Crikey intern Harrison Polites writes: I was seeing red when I boarded my flight to the Gold Coast. No, Alan Joyce didn’t casually end my holiday before it began. I was staring at the red, second degree sunburn all down my friend’s back and legs. I was thinking: “I really hope this doesn’t ruin my holiday.”

Emily and I had been planning a holiday to the Gold Coast for the past year. We wanted to revisit the theme parks and re-live memories from our childhood holidays.

Sunburn was never part of the plan.

A week before we were due to leave, Emily accidentally fell asleep in the sun for five hours. The usual pale hue of her back’s skin tone cooked to the point of becoming a beetroot crimson. She was in an immense amount of pain. Yet, for some unusual reason, she decided to go ahead with this holiday to the sunniest place in Australia.

There was a perpetual dilemma in holidaying with a burns victim. She would say “You go ahead, I’ll just wait here and rest.” She was obviously in pain, and didn’t want to detract from my holiday.

But what do you do? Do you give up on the fun stuff and sit with her? It is a joint holiday after all. Or do you keep going?

My resolve wavered throughout the trip.

At Seaworld — the first theme park on our pilgrimage — I took Emily to the first aid station and stayed with her for two hours. After which, she decided she couldn’t take any more and we went back to the hostel.

When we got to Dreamworld — number three on our list — I reluctantly took off, leaving Emily under a shady tree. I lasted for about an hour before my guilt got the better of me.

Since her sunburn forced Emily to never stray less than 100m from a body of water, Wet N Wild water park was easily the most fun for both of us.

Emily’s back endured almost every sunburn remedy known to man, in my attempts to try and salvage as much of the holiday as possible.

We tried moisturiser, burn cream, aloe vera — both the plant and the distilled cream — and sea water. I drew the line at honey. We were just friends,  I was not going to put honey on my friend’s back.

Despite being hailed as a miracle cure, putting sea water on Emily’s back sent her into shock. She was screaming in pain drawing the attention of everyone on Mermaid Beach. I panicked, found the closest beach shower and threw her under and turned it on. It worked, but she was still shuddering from the pain of it all.

I still can’t imagine the kind of pain she went through. It must have been rough paying for this holiday, and then enduring it in pain.

It would have been easy — and fair enough — to stay in our room and not do anything. Aside from the occasional rest and inability to do certain theme park rides, this only happened once when she wouldn’t come out for dinner after a full day in the sun. I brought her back a sandwich.

Despite the holiday looking bleak from its outset, I ended up still having a great time. Emily’s sunburn could have ended the holiday before it even began.

Now when we talk about our trip, we don’t even consider the sunburn to be an adversity. It’s just part of the holiday … and a great party story.

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