We stand inside an ice cream parlour, one of those long narrow space saving places with bright walls and huge tubs of ice cream on display. I am at the counter with my daughter who makes her choice. The cone in my hand, a small vanilla, is beginning to drip and I lick at it to stop the cream from spreading over my fingers.
I had bought it for someone else but no one else wants plain old vanilla and so it becomes mine. But if I had bought it for myself in the first place I would have ordered something different. I’m tempted to ask for more but I resist.
The shop begins to fill up and I fear we are taking too much time. The boy who serves at the counter is directing another of my daughters, who has morphed into one of my younger sisters, to choose a small toy, as part of an ice cream selling promotion. My sister/daughter cannot make up her mind.
I see a glass magnetising ball on display. I test it out. It makes everything look bigger. I’m tempted to buy the ball and put it on my dressing table so I can get a better look at my jewellery - to refasten links, to see where there are small stones missing, to check for grime and build up and so on - but I do not want to collect any more junk.
We go to the back of the shop where the boy who was behind the counter is now having a break. His mother sits at a table with friends eating ice cream. The boy hands over the blocks of ice cream I have ordered in buckets, which he then piles into a huge plastic pot.
‘You can keep the pot,’ I say, ‘or else it will wind up on the rubbish heap tomorrow’. His mother at the table agrees with me. She, too, hates the excesses of packaging.
We go out into the street. I have been considering giving away free cupcakes to children at the school, my old school, but I am not sure the teachers will approve. I have collected my car after a service and I pile it inside with stuff I will also donate to the school. There is no room left for my daughter, but I suggest she squeeze in on top of the stuff.
‘It’s only a short distance and I’ll drive carefully,’ I tell her.
I stand at the car door, open just wide enough to let me get inside to check that things won’t roll around when there’s a thump. Something has rushed into me. The something turns out to be a boy on a bicycle. I pick him up in my arms and take him to the nature strip. He is with his older brothers. They get his bike from the road and check it for damage.
All fine. I hope the boy is fine, too. Once he has caught his breath I go to put him down onto the ground but it is clear he cannot put weight on his leg and then I see that the bone has snapped in his calf. It juts out in that awful way I have imagined bones jut out when they have come loose from their moorings.
The boy gasps in pain. I try to hold the bone in place and ask his brothers to call his parents. I walk with the boy in my arms all the way up the hill looking for help.
I cannot do a thing with this boy in my arms but there is so much I need to do. I need to check the whereabouts of my own daughter for one thing. I had left her in the car. I am beginning to think I should take this boy to hospital. The Epworth is around the corner but I do not know whether the boy’s parents have health insurance. I consider paying the bill myself, only I must get this boy help immediately. I wake up and wonder why I had not thought to call a ambulance.