The cold ache of hospital light has stripped all colour from the hyacinths in my shaking hands. Each quiver releases heady scent into the air, suffocating, sealing up my nose and mouth. But I can’t escape the dank, medical reek that coats her skin. She is so small, the soft folds of her skin have ebbed into nothing and we can already see the skeleton inside rising up to take possession. How lovely your bones are, grandma. We are arranged in triptych around you, we carry false hope, hyacinths and cards. The bed is raised high above the tacky floors and crackles with starch as we sit. A low, omnipresent hum throngs the corridors, as if some huge bell has sounded. The harsh light bleaches us as white as the walls, everything is inescapably white, except the gentle yellow crepe of her skin, shrouded in hospital blue, the birdlike hands that sweep up and say hello. The room is filled with doppelganger women, the place is a charnel house of the abandoned elderly who lie and silently watch. I can taste the bitter machine coffee on my breath and I hope my kisses are not sour.