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  • Writer's pictureStanislava Buevich

Taster. Clearlake...

There will come a time when you wonder: How did a girl like me end up in a terrible place like Clearlake and in mortal danger? Well, it all started with a terrible cold. At first, it was just a blocked nose. Then a sore throat, nothing major. About a week later, I got a temperature. And the blocked nose got worse. Much worse. I lost all sense of smell and the ability to breathe. Snot kept trickling down from my nostril to my top lip, which I had to persistently wipe it off with my sleeve or taste the said snot. I had a headache. A constant, nagging, relentless headache as if a woodpecker was incessantly pecking above the bridge of my nose.

I was thirteen at the time and missed so many days of school that my mother got fined by the government. Now, I know what you're thinking - any responsible parent would have taken their offspring to a GP if the wretched illness hadn't gone away within a week. Well, not my mother.

My mother didn't trust Western Medicine, you see. Particularly vaccines and antibiotics. As far as she was concerned, those two were the source of all evil. I count myself incredibly lucky that, so far, I have managed to avoid catching something particularly nasty like Rubella, Mumps, or Measles. I've never had anything more severe than a cold, in fact. And while most colds went away without intervention, other than a honey, lemon and gin concoction (which was surprisingly effective, never mind that I was far too young to take it), this cold proved to be something else entirely.

About a week in, my mother marched into my room early in the morning. Loud, insistent stomps woke me up from a hazy, feverish dream. She touched my forehead with the tips of her fingers and raised her eyebrow, nodding as if everything was going according to plan.

"Well, I think I know what will finally do the trick," she said.

I rolled my eyes. Well, not actually. Not on the outside. The outside she could see. I rolled my eyes on the inside; I pictured myself rolling them so far inside their sockets that all that was left were the white bits.

"Beetroot!" she exclaimed, her voice chiming like a Christmas bell.

"Beetroot?" I yawned, and a few tears seeped out of the corners of my eyes. I wasn't exactly sure if the yawn caused it or the ever-escalating feeling of utter desperation.

"A few drops of beetroot juice inside your nose three times a day, and you will be good as new. I promise."

She made similar promises a lot.

"If you stick a clove of garlic in each nostril overnight, in the morning… Poof. Cured. Gone. I promise."

"Breathing over a pot with hot potatoes and a duvet over your head will open up the sinuses and unleash the phlegm. All of the gunk will just stream out. You'll see. I promise."

"If you do a wee in a little pot and then take some of that wee with a little pipette that I've got here for you and…"


I drew the line at urotherapy, as it was apparently called, and it did take quite a bit of courage to stand up to my mother. She fussed and fretted but couldn't get me to administer urine into my nose.

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