La fuite en héritage de Paula McGrath
She is beginning to think this meeting will never end. Round and round they go, though they must know they won’t reach any conclusions. How could they? The law is the law, and unless it changes, all they can do is what they’ve always done: their best. God, would Sean ever shut up. He doesn’t have the details; no one does. It’s all speculation. Would have, could have, should have. So much for his scientific training.
She tunes him out. The strips of sky between the vertical blinds have darkened as rainclouds gather in the late afternoon. It’s looking unlikely that it will hold off until tonight, as forecast. If they would only finish up here, she might manage to get her run in before it starts. But it is her professional experience that meetings are not about coming to conclusions. Rather, they act as safety valves, where frustrations can be expressed to prevent them being expressed in less appropriate circumstances. Unfortunately, a lot of hot air gets released in the process. It’s always the same one or two, the ones who love to hear themselves speak. She’s never understood it herself. When her opinion is sought, or when she has one to express, she states it succinctly, so much so that her contributions to the minutes have become a standing joke: a page from Sean, followed by one line from her.
—It could be our turn tomorrow. Then what? We’re still none the wiser on where we stand. We don’t want to get caught up in a scenario like that, dragged through the legal system. If the legal system itself doesn’t know what it wants, how are we supposed to know?
On and on. This latest medical scandal is a very real concern, and it has her on edge as much as the rest of her colleagues. Morale is low, and more and more staff are requesting time off for anxiety-related illness. But more than worry, what she is feeling is guilt. NMP, one of her patients told her yesterday, when her breakfast tray slipped accidentally, dousing the bedclothes in tea and cornflakes. She had to ask what it meant: Not My Problem, the new mother told her – as, in fact, propped up in her bed feeding her infant, it was not. And increasingly it looks as if this current debate will not be her problem for much longer: Ken’s email arrived this morning.
A heads-up to let you know the job is yours. Offer in the post. Hoping you will be leading the team very soon, K.
Ken, Jeffrey’s protégé. She doesn’t appreciate his little insider’s heads-up. Even the term grates.
—We do need clarity, she agrees, when she realises Sean is looking at her. But her attempt to show support backfires, and he launches into lengthy agreement with his own argument. She sits back in resignation, maintaining the neutral expression she has perfected over decades of dealing with the same topic, behind which she hides her impatience with the futility of his tirade, and her urgent desire to walk out on the whole pointless debate. But she hasn’t made up her mind if she can go as far as to leave the country.