Sitting at a bus station, watching a family play, a boy crying, two men and two children, a bike and the anticipation of a much needed bus home. I eat my crisps quietly, answering their questions when needed, hiding from the busy waiting room disguised as a girl who needs a bus ride back. My bike sits riskily attached the the fence nearby, awaiting the long space of time it will be left alone on the side of the road. Later I joke about him buying me a new one if it’s stolen. “I just spent £40 on those brakes.” To braving the crowded seating area of blood spattered overalls and the wheezing elderly. I start to feel faint. After a while a nurse appears in my peripheral vision, calling for the family of Mr Lynch. It takes me a few seconds and a few announcements for me to realise that it’s me they’re calling for, his only visitor and after hours of waiting, now is the time to head in.
Between this and the worst is a blur, “I’m having an operation.” brushed off as a routine procedure, the illusion confirmed by the nurses, to sitting by his bed-side, holding his hand under three layers of blindingly orange crochet’d hospital blanket, the doctor is telling us of complicated medical words, and percentages, 3% chance of death, that’s 6 in every 200 people. That’s 3% too many, I can feel his grip tighten in mine and his eyes close and shake. I begin to lose my cool and my scrambled thoughts from last night flood back.
I love him.
He tells me it’s okay if I want to go and I don’t, but I’m starting to feel like a spare part and I can already feel myself trembling. I’m struggling to hold it together and I don’t want him to get a hold of that feeling so I tell him okay. I want to tell him all of who I am. I want him to know that there’s a reason I bite my teeth in my sleep, but that he does it too. That when he talks in his sleep I listen for hints of himself, secrets maybe. I want to make him happy, and I want him to know that I am so grateful for his patience and his understanding of my forgetfulness and my lack of grace, and my good intentions but often bad execution. Selfishly I think maybe it’s my fault; surgery, scars. Am I good enough to be called his? “Amy. Harry’s.” I want to make him full and fixed up and loved but all I can do right now is hold my teary eyes shut and wish it was me in that bed. I almost turn around after prying myself away; it’s not safe to be cycling with tired glistening eyes and maybe I can convince them to swap me into his place. I am lying in his room on my mattress, wishing for his pain to shift to my stomach. I start to get sympathy pains, I suppose, and realise I am not helping anyone.
It is 7:30pm, over 12 hours since this began. I think his mother has gone back to the hospital, she told me not to go. I can hear her sister through his window and occasional glimpses of concern for him, back to wine induced mayhem. I’ve sent him a text he won’t get until some time tomorrow of faith and hope and crossed fingers and toes and secretly of so much love I feel like my insides are going to break open too. He’ll have to live with this forever, and it’s selfish to say that I am not okay. But also that I want him to be okay, he has to be okay.