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    • Izzy_Indigo
      By Izzy_Indigo in In The Midnight Lands
         3
      CHAPTER 4.

      WE ARRIVED at Ginny's house. Mum helped her change into her nightie and we propped her up as comfortable as we could on the cream-and-rose patterned couch in her lounge.
      These were the days of the terrible milestones we didn’t see; it would be the last time Ginny would choose her clothes. We started to rally the family. Dad got a call and would drive up the next day. Hannah phoned and said she was on a flight the following morning. And in the twilight I placed the final two calls to my sisters in London. Just starting their Monday mornings, Amber and Claire were appalled. What they really wanted to know couldn’t be answered.
      How long does she have? What can we do? Should we come home now or wait until Christmas?
      In the end I could only tell them what I thought, "You need to come home now, right now. You can't take the risk."
      After the calls: exhaustion. Mum and Ginny quiet, watching TV. There was nothing more to do, nothing more to say, so I drove to my apartment.
      By the feeble light of the hallway I unlocked my front door, entered and tossed my keys on the kitchen counter. I picked up a spliff. Dark. Flare and crackle. Deep breath out. I moved to the sliding doors of my lounge, opened them and went through to my balcony's edge and looked down on the shadows of Auckland's old train station, on the oblongs of orange pulsing along Tamaki Drive and the all-night-lights of the port in the distance, and listened to a city settle in its bones.
      The news started to spread. My friend, John, blundered into its epicentre. He called. “Hey chump,” he said.
      “Hey.”
      “We’re going for a beer in Ponsonby tonight, wanna come?”
      “I, I don’t think I can . . .” there was a crack in my voice, raw emotion. It was a fissure, a chasm. It was a glacier and it was calving. I wanted to, needed to share. My friends would know what to do. My friends would know what to say. John would know what to say. I tried, “My sister, she’s sick. We just found out - "
      But there was panic in John’s voice. On a Monday night this was not what he’d expected. Was a punch, a kick, beyond all known parameters. This was him walking in on me picking my nose, on me masturbating. He could hear where this was going, I was one step away from crying, weeping down the phone to him. Desperately he cut me off. “Buddy, I’ve got another call.”
      I was a pariah, outcast, unclean.
      I was fucking Milli Vanilli.
      “It’s really bad, I don’t think she’s - "
      “I’ve gotta take this, I’ve gotta go.”
      John had gone.
      He did not know how to deal.
      Neither did I.
      * * * *
      This blog is a story. Each post picks up from the last.
      If you are new, start at the bottom with post 1 and then work your way up. 

      * * * *
      Enjoying what you're reading? Please take the time to follow the blog, like and comment.
      Your support means a lot.
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    • Izzy_Indigo
      By Izzy_Indigo in In The Midnight Lands
         0
      AND HERE for the first time the Trance Zone.
      A gasper, I tell you. Awe inspiring. Like reaching Mount Aoraki's summit, the unhindered horizon, its sheer scale terrific. Set into a natural amphitheatre the size of a football field, it was collared on three sides by the same set of slick, tangled trees that towered.
      Inside, creating a ring, I counted ten sideways blue funnels - each at least twenty feet high, half again as deep - and each filled to overflowing with enough speakers to be worthy of their own sound systems.
      Ten of these.
      Deep at the back was a raised DJ platform, a blue headstone arch flanked on either side by wall-sized screens, and in the zone itself, clusters of green and blue columns, some taller than the funnels, topped by closed multi-coloured flowers or stacked pink planets.
      And all above a gleaming green field that looked in severe need of several thousand people jumping up and down on it.
      It was beyond all expectation, and in happy admiration we stood on its edge awhile, boisterously discussing which DJs we championed and where the best speaker crossover points were - those sound oases of the dance floor - and generally just soaking in the atmosphere,
      until, just as we were about to leave, had just started to turn away, were wet and dripping and intent on hot beverages - coffee? Yeah, yeah, coffee - we were stopped still and silent by a sudden sonic boom that came crashing out of the zone, boiling and thrashing, flailing towards us, cacophonous arms, huge, a tsunami of sound, a thunderclap collapsing.
      It roared around us, vibrated through us, shook us up for a good half minute or so.
      It was an impossiblity.
      A dragon. A giant.
      "What . . . the hell . . . was that?" I cried as the sound faded away, running down and away like an expiring earthquake. 
      "That, my boy," answered Darius with a grin, "is what they call a sound check for the Trance Zone."
      I heard someone mutter, "Fuck me."
      It was probably me.
      * * * *
      This blog is a story. Each post picks up from the last.
      If you are new, start at the bottom with post 1 and then work your way up. 

      * * * *
      Enjoying what you're reading? Please take the time to follow the blog, like and comment.
      Your support means a lot.
      Also, sharing is caring. 

      * * * *
    • Izzy_Indigo
      By Izzy_Indigo in In The Midnight Lands
         0
      BY MID-MORNING we were sick of huddling at camp.
      Everyone was up, Dan had unfolded from the front seat of Darius's station wagon, and we could feel the lure of the Trance Zone, out there, in the rain, its detonation only two hours away. So we made our peace with the weather - said to ourselves, what's a little bit of water after all? - got ourselves organised and ventured forth.
      Almost immediately we gravitated to a camp a few sites down where true house-bus-owning hippies had parked up. Fifteen of them were out in the rain drumming up a storm. We knelt down to watch.
      At the front was a little boy with corkscrewing blond locks, huge smile splitting his face, banging bongos for all he was worth; at the back an elderly lady, sun beaten and leathery, eyes closed and ecstatic, drumming a doumbek also with wild abandon; others of both sexes and all ages running the gamut in-between.
      Water danced on the surface of their drums, flew from their flying hair; their frenetic multi-timbre beat intercut by woodstocks, tambourines, bells; their accompanying shouts emphasising their rhythm.
      I had never seen a hippy drum circle before but whatever my prejudices - although who was a man wearing silver nail polish to judge? - they quickly melted away. Everything about it appealed to me: the aliveness and joyfulness, the playfulness, the pure-centred presentness.
      In the crisp cold air something ancestral and organic stalked, some deep tribal consciousness unerased, and in the grey it called to the faithful, collected them, stitched them together so that by the time we left scores had congregated, knelt, pulsed with appreciation.
      "Fark that was cool," I said to Joseph as we moved away.
      "Fucken A,” he replied, his eyes bright. “You know if only you had enough hair for dreadlocks, Izz, you'd make a good hippy." He ne-ne-ne'ed in the murk.
      We pushed on, made for the slippery clay track that would take us through the trees and across the ridgeline and down into where the dance zones, market stalls and hundreds of portaloos lived.
      Large pools of gray-green water, cold and reeking of loam, now had to be dodged, and when we reached the track, full of the soft sad chatter of rain on leaves, we used mincing steps to keep our tricky feet. A few wobbles and frantic arm waving caused much mirth, but nobody went for a proper skate.
      Safely negotiated, we emerged on the other side of the ridge and into the wide-open spaces of the dance fields . . .
      * * * *
      This blog is a story. Each post picks up from the last.
      If you are new, start at the bottom with post 1 and then work your way up. 

      * * * *
      Enjoying what you're reading? Please take the time to follow the blog, like and comment.
      Your support means a lot.
      Also, sharing is caring. 

      * * * *
       
    • Izzy_Indigo
      By Izzy_Indigo in In The Midnight Lands
         2
      I AWOKE to a pattering.
      Groggy from a pot over I yawned and stretched, touched dim, damp canvas. Telltale droplets beaded its surface. I blinked, worked the cotton in my mouth.
      Tent . . .
      Camping . . .
      The Gathering . . .
      Then a flash of leaping connection - New Year's Eve! It all starts today! I sat bolt upright, rushed to unzip from my sleeping bag. It was cold. I pulled on an extra T-Shirt and jersey. Sam muttered in the corner and slept on. No matter, he would know soon enough. I crawled over him to exit.
      Outside was a shock. Dislocating, depressingly bleak for the middle of summer. A flock of inky Merino crowded the sky, pressing low over the oily trees. A foggy haze obscured much, and a cold, steady rain fell, dead straight, hitting the ground in a rat-a-tat-tat of squishy splats. There was no wind, a small blessing, for vapour trails curled with my every exhalation.
      It was all very strange.
      I'd been primed on Gathering stories of magnificent sunshine, of bevies of brown beauties stomping through thick clouds of dust, of heat and bright and skin and a salty, sea-sidey vibe. But today . . . well today felt like a day you should be curled up inside with your favourite book.
      Muttering a prayer to the festival fates I ducked in under the tarpaulin we'd strung between cars, obstensibly to shield us from the sun. Joseph, dressed warm in a Swanndri, was already up and about.
      "KEYoraa. I'm making coffee. You want one?" "Yeah bro, cheers."
      Rubbing the sleep from my eyes I went to stand beside him. He turned from the cook top, handed me one of two cups. We shuffled to the edge of the blue plastic, the edge of the wet and the gloom, and sipped in silence.
      "Maybe it will all blow over?" I offered.
      "Maybe. But Allan said he's tramped around these parts. When the weather’s like this, he reckons it'll hang around a while. A couple of days he reckoned."
       I looked at Joe.
      "Fark."
      "Could be worse,” Joseph said cheerfully. “You could have brought a hammock like Dan.”
      We laughed and wondered where Dan had gone.
      * * * *
      This blog is a story. Each post picks up from the last.
      If you are new, start at the bottom with post 1 and then work your way up. 

      * * * *
      Enjoying what you're reading? Please take the time to follow the blog, like and comment.
      Your support means a lot.
      Also, sharing is caring. 

      * * * *
       
    • Izzy_Indigo
      By Izzy_Indigo in In The Midnight Lands
         3
      TIME DASHED, a swift and terrible spring.
      Ginny had not responded to the antibiotics and gone back into hospital. Mum flew up from Palmerston to fuss and dispense daily updates. And the first inklings this was something more serious grew like a graveyard fog.
      But none of us were prepared, though, for the day - D day - the day of diagnosis. The day the young doctor entered Ginny's room and told us the melanoma was back, had metastasised, was far advanced. He had no treatment plans to offer.
      Before leaving the room, eyes downcast, shamed in the face of Mum and Ginny's shock, he said they should contact the Hospice. Then he was gone.
      The Hospice, the fucking Hospice - palliative care, a halfway house of the dying.
      In a quavering voice Mum recounted all this. It was later and we drove back to the hospital. We would collect Ginny, she did not want to stay there. She wanted to come home. The doctors said okay.
      Dying. . . I couldn’t wrap my head around the idea. Like a sunk cinder-block it settled fat and heavy at the bottom of my brainpan. It displaced all my cerebrospinal fluid. It forced, distended, distorted.
      Such a minor, minor thing the year before, the year the mole was carved from Ginny's leg. The ‘shark bite’ she'd christened it. Cancerous, sure, but small, tiny even, and the surgeon said he'd gotten it all and things had soon gone on as normal.
      But he hadn’t. He fucking hadn't, and here we were, now, on a shapeless Monday morn, with Ginny, thirty-five, who never went out in the sun, was the only one in the family never to have smoked, dying of skin cancer. The idea pressed down, crushed down, it snapped through my atlas and axis verterbrae, it was heading for my lungs, it was heading for heart.
      My sister Hannah in Sydney got a call as we drove. She was not ready for the conversation, who could be? I wish now I’d been able to break the news better, that my intentions had been more pure. That some stunted, horrid part of me hadn’t thrilled at the drama of it all, the sheer scale of disclosure.
      This withered to nothing before the terror in Hannah's voice. "What do you mean cancer?" I had to pass the phone to Mum. Mum soon began to cry. I sucked down cigarettes for all I was worth.
      Finally Mum passed the phone back. "Hannah, you have to get here as soon as you can. I mean like today or tomorrow.”
      Tears in her voice, Hannah promised she would. We agreed to talk later and I ended the call - with Hannah crying. I hated to leave her like that: upset, alone, at work. But what could I do? 
      Nothing. There was nothing any of us could do.
       
       
      AT THE hospital Ginny was putting on a brave face - we must stay calm, we must make light - but could no longer hide the battle her silent, savage fight. Like an acid splash it was etched all over.
      She'd dropped ten kilograms - a great start to her weight loss we'd joked only the day before - her skin turned to translucent white. Her movements were slow, her respiration heavy, and her eyes, from their dark hollows, guttered like candles in a cave.
      Yet even then I did not understand, had not brought her oxygen tank for the trip home. It was only a short drive you see. Mum was upset. Ginny forgave.
      But it was difficult for her.
      She had to sit with the window down, head partially out, quietly gasping. I studied her - her profile out of the corner of my eye - with the empty traffic and its empty people pursuing their empty workaday lives - as the rasp of her breath chewed a hole through my mind - and I could no longer pretend.
      Dying.
      * * * *
      This blog is a story. Each post picks up from the last.
      If you are new, start at the bottom with post 1 and then work your way up. 

      * * * *
      Enjoying what you're reading? Please take the time to follow the blog, like and comment.
      Your support means a lot.
      Also, sharing is caring. 

      * * * *
       
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