“Allan’s been moved to Velindre Cancer Centre”

Allan had been my mother’s partner for most of my life. He had lived with us since as far back as I could remember, all the way through to my leaving for university.

“I don’t know the details”

He’d been unwell for months – back pain had left him mostly bedridden, and repeat visits to the doctor had seen him diagnosed with nothing more than muscle strain and repeat prescriptions of analgesics. Last week he’d finally been sent to the local hospital for more thorough tests.

“I haven’t told Sam yet. We’ll go and visit [Allan] tomorrow”

Sam is my eleven year old brother, Allan’s son. He knew his dad was unwell, and they’d been planning to visit him in the hospital today. The sudden move, however, changed plans. I don’t know what excuse my mum gave for moving the visit back a day, and I have no idea how he’ll react when he finds out how serious things are.

But what about me? How do I react to this news? Simple.

I nod my head.

I unpause my game.

I return to my shoot-out.

And inside I writhe a little – not in sadness, not at the tragedy of the situation, but in horror at my lack of emotional response, and at my willingness to just ignore this change of circumstances and just play my game. I’ve got to get to a point where I can save, after all!

I am pathetic in my lack of pathetic response.


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July 2010
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