Chapter 2

Written by: Donna McTavish

People stood huddled along one wall of the emergency department, a mix of worry and boredom on their healthy faces. The sick people were sitting on black plastic chairs arranged in untidy rows. The room was loud with gut-wrenching coughing and canned laughter from the TV. A few people sat quietly, turned inwards to their invisible pain and dreadful imaginings. At reception, a woman was arguing. The boy beside her in a grass-stained football shirt cradled his left arm in a makeshift sling and kicked the wall rhythmically, his eyes darting to the sliding glass doors as if planning his escape. The woman spoke loudly unused to waiting in line and as the receptionist gazed at the computer screen and the automatic doors to the emergency ward swung open, Diandra slipped through. 


Sarah was alone in her cubicle. Diandra had a twinge of guilt as she watched her friend slowly turn her head and make a tiny smile of recognition. Sarah’s usually shiny hair was dull and matted and, to Diandra’s disgust, smelled of vomit. Her skin, normally tanned and glowing, had an unearthly pallor, green like the ghastly curtains around the cubicle, and it was stretched too tightly over her face. “Oh my god Sarah. What happened?” She held Sarah’s hand and as she squeezed it she arranged her face into a sad, sympathetic smile. I should be an actress, she thought cruelly.


Sarah shrugged her shoulders. “Maybe my appendix. The doctor’s talking to mum and dad now. I might have to have surgery and that means I won’t be able to go to National’s camp. I might not ever be able to …..” Her face crumpled and two perfect tears rolled down her cheeks. Diandra took a deep breath and leant forward to hug her.


“I’m scared,” Sarah whispered, holding on tight.


On the train home, two children chased each other noisily while their father stared out the window. The girl was petite and pretty, the boy spotty and self-conscious. Diandra watched as the boy pushed his younger sister and she tripped and hit her head. As the girl cried on her father’s lap, the boy endured a loud admonishment then sat down opposite Diandra, his face blank. “Why did you do that?” she asked. The boy shrugged his shoulders but she knew. It was the same for her whenever she thought about Sarah and the Nationals. They were peas in a pod, this acned boy and her. They were warriors fighting for what was denied them and they would do anything to get what they deserved. For the boy, the undiluted attention of a father; for Diandra, the chance to be the champion she was supposed to be. She had planned every detail and now it was happening. Her early misgivings had disappeared. Events were in motion and could not be stopped. 


In her bedroom, Diandra twisted the pin deeper into the doll. She could not deny how good it felt.


The juxtaposition of Sarah's situation and the boy's circumstances in the hospital is very clever. Donna also gives the reader insight into the psychology behind Diandra and she places good and evil side by side. This is also an excellent example of using narrative to describe emotions and actions then inserting dialogue when it is clear the actor would speak. It is short concise dialogue that gives the reader a sense of the character's voice.
I loved this chapter, Donna. I see the two sides of Diandra, one good, one evil but together displays a vety unbalanced and dangerous personality. Creepy!