As the evening approached, we found ourselves catering for more people than the 4 friends who had just arrived in Australia.
We had also taken in another family who had moved from the south coast of Australia but wanted to move on and have an adventure traveling around the country. They had given notice on their rented house but didn’t have anywhere to stay, so we had offered them a roof over their heads for a couple of nights.
We hadn’t known them more than a few weeks, but they seemed nice and our respective daughters got on very well. The plan was that they would sleep on their camping mattresses on our living room floor while all their wordly goods were packed into a caravan parked outside.
The evening meal itself went well, other than Amy’s attack of pure terror when she stood on a palm leaf in the dark outside that she had mistaken for a huge snake. Her shrieks could be heard several streets away as she danced on the spot like a panicking toddler until her young son brandished the offending leaf in front of her to show her it meant no harm.
In the middle of that night, I thought I could hear a quiet disturbance, as though someone wasn’t sleeping well downstairs and had decided to walk around. In the morning, I awoke to find that only two of the family seeking refuge with us were still there.
The teenage daughter had fallen very ill with stomach pains in the middle of the night. The noise I had heard was the mother’s attempt at a dash to the hospital without waking anyone. As the day progressed, it became clear that our temporary guests would be going nowhere for the foreseeable future – their daughter had acute appendicitis which needed surgery….