Tina, the receptionist, smiles as the automatic glass doors close behind me. ‘Good afternoon, Mrs Sullivan. Lovely weather we’re having.’
I make my way across the carpeted foyer to the imposing marble-topped reception desk and sign the visitors’ book. ‘It is a beautiful day. Looks like summer is getting ready to make an appearance.’
She nods enthusiastically and prattles on about her plans for the weekend while I cluck and nod, feigning interest in her social life like a benevolent grandmother. She talks about camping or hiking; I’m not sure which, because after a minute or two I tune out and start thinking about my own weekend. I create a mental checklist of all the tasks I have ahead of me to make sure tomorrow will go off without a hitch. I feel a bit like a secret agent.
When Tina runs out of steam about her weekend plans I force myself to engage by asking her how things are going with the new boyfriend. She blushes before launching into a fresh round of chatter. Obviously I make all the right noises, because when she pauses she’s looking at me with affection. ‘Where’s your daughter today, Mrs Sullivan?’
‘Oh, one of the grandchildren had something on so I caught the bus. Didn’t want to let Frank down. He’ll be expecting me.’
She pats my hand. ‘You two are so sweet. You give me hope, you know? My mum and dad got divorced when I was eight years old, but when I see you and Mr Sullivan, well, it reminds me that true love really does exist. He’ll be pleased to see you.’
Maybe he will. It depends what kind of day he’s having. On a good day Frank’s eyes light up the second he sees me. ‘There’s my girl, my bride,’ he says proudly. He sweeps me into his arms and twirls me around. For a moment the years melt away and we’re two young lovers dancing at the Palais Royal. But on a bad day he calls to the nurse to complain about the silly old woman who’s wandered into his room.