Luke’s father lies in a hospital bed in a private room. Luke stands at the foot of the bed, holding a bunch of oriental lilies he bought at Cork airport. Their scent is muted in the antiseptic hospital air.
His brother Terence and Terence’s wife Una sit at the old man’s bedside in a silence broken by the click of the morphine pump, then a clatter of crockery and muffled voices from the corridor outside. The old man seems dead already, until suddenly his blue eyes flicker open. ‘If you’ve come to get something out of me, forget it,’ he manages to say.
‘That’s not why I came,’ says Luke. The tremor in his own voice reminds him of the child he once was.
The old man closes his eyes and seems to sleep. Two nurses come in.
‘Sorry to disturb you,’ the older nurse says. ‘We need a few minutes.’
‘I’ll put those flowers in water for you,’ the younger one offers.