His words washed over me, around me, through me while I focused on that tie. The knot had slipped down, revealing the top button of his shirt.
I couldn’t listen to what he was saying. It was as though someone had slapped a filter over my ears that only allowed a few words through. Words like prognosis, advanced and untreatable.
In all the years I’d known him, I’d never seen his tie loose. His shirt was ironed as immaculately as ever. His dark blue blazer fit his back, which was as straight as it ever had been.
I think the word ineluctable slipped into my ears. I don’t know what that means. Perhaps it was something else. Inelegant perhaps. Not incurable. It couldn’t be that.
That exposed top button would mean nothing to someone who didn’t know him. Some men’s ties sink gradually through the day. It’s part of who they are. Not him. In his case, showing a top button amounted to indecent exposure. I half expected a community support officer to march in and order him to cover it up.
Another word that sounded like weeks. I think he’d mentioned a few of them, no more.
Or maybe I misheard.
I didn’t matter. His top button said it all.