I’m sitting in the waiting area. I’m alone until an elderly lady shuffles in. I watch as she struggles to walk the few paces to the counter, I listen as she is asked to wait and watch the pained expression on her face as she gingerly steps towards the nearest chair. She turns and sits, her back to me.
As she sits down the door swings open suddenly, in strides a man, about my age, full of purpose. He too is told to go and take a seat. He thumps over and plonks himself down opposite the old lady. He is smartly dressed, trousers and a shirt, well polished shoes. He takes out his mobile phone and starts his ritual.
The old lady leans forward in her seat. From where I’m sitting I can’t see her face but I can hear her breathing with a struggle, on the edge of a cough. She has a handkerchief ready and her body shakes as she starts coughing into it.
After a few seconds she sits back and folds up her handkerchief. She raises her head and I hear her murmur a smiling, humble, apology to the man opposite her.
He doesn’t flinch, doesn’t look up from his phone.
Part of me hopes he has something terminal.