José's dimples had got lost among the scars and pustules that formed a waffle grid on his fat cheeks. He knelt meekly with his grandmother as she beseeched St. Jude for a miracle every morning. He endured her scrubbing his face with witch hazel each night without complaint. When the girl who wore a diamante g-string and sat next to him in the viola section poked him in the ribs with her bow because he was pushing the tempo, he told her she was prettier than Kate Moss, and she told him he could kiss her ass.
The next morning he got up half an hour early, poured the witch hazel down the drain, set St. Jude on his brother's skateboard heading down the hill and tuned up his viola with a different ear.
Tanya crouches beneath the table in the ward, hidden by a long grey cloth. She sculpts soggy pasta leftovers into the crack in the floor, a gaping hole shaped like half a heart.
Pregnant Nurse Patel wears a headscarf and mutters prayers as she knits a striped sweater in bold colours of lamb curry, mango atchar, pimento relish, tandoori fish. Each stitch is a prayer for the soul of her unborn, a pink and green watermelon growing under her white uniform.
Tomorrow night the pasta plug will have shrunk from the edge of the hole and fingernail slivers and strands of hair will have embedded in it. Tanya will drop her pills through the hole again, and will make another plug: mashed potato, mushy peas, or white bread chewed until it's pliable.
She will remove the old plug while Nurse Patel casts on cuffs. She will study the plug's half-heartedness and then will slip it into the hoary curtain where the lining has ripped.