I have a bit of an overactive imagination sometimes. I also tend to feel things very keenly, having the capacity to transition from bubbling contentment to sheer panic in the barest of moments.
Let me take you back a few nights, to a black and growing-ever-colder May 3rd, 2011…
Your curly-haired narrator (surprise! That’s me!) sits at the table, happily reading an email from an overseas friend during the ad-breaks in Masterchef. When Matt Preston booms back onto the screen, I look up and pause my dreaming of Qantas flights and being given babies in New York and licorice gelato in Florence and Fiddler on the Roof musicians in Florida and…. point is, my thoughts are rather joyful ones, and watching Masterchef is generally a pleasant activity. I am happy.
This photo represents how I am feeling:
All of a sudden, my phone beeps. It’s a message from my dad, stating:
Mum would like you to turn on Skype and wait for her to call.
Immediately, a yellow-finned demon starts to claw at my stomach, because I know that my parents also watch Masterchef. If they’re sending me such a no-nonsense text (no smiley face! No “xoxo”s! No greeting!) halfway through the show, demanding that I drop everything and await their call, then something must be wrong.
I turn on Skype. I wait.
My anxiety builds as I think about people in my life who, for various reasons, might have taken ill recently. I also think about car crashes, and anvils dropping from the sky, and the choking hazard of the toys inside Kinder Surprises.
My parents still don’t appear on Skype.
I text them, asking what’s happening, and get no reply.
Suddenly, I realise that although I was chatting with my brother earlier in the afternoon, I have no way of knowing he’s been safe in the meantime. What if the hordes of baby huntsman spiders living in his house have gathered together as an army and have been attacking him for the past three hours, starting with his eyebrows?
Finally, ten minutes after the initial text, my dad calls, stating that the Skype connection isn’t working. He passes the phone to Mum.
“Hello!” She chirps.
“What’s wrong?” I wail, high-pitched, my throat constricting as I speak the words.
“Hmm?” Mum asks, voice still chirpy.
“What’s going on? Are the grandparents okay? And my brother? What’s happened?” My eyes are filling with tears. Right now, I look more like this:
“I… you… Masterchef… I thought you were watching and wouldn’t text unless something terrible happened, and dad’s text seemed so urgent, and I thought something must be wrong…” I trail off, starting to realise that perhaps, maybe, perhaps, I’ve over-reacted to one simple tiny little text just a teensy weensy tiny little maybe bit.
There is a pause.
“I was just calling to tell you I bought an iPad today,” my mother says, bemused.
“Oh,” I sniffle.
“You silly billy!” Mum chirps.
“I know,” I sniffle.
“I’m sorry,” Mum laughs.
“I feel like a fool,” I sniffle.
“Yes,” says mother.
And then I started giggling myself, until I look once again like this:
Just so you know, my self-help book will be coming out in November. Mark your diaries.