She sits there, waiting, like an old man in a doctor’s surgery. An old man who no longer feels like he is a participaint in life, whose very skin is gloved from the world by all that he has seen and all that he hasn’t done. Trembling thighs that mark every laboured heartbeat, aching shoulders made from knotted hardwood, and eyes as dry as a dying desert are his only companions now.
Everybody moves past him as if he were a portait of a minor Baron, even the nurses refuse to make eye contact. Their fear of what they know and the thought of what they might have to say, keeping their kindly eyes locked to meaningless pieces of paper. Little do the fidgeting sisters realise that he would gladly welcome their news. He has, for too long, drifted through the empty rooms of his house, sitting in the same cold chair and staring at the same blank wall. He just wants to know. He wants to know if he must return to the stark surroundings of what used to be a home or whether he can stay here, in the blank emptiness of the surgery, until the blank emptiness envelops him.
He is not scared. He can remember times when the fear of death had held him tightly like a straitjacket, but those memories bemuse him now. It has all been done, there is nothing that he could change, so why worry about what happens next? He is not a sad man, he is just ready. In some ways he has always been ready, but it is only now, as he stares at his shrunken willowy hands resting incongruously on his knees, that he understands what lies before him. Or rather, he understands what has happened and, like a man who has run forty nine metres of a fifty metre sprint, he just knows, without experience, what lies ahead.
About him the world moves like a fire licking over a dry wooden shack, climbing over everything, leaving its mark in soot and smoke. Yet, Time meanders before him like the lazy curl of a river across an arable plain. Never rushed, never disturbed, just slowly drawing closer to its end. He feels as if he is stood in the eye of a tornado, untouched by the swirling, chaotic winds that lash about around him. He is standing on still, firm, unmoving earth, watching motion at its most violent.
His legs start to become numb, the backs of his calves twinkling with tiny little spots of freezing cold water, and his crack lips part slowly as he takes in a large breath. He can see the Doctor now. He is walking assuredly through the cacophony of the world towards him, a clipboard in his arms. The clipboard that will decide that final metre. The clipboard that will reveal the final truth.
Her eyes lift as the door opens, her young body easing in anticipation. Her waiting is over.