The puce coloured chairs are, I think, totally appropriate to the Breast Clinic. A blend of purple and red, they cause one to pause and think about the designer who mulled over the colour charts, denying a sage green, considering a bright yellow but to dismiss all and to settle on puce. Puce says it all. It is neither purple nor red. It hangs in the room like the possibilities that can go either way.
I sit in the waiting room and flick through a New Yorker magazine that I pull from my bag, sip water, watch. Watching is great in a waiting room. But nobody seems to do it but me. Everyone else chooses to read Hello magazine and lose themselves in the other world.
Big tv screen holds muffled words and nurses skim the floors like skaters in white uniforms. This rink is spotless. Everything is white and grey and I feel as if I've landed in a great big space ship with sliding doors and voices, voices that fall muffled even when they are supposed to be clear.
Mary Wilkinson. That's me. Charts. History. Mother with breast cancer - deceased. Sister with Mastectomy - living. There was the woman in the waiting room puce chair with her husband. She was crying. Wait. Her husband touched her on the knee and drew her close into his arms. I tried not to look but I did. Her hair was beautiful. Perfect, it fell to her shoulders. She wore something like you would wear to an interview.
Mary Wilkinson. White room. So white. No dust here, nothing at all, no strands of hair. Consultant is overweight and his taste in shirts is dubious to say the least. Stripes. I know that his hands will palpate and explore my breasts. I think of the garden, at seven am. Yes, that's what I do. I walk down into the garden out of the white room and I am in my dressing gown and my breasts are exposed and the dew is still on the growth and I have a big bowl of hot coffee in my hands. I fondle the leaves.
Mary Wilkinson. DOB. History. Me. Breasts. I want to say I breast fed my three boys. My breasts are fine. I want to say I had a nightmare where I found six lumps in my breast. I do. I tell him as he searches for a volcano - for a potential eruption. He laughs at me underneath the white glare of light, the unyielding sound of doors closing. Permanence.
I see the ceiling and it reminds me of being in Connemara on a misty day when I look in desperation for a break in the clouds, a clearing, something to justify the long drive over the bumpy roads until a wave from a man in the bog consoles, a small gesture to reaffirm.
I see my breasts as nothing but warm figs on a platter in the early morning on a Greek island with the blue sea distracting my view and the figs lie untouched throughout the day until the evening causes them to shrivel a little, curl back into themselves.