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Daniel Hardwick was the newly appointed Night Sister at a local Aged Care Facility. His carer was Claire Chadwick. They hit it off straight away, in fact Daniel had to stop himself from staring at Claire. Little did he know that Claire felt the  same way.

Within 3 shifts they knew every secret that they had within them. They were as close as 2 people could be & told each other so. There was also sexual innuendos flying around.

Daniel had an alcohol problem but never drank before work through respect for  Claire. He lived in a city 40 minutes away. Claire lived 5 minutes away. One morning the inevitable happened. They had  a fling. It went pear-shaped. Claires husband Gary forgot some work tools & had to return to get them. He passed Daniel on the way out of the driveway.

When Daniel arrived home the phone rang. It was an angry Gary. He must have got his number from Claire as Daniel had a silent number. Dan took the phone off the hook & switched his mobile off.

That night at work, Daniel asked what Gary had said. Claire said he was heartbroken but she told him that Daniel was only there for a coffee & had been there before. Gary didn’t believe her so he rang Daniels parents who rang Daniel. Daniel stuck to Claires story. Both Gary & Daniels Mum remained suspicious.

After 9 months, Daniel was sacked for non-attendance. He would ‘go missing’ by not answering the phone. Claire continued to support him until he got sober 7 months later via phone calls, texts and emails. He was then diagnosed with bipolar & medicated..

2 months later Daniel answered the phone & was surprised to hear a calm voice saying,,  “It’s Gary Chadwick here. Claire & I were wondering if you’d like to come for a BBQ on Saturday afternoon?” Daniel was taken aback and asked for directions. He wrote them down.

Saturday arrived & Daniel rang the Chadwicks to see if 3pm was alright. Gary said, “That’d be fine. I’ve got this new BBQ that I want to try out. Oh! Bring overnight gear. We’d like you to stay the night.” Daniel replied “Sure.” He packed a t-shirt and his medications.

Daniel made his way to the Chadwicks & was warmly greeted by Gary. “I’m just about to mess about with this new BBQ. Come grab a drink on the veranda. On the large veranda was the BBQ & a large table, sitting at which was Claire & their 19 yeaar old son Mitchell who promptly stood up, introduced himself & shook Daniels hand. “Go grab Daniel a drink, Mitchell.”

Mitchell returned & sat a can of beer in front of Daniel. Claire sternly said, “Daniel doesn’t drink, Mitchell. I told you, remember?” Mitchell apologised. “No need to apologise, Mitchell. I’m the one with the problem not you.” This lightened the atmosphere again. Mitchell returned with a can of Pepsi,

Daniel & Claire spent their time telling funny work stories. Mitchell was all ears & laughing. He was seeing a side of  his Mum that he hadn’t seen before. Meanwhile Gary was wrestling with his new BBQ, almost setting himself alight, further adding to the hilarity.  The group spent the rest of the evening getting to know each other and generally laughing. Gary was an electrician & Mitchell was studying to be a Pharmacist.

On dark, they moved inside & continued their  conversation when, at 9pm, Daniel stood up & grabbed his medications and sat the boxes on the kitchen bench. He asked Gary & Claire if it was okay to show & explain his medications to Mitchell . “Sure,” said Claire. “It’ll be a good learning experience for him.”

Daniel pulled a strip of each medication from the box & took varying amounts of each tablet from the strip. Mitchell was standing on the opposite side of the bench. “You know I’ve got bipolar, right?” Mitchell looked surprised and said, “No. No I didn’t.” Daniel replied, “All of these medications are for bipolar or anxiety.” Again, Mitchell looked surprised & said, “You? Anxiety?”

Daniel  replied “Yup. So we’ll start with that medication. Here it is.” He pulled out a strip of Valium. “This is Valium. We all know what that does. If you took one of these you’d be out cold in an hour. When I have an anxiety attack it takes 4 to hold me….& that only takes the edge off things. I only take it when necessary as it’s addictive and you get tolerant to it. I take it as a last resort,” explained Daniel.

Daniel then pointed to a long white  tablet. “This is Lithium. It’s a mood stabiliser & takes weeks to build up in your system. You could take one now & nothing would happen. The same applies to this purple one, Valpro. It’s mainly used as an anti-epileptic but serves as a mood stabiliser. The last one is Zeldox, an anti-manic medication. It stops me from staying awake for days on end, “Daniel explained. Most people take 2 a day. I take 4 a day.” Mitchell asked why Daniel needed such high doses. “Body chemistry,” said Daniel. “I just happen to have a high tolerance to medications,

Mitchell then asked if he could make some notes. “Sure,” said Daniel. Mitchell went to his room & returned with a notepad. Daniel went through each medication in more depth & including possible side effects.

The following morning Daniel woke up & walked to the end of the driveway for a cigarette. He hears, “Oi!” from behind him. It was Gary wielding an ashtray. “I didn’t know you smoked, Daniel. You should have said.” Daniel replied, “It’s no big deal.” Gary summoned Daniel to the table on the veranda where he finished his first cigarette. Gary made a coffee and brought one out. Daniel proceeded to have another 3 cigarettes where he & Gary spoke about life in general.

Gary told Daniel that they were having a family gathering in a fortnight & he would like to invite Daniel. “I couldn’t possibly,” Daniel. Gary said, “I insist. It  would be my pleasure. You’d go down a treat.” Daniel agreed before Gary added,”….and you’re welcome to stay the night.” The deal was done.

2 weeks later Daniel was preparing for the Chadwicks BBQ. He felt an an anxiety attack coming on so took 4 Valium. When he arrived his angst raised when he saw the veranda was full of people, all of whom had turned around to look at him. Mitchell came running down & grabbed his bag and rushed it inside. Claire introduced Daniel to everyone, “So you’re this  Daniel we’ve all been hearing about?” Daniel was never going to remember all of their names. Mitchell returned with an ashtray & can of Pepsi for Daniel. He complimented Daniel on his Bob Dylan t-shirt.

Somebody stood & gave Daniel a chair. He was seated by Gary & Claires mother who proceeded to tell him of their ailments. He gave what advice he could but his charm had them around his little finger in no time.

Everybody had a great night & Daniel ended up driving them home, arriving back at the Chadwicks at 1am. Although late Daniel took his medication late anyway. He uncharacteristically until 9am & decided to leave immediately. He wasn’t in the mood for hungover strangers.

Later that afternoon Claire rang and asked if he was alright. He told her the truth. “I’d just as soon keep it to small gatherings in future.”

Small gatherings is how it stayed, as did their affair.