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When the woman gets back to the house, the man is lying on the settee holding a tea towel against his head. Blood is seeping through the cloth on to his hand so that both cloth and hand meld together into one big bloody mass stuck on the end of his arm.

‘What is it? What’s the matter?’ says the woman.
‘Nothing,’ says the man. ‘I was asleep. I must have been dreaming and when I woke up I banged my head on the television. I hit it hard.’
‘Is it OK?’ asks the woman.
‘The television.’

The man motions towards the corner of the room where the television lies prostrate, its screen terminally blank.

The man and woman catch a cab to the local hospital, a huge complex spread over several sites. They drive around searching for the way in, but all the buildings look dark and empty. There are roads and car parks everywhere but no lights and no sign of life. The cab driver accelerates and brakes between speed humps to create a sense of urgency. He has no idea where to go. He follows the road as it winds between corridors of buildings. There are lots of signs and arrows but it is difficult to tell if they are useful. In. Out. All traffic. Building C. No Entry. Wards 6 to 11. Authorised Personnel Only.

Eventually they find Accident and Emergency. There is plenty of activity here. It is brightly lit and chaotic. Patients are being hauled backwards and forwards on trolleys. Uniforms come and go, exchanging pleasantries and insults. Visiting families huddle together in the corridors. There are white coats, face masks and latex gloves, clipboards and screens. Nobody can say what is happening.

The man and woman take their place in the waiting room. They know they must wait but nevertheless expect to be called at any moment. The neon lights are painfully bright as if to discourage people from lingering. The magazines are familiar, comforting, but dated – how quickly time passes but how slowly things change! Two young people are waiting for news of an OD case. There is a bearded man with haemorrhoids. A bag lady is trying to sleep. The woman on reception watches over them all, taking care of their details. A middle-aged couple arrive with Grandma on a trolley. She’s really out of it.

Eventually the man is given stitches. He feels no concern about his injury – it is no longer painful nor very interesting – but it is a relief to receive proper treatment. Somehow it makes everything seem worthwhile. The man and woman wander out into the warm night filled with the sound of distant sirens.

Back at the house, they sit together on the settee and look at the dead television. The black cat sits back on its haunches like a roo and licks a pink bald patch on its belly. Darkness has settled in the room once more and, without the glow of the television, the man and woman must adjust their eyes to it. The house has lost all definition now, there is nothing to hold it in place, no anima locus.

Peeling paint lines the walls like a delicate coral formation. As the man and woman watch, another wafer detaches itself and floats wearily to the floor. There is a new sound in the air too. It isn’t a plane or a train or a bus; the domestic appliances are innocent too. It is the far-off rumble of an engine, a powerful souped-up motor that vibrates in the air long before it becomes a real sound. The man and the woman can feel it idling, sitting in a street somewhere waiting for somebody to go. They talk about what needs to be done.

Soon it will be time to go to work.