“Right; that’s it. We’re going out hunting.” Joe said, after about four hours of watching me scream, curse and writhe in pain.
“No.” I managed to say through my teeth.
“Are you insane?” He asked, and I shook my head.
“It’ll only be a few more hours.” I assured him, and patted him on the shoulder, whilst one hand still clutched at my torso.
“I can’t stand a few more seconds of watching you in pain, never mind a few more hours!” He exclaimed.
“Then leave.” I retorted, and he looked hurt.
“I’m sorry, but I feel that I have to do this. Look into my eyes, and tell me what colour they have turned.” I said.
“Jade-green.” He said, and I managed to smile.
“Almost emerald?” I asked, and he nodded.
“How green?” I asked.
“Very green.” He admitted.
“One more hour at the most, then.” I enthused.
“Let it be a short one!” He said to the ceiling, on his knees, as if he were begging or praying.
“It will be.” I said confidently. ‘I hope’ I added mentally.
There was silence for fifteen minutes, and then finally I was the one to break it.
“It’s over.” I breathed, and he swung me round, and hugged me tightly.
“No more pain!” He rejoiced.
“Yes, but will I have to suffer it every single time?” I asked.
“No.” He said, and then my phone started ringing.
I dug my phone out of my bag, while it consistently and demandingly rang.
“Hello? Who is calling please?” I asked into it.
“It’s your Dad!” He said, and I smiled at Joe, knowing that he would easily be able to hear every single word that my Dad said.
“What’s up?” I asked, though of course I already knew.
“I wanted to talk to you, about your wedding.” He said.
“Ah…” I said, leading him to believe that I thought he was going to be awkward.
“Is it still on?” He asked, thinking that by the tone of my voice it had been called off, so evidently he wasn’t thinking what I wanted him to think.
“Yeah – I thought you were going to be awkward, actually.” I half-admitted.
“Oh no. Me and Sophie want to say thanks for the invite, and that we’ll be there.” He said.
“Cool, thanks for letting me know.” I said.
“Oh, and it was nice of you to invite Sophie. You didn’t have to, you know.” He said, earnestly.
“I know – we’re going to be in-laws soon anyway – yes I know you’re married now – it’s daughter’s intuition and I do get some behind-the-scenes scoop. So, all things considered, I might as well try to be nice.” I told him, giggling slightly.
“Oh, I’ve got to go – I’m using up all my credit. I’ll see you at the wedding.” He said.
“Cool, see you there.” I said, and he hung up.
I walked over to the sofa and started plumping the cushions.
Joe came in and wrapped his long fingers in a lock around my wrists.
“Okay; there’s something wrong – let’s hear it.” He said, pulling me down to sit on his knees.
“There’s nothing wrong.” I said defiantly, reaching around him to plump another cushion.
“Yes there is; you’re tidying like a mad-woman.” He said, looking at the plumped cushions. “Or have you suddenly discovered that you’ve got obsessive compulsive disorder?”
“Nothing’s wrong.” I said, and got up to rearrange the sunflowers in the vase on the window-sill.
“Yeah, of course” He said, sarcasm very imminent in his voice.
“Whatever; I’m going out.” I said, reaching for my coat.
“Then I’m coming with you!” He said, grabbing his jacket.
“Fine; I might lose it. Ooh and we wouldn’t want any homicides to happen now would we?” I teased, prodding him in the ribs, hoping that he would let the subject go, and not caring if he heard my thoughts.
“Whereabouts are you planning to go?” He asked, as I turned the door handle.
“Erm… A long walk in the forest? Nowhere public yet – I want to be by the trees and wildlife.” I shrugged.
“Okay, but I’m still coming with you.” He said and followed me out of the door.
We walked quite far into the forest, when all of a sudden, that sharp agony came back to my chest.
I fell to my knees, and curled up into a little ball on my side. The lost, puppy-dog, agonized face was set hard into Joe’s otherwise-beautiful features.
“What should I do?” He asked, panicking.
“Nothing – just – wait – ‘til – it – goes – away.” I managed to breathe through clenched teeth.
“No; we’re going to Sally.” He said firmly.
“Can’t - walk.” I barely breathed.
“I’ll carry you.” He said, and scooped me up easily into his tense arms; I don’t think he was tensing to show off his biceps either – he was generally stressed out.
He ran all the way, as fast as he possibly could, until, about ten minutes later, we arrived at his home.
He ran straight past Jordan, Charlie and Dougie on the front lawn playing cricket; he ran past Finty, Freya and Emily in the hallway, of whom were bearing quizzical expressions.
He ran upstairs and knocked down one of the old oak doors in his haste, and gently laid me down on a high bed, with railings, and white sheets. The bed alone was enough to remind me of a hospital, never mind the operating lamp that hung from the standard white ceiling, the heavily-laden drugs cabinet and the monitors that stood beside the bed.
Sally was already in the room, being very calm and quiet as always and didn’t even look surprised to see me curled up like that.
She had known; she had known all along that the pain would be this bad, yet she had never told me – she had never even thought it around me.
“Make it stop! Heal her!” He commanded Sally.
“I can’t.” She whispered apologetically.
“Can’t you at least numb it?” He asked, calmer now, with a single tear balanced on the corner of his eye.
“Morphine at its strongest would not work – I’m sorry Joe.” She whispered, sounding very close to tears.
“Can’t you knock her unconscious until it’s the day of the wedding?” He pleaded.
“I could; but only if she’ll let me.” She said, and they both turned their gazed on me.
Joe came by the bed, and perched himself very carefully on the edge.
“Please let us do this.” He begged me.