Back and forth. Back and forth. Nothing beats rocking. Back and forth. Back and forth. I can do this for hours. Back and forth. Back and forth. My little bum glued to the chair. Back and forth. Back and forth. My big people know to leave me alone. Back and forth. Back and forth. They can talk but I won’t answer. Back and forth. Back and forth. They enjoy the peace. Back and forth. Back and forth. Because sometimes… White hot anger. Bang. Blind rage. Bang. It’s so not fair! Bang. Why do they treat me like this? Bang. Don’t they know I’m the same as them? Bang. Only shorter. Bang. My head hits the wall. Bang. The floor. Bang. There’s no pain. Bang. Just exploding frustration. Bang.
I’m running along Bondi Beach on a crowded summer Sunday. It’s over a decade before I’ll call this suburb home. This is a tourist stop for my visiting father, who’s freckled body is laying on a towel next to my girlfriend. My freckled body is enjoying a rare run, weaving around beach goers. I see two boys, brothers, using a stick to poke what looks like a blue bit of rubber about to get washed out to sea. Thinking they might be about to lose a pair of googles, I decide to help them out. I stop, bend down, pick up the blue thing, and hold it out towards them in my palm. They stare at me with a look I’ve never seen – aghast, bewildered and flummoxed, their small jaws hanging. My hand starts to tingle. I look down at the blue bit of rubber, which of course is not a blue bit of rubber. It’s a bluebottle – the local jelly fish whose tentacles unleash an especially nasty sting. Instinctively, I turn my hand over. Most of the blue bugger drops to the ground. But the rest sticks to my hand, which has graduated from a tingle to a throb. I thrust my palm into a wet patch of sand and rub. I rinse it off in a puddle. No more sticky blue bits. Still shocked by what they’re seeing, the oldest brother manages a question: “Does it hurt?” As nonchalantly as I can manage, I reply: “No”. I then calmly continue my jog, aware that the two stunned beach boys are watching the weirdo run off. What they don’t see is my face contorted in pain. My hand is on fire.