Cordelia makes a brief visit to the hospital.
Jack woke and rubbed his eyes. ‘What’s happening?’
‘What are you doing?’ Mitch asked.
‘What do ya think?’ Rick said as he slowed to the 60 km/h speed limit of the town.
Mitch pointed the other way, out of town. ‘Couldn’t we just…’
‘No,’ Rick said.
‘Cordelia’s going to be sick,’ I chimed in.
Rick slammed on the brakes and skidded on the rubble on the side of the road.
‘Not yet,’ Cordelia said in a soft voice. ‘But I need a hospital.’
None of us asked the reason we needed a hospital for Cordelia. Under the light of the newly functioning headlights, I studied the strip map for the district hospital. Not much joy there. The map only showed the strip of road or highway from town A to town B, no diversions. However, we did find a 24-hour service station where Mitch asked the way to the hospital.
Upon arriving, Cordelia insisted on entering the premises on her own while the rest of us waited in the carpark. Making the most of the opportunity not to be cramped up in the car, we sat or paced around the car in the balmy night.
An hour or so later, Cordelia emerged feeling better. No explanation.
And once more we piled in the car and headed for Sydney.
‘If we drive through the night, we’ll reach Sydney by morning,’ Mitch said. ‘Plenty of time for the conference.’
Rick adjusted his grip on the steering wheel and grunted. ‘As long as nothing else happens.’
I squeezed myself against the back passenger door. I had lost my place in the front with Rick to Cordelia. I had been relegated to the back seat with Mitch and Jack.
The gentle rocking of the drive lulled me to sleep.
Lost in Sydney
I yawned and stretched.
‘Hey, watch it!’ Mitch said and pushed my hand away.
‘Sorry.’ I covered my mouth and yawned again.
The Charger crawled along following bumper to bumper traffic. High rise buildings towered over the narrow road and every side street garnered either a black and white “One Way” sign, or red and white “No Entry” sign. A bridge looking like a giant coat hanger peeped through a gap in the buildings.
‘Where are we?’ I asked.
‘Isn’t it obvious?’ Rick said.
‘Oh, Sydney,’ I said. ‘How come we’re not at the conference?’
‘You tell me,’ Rick muttered.
‘We’re having trouble…’ Mitch began.
‘It’s all these one-way streets,’ Rick said. ‘Who ever designed Sydney must’ve had rocks in their head.’
Jack suggested we head for Bondi Beach for a swim as it’s so bleeping hot, reasoning, that if we hadn’t had the car trouble, we’d have had a day to take in the sights and go for a swim.
‘Aren’t we late for the conference?’ I said.
Rick rolled his eyes. ‘Rate we’re going, we’ll never get there.’
‘But, if we go to Bondi,’ Mitch said, ‘perhaps we can find a park and work out where we are and how to get to the conference.’
‘But how do we do that?’ Rick asked. He moved the car at the speed of a tortoise along the road chock-full with near stationary vehicles.
I pointed at a sign which read, “Bondi”. Head east, follow that sign. I’d given up on attending the conference, and believing we’d be stuck in Sydney city traffic forever, resolved to content myself with the promise of the beach sometime in the next week. Not sure how Dad would feel about us not turning up, though. He’d made it his mission to persuade our little tribe to come. And, here we were, lost in the city traffic, wandering in circles around one-way streets.
I imagined Dad pacing the floor of the conference centre, wearing a groove in the carpet, glancing at his watch and peering out the window. ‘Where are those children,’ he’d be saying, ‘they should be here by now.’
‘Where, exactly is the conference?’ I asked. ‘Is it near Bondi?’
‘Have you got rocks in your head?’ Rick said. His face was flushed with beads of perspiration dripping from his temples. ‘Of course it’s not. And at this rate, no matter where it is, we won’t get there. We’re stuck.’
‘Um,’ Jack interrupted Rick’s rant, ‘I think it’s at Randwick Racecourse.’
‘And where’s that?’ I said.
‘Perhaps, if we go to Bondi, find a park, then we can study the map, and work out where to go,’ Mitch said.
‘Or we could lob into a corner shop and ask someone directions,’ I suggested.
The guys ignored my idea, as guys do. All this time Cordelia remained silent, contributing nothing to the discussion. Perhaps to be more popular with the boys as Cordelia certainly was, I considered I should remain silent. But, me, being me, I just could help myself. Being one of the “lads” and voicing my opinion, that is.
We reached Bondi. Early afternoon.
I remember the weather. Warm, cloudy and humid. Specks of rain assaulted the windscreen. Despite the inclement weather by my Adelaide standards, the streets around this beachside suburb were cluttered with more cars, and even more people. It seemed to me that Bondi was crowded with the entire rest of the population of Sydney; the ones who were not still stuck in traffic in the city centre.
As a result, no parks. Nowhere. Not a thin strip anywhere to put the Charger.
Rick sighed and drove through the park-less and crowded Bondi, along some coastal road and then up a road heading east again.
Jack, who had been studying a simple map of Sydney that the RAA strip map provided, pointed at a road on the map. ‘I’m pretty sure if we turn down Anzac Parade and follow it all the way down, we will reach our destination.’
Rick followed Jack’s directions and we arrived at the conference just in time for afternoon tea. And, I might add, a roasting from Dad who could not understand how we could get lost in Sydney.
Mitch, though was philosophical. ‘It could’ve been worse, but I was praying the whole time, and God got us here safe and sound.’
Dad sniffed and tapped his trouser pocket. ‘Hmm, yes, you are right Mitch. Ah, well, praise the Lord.’
© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2023
Journey to The Lost World of the Wends
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