by Miss Understood
by Miss Understood
I walked alongside him through a Steel Blue corridor, my heels tapping annoyingly on the resin floor. My apprehension seemed obvious against his confident, rubber-soled stride, and reaching for his hand I prised my fingers between his. He twitched as we touched, but curled his palm over my knuckles, looking straight ahead. My thoughts hurtled ahead of me, past the double doors to haematology, past the double doors to oncology, past a sign listing far too many ‘ologies, past the staircase leading to the cafeteria where they serve cold coffee in polystyrene cups.
The air pushed heavily on my shoulders. The silence was deafening.
My eyes saw the thick, red line take a sharp left, long before we had reached it. Danger Red. Blood red. An angry Flame Red, stretching out before us and leading us to a place of no return. My stomach turned, twisted itself, and dropped to my bowels, as my heels continued to click, following the line. When we reached the Consultant’s room, when my eyes were awash with Buttercup Yellow, I allowed myself to breathe.
“Please, take a seat.”
He was married, the Consultant: his pristine Polar White coat hung effortlessly from his body, pressed to perfection; a thin, sharp crease slicing through each of his sleeves. I glanced at Henry, noticing the smudge of grease on his shirt, the fraying material on his left knee, the scuffed toes of his leather shoes. I sighed. He was always neglecting himself.
Henry’s face was vacant. He watched the man shuffle the papers on his desk, his eyes rigid with apprehension, his right hand rubbing the fingers of his left. They were strong hands…working man’s hands. Reaching out, I cupped my palm over his and squeezed, sliding my thumb over the flaking splodge of Honey Brown. For the past four nights he’d been painting the bedroom…
“I have the results of the Biopsy, Mr Matthews, and I’m…”
Oh God. Don’t say it. Please don’t say it. I’ll do anything…just please, please, don’t let him die. Don’t let my husband die…
I turned to him, desperate to reach out…desperate to pick off the fleck of Paradise Gold clinging to his hair. I pictured the half finished conservatory, and squeezed his hand again.
“…and I’m pleased to say the growth is benign. It’ll be a simple procedure, just a local anaesthetic and….”
The room spun, and blurred through my tears.
The Consultant looked at him, his eyebrow arched curiously. “Excuse me?”
I, too, turned to face him. “Henry?”
He was reaching for the stapler on the desk, the corners of his mouth creasing into a smile. “Signal Orange,” he said again, looking at it. Then he stood up, replaced the stapler, straightened his jacket, and walked to the door.
“It’s over, Marjorie,” he said, plucking the paint chart from his inside pocket and tossing it to the floor. “No man can…”
He cleared his throat.
“...I can’t change the colour of this marriage.”