The doctor staggers down the hallway with my wife’s file in his hands. He looks like the kid that everyone picked on in sixth grade and with good reason. I wonder how this man will save our lives.
I had met her on the swings in the park when we were kids. She was too short to push herself off the ground so I was to do it instead. If I did it well I would be rewarded with laughter. It somehow became love, this laughter, way back when the sky was
just another push.
He still has his hair and very white teeth. He sits down on the chair by the bed and holds my wife’s hand in a way a stranger would not. I hate him for it but recognise that now is no time for jealousy. I want to tell him to leave. What comes out of my mouth is ‘What are her chances?’
‘It depends. It all depends.’
I ask on what.
‘On whether she continues fighting.’
I remember not to make it worse.
‘You should go home.’ He brings his hand on my shoulder, ‘you’ve been here too long. You need to rest. You need to be here for her when she wakes up. Go home. We’ll know more then.’
The drive is short and I almost run over someone thinking about all the good things. I pour a drink and stretch on the sofa. It is too quiet like this, all alone. Someone is at the door when I go to turn off the lights.
Mary apologises about the time. I tell her I didn’t even realise it is late but I say nothing about the hospital. She wouldn’t bother me if it wasn’t urgent, she adds. I nod. ‘The sink in my bathroom’, she says quietly, ‘it’s leaking’. I tell her OK and go to comb my hair.
I can see her face lit by moonlight when she stands on the porch. She leads me to the problem and I realise just how bad it is. I watched three weeks ago when they laid the carpets. I watched it happen from the bedroom window. It was early, maybe eight. I couldn’t sleep all night thinking about everything.
Now the water might ruin everything.
I get on my knees. She brings me lemonade in the middle of it. She hands me a towel when it is done. We are both tired by then. I cool off and fix myself another drink. She asks me to make her one. I do it quickly and we sit in the backyard by the pond where it is cooler. We drink our drinks and then I head back to the hospital.
My wife has opened her eyes. The lanky doctor is smiling. Even the nurses are smiling. It’s all too much smiling for a hospital.
‘Good news’, he says and takes my arm and leads me outside. ‘Good news.’
Eventually, I am allowed in. My wife says a few words but I do not catch it. I am leaning back in my chair feeling it slipping. Her saying it makes everyone excited. The doctor did not expect this, he tells me. This is great news, he tells me just before the sun rises.
I read one day that a healthy mind only remembers positive memories. The rest is, apparently, a murky haze of regret. A month later, Mary asks me to help pay for her carpet. I tell her I haven’t slept since. ‘Insomnia? I have it also,’ she says. It is a moonless evening and I cannot tell if she is lying.
Benjamin Imamovic lives and writes in Perth, Australia. When not writing fiction, his articles on surviving university life can be found here .