Youll wait. Everything will feel, will be, upside-down. Above you, the shape of ordinary things will lodge in your mind for later. The line of boxy lights, running out of sight, each stark bulb masked by its own frosted casing. The smoke alarms like buttons on a placket of ceiling. Everything neat, controlled, bar a strange bloom high up in one corner.

            Mind, please,youll hear – the hospital porter, older than your father, deep-voiced, steering. Off we go, love,hell say, before youre trundled into the corridor. You will not find mint green a soothing colour.      

            In the lift, no one will speak. Youll be the only one averting your eyes. Youll smell rain on woollen sleeves, stale nicotine, a perfume too heavy for daytime. Youll see a moth trapped, back- lit, dead. Youll notice the music. Muzak, to be precise. For one precious moment this will distract you; the way it is something, and yet not. Half-baked.

            As the lift rises, airless already, curiosity will press around you. But there will be no wad of bandage, no translucent tubes piping mysterious liquids, impossible to say whether in or out. Youll feel an insane desire to apologise. Unable to stop yourself, youll remove your hands from beneath the covers. Theyll see nothing missing, nothing serious. Theyll be bored with you before the doors open.

            The doctor will be kind. A very common occurrence, Im afraid. You will wonder about the word procedure. It will tumble in your mind for a long time. Shell tell you it is simple, quick. Youll nod dutifully. You will be a model patient.

            At home, youll observe life in miniature: ants in a crooked line, a tiny curl of flaking paint, beads of water on glass. You will feel yourself reeling like a giant in a shrunken world. Your lover will take on extra shifts. Your mother will hem after whats happenedto the edge of every sentence. There will be no questions.

            The woman at the fruit shop will say you look pale. Youll astonish yourself by telling her why. Yes, Im fine now,youll assure her. Very common. Yes. True.

            But then shell take your arm and gently steer you outside, past wooden crates piled high with apples and pears. Shell look straight at you and say, Im so very sorry for your loss.

            The scent of the fruit will be almost unbearable. And when you cry out, she will not move away.