I’ve never fainted before. Not when I fell off that rope swing and broke both of my wrists. Not when a friend nearly died from anaphylactic shock. Not even when I woke up to find a burglar at the end of my bed with his hand in my jewelry box.
You see I saved my first faint for a much more auspicious occasion: my debit card being denied in a little store, in a little town in America.
Caught in a terrible moment of ‘oh, no!’ I was first overtaken by a ‘brain freeze’ which was a sort of roaring followed by a white fuzzing around the fringes of my vision. Valiantly fighting this feeling I stood stock still and didn’t move, but alas! The war was in vain.
For a first swoon I did it quite gracefully – if I do say so myself – I leaned heavily onto the counter and slid onto a friend, who thought that I was being rather rude. Really! If I wanted to see the jewelry beneath the counter next to her, why didn’t I ask her to move instead of … sliding on top of her?
I am told that I whispered something softly about my legs; legs that were swaying like a puppet’s wooden appendages. This alerted my companions to something being wrong. For myself, it was all rather perplexing for I wondered why my legs were moving like that – for I had most excellent control over them and they were wobbling. Why were they wobbling?
Everything was fringed with white and grey and my friend’s voice was both distant and close as I was assured that everything was going to be okay. (Another perplexing thought – why wouldn’t it be okay?)
I’m told that I didn’t speak. I have no recollection of being able to speak as most of my world was taken up in what I call ‘blinking surprise’.
I was somehow lowered to the floor. And when I was there I tucked an arm under my skirt (for I didn’t want anyone to see my underwear. One has to think of these things, you know) and leaned my head on my knees (that’s what fainting people did, wasn’t it?).
A purse was on the floor in front of me. It looked strangely li- oh, yes. It was mine. How on earth, I wondered with serious consideration, did it get there? Last time I had checked it was in my hand. A bottle of water was offered me with its lid off – this struck me as very strange. Did Americans’ sell their bottled water without lids? No matter, I drank it gratefully.
I tried to get up, but was told to stay sitting.
A lollipop was offered to me (though brandished comes to mind as a more appropriate word). Three in fact. All given to me by a kindly new acquaintance of my friend (who looked up from kneeling next to me and exclaimed ‘I know you’ to the woman, who then offered the lollipops).
Finally I was allowed to get up and go outside to a bench, leaving the jewellery shop behind me. I polished off two lollipops, drank the bottle of water and then was taken to a cafe where I consumed a bagel, a banana and another bottle of water. This was my ‘Fainting Feast’ so to speak.
Then we sat on another bench and waited to be picked up. We’d locked the car keys in the car, you see. Oh yes, because when it rains, it pours.
Now, I’m sure that there will be quibbles as to whether I actually fainted or not – fainting, after all, is losing consciousness for a brief portion of time. I’m not certain I did and I’m not certain I didn’t. I do know, however, that everything went white and grey around the edges and I lost control of my body.
I also traumatized my friends.
… And now the moral of this story?
I would like to pretend that I did it all for research – heroines can often faint in books, and as an author, to know what it is like to faint would be useful. But in the end, even though I didn’t intentionally do it for research, I can use it for the same purpose. Life experience, you know. Useful stuff. Useful and traumatizing stuff.
Perhaps, for a brief moment in time I actually did lose consciousness. And if I did, I now know that everything doesn’t always go black – it goes grey and it goes white. But as I’ve only done this once and am not, in any sense of the phrase, a dab hand at this fainting business, I can’t honestly say for sure.
… and I don’t really wish to repeat the experience.