It's Wednesday night, late, nearly two weeks ago. For some reason, we've been out in the middle of the week and are both laughing.
There is something sticking out of our ridiculously inappropriate letterbox. It's the kind of mailbox where our mailman actually has to bend letters to squeeze them in. Been the death of many a fancy wedding invitation.
So I tug the sheaf of mail and out tumbles the catalogues for chemists I'll never visit and Thai restaurants about 30 kilometres from where I live. And a letter addressed to me. It's the only addressed mail in the entire bundle. The insignia looks familiar; and I think, that's strange. I've already had a mammogram this year.
I've already had a mammogram. By the time I tear open the thickish letter, I've rewritten my future; and I'm not laughing any more.
The letter tells me that as a result of my mammogram, I need to come in for another one. Believe me, I am pretty good at this medical stuff. If you come from a family with the kind of track record mine has, you go for check-ups when you are meant to go for check-ups. There's never been a diagnostic tool I haven't used. Again, the letter tells me that as a result of my mammogram, I need to come in for another one. And there are bright yellow lines of highlighter through key passages. The time. The date. The place.
Somehow, the night passes. As soon as I can make the call to the clinic, I do. I think 8am is too early but at 8.30am, someone picks up the phone. I'm hardly listening, my heart is beating so hard. The saliva in my mouth is sour as lemons. The next available appointment is the one that's already on the letter. There is nothing sooner. I think she says that the majority of people who get this letter end up being in the clear. Then I think she says that the majority of people who get this letter end up with cancer. There is blood thudding in my ears. No wonder I can't hear what she says.
And when I get off the phone, I have absolutely no idea what she said except that I would have to wait until 9.05am, July 26. They'd ring me if a vacancy came up - but that would be very unlikely. People don't cancel these appointments.
Did I sleep over those days? Astonishingly, yes. Did I talk to all and sundry. Astonishingly, no. I'm never private but this one time. In advance, I decide to take the day off work. Whatever happens.
I am at the clinic at 8.55am and I expect that it will be like all my other mammograms. It's not. A woman takes me into a separate office and tells me that I may have three procedures. The mammogram. An ultrasound. A biopsy.
And I hear the word biopsy and my legs turn to jelly and my vagina feels like it's falling out. Look, I say to whoever is making deals about my life, look, I'm not ready. As if you could ever be ready.
Move one: the new mammogram. I took photos of the last one because I have few inhibitions but I have no urge to take photos this time. It's over quickly. I ask the radiographer what she can see. She smiles but says she is no expert. I go to a waiting room. There are a dozen women in striped hospital gowns. Our breasts, our troublesome breasts, keep escaping, one wardrobe malfunction at a time. Some come and some go. Some tears. Mine, too.
A small neat woman calls my name and I follow. She is a breast physician who will be conducting my ultrasound examination. I lie on my back while she covers my left breast in runny cold gel.
And there is nothing to see. She can't find anything at all but I'm crying hot tears. She also says she's looked at the mammogram images of mine since 2007 and my breast tissue looks the same.
I leap up from the examination table with my breast still covered with glue; and maybe I looked too abandoned, too happy. She says: ''Don't forget to come back in two years.'' So it's not a leave pass forever. It's not a Get Out of Jail Free card. This week. This month. It's this time.
I leave the clinic and make sure I don't let anyone see my tears but others are crying too. And I hope to God it's for the same reason I am. Have you ignored your mammogram letter? Have you? Of course it's not pleasant. Your breast is smooshed. But it won't kill you.
If you haven't had a mammogram this time, go do it. It buys you more time.