The Waiting Room
He spread the food out over the duvet trying to make up for it. I remember the smell of acrid vinegar from the jar of crinkle sliced beetroot that he had twisted clunk open. The tin lid had popped, sounding like the noise my Grandpa’s cheek made when he flicked it with his finger. Pop goes the weasel.
I remember that I’d felt euphoric, happy even; it must have been the drugs. The nurse told me that I’d sat bolt upright when I’d woken up and I’d called out his name. I try not to think of all the things that must have happened.
But how can I forget the long curtains which were drawn and the sunlight shining through them lighting up the swirling orange and brown pattern. They reminded me of the cover on the piano stool we had growing up. I remember it felt rough and had spiky bits like black needles coming out of it. Mum had said it was horse hair. An Asian woman caught my eye and looked at me like she knew; she knew. A large TV was on in the corner, with a semi-circle of women sitting in high backed chairs watching it. I could hear Bargain Hunt on. It had seemed like an old folk’s home.
I felt he’d forced me. Told me his mum knew; she just knows these things, he’d said. I thought it would’ve made him stay. I had wanted it for all the wrong reasons. I realise that now but the sting of rejection had hurt. I thought his family would accept me and we’d visit them on Sunday afternoons for crisp roast potatoes and buttery chicken. I could almost taste it. Almost.
The doctor had told me that I had some caught something. Did that mean what I thought it meant? I couldn’t face it. I remember stepping into a red call box; the door was heavy and inside the smell made my nostrils shrivel. I had to call a friend. A distant friend. Had to tell someone.
That jar of pickled beetroot and sweaty smoked cheese could not compensate. They would never fill the gap in my stomach.