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“Hi, my name’s Georgina Luck – I’m reading an extract from my short story ‘Paul’s First Day’, which was published in Griffith REVIEW.
Paul was always the first person to be killed.
I met him at his practical exam. The paramedic trainees were waiting for their names to be called. The waiting room was quiet, the silence of young people about to confront themselves.
‘Bugger, my thumbs have gone numb.’
We all turned. Paul was looking at his hands as if he’d just discovered them. My first impression was that he was all arms – gangly things that made him look like a plasticine man. ‘My thumbs sometimes go numb when I’m nervous.’ He looked around at the other trainees as if they were lifelong comrades. ‘Does that happen to anyone else? No? Just me, then.’
He clenched his hands a few times, then started wringing them, shaking tension out of the room. Some of the trainees smiled. His name was called. He stopped at the door, grinned and gave us all a double thumbs up.
As Paul walked to this first exam it was the end of my shift and another supervisor came to take over. I stayed, curious to see how this young man would perform. Paul was waiting while another trainer explained the scenario, his body poised. The trainer told him to go. Paul instantly summed up the scene. He was able to take in the big picture, to make a lightning assessment with the information available, to develop a split-second action plan. Many trainees go straight to stemming blood – Paul was one of the few who didn’t hesitate to check the airway. I watched him triaging. He might look goofy in everyday life; at work he was elegant, moving from one procedure to the next with the grace of a dancer. But he had one major flaw.
He forgot to check his own safety.
I watched all his exams; it was always the same. He would rush ahead with his brilliant instincts, hurdling fences to make a short cut, creatively digging a tunnel to get an oxygen mask to a trapped patient. In doing so he would forget the oncoming truck, the balancing pipe, the dangling wire. As I got to know him I realised it was due to his optimism, his belief in a benign universe. He just couldn’t accept that the truck might not stop, the pipe might fall, the wire might not have switched itself off. After the first exam the trainer put his hand on Paul’s shoulder.
‘Your skills are undeniable,’ the trainer said. ‘But you’ve just died five times. You’ve been electrocuted, burnt, decapitated, gassed and probably run over.’ He shook his head. ‘Pauly, that’s got to be some sort of record.’
We envy people their talents; I think that was the first time I realised we can also envy their faults.”
Extract from ‘Paul’s First Day’
Georgina Luck © 2011
ABOUT GEORGINA LUCK:
Georgina Luck’s short stories have been published in Griffith REVIEW, Southerly, Overland, Etchings, Famous Reporter, Woorilla and The Broadkill Review. She received the 2009 Griffith REVIEW/Text Publishing Emerging Writers Award-Fiction and was highly commended in both the 2010 Fellowship of Australian Writers National Awards, and in the 2008 Marian Eldridge Award. She has won two playwriting awards and has received a Varuna Fellowship as well as an Australian Society of Authors mentorship.
“I have participated in a Varuna Retreat Fellowship (2008), a non-selective Publisher Fellowship with Aviva Tuffield from Scribe Publications (2009) and received a week-long Retreat as a prize when I received the 2009 GriffithREVIEW/Text Publishing Emerging Writers Award-Fiction (2010). My times at Varuna have been the most valuable experiences of my writing career. The encouragement and advice I have received, alongside the support I receive as part of the Varuna community, continue to positively impact my writing and inspire me to keep improving. I can highly recommend Varuna to other emerging and established writers.” Georgina Luck
Short story Rip Under the Pines published in Southerly, Volume 69, Number 2 (2010)
Short story Paul’s First Day published in Griffith REVIEW, Edition 26 (2009)
Short story Clutching the Butterfly Shawl published in Etchings, Issue 8 (2010)
Short story Arcadia Through the Camera Flash published in US literary journal The Broadkill Review, Issue 2, Volume 6 (2008)
Short story Mikey’s Stanza up the Rock published in Overland, Issue 175 (2004)
Short story That Agatha Christie Handbag Scene published in Famous Reporter, Issue 31 (2005)
Short story Kendall’s Chronometer published in Woorilla, Issue 15 (2005)
CONTACT: via Varuna
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