It all started on a sunny day, in June of 2010.
Look at me.
I’m the woman dressed in a red jogging suit walking hurriedly down the road. The jogging suit feels cheap and it’s old. My hair is brushed back into a ponytail and it badly needs colouring.
I look borderline ugly and nobody pays any attention to me.
But I don’t care, I’m in a hurry.
I’m on my way to the local ‘Centra’ shop and all I can think about is how to get back home faster. These days I don’t leave the house anymore unless the empty fridge is on the verge of starvation or I’m running out of cigarettes. And in any case, the sordid affair of buying potatoes and milk is never much fun. Home, in front of my computer, is where I spend most of my time. I have a lot of work to do, and can’t wait to get the potatoes out of my way.
I step sharply up the streets, focused on my goal.
Spring is finally coming to Dublin and the day is picture perfect. The air is fresh, the sky is blue and the sun is shinning.
But then, something happens.
With no previous warning, the beautiful world around me starts changing. I’m not aware of it, but it’s arising with each step I take. I’m coming closer and it’s getting faster, the world is spinning and the trees are gone, the birds are silent and the sky is dark, much darker, so black.
I’m about to open the gates of Hell.
Why can’t I hear a bolt to tear the heavens?
Where is the shuttering earthquake to stop my walking?
The Gods are silent.
No divine tsunami is waving me away from my Destiny and I take the last step.
Outside of me and inside of me everything is normal. For one more second.
Suddenly, I feel the need to go to the toilet.
(Ding-Dong! – the bells cry.
From deep inside my body, Danger).
My belly feels swollen and I’m bursting. This is quickly becoming an emergency.
I look around myself.
A toilet, anyone?
But there’s no escape and I’m annoyed at my bad timing.
‘Darn! Why does this urge always happen when I’m away?’
Cursing at all the wrong organs, I rush through the shop, – ‘get the milk, grab the potatoes, where did they move the bread?’. I go through my groceries list in a blur and race back home pulling my old-woman shopping trolley at perilous speeds.
In front of the door I fumble nervously for the keys and sprint up the stairs, to my room in the attic.
Finally I’m in the bathroom. I’ve made it!
But once there, things don’t go as expected.
A few drops is about all I can manage and there’s this sharp, sudden pain that makes me jump up the toilet.
‘Hmm, that’s not quite right’.
The alarm bells.
But I can hear nothing).
My first thought is that this is a urinary infection. And it annoys me. I’ve had those before and although they’re far from being life threatening and either go away by themselves or are easily treated with a few antibiotics, I’m in no mood to deal with any of it.
‘I’m a busy woman, I have a lot to do, and where on Earth did I get this from? After all, my toilet is sparkling diamonds clean and I never leave the house!’
Five minutes later, I’m back at it again. Rush to the toilet, a few drops, a bit of pain.
Another half an hour and the cycle repeats itself.
By now I’m pulling my hair in desperation. There’s something wrong, this doesn’t quite feel like your average Joe, common urinary infection.
This is different.
I glance at my belly.
‘Lock your doors, Andrea! – the bells cry. ‘And bolt your windows! There’s a dark storm coming your way’
But I can see nothing).
That night I went to bed thinking, ‘damn! This is a really bad time for me to be sick. I have no medical card and no money to pay for a consultation with a doctor’. I’m in trouble and I cling to the idea that this ‘toilet urgency’ is not much else but a common infection. I tell to myself that it will hopefully be gone in the next few days (please God!), and unaware of the danger, I drift away to sleep.
The silent night encircles me.
The room is small.
The bed is single.
In this life I have nothing and no one except myself. My body is the only place that accepts me. Tic-tic-toc, time passes. And I’m about to lose it all.
(Deep inside my belly invading cells are growing stronger).