The doctor held up the x-ray to the light box for Camilla and Sand to see. He pointed with his pencil as he spoke. ‘You see these areas of darkness here and here.’
Camilla nodded. Sand felt her hand reach over and tightly grab his knee.
‘I’m afraid that means the cancer has spread into your lungs,’ the doctor paused. Camilla let out a small sob, her head bowed. She knew what that meant.
Sand wanted clarification before he could believe it. ‘So the chemotherapy has failed?’
The doctor put the x-ray down and clasped his hands, leaning forward earnestly. ‘I’m afraid it’s worse than just the chemotherapy failing, Mr. Sand. The cancer has spread from the bowels. We will run tests but it appears to be in the pancreas and the lungs already.’
‘Then what do we try next?’ Sand asked. He already knew the answer, but he couldn’t accept it.
‘Anders, Camilla, I’m truly sorry. There is nothing more medically that can be done. We have to accept that all is left is to make Camilla as comfortable as possible.’
They returned home that afternoon having barely spoken a word to each other. Camilla had not let go of Sand’s hand for the entire journey in the taxi. They got in and carried on with the trivial things that make up life. Sand put the kettle on and made coffee. He cleaned up the lunch dishes from earlier and tidied the kitchen. They sat in silence until Sand spoke.
‘I will take a leave of absence from work,’ he said.
He had been saying that almost every time Camilla had a bad day for the last year since the cancer had first appeared in her bowel. Each time Camilla had told him not to. ‘You are needed at work, Anders,’ she would tell him. ‘This world is full of too many bad people, and you are needed.’
‘They can cope without me for a few months,’ Sand would protest.
Camilla would smile at him. ‘You act like you are cynical and tired, but you forget I know you better, Anders. You live for your work, you have a sense of purpose, a mission. You cannot sit by and watch evil go unfettered. You go do what you are good at, what you were always meant to do. The world needs it’s soldiers to fight in the dark.’
This time there was no argument from Camilla, just a resigned smile.
Four weeks after the doctor had shown them the x-ray of her cancerous lungs, Camilla Sand passed away.
Sand stood over the grave as Camilla’s friends drifted away. Gabi gave him a hug and told him to take as much time as he needed. The rain drizzled down over the cemetery.
‘Goodbye, my love,’ Sand said, looking at the coffin below him. He saw her smile at him from the armchair in their small apartment as he got in late once again from an investigation. She always sat up and waited for him to either get home or call to say he would be working through the night. No matter how often he told her not to wait up for him, she always would.
‘I have to make sure my warrior is safe,’ she would say.
‘I will always come back to you, no matter what,’ he would tell her.
Now she was gone. He had no one to come back to. What reason did he have to go on? What reason was there to fight in such cruel world? Camilla would have laughed at him and shaken her head.
He heard her again. ‘The world needs it’s soldiers to fight in the dark.’
Sand nodded to the gravediggers and watched as they started filling in the earth on top of the coffin.
Gabi looked in astonishment when Sand appeared at work the day after the funeral. ‘Don’t you want to take some time?’ she asked her partner.
‘This is what I do with my time,’ Sand said. ‘It always has been.’
Sand vaulted across the gangplank and skidded on the wet dock, crashing to the ground. He saw Dag Moen getting away. He saw Camilla sitting in the armchair waiting for him to return home. He heard her say ‘Get up, Anders. You have to fight in the dark.’
In the driving rain and wind, Sand hauled himself back to his feet and set off after his prey.
This is part twenty-four of my A to Z Challenge 2017. More information on the challenge, and other stories and blogs taking part in it, can be found HERE.
Throughout April I have published a section a day, relating to a letter of the alphabet, which in the end will make up a continuous story, all based round the objects found in this children’s jigsaw:
Other entries in the challenge, and a version of the final complete, joined up story can be found here: A TO Z CHALLENGE 2017.