“I was hoping to stay the night. You see, Dad,” he adds, lifting his shirt to show the man his nipples. One swollen teat beads thick red, the other chalk white, both letting heavily onto the green front rug in time against the pounding of the silver wet rain outside, running over him, dividing his flesh into continents and waters, “… I need a space. Just for the night. I’m waiting for someone… oh! Hello, Mum! You look nice.”
Just then, Sylvia’s blonde-grey hair and saucer-eyes crop up behind the facially flailing old man, proffering a stone mug of tea- her usual frown at his presence delightfully absent for good. She reaches it out to the Doctor, gripping his hand and curving his fingers around the slightly cooler handle gently.
“Here, son…” she says, hushing his mouth with a finger and tugs him into a room off to one side of the hallway entry, “… come in here.”
She leaves him in bed, tucked in and silent in the near-dark of the shaded window, guarded against too much moonlight by the cascading edge of a red nightstand lamp’s fuzzy white shade.
Through the night, they nip back and forth in the hallway, checking on him by watching the shadows on the wall.
At midnight, his silhouette balls its fingers in the sheets, lurching forward in its sleep and curling rigidly, pushing and pulling and stressing, straining against some force. A confused rower.
In the morning, however, his shadow finally curves for the final time against the pillows, lungs throwing against his ribs with the effort of breath as his body shoves. But he calms. He mouths the air like a strangling fish. But he is alive. And when he has taken the air enough, he slumps back.