Thursday, May 26, 2005


I was at the Mater Misericordiae Hospital in Crows Nest, waiting for a guy to collect his X Rays before taking him on to Royal North Shore Hospital in St. Leonards, when a radio job came through at the adjoining Royal North Shore Private Hospital. A Greek couple, going to Killara. By the time I got there, they'd gone. A woman eating an enormous sandwich came over. Was I her cab? She was going to Narrabeen. I said no, then, not very long after, yes. She apologised for eating in the car, saying it was two days since she had. Fasting all the previous day, in hospital all today, giving blood tests, waiting for her Op, which was cancelled at the last minute ... just ten minutes after her husband, who'd waited with her all day, had gone home. The surgeon had rung from the operating theatre where he was cutting out someone's cancer to say his present job was going to take another couple of hours and it would be better if she just went home. She was quite upset, she said, then apologised. It was to be her fourth Op in two years, she'd really had to psych herself up for it, now it was cancelled, she didn't know when it would be re-scehduled for, she'd used up all her sick pay ... I'm sorry, she said. I shouldn't be telling you all this. I'm sorry. She never said what was wrong with her, only that it meant she and her husband would never be able to have children. She was fearful of just about everything, yet oddly resigned as well. Those parts of Mona Vale Road where it narrows to two lanes and passes through dark eucalypt forest on either side made her particularly afraid. Well, she explained, I'm not really worried, it's just that these days I expect anything can happen. Anything bad, she meant. I took extra care on those bits. We were coming round a bend in the dark carriage way when I saw a sandstone dome floating against the night sky. As if disembodied there. A blue light shone from the apex of the cupola. Then it was gone again. We came round another corner and there, shining straight down along the road, was a huge yellow moon, slightly gibbous, a day or maybe two after full. You could see all its craters and seas. Oh, the moon! I said. She did not reply. She was holding herself against the dark places on the road. The dome reappeared on the left, much larger, enormous, as if a piece of London had come down here. It was the Bahai Temple I have seen many times from the train on the Central Coast line, from where it always looks white like a mosque. I wanted to pull in and stop the car, get out, with my fare, and ... I don't know, not pray, just seek a little calm I guess. Some grace. We hurried on, down the hill to Narrabeen and through a maze of brand new streets, brand new identical brick houses, until we got to where she lived. The house was dark. Her husband was out. She had no key. She had no money or cards either - you can't take anything to hospital, she apologised. I saw her bent over the flower pot by the front door, a grotesque shadow. She was only stroking her cat. She crossed the road to a neighbour's house, the neighbour came out with a credit card and paid for her. The cat almost got under the wheels of the car as I pulled away, driving on into the yellow of the moon that was smaller already, whiter, casting a bony light down over the black glinting sea.