'Moon' by Healah Riazi
When the receptionist with the grumpy eyebrows isn’t looking I slide my way past the desk and take the route I have now walked forty eight times since you have been sleeping. Conscious of my eyeballs darting around suspiciously, I keep my head down where I have now memorised the square speckled tiles that beam in clinical streaks. I take the first left to the nearest doorway and my footsteps whisper up the stairs, now just one dark spiral. Through the glass doors there are sounds of machines rolling down the corridor and beeping hearts. You are two flights away and I feel like a fugitive on the run. I keep to the edges where it is darkest, wait until the blue pinafores are busy or have gone; I rehearse the route, the speed at which I will take this route and the backstory I will regurgitate should I be found out. I take a deep breath as if about to go under water and open the door to the ward. Your room is the fourth on the right. You are past the man with the new liver and the woman with the broken spine. I flit past dimmed rectangles of windows until I get to yours, click the door open and see you inflating in balloon breaths; a slow, methodic rhythm. I say hi, walk closer, touch your fingertips, wonder what you are dreaming about. Your skin is like tissue paper and your veins cross in purple threads on your eyelids. For a moment I do nothing but watch. Try to pick up where we left off in my head. A heated discussion about Gary Barlow and the drug years; we are making honey sandwiches in the kitchen, listening to Grace Kelly, dipping knives into pots not knowing that the rushing in your chest is slowly about to stop. And now I wait; patient, next to your bed, counting days with the moon, listening to the room as it ticks.