The first time I fainted I was a teenager. Sunstroke was the culprit, but my lack of good sense was the reason. I sat far too long on a sun-drenched beach, frying in the heat.
I had travelled by train that day with my younger brother and his mates, who took off the minute we arrived. That was fine by me as we had agreed to meet at three o’clock, close to where I was spending the day, for the journey back home.
I was so grown up, all by myself on an uncrowded beach, preening and posing in my new bikini on my new beach towel with waves crashing in the background and seagulls screeching overhead. It wasn’t about swimming for me that day, it was about sunbathing. I had no hat, no umbrella, and no water, but what did that matter. I was in a world of make believe.
Two hours later, the midday sun was blazing and I was thirsty. A milkshake! Yes, that’s exactly what I wanted – a cold, cold milkshake. The shop, however, was at the other end of the beach. I squinted down the endless stretch of sand. Could I make it?
I started full of gumption, but with each step, my flimsy sandals sank deeper into the hot white sand. It was harder than I thought, but determined, I valiantly plodded on, and on, and on.
At last… shade. The little shop was crowded, and I had to wait. When it was my turn, overcome by thirst I blurted out, TWO milkshakes please. As the seconds ticked by my throat began to constrict. It was so dry I couldn’t swallow. Then there they were – two glistening, ice-cold, silver tumblers, looming large as they moved across the counter towards me. Oh, how I was looking forward to those milkshakes. My hand was so close. But as I leaned forward, ready to reach out, my ears began to buzz. My head filled the room, my legs wobbled, and before I could speak, blackness enveloped me and I hit the floor.
Then a blurred memory of sitting on a chair with my head between my knees and being helped through a door behind the counter, into another room. It was the owner’s lounge room. They lay me down on their couch, and before they were gone, I was asleep. Two hours later, with a thumping head, I stumbled out. With words of concern echoing in my ears, panic set in. Where was my brother? How would he know where I was? What if he’d left without me? I had to get back to my little pile of belongings on the beach.
As luck would have it, amongst the waiting crowd when I fainted was one of my brother’s mates. So, I was not abandoned after all. My brother knew where I was and he was waiting. Being the eldest, I didn’t want to lose him at the beach or have to answer for him getting home without me.
So, together, we headed home. One responsible brother and one grateful, limping big sister. But the lesson was learned – the sun and I were no longer friends.
Inara Hawley © 2021