Everything you could possibly imagine

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  • Published 20240507
  • ISBN: 978-1-922212-95-5
  • Extent: 203pp
  • Paperback, ePub, PDF, Kindle compatible

EIGHT MONTHS INTO my placement I was hoping to move into something more exciting, but I was stuck working shifts on the Personality Ward. It’s not like these people had bad personalities or anything. I mean, they might, but that wasn’t the problem. We just had to keep them under observation for any changes: a growing interest in sport; a turnaround in their views on the role of government in a functioning society; increases or decreases in general levels of kindness, cruelty, patience, curiosity, whimsy, greed. Things along those lines.

Every day I’d drive to the hospital, put on my PPE, scrawl ‘Grace’ on my little Hi, I’m ____________ badge, and go from room to room with a touchscreen device patients would use to complete a private questionnaire. My shifts overlapped with those of Cara, another intern, who joined me in answering the phone, completing administrative duties and greeting any visitors. It could be a baffling experience for friends and family, who usually wouldn’t know what to expect. Cara or I would have to guide them to specific rooms so they could observe their loved ones through a window while speaking via an ancient PA system, like they were playing the role of a third-­party observer in a police interrogation.

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FictionI touch the wax of their pickaxes, then run my hand along the wax rock of the walls. One man squats a few metres away from the others, holding a pan. As I move towards him, I notice a label with descriptive text about Victoria’s gold rush, a reminder of the foundational gruesomeness of the enterprise – the colonial history of world’s fairs, or zoos, here insisting on itself in a minor carnival of the macabre. 

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