“No, I have plenty of time,” he lied.
The minute hand on the clock has a nasty way of accelerating during lunch. Now this hand was flying across the watch dial, which annoyed Robert immensely, as he would have agreed to sit next to Martha for all eternity. He was spell-bound by this woman but attempted to appear business-like.
“I need the missing documents to ensure that your case is fully completed. You know what pencil-pushers are sitting in our state offices; they will notice any small piece of paper missing and everything will be returned.” He took copies of the documents from Martha and put them in his briefcase.
“Thank you, Bob,” Martha uttered. “You have no idea how important this is to me, and to poor James even more so. We need Medicaid like air. We can no longer bear the financial burden of the expenses.”
“I understand. If it’s no secret, what’s your husband’s illness?”
“Oh, don’t ask! What isn’t he sick with?! Five years ago, he started to have colic in his stomach. I begged him to see a doctor, but he did not listen. My husband was busy with work; all of you men think only about your career and don’t care about your own health. Well, and then…,” Martha sighed, taking a glass of orange juice from the table and raising it as though about to give a toast. “James was admitted to the hospital with acute pancreatitis. Then it all cascaded—ischemia, hypertension, diabetes, kidneys. Ah!” Tears came to her eyes.
“I am sorry.”
“It’s fine, dear Bob. Your break must have ended a while back. Sorry for having kept you so long. But sometimes I just want to share with someone, and there is not a reliable person in sight.” She carefully dabbed a napkin to the bridge of her nose, near the corners of the eyes, so as not to smear the mascara. Then she took out a makeup bag to get her face in order.