“Yes,” the mother answers.
“The doctor will see you and Lily now,” the receptionist says to her. Anna stands, and struggles as her daughter protests her way out of her mother’s arms. A door opens, an older gentleman appears, a patient and well-practised smile on his face.
“I’m Professor Windsor, come in,” he says. He motions for Anna to sit. Though reluctant to leave her mother’s side, Lily is drawn to a small corner table littered with bright coloured toys.
“Go on, you can play,” Anna tells her.
Lily stumbles toward the table.
The office is decked in leather and wood, and reeks of exorbitant medical fees. The desk, large and bare, promotes a feeling of distance between them. Anna runs her eye over his bookcase but the titles mean nothing. Illiteracy is a safeguarded secret she keeps from the rest of the world.
“I’ve read the report, and reviewed Lily’s scans,” he says, without making eye contact.
“You might want to read these,” he adds, sliding some brochures toward her. Anna senses his arrogance filling the space between them.
“Your daughter has a high grade astrocytoma. Unfortunately inoperable. I can offer her chemotherapy but it will only lessen her ongoing symptoms, not cure her…”
Anna’s face contorts in confusion as he continues…“…make her more comfortable. It’s a fast growing tumour, so…” his voice drones in her ears as the ‘tumour’ word sits like a brick in the pit of her gut. She stares helplessly down at the brochures.
“So… if you have no questions,” he says, checking his watch.
Questions collide in her head and can’t seem to find their way out through her mouth. Anna watches a fly that is trapped in the room. It is beating against the window behind him. Lily crosses the room with her childish elephant like amble, and falls into her mother’s lap, her head catching the tear that has just slid from her mother’s face.
“Miss Sampson?” the Professor persists. Anna closes her eyes, lowers her head and raises her hand like a traffic cop.
“Please, can I just have a minute?” It is the only question she can manage right now.