tunnels

Irene is no more communicative in person than she was on the intercom. She’s sitting on the edge of her bed, hands neatly folded in her lap, staring at the wall. She barely turns her head when I come in the room, and only answers Yes or No or I see. The flat is warm and tidy, nothing out of place. Irene looks like she’s been set down on the bed and left there.
‘Are you sure you wouldn’t want to go through to the lounge for the examination?’
‘No thank you.’
‘That’s fine, then.’
I remember seeing a play by Arthur Miller, A View from the Bridge, when he describes the father’s eyes as being like tunnels. That’s exactly how I feel about Irene. Two perfectly drilled tunnels, running back to a place that would flood with words if it wasn’t for the medication.
‘This is a lovely flat, Irene’
‘Yes.’
‘How long have you lived here?’
‘Not long.’
‘I understand your daughter lives nearby.’
‘Yes.’
‘Is that why you moved?’
‘Yes.’
I unpack my things, write the date on the obs chart, put a SATS probe on Irene’s finger.
It takes a long while for the reading to show.
Even the instruments are struggling.

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