After being stung on the cheek by a wasp Delia’s face swelled and her throat began to close. By the time she reached emergency she was in serious trouble.
On release, days later, her face was still a little swollen but otherwise she seemed none the worse for her ordeal.
The next afternoon a radio program had made her laugh.
Gaz, looked puzzled. ‘Do that again.’
‘What are you talking about?’
‘You were laughing but you didn’t look like it.’
‘What do you mean?’ Delia dragged him to the bathroom. ‘Tell me a joke.’
The one about the rabbits always got a chuckle. Gaz reached the punch line. She felt the familiar mirth. But in the mirror her face stayed rigid.
Delia’s smile was gone.
But she could still cry. Tears cascaded down cheeks that had once puckered with joy. Gaz had to swallow his own gloom. God he loved that smile. It could light a room. Could he survive without it?
She held out a hand for him. He took it, squeezed, and, with barely a thought, told her, for the first time, he wanted always to be with her.
More tears flowed, Delia’s mouth set stiff beneath them. He searched her face for a sign. Then he saw in her eyes an unmistakable brightness.