She holds the small hand in her own, gently thumbing the knuckles, gently sighing. The crumpled duvet rises heavy on her shoulders as she breathes. She is in this room everyday. This room with its beige walls, its tasteful sketches, its badly constructed, built-in wardrobe. Despite having been recently and meticulously put in order, the space feels untidy. Her eyes drift from an askew curtain corner to a sink heavy with toothbrushes. Untidy too is her very presence. She should not be here, though it is the bedroom that she shares with her husband.
Five more minutes, she thinks, still stroking the held hand.
An hour later, with the room now darkening, she pushes herself groaningly up from the low, wide futon and begins to dress. She pulls jeans too loose and a blouse too tight over the underwear she has worn for the last twenty-four hours. Her lungs burn with the effort. She turns and gazes at the grey fingers peeping out from under the covers.
Coffee first, she thinks, leaving the bloodied stump to weep its final drops upon the browning linen sheet.