The Waiting Room

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Platform Five

I’m late. Thomas is looking for his other shoe. Susan is looking after Jessie who was sick all night.

My papers are everywhere.

The bathroom stinks of poo and sick, baby poo and baby sick, as I shave I feel like retching. I remember birthday parties I attended as a young child. Eating more than I could keep down I would revisit the sweets I had forced down upon me later that night. My mother would be holding a glass of water by me as I’m leant over the toilet bowl. My father would rock me gently back to sleep.

My sick didn’t smell this bad, it’s everywhere in the bathroom this morning. I’m late and my shaver is covered in slime.

Thomas hasn’t found his shoe or had his breakfast as I crash into the kitchen. Jessie is crying over Susan’s shoulder as she does our sons lunchbox.

Only today, only today could this happen. Yesterday, the day before that, and tomorrow I’ll be sat in heaven at breakfast. My kids would be smiling at me whilst Susan pours me another cup of coffee.

My toast will be ever so slightly golden and covered edge to edge in my mother’s homemade marmalade. The sun shining through the kitchen window, bouncing off the yellow walls and glistening against the glass of orange juice that Thomas takes a sip from, without pleading for more.

Not today. The toast is burnt. It’s raining. There’s marmalade, homemade marmalade all over my presentation. I curse my mother.

Thomas shouts in triumph at finding his shoe but now can’t find his homework. Susan pulls it out of my briefcase and packs it in his bag with his lunch.

I’ve cut myself shaving and she fusses over it as I make the coffee.

A thunder rumble and lightening flash have reset our clock on our 6 ring range cooker, so I have to keep checking my mobile phone for the time. Our kitchen wall clock is right twice a day at 6:37. Its battery had died a long time ago. In two months the date displayed at the foot of its face will be correct again. Time flies.

I’m late.

Dragging Thomas to the car I forget my briefcase. I jump the three steps to our door in one, getting soaked in my new suit.

Susan is behind the door, my briefcase in one hand and Jessie laughing in the other, a halo over her head.

I kiss her goodbye, Jessie too and I’m already regretting it as I climb inside the car smelling of sick, tasting the sickness.

I’m late.

I pull out of the parking space directly outside my house. The radio comes on automatically when I start the engine.

The windscreen wipers are on full force, warp speed five.

I pull out from in front of our home. I hear the click of Thomas’s seat belt. He is a good boy. He was taught road safety by his granddad.

I always put my seatbelt on as I’m driving. I need the freedom to search the road behind me.

I pull out as I have done for the past three years in this road. I’m always the first car to go in this street. I never met another soul as I load my car of briefcase, lunch and child.

Today I’m late.

I don’t notice the young boy opposite but one, waiting under his porch for a lift.

A man walks on the other side of the road coming this way. He is five houses away.

It’s raining in our street. A single file road, lined with parked cars on either side. There have been threats to put up speeding restriction bumps, traffic calming islands. Even block off one access. Not yet and not today.

Only rain today, heavy rain.

I pull out.

Scream in my ears.

A horn in my ears a bright light in my eyes.

Glass is on my suit. Rain is on my face.

I taste blood. I hear Thomas, he is shouting, this much I know is a good sign.

More lights, flashing, a steady sound, blue light I hear some music, a beat I can’t place.

A hand is in mine. And white robed Paul.

A wall papered wall with white flowers and snow.

A big book, a page, a stain on the snow, an apology and I’m a mistake.

I wake up.

*****

Walking in her big baggy ‘I’m staying at home in this miserable weather’ jumper towards her husband’s room Susan bursts into tears. An elderly women using a zimmer frame walks slowly towards them. Susan turns to face the wall and dries her eyes in the door way that will become a shrine.

Mrs. Clarke is behind her wearing her wet dress underneath Susan’s coat.

Playing the comforter she comforts Susan as much as she can. Knowing what she is about to commit she acts bravely in front of her conspirator.

Susan feels nauseous. She plays through the whole story again in her head.

A nurse walks by, looking on sympathetically.

Mrs. Clarke looks at the floor over Susan’s shoulder.

The elderly lady has turned the corner. The nurse has gone. The door leads to a janitor’s closet.

Susan was clever to remove any personal belongings from the pockets of the coat.

The two women embrace as long lost sisters, they don’t have to say anything.

The corridor is empty. Susan reaches for the handle and opens the door.

Her lost sister steps in but doesn’t turn around. She looks to the shelves, the mop bucket and bleaches. The skylight allows a shimmer of light through which touches the shoulder of the coat, the rain beating on the frosted glass.

Susan closes the door behind her as another patient is helped along by a nurse. She stands there, her hand on the door handle looking at the silver plaque that designates the room to that of the janitors. ‘Private Janitors store room.’

Turning away she smiles at the approaching nurse. Waiting patiently she stands there, the nurse and patient pass her and round the corner at the end.

She quietly places her ear against the door, hears a shallow sob, and walks away.

She knows it won’t be painful. The god of dreams will take care of her now.

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