In a small, dim hospital room sits a man, his large frame awkward in the vinyl chair provided for visitors. In the bed is a woman. He watches her. His mother. Looks intently, searching for something that will make him believe this is really her. She is changed almost beyond recognition. Her body is shrunken. Sagging skin and bones. Rubble he thinks, just rubble, ready to be gathered up and disposed of. His body which is already big, feels huge. Feels like a monster, bursting out of its clothes. His knees point upwards, his elbows reach out beyond the arms of his chair. For the first time in many years his physicality seems obscene.
Hooked onto the metal bedstead is a sign. The words scrawled casually in black felt pen. Evelyn Macleod. If he is to believe these words, then this is his mother. Evelyn, he thinks, sounding the word out in his head. Even her name is strange. He has never called her that. Mum, or mother, probably even mummy, when he was small enough. But he’s big now, very big, and underneath the blanket his mother’s body is almost absent. Just a skeleton, He imagines coming out of that. Her screams as his head forces it’s way into the world. Merciless, the pain unremitting, breaking her apart. It had been like that when Lily arrived and he’d watched his wife become a stranger with the pain he couldn’t share.