to see the tall, lean doctor pick up a set of notes from
a shelf outside his door. I had expected a longer wait. The nurse suggested
it could be as long as half an hour. As I looked around for a space to
set down my coffee and magazine, I noticed him glance down, raise his
head and say, 'Mrs Fellowes. Mrs Bibby Fellowes.'
That's when the numbness
started. Mrs Bibby Fellowes? It couldn't be. It couldn't be her. I set
the vending cup down on the magazines, spilling most of the now tepid
coffee. The numbness suffused my body. To my right, several seats nearer
the consulting room, a tall, slender woman stood up, smoothed her blue
cotton dress across her hips, flicked her shoulder-length blonde hair
back from her face and followed the doctor into his consulting room.
It was her. I'd glimpsed
only her profile, yet it was unmistakebly her. I twisted my hands, one
within the other, anything to stop them trembling, and looked down to
where a rivulet of coffee ran from the magazine table onto the floor.
'Don't worry,' someone
was saying, using paper tissues to mop up the spilt coffee. 'Could happen
Please heart, please
slow down. Please.
'Are you alright?'
One of the clinic's nurses knelt beside my chair as several of the patients
turned to see what was happening. I knew only one thing. I had to get
out of here before she came out of the consulting room.
I stood and clutched
my handbag. 'I need to get some air.'
The nurse put her
hand beneath my elbow, steadying me as I headed towards the exit. 'Wouldn't
you rather sit?'
I shook my arm free
of her hand and went through the wide doors onto the street, gulping for
air as a landed fish might. I leaned back against the blackened Bath stone,
closed my eyes