Updated: Oct 29, 2019
Five hundred grams of tiny toes and fingers, his chest rising every few seconds, validating the fleeting blossom of his arrival. Three months early.
Fragile. Eyes compressed, fingers curled, body arched into a tight ball. Tubes, incubator, nurses, needles.
Worried parents sit by the bed, waiting, watching – each new movement etched into their raised concerns for his well-being. Modern medicine, how modern is it? What kind of ‘modern’ do we need, they ask each other through tired, weary eyes? First baby, new parents, navigating. Life uprooted. No sleep. ‘Trust. Trust the doctors. They know what they are doing.’
He yawns and stretches. A big stretch, unfurling long limbs and thin, extra-long fingers. One eye, puffy and fighting, its own urge to stay shut. It bats, blinks. Dark eyelashes unfold and he cautiously gives permission for the left eye to follow.
Parents hold hands, looking between their miracle and each other. The screaming is intense. A welcome sound to his anxious parents, keenly searching for permission on what to do next.
The blooms of Doryanthes excelsa (Gymea or gigantic lily) only flower after an extremely hot fire. Its seeds, like those of many other Australian native plants, are contained in a woody brown capsule, and when burnt, burst open.
The Royal National Park at Bundeena had not had a ‘hot’ fire for ten years, so when a fire went through that bushland, up sprang the beautiful Doryanthes with its huge flowers on their 2 to 4 metre stems, bringing hundreds of honeyeaters to the site.
The birds only enjoy that nectar once in about every ten years. Doryanthes excelsa only flowers fleetingly between burns, but what an amazing red flowerhead on top of a long stalk it is!
Open only for a second …
Tony sits staring at his bedroom wall, watching the curtains dance in the wind, feeling pretty content.
He carefully folds his dress, smoothing out the remaining wrinkles.
Pantyhose tucked into a tight ball, his fingers move over the fabric one last time, a keepsake until the next visit.
Soon he stands and walks to the corner of his room to peel back a cut-out piece of carpet revealing wooden planks. Slowly, he works the panels side-to-side until one lifts. Deliberately, he takes out a small box, placing his other identity into its cardboard coffin, lowering this other self down into its dark hiding place.
His heart is beating, excitement and shame mingled. He feels too scared to be open, yet content with his own little secret.
His shaky hands pad the carpet back into place. Now still, they close the window and curtains.
One last look into his mirror and he leaves – using the other identity, the one the world gets to see.
Photo credits: Jake Peterson; Wiki Commons; C V Williams.