The Call Of The City – Episode 39

daily serial the call of the city the people's friend

“Aunt Juliet?”

Juliet looked up at the sound of her niece’s voice.

“Hello, Grace.” She smiled tiredly. “Have you had a good day?”

“Yes, but . . .” Grace trailed off, looking apprehensive.

Juliet couldn’t blame her.

She was sitting here in the twilit shadows. She didn’t know how long she’d been in this chair. The last few hours were a complete fog. Almost.

“May I get you something, Aunt Juliet? A cup of tea?”

“Tea would be lovely,” Juliet said after a moment. “Thank you, Grace.”

She leaned her head back against the chair and closed her eyes as Grace went into the kitchen. She listened to the sound of the tap running, the clink of a cup, the switch of the kettle.

Everyday noises that comforted her, because right now everything else felt strange.

Her eyes fluttered closed.

“Aunt Juliet.”

Juliet opened her eyes and smiled at her niece who was holding out a cup of Lapsang Souchong.

“Thanks.” She took the cup, cradling it as she savoured its warmth.

Grace sat down on the chair opposite.

“Aunt Juliet,” she began. “Are you OK?”

Juliet took a sip of tea to stall for time. Her instinct was to put her niece off, to say lightly that of course she was, she was just tired.

But as the shadows spreading across the room grew longer, she realised she couldn’t. She didn’t even want to.

She was scared and needed someone to know, even if it felt unfair to burden Grace with her worries.

Her niece was already worried, so perhaps it was kinder to tell her the truth. A named fear was better than an unknown one.

“I’ve had some news today, and I don’t yet know what it means, or how serious it is.”

Grace’s eyes were wide.

“Does this have to do with the letter you got from the hospital? From the Neuro-oncology Department?”

“Yes.” Juliet sighed. “I’d been having headaches lately, and my GP referred me for an MRI. I received the initial results today.”

“And what were they?”

“I have a brain tumour.”

“Oh!” The single syllable was a soft cry as Grace looked at her in dismay.

“Oh, Aunt Juliet.”

Juliet took a steadying breath. Though she’d had hours where she’d done nothing but think about it, it still felt like a shock.

“I have a brain tumour.”

The words didn’t feel real. She felt as if she were in some drama or story. But no, this was real, all too horribly real.

“What does this mean?” Grace asked. “What are your next steps?”

“I have to have a biopsy of the tumour, to determine if it’s cancerous. If it is . . .”

The internet hadn’t been helpful, Juliet recalled grimly. She’d done a search of malignant brain tumours before stepping away from her laptop, trembling.

Ignorance was better sometimes.

To be continued . . .