Lovers Never Lose

Entry by: Seth Dinario

29th June 2017
‘Lyall Martin.’
Lyall twitched back into a full awareness of the doctor’s waiting room. Despite the coughs and annoying kids, he’d been fully immersed in a daydream. It was the usual. Fern and him, walking together, talking, laughing. Kissing.
He walked past the pastel prints on the way to Dr Furlong’s room and was hammered by a sudden switch from delight to dread. He prayed for the hundredth time to the dimly-known god of his childhood. Please don’t let it be cancer. Fucking cancer. The silent psychopath that had felled both parents with a casual roll of the dice within a few years of each other.
Dr Furlong was waiting beside his door, neither grinning with elation nor seeming to pensively harbour bad news. Just plain, old, grey-suited Dr Furlong, with his cadaverous face and a firm gesture for Lyall to enter the room. As if Lyall was prone to breezing past and deciding to seduce a nurse instead.
‘Well, the test results are back,’ Dr Furlong said without preamble, settling into his chair.
‘And?’ said Lyall.
A smile lifted the doctor’s features momentarily. ‘Clear. The biopsy showed no signs of anything sinister. Your PSA level is normal. You’ve nothing to worry about – at the moment. You’re a fifty-five year-old man in reasonable physical shape. Vive la vida.’
Lyall pursed his lips and exhaled. His skin prickled with the delight so recently felt, and Fern’s features replaced the bland doctor’s. ‘Why don’t you screw me right here on the desk?’ she said.
‘I’m sorry – what?’ said Lyall.
‘I said you must be relieved,’ said Dr Furlong.
Lyall blinked a few times. ‘Well…naturally. My father was only in his late fifties when he developed –’
Dr Furlong sat impassively while Lyall babbled out his old worries. They both knew he was going over previous ground. The relief he felt gave his speech quantity, and before long it weighed upon him that there was an uncomfortable one-sidedness to the consultation.
When Lyall’s words ceased flowing, Dr Furlong said a strange thing. He said: ‘You won’t want to waste your life now, eh?’
‘I – I beg your pardon?’
The doctor placed his glasses on the bridge of his nose and peered at the computer screen with his head tilted back. He clicked the mouse a few times. ‘I said you won’t want to waste a minute. Now you’ve been given the all-clear,’ he said.
‘I heard you. I’m –’ Lyall’s mouth clamped shut. He wasn’t sure what he was. Provoked? Angered? ‘I’m just not sure I appreciate the implication that before the cancer scare I was wasting my life.’
Dr Furlong tapped a few terse, medical sentences into Lyall’s file before turning to look at him. He peered over his glasses, exactly like an admonitory teacher. ‘Lyall. We all waste our lives. If we’re not careful,’ he added.
Lyall picked at a patch of dried skin on the palm of his right hand. He frowned. ‘Hm. Well, thanks doctor. I’ll see you for my next checkup.’
‘Indeed,’ said Dr Furlong to his monitor.

Lyall drove home in the drizzle and thought about death. When he removed his shoes, he considered what it would be like to die fast and when he stood at the cooker, making béchamel sauce, he imagined the sensation of dying slowly.
While Lyall was stirring in some Gruyere cheese, the doorbell rang. He turned down the hob and padded through to the front of the house. Mary was already in the hallway. After strewing her boots, umbrella and bag all over the hallway, all in places they weren’t meant to be, she brushed past Lyall with a curt ‘Hi.’
‘Why did you ring the doorbell?’ he said, following her into the kitchen.
She peered into the saucepan critically. Gave it a stir. ‘Oh. I couldn’t find my keys. Then I did. How was your day?’
Lyall shut his eyes. ‘Good. I had that doctor’s appointment. I’m not going to die.’
‘Oh my gosh,’ said Mary, moving quickly beside him and awkwardly touching his arm, as if this spoke of relief. He opened his eyes. ‘Oh my gosh,’ she repeated, eyebrows steepled. ‘It completely slipped my mind. What did doctor…’
‘Furlong,’ said Lyall, considering the tiled floor as if inspecting it for damage.
Mary cleared her throat. ‘Well, what did he say?’
Lyall shouldered past her and considered the sauce before reaching for the milk. ‘Other than the biopsy results were fine? He said that I should no longer waste my life. Try to make the most of it, that kind of thing.’ Mary said nothing. She seemed to be waiting for further information.
When none came, she embraced him clumsily from behind and whispered, ‘I’m so glad.’
He looked at her in the chrome of the cooker hood and flashed a smile. ‘Me too.’

Lyall was no longer thinking about death. He was thinking about Fern. Other than a brief thought that he must drop by the solicitors tomorrow to push through with the divorce, he didn’t stop.