the autogeography of a no/body

Oct 15

Lost for Words

I went to the butchers, to get bacon and ask about liver. He said lamb's was best, less pungent. I need it, the liver, because I'm anaemic. It's a long and not very interesting story about my gut and vitamin B12, the conclusion of which is that I now have pernicious anaemia and am quite ill.

Yeah, I've been feeling sorry for myself, mainly due to exhaustion. It's terrible to not be able to stay awake for more than four hours a day. All those things you want to do, need to do, don't get done. And I'm scared. The condition wasn't diagnosed for over a year, despite the doctor having the preliminary blood test results right under his nose. “We thought you'd come back,” they said.

“Well, I'm here now.”

“Before now.”

“I didn't know I had to.”

“But didn't you feel unwell?”

“Yes, nothing I could put my finger on, just knackered all the time.”

“You should've come back.”

You could've phoned me up, you stupid shit, and said I had no vitamin B12 and, therefore, couldn't 'do' iron. I mean, fuck me, how many women walk around feeling utterly shagged the whole time? I just thought I wasn't getting enough sleep or something.

I was toddling back towards my house, bacon in one hand, swinging the other arm, thinking of nothing in particular, when a red sportster zoomed past me. This is twenty mph zone, the streets are thin, parked cars make visibility for crossing quite dangerous. An old lady in front of me, dragging a blue, tartan trolley, scuttled away from the edge of the pavement. She was walking quite slowly. “Why do they have to drive so bloody fast,” she spluttered as I was overtaking her.

“No idea, they're probably in a hurry to get somewhere,” I replied.

“They shouldn't, there's children and cats.”

We do have a lot of cats in the street and they're always getting knocked over. Me and the old lady chatted for a while, about viable speed restriction alternatives, maybe trees, alternating the parking from one side of the road to another, sleeping policemen.

“I went up the hospital on Friday, two buses.”

“Yes, the routes are oddly arranged.”

“They told me I had breast cancer.”

I stopped and turned to look at her. Light blue scarf tied around her head, delicate pattern, edged with navy. Biscuit coloured raincoat, belted at the waist. Full face of make-up, lipstick not too garish, skin that curious old lady tan reminiscent of grandmother's tights. “I am sorry,” I said

“I hope they give me that cut out option, I don't want chemo.”

I had no idea how to respond. I kept looking into her face, blue grey eyes, plucked brows completed with a drawn in brown line, small whiskers on her chin. I nodded. Before I could stop my free hand it reached out and touched her arm. She went slack.

“You're the first person I've told,” air rushed from between her lips.

I squeezed her arm a bit.

“Can't face telling them.”

Oh god, don't cry now morrigan, don't cry now.

“They're going to be so upset,” she said.

“Yes, because they love you.”

Then she patted my hand, the one on her arm, with her old hand, very slowly, and she nodded, looked right into my eyes and said “You never know what you're rushing towards”.

I smiled. She smiled back. We went our separate ways, strangers in a strange land.