”.

“Hi, ah, this is Matthew Dalton. I had some tests done the other week and I was just wondering if the –“

“One moment”

Several long moments later. “Mr Dalton?”

I detect a change in the voice - a note of suspicion?

“We need you to come down to the surgery.”

“Was there something wrong with my tests?”

“You can discuss that with Doctor Nivan when you come in. How is Thursday at 1:15pm?”

It’s pretty inconvenient – but I’m assuming this is the soonest I can get in. I say I’ll be there and hang up.

At 1.20pm on Thursday I’m waiting to see my doctor. The knitting pattern I’ve been reading has a picture of an attractive woman wearing the most awful sweater.

Dr Nivan shows up at this point and asks me to follow him. He closes the door to his office and asks me to have a seat by his desk. He sits, taps a few keys on his computer and then looks at me over the top of glasses he’s not wearing.

“Matthew, I have your test results.”

“Right.” That is why I’m here after all.

“You remember we tested your iron levels.”

“Yes, was there a problem?”

“No – your iron levels are just fine, bang on the median for someone your age.”

“Right – that’s, ah, good.”

“Yes – there is a problem though. I ran another test while you were here and we got some disturbing results back.”

“What sort of tests?”, I say, feeling a bit worried.

“Well, when you came in to see me you said you were feeling as if you were removed from things around you in some way.”

“Am I dying?” I blurt this out in a rather idiotic fashion - the suspense is making me feel anxious.

“No - not exactly. We have a new piece of equipment that allows us to take a picture of you 1 trillionth of a second in to the future and one trillionth of a second in to the past. The results suggest that you don’t actually exist.”

“Arrrm, doesn’t that sort of apply to everyone?” I don’t want to tell the doctor his job but this seems a little odd to me.

“You would think so wouldn’t you?”, the doctor chuckles. “Let me show you something on my computer here”. He tilts his computer screen around so I can get a clearer view.

“Here are some photos of a normal person.” I dislike the use of the word ‘normal’ but nod my head to indicate I’m with him so far.

“This first photo is shot one trillionth of a second in to the future.”

The photo looks over-exposed. Everything is light and I can only just make out the form of a person sitting in a chair with an expectant look on his face. The person appears to be my good doctor.

“The next photo is taken one trillionth of a second in the past”, the doctor continues.

The doctor is clearly visible in this picture. In fact, everything is clearly visible; the photo looks like it was taken on a golden afternoon in autumn. The expression on the doctors’ face is one of peaceful calm.

“Okay, so now here are your pictures.”

Suffice it to say – I don’t actually appear in my pictures.

“Normally everyone is travelling along at the same speed”, the doctor explains. “In your case it appears you’ve speed up and, well, you simply don’t exist."

I struggle to keep my voice level as I speak. “But you can see me well enough now. How do you explain that."

“That’s quite simple really we’re seeing a pre-shadow of you from a different time line. Here’s a brochure for you to read, it explains everything."

The Doctor hands me a booklet titled ‘Coping with non-existence'.

“I’ll write you a prescription for some lead weights. Carry these with you at all times – they’ll slow you down and stop you slipping any further out of time."

I walk out of the surgery feeling shell shocked holding my script.

The nurse at the front desk says. “That will be $70 thank-you Mr Dalton."

Apparently you still have to pay the doctor - even if you don’t exist.

Friday, February 10, 2006

In My Time of Dying

The photo was taken that night – the night the young man died. The photo of the crash was taken before the truck came and carried that mangled wreck of steel away. The photo was taken before the glass and plastic were swept up and the oil, the water and blood were hosed down the drain. By morning the whole scene had changed, no one driving past the site knew what had happened there that night.

Inexperience played a part, and speed of course. The music was too loud; he didn’t hear the road noise change as he hit gravel. When he finally realised he was off the road it was too late. He touched the breaks, lost traction and ended up going sideways. Sideways towards a power pole

The power pole was 30 meters away when he saw it through the driver’s side window.

If vehicle ‘A’ is travelling at 27.7 meters per second towards object ‘B’ how long before the two objects meet?

In that second and a bit before his car slammed side on in to the power pole, instantly breaking his neck, most of his ribs and pulverising his right arm, before this happened he thought, “I’m going to hit it.”

The impact destroyed the cars drive train but the engine, the headlights and the loud music kept going. His last thoughts were, “This can’t happen to me, Dad is going to kill me, am I going to die here, will anyone remember me, will I remember me”.

He died in the darkness just as the flashing lights and the photographer arrived.

Sunday, February 05, 2006


I wake from a night of unusual dreams in which a parade of family and friends tell me what I want to hear, and what I fear. It’s nine o’clock. I lie in bed for a while listening to Saturday sounds. Pop music and lawn mowers are mixed with the more distant whoosh of cars taking kids to sporting events.

My prayer beads are almost hidden under a T-shirt, a book on body language and a movie titled ‘Fearless’. The wooden beads rub against each other making a reassuring whizzing sound as I lift them into my lap. Being Saturday I decide to meditate until my crossed legs get too sore. My back relaxes and realigns itself my mind slowly settles and I feel happy.

45 minutes later I lift my numb legs out of bed and while I wait for blood to flow back in to them I indulge a melancholy thought about couples heading to cafes for brunch.

After Yoga, breakfast and with my laundry swaying lazily on the washing line it’s time to think about the day. I rub the palm of my hand across my cheek as I mull over my limited options. Immediately I’m reminded of two things. Firstly, that I had my first swimming injury yesterday – I scrapped a small amount of skin off my hand lifting myself out of the pool. Secondly, I need a shave.

It’s 1:30pm when I finally back my car out of the garage. The sun is shinning brightly overhead and I open the windows to let in some cooler air. Tall gum trees line the sides of the road and the scene makes me smile – I’m in Australia.

There is a fair amount of traffic today; most of it seems to be heading in the same direction as me – the plaza. People wander mindlessly from shop to shop and I’m happy to join them for a while but soon get bored of it. It’s still hot so I decide the pool is a better place to be.

Kids splash each other and invent complicated games. Teenagers lounge on pool toys and find excuses to touch their friends of the opposite sex. I swim somewhat lethargically backwards and forwards stopping after each lap to watch all the goings on.

By the time I’m home and have my laundry back in the basket it’s time for dinner. The juice extractor gets fired up and I raid the fridge for some other bits and pieces.

The dishwasher is still whirring as I lie down on my bed with my notebook computer, a drink and that movie titled ‘Fearless’.

The movie is about a man who survives a plane crash and loses his fear of death in the process. I’m tired as the movie ends and I go to sleep with its last words still in my mind.

I’m alive.