[An] imposition, that’s all it was in the end, but it was enough at the time to put the black dog (of depression) on her trail. It was just coming into her fifth winter in Sydney, her degree was almost done and her PR was all but assured. Finding that lump on her breast was truly the last thing she needed.…
It was her boyfriend who first noticed the lump on the underside of her left breast. It was something of a miracle that he did as his rough tradie hands were no longer capable of refined touch. It wasn’t by any means an ideal relationship: he was thirteen years older than she was and experienced, and when he met her she still thought sex was a wondrous, mysterious thing. No more: he liked for her to dress up as a Japanese schoolgirl, which she knew was racist, but he fucked well and he paid her way, so she went with along it.
She always knew that the relationship was a short-term thing, a fling, but she kept it going as it suited her needs – a place to stay and some money every once in a while. He, however, was starting to drink more and more and this was making her uncomfortable. He wasn’t violent or even an asshole, but she didn’t like to see his blurry Gerhardt Richter eyes in the morning, and this scared her because she felt that maybe she was getting a little too emotionally attached.
All of this ceased to matter after they discovered the lump. He made no attempt to comfort her or ameliorate her fear: he just gave her fifty bucks and suggested she go see a doctor. When she asked whether he would go with her, he shook his head and said that he was already late for work and that, besides, it was probably nothing.
The fifteen minutes sitting on the doctor’s bed with her blouse off were the coldest, most frightening of her life. When it turned out the lump was not a cancer but an insect bite, most probably a spider, she laughed the whole way home. When she got there she quickly packed up her stuff and left.
A few days later she decided to give him a telephone call but he wasn’t there. All he heard was the recorded message of someone hanging up.
Written on Sunday, 29 May 2011