Monday 20th September 2010
One year ago.
The hours pass slowly. I start the plumbing job, but having never done anything like this before, I have trouble judging how long it’ll take. Added to this it is uncertainty of whether it will another minute or another hour before I’m cradling Suse in the bedroom with bad news, while water slowly fills the house through a leaky tap. So I sort of start, and then I stop, and then I start again.
I end up not doing it.
Meantime, Suse sits in the lounge room, watching internet TV. She devours several episodes of marginally talented singers standing in front of cruel judges and a loving audience, while shoving Rice Bubbles continuously into her mouth.
I check my watch at decreasing intervals. I feel like a relative, having learnt of a disaster in a foreign land, awaiting confirmation of death. Each time the phone rings, I jump up from my desk, running into the lounge room. We both stare at the mobile phone screen, at the various names that appear, none of them Shelley. We let them all go through to message bank.
“I’m going to ring,” I declare, finally, at 3.07pm.
“She said she’d ring us,” Suse protests weakly.
“You don’t want to know?”
“Not really,” she admits meekly.
“Well, I do,” I say.
I pick up the phone, and dial. The phone peals five times before it answers. I feel my heart in my mouth.
“Hi, You’ve called Shelley from Monash IVF,” begins the recorded message.
My heart starts again.
* * * * *
I return to my job of doing nothing in particular. Seconds take far longer than they should.
Never before have I been so inefficient at being inefficient.
It crawls all the way to 4.12pm, before the phone finally rings. I run out to find Suse there, the shrieking of a contestant’s final flat note cut dead with the pause button. The mobile rings again, the ‘old phone’ ringtone breaking the silence, sounding like something from a Hitchcock movie. We both look at the screen to see the name: ‘Shelley’.
Suse answers on speaker phone.
“Hi there Susan, it’s Shelley here.”
“Hi Shelley,” she says, sounding like the scolded child, about to be punished.
“How are you?”
“Have you got a minute?” She sounds apprehensive.
It’s bad news.
Fuck it all.
“Look…” she says, pausing, “your result isn’t through yet. They’re having some troubles with one of their analysers.” I take a gasp. “So, I’m just ringing to let you know that I haven’t forgotten about you.”
“But the result will be through today,” Suse says, as statement more than question.
“I’ll give you a call when it does. Just hang in there, okay?”
The phone goes dead.
“You’ve got to be kidding me, don’t you?” Suse says, her head falling into her hands. “You’ve got to be fucking kidding me.”
I stand. And I walk out of the room and into the study.
Looking for something expensive to throw at the wall.
* * * * *
To be continued…