Probably better


A scan, with different initials. The train journey to it, biting nails; the one back pretending not to be radioactive.

It is summer, blazing, gorgeous. Days you cannot walk out in, days that make you suspicious. A cracker.

The radio, the Test Match, for company. A man runs in to bowl ‘as though trying to go through a wall.’ Poetry. You’ll remember that one. The football is hopeless.

You phone the hospital. Nothing. They just can’t say. Try again on Wednesday, after the meeting. ‘We haven’t forgotten you.’

No one said about this bit. The days. Concentration returning, like an itch. Print suddenly mattering again. A government vote, policy that might affect you, an author you have heard of.

The days, how to fill them. A shuffle to the shops, swathed in layers, in spite of the heat. Milk, bread, the usual. Hoping you see no one. (Not that they come any more).

Another Test Match. Rain in another part of the country, your childhood holidays in Devon lanes listening to it, the endless chatter, the laughter, their memories of rain from another century handed down. The word of mouth of it all. The word. Words.

Another day. The sports day of your son. His last. More layers against the cold which no one else is feeling. A man says: ‘I’ve been meaning to call you.’ You stare at him a long time before he walks away.

The grace of your boy moving, in his element, hearing the pistol and just flying. Lifting the trophy with his team mates, he does an impromptu jig. You don’t remember teaching him that. You turn to brush away tears, pretending it is the sun.

When they do call they tell you nothing. Only that. It’s just. This is normal, what we would expect. Probably what will happen is. Then a. Then. In all likelihood. The words bounce off you, away down a beach, down a ward, down a railway line.

You are probably better. They just can’t. Without more tests, they can’t. Not for sure. But probably, yes. But it’s best to wait before telling anyone. To wait and see. To wait.


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