A short story by Philip Hensherby Philip Hensher / July 14, 2016 / Leave a comment
Published in August 2016 issue of Prospect Magazine
He tried to have something ready to tell her when she came home: something about his day. It was not so easy. The little that happened had, generally, to be ruled out as something to be retold. He would not tell her anything he had seen on the television; he would not tell her anything about the simple progress of his illness.
Today, he had gone to see the doctor, however, and had something interesting to tell her. It had not been a regular appointment. They had decided the day before that he should turn up and ask to be seen. For that, you had to arrive at the surgery in Clapham Manor Street at 8am at the latest. Toby had to look after himself; Sonia was leaving home for the office at 6.30, these days. He had wrapped himself warmly, and the minicab had been ordered for 7.40, to allow for delays and confusion. (And the inevitable irritated argument, the exaggerated performance of illness when the driver discovered that he had been given a job that meant driving only 800 yards.) He arrived; he paid the driver; he got into the ill-sorted queue under the canopy outside the still-locked surgery. Then he saw something interesting, and as he watched it unfolding, he thought: I must tell Sonia about this, when she comes home.
Toby told her what he had seen. She hunched over her bowl of brown soup, lifting it to her mouth with pale concentration, vulnerable and exhausted. She might have been the invalid, but it was just a long day at work. The rain of the morning had cleared. Through the window the garden looked rinsed, photogenic, spring-like, and the camellias’ vulgar splash of red was shining. There were new beginnings going on down there.
“You didn’t have to wait long…