Jane Bissell is an Auckland writer (www.janebissell.co.nz) and author of two books about her journey with breast cancer, ‘Welcome to the Amazon Club’ (Longacre Press 2004) and ‘The Pink Party’ (Klarer Lasserre Books 2006). Jane also conducts creative writing workshops and in 2011 helped women living with secondary breast cancer tell their stories for a collection entitled ‘Oysters for Lunch’ (The Louise Perkins Foundation 2011). Jane lived in Seattle, Washington USA until she was seven and her family moved to New Zealand.
I remember the pine bunk beds my sister and I had when we were little.
We shared a room until I was six and she was nine and in the dark winter days of the Pacific Northwest, our imaginations transformed the beds into spacecraft, hydroplanes and ships.
We sailed the bunk beds on the high seas searching for treasure. My sister, the Captain, resided on the top deck and ordered me to keep the rum flowing and the engines going below decks. Every now and then we’d climb down the ladder and plunge into shark infested waters, shoeboxes strapped to our backs as ‘aqualungs’, broom handles for spear guns, arms spreading out as we wafted over the bedroom carpet in search of adventure.
The bunk beds came with us to New Zealand and there I had them all to myself, claiming the top bunk for my own. From my elevated position, life took on a different view, a heady loftiness, brought to earth one day when I tipped over backwards, fell to the floor and hit my head on a box of rocks I’d collected. Afterwards, the pain was intermittent and my sister said that was because my brain ‘joogled’ about in my head and hit the bruised spot now and then.
I had the usual childhood sicknesses. While tossing about with a measles fever, I saw Jesus appear at my bedside, his head level with my shoulder, followed by another glowing entity that I believed was a guardian angel visiting my blessed bunk bed.
Our cat Larrikin learned to climb up the ladder and snuggle down with me at night. All was deliciously cozy until I became too big and heavy for the bunk beds and they were sold to a young man who came to the house one day to buy them for his children. The agreed price was $60.
“I only have $50,” he said.
Mom was always very keen to dispose of things that no longer worked or had outlived their purpose, like old cats and fading goldfish, so she said, 'Sold!' and the beds were gone, just like that.
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