A Change of Heart: Part 2 | Ian Harrison

 


A Change of Heart – Part 2

Ian Harrison

WOLVES Award Part 2


Wednesday, January 1, 2003.

Left boob hurts, but not a heart attack. What did Drunk Kelly do last night, diary?
Ah-ha. She got herself tattooed. A she-wolf. Over my heart, protecting me. Other side of the bed is cold. Phew, Drunk Kelly! Only one questionable life decision.

~

Tuesday, July 4, 1995.

Today we celebrate our independence day. I got the job! Sarah’s teaching pre-school with her BA. I could have it far worse.

Just came straight out and told Jenny and Pete… after Pete popped the bubbly and were each well into our second glass, that is. Don’t judge me, diary. I know too much alcohol scrubs me off the transplant list.

I’m taking Therese’s spare room. I’ve leeched long enough and this job’s perfect. Pay’s rubbish, most will go straight to rent and medicine, but realistically : what future am I saving for, anyway?

Monday week, I’m a medical courier. Red esky full of ice, packed around corneas, kidneys, bags of blood. I won’t look inside, and don’t want to. Therese called me a reverse vampire.
We know better. I’d get my spirit wolf tattooed if it wasn’t such a blokey thing to do.
Method to my madness : if I deliver a healthy heart and there’s no match available, give me the gas and crack me open. Awooooooo!

~

Thursday, October 12, 1989.

Decision time’s tomorrow. Year 7 electives worked out, right?

They treat me like a normal teenager, which sucks when I want attention, and then barge in when my door’s closed and I’m deep in thought. Therese and Sarah are studying bludge subjects like modern history, and Rachel’s going sciences and three-unit maths. What would a she-wolf do?

Go hunting, then nurture her cubs. Bludge it is!

For what it’s worth, I promised Pete I’d study to get into uni… if I make it that far. Cross my cardiomyopathic heart, ha ha!

~

Friday, December 6, 2002.

Weird… nominated for “Employee of the Year”. I’m hardly ever in the office (probably why they like me), but Aaron’s boss Keith comes by maybe once every three months normally. Twice today : “Prepare a speech for the Christmas Party, Kelly”. Neither of them would nominate me.

Maybe I say public speaking gets my heart racing above acceptable parameters.

I wanted a job where the only pressure was atmospheric. Sure, sometimes doctors yell when I don’t have heart and lungs when they’re doing two as one or it’s a liver or whatever in my esky, but that’s not every day. I haven’t cried at work in months.

Anyone with a licence and a brain can cover me. Some non-emergencies even put a brain in the esky, so there you go. I schedule afternoon appointments so I can work the morning, do a drop-off, and be at the hospital. Fasted, ready. You’d think being in the business would make my immediate bosses a little more understanding.

Diary, you’d be wrong.

~

Thursday, February 1, 1990.

Top of the list!

Hard to explain why that’s simultaneously good and bad news, so here goes:

Pro – I’m healthy enough for surgery. Good markers. My type’s not too exotic to find a match for.

Con – I’m the person of greatest need. Closest to death but not yet past the point of no return.

We spent the afternoon at Saint Vincent’s talking to Doctor Victor Chang and his team. I asked if it’s normal to feel like I’m riding a rollercoaster, unsure if I wanted to scream or throw up, or both, and he smiled and said “yes”. I held Mum’s hand and didn’t let go – we’re riding it together, hearts in sync.

Excited and scared, scared and excited. Awooooooo!

Diary, just between you and me… Scared’s winning.

~

Saturday, December 10, 2002.

If Aaron wants my inner wildling, oh, yes. He’ll get her. Both barrels. How do our company change lives? I’m the poster girl for ‘before’.

I’m not ungrateful. But there’s more to it than that. Thanks for being my agony aunt as always, diary. It’s easiest to pick through thoughts once they’re written down. I’m sick of burdening Pete, Jenny and my friends. That groan starts whenever I answer ‘how are you?’ honestly. It’s hard to keep plastering on that smile.

1. I’m not courageous. Courage is a choice. A disease is an affliction. Suffer or die… Suffer then die. That’s not courage. That’s life… and pretty much the main tenet of Buddhism.

2. I am a mercenary; a wolf. I’m Snow White’s evil stepmother with a heart in my esky. I breathe easier, knowing there’s one more checked off the list. In the original, proper version of the Three Little Pigs, they don’t escape their lazy construction choices and run to safety. The wolf blows the house down and eats the pig. Hakuna Matata. You’re lunch, Pumbaa. Circle of life.

3. Every time someone on the list gets a fresh heart or dies, I shuffle closer to the top. It expands and contracts and people leapfrog one another, but I need to be front-page.

4. My heart won’t heal itself. It’ll only deteriorate.

5. I don’t want the hearts to match anyone. There’s your selflessness, right there. It’s been my turn next, and then… nothing. Let’s not even mention the Indonesia debacle. I’m still paying that off.

6. I haven’t found any blood relations… yet. That’s slow going, too.
The hell with justifying myself. In a dog-eat-dog world, I am a wolf. The ends absolutely justify the means.

~

Wednesday, August 2, 2000.

Olympics start in six weeks. I’ll be in Bali with strangers subletting my unit. My ship departs Darwin the day the flame’s lit. Cruising’s more expensive and getting to Darwin via train’s going to be slow going… but, you know, dodgy ticker. Airlines won’t take me.

I still haven’t told Jenny and Pete – don’t judge me, diary. My medical bills already scrambled their retirement nest-egg, and Pete’s taken a second job at the local hardware shop in his sixties to try making it up. I can never repay them – it’s selfish to keep on taking.

Even though the key to my ongoing existence is waiting for someone young, strong and healthy to accidentally die. Actually die, and be physically near enough to me (and match my type) so surgeons can stick their still-beating heart into my chest.

Morbid. Selfish, Kelly.

An American couple whose son’s swimming at the Olympics funded the cruise and I’ve saved enough for the medical expenses. Three weeks’ recuperation afterward at a women’s-only resort, where the most strenuous activity will be choosing which swim-up bar to visit first, and the only lifting will be picking up the phone to order room service.

Can’t wait!

~

Monday, May 4, 1998.

Aaron’s suspicious. Why does my voice always waver when I call in a last-minute emergency? On-high decreed I’m allowed to have whatever time I need. Otherwise HR get involved, and for what? I never have any paid sick leave left anyway.

Screw him. Happy birthday to me.

~

Saturday, November 25, 2000.

I’m cursed, diary, I swear it. My “nice American couple” turned out to be a college fraternity. I got evicted, lost my bond – and invoiced – for damage repairs. I’ll find the money from somewhere.

No-one had a clue about me in Bali. The hospital’s address looked legit enough on the map, but it turned out to be a slum in suburbia, where no-one spoke English. Grrrrrrrrrr.

I’ve thrown myself to the wolves.

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