Short story by Iris Carden
“I only regret that I have but one life to give…”
Nah, too pretentious, and nowhere near appropriate to the situation. It’s not true, either.
I’ve got regrets. Oh boy do I have regrets, though that’s not one of them.
For example: I regret believing the phone shop guy. He said, “Trust me, mate, with this phone, on this carrier and this plan, you’d have to be in outer Mongolia to be out of range.” Well, I’m out of range. Apparently, outer Mongolia is just a bit west of Mount Isa. If I hadn’t bought the great deal he offered me, maybe I could use the phone to call for help, instead of trying to write my farewell letter to the world.
I regret the stupid little yuppie 600 ml water bottle. Why didn’t I get a decent water bottle? Why didn’t I get a bloody jerry can full of water? And why didn’t I get a jerry can of petrol while I was at it so I wouldn’t be stuck in the middle of nowhere, with no fuel, no way to contact anyone, and no-one knowing where I was.
Oh there’s another regret. I regret listening to that truckie at that dodgy truck stop just out of the Isa. He was a bit jumpy, and I think he might have been on speed. I regret taking his advice and following the “short cut”. It wasn’t short and it hasn’t cut to anywhere. “Trust me, mate,” he’d said, “This’ll cut hours off your trip and you bypass Camooweal, and you really don’t want to go through there.” But it’s taken me away from the highway, which is where anyone who happened to be looking for me would look – because that’s where I was supposed to be. That’s where I would have been, if I hadn’t listened to the truckie. Only, no-one would be looking for me then, because I wouldn’t have run out of petrol, because there are service stations along the highway, and I would have made it to Tennant Creek last night, and everything would have been fine. Even if something had gone wrong, other people use the highway, and I would have been able to get help.
While I’m on my regrets from the truck stop, I regret eating there. “Trust me, mate,” the bloke behind the counter had said, “These are the best bloody meat pies this side of the black stump.” I’d had a lukewarm meat pie, with lukewarm stale chips that had probably been in the bain marie for a month and tepid half-congealed gravy. And along the road, it all came exploding out from both ends. Gastro just aggravates dehydration. That truck stop should be a tourist attraction, it could have a big sign saying “Australia’s most toxic salmonella pie.” Bogans would come from everywhere and dare each other to eat it.
And I regret not having any loo paper in the car. Mum told me to take a roll with me because the public loos you find on the highway don’t always have them. I regret that I said, “Nah, Mum, I’ve got this.” I didn’t have this. I didn’t have anything. Not a single bloody thing under any kind of control. Not only do some of the public loos along the highway not have any dunny paper, but the scrawny trees beside this dirt track don’t have any either.
Oh, and while I’m adding to my regrets, I regret I didn’t tell Mary I loved her while I had the chance. She said, “I love you,” and I said, “I’m not really ready for anything serious right now.”
Then she said she wasn’t really ready for a road trip to the Territory, just to deliver someone else’s car.
If Mary had been here, I wouldn’t have eaten at that truck stop. She would have insisted on bringing that bloody big esky, and stopping in every town to buy fresh food to put in it. Instead of eating toxic truck stop food, I would have been complaining about having to eat her healthy sandwiches and fruit, and been secretly glad I had them. Mary wouldn’t have settled for a dinky little 600ml bottle of water – she’d have had a massive water bottle, and a thermos of coffee. I always complained that Mary over-planned everything, never did anything on impulse. Damn, I could do with a bit of over-planning now.
If Mary were with me, I’d never have ended up on this “short cut”. She’d have got out the map and asked the truckie to show us. Then she’d have pointed out the highway here is pretty much a straight line, so we’d have to go further if we went any way that would avoid Camooweal. Yeah, I know that now. I looked at the map after the car ran out of fuel.
And now the phone has a battery warning. It’s now or never. What are my last words to the world going to be?
“Mum, Mary, I love you both. I regret this whole bloody trip. I regret I won’t see either of you again. I stuffed everything up. I’m sorry that…”
Damn. Battery’s dead.
For People and Planet
Loo paper matters. I get mine from Who Gives A Crap. They use recycled paper, which is better for the planet. Part of their profits go to build toilets for people who don’t have them, which is good for people’s health. All of that for about the same price as your regular roll. Use this link for $10 off your first order. Disclosure: if you use the link and get your discount, I get a discount off my next order.