In the waiting area his tired eyes skimmed his police division’s latest crime reports, brought to occupy his mind; each one unconsciously adding to his personal bag of pain.
A bell rang somewhere. A tea trolley rattled into the ward; a shiny, incongruous machine led by a drab assistant. He reckoned her last thoughts of love were surely aeons ago.
Shown to the room he sat quietly by her bed, his heart keeping pace with the monitor's bleep. At first he could find only sadness in her eyes that tracked his own, but soon a pale, feeble smile appeared.
The ageing detective took her cool, soft hand and squeezed it and held it tightly against his cheek, then pressed his mouth gently on hers and held it there. He rose and walked unsteadily away, left only with a precious, faded photograph of a pretty girl on a distant summer's day who had just been kissed on ruby lips.