Written by Amanda Hoyne

The most distinct thing was the dust. It appeared to seep into my skin; my eyes became crumbled, like slits wanting to breathe. It was an old miner’s cottage, and. the back entrance used by most visitors, was shaded by an ancient peppercorn tree. We entered via the kitchen. Nothing to write home about, obviously attached in a slap hazard manner, but it was a kitchen – an old combustion stove, a small stainless steel sink with one cold water tap. Through the kitchen you entered the lounge room, which in contrast, was immensely inviting, an open fire burning, encasing the room with warm, calming light. Shadows bounced off the Baltic pine walls and high ceilings. It was dusty, but the enticing fire drew away its breath. I saw snakes dancing amongst the flames, an old man fishing, and a dog with its mouth open.

It was in the bedroom that problems began. I, a sterile city person, had always thought it was an irony, that amidst the fresh country air, I became suffocated. The bedroom of average size had one slash window with a tattered blind. The old fashioned sort, its lace edging torn, and hanging lifeless. An old chair rested near the window, and was barely visible amongst its cargo of magazines. One got the feeling the room had been abandoned, and was in great need of nurturing. As with the lounge room, the ceiling was high, with intricate cobwebs spiralling down, and across the walls. Unusually, the source of light came from a globe leaning out from one of the walls. It too, was full of dust. To the right of the window was an old-fashioned, queen size bed. Its bed head was made of mahogany, and apart from slight ornamental detail, relatively plain. The bed’s base was wire, and the mattress, though terrible for backs, felt fantastic. I snuggled in, with myself and my partner sinking towards the middle of the bed, stuck to each other like glue. Somehow, we separated.

I’m unsure as to how it all began. I awoke around four o’clock, traditional lung time, and felt unwell. Nothing specific, but instead an odd sort of feeling.Thinking a glass of water may help, I quietly eased my body away from my partner’s heavy arm. Attempting to swing my legs over the bed, I began to feel unsteady, immediately assuming I’d moved too quickly, and that my blood pressure had dropped. Suddenly, I felt my head spinning, and my stomach rising. It was like being on the Big Dipper at Luna Park. What began as feeling slightly sickly, now magnified into panic. I couldn’t breathe, uncertain as to whether I could even stand. It didn’t occur to me to wake my partner, though this may sound strange, it’s not unusual. I knew a woman who lied next to her husband for four hours, all the while having a heart attack. She never woke him; there was no energy to do so. Stifling the pain was an effort itself, leaving no room for, “Oh! Dear, I feel sick.

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