She blinked, peering at her laptop screen and re-read the email.
“The absolute fucking audacity. Just who does he think he is.”
Her pulse hammered at her temples, threatening to crack her skull. Temper uncoiled itself, rearing its triangular venom head. Her jaw clenched. Her nostrils flared. The past reeled off picture after picture, drumming it on rollercoaster tracks through her mind. Anger hopped into the driving seat, mated with insult, inviting her to enter the dumb room.
Her fingers flew over the keyboard, two steps behind her spewing mind spitting response after response. The trapped nerve in her back flared up, shooting a white fire hot lava ball straight into her sciatic nerve. She stood up and stretched, turning her waist. She sat back down and reading her reply.
“Rather save it as a draft. Give it a break.” She thought as she got up again, stretching her legs.
“No use responding in anger allowing him to draw you down to his level.” She mumbled to herself walking out to the garden. She grabbed her gardening gloves and spade from the patio table, walked to the flower bed and started weeding.
A sweaty, grueling hour passed in a minute. She put a hand on her lower back, stood up and stretched. Her thighs trembled. She rolled her shoulders and cracked her spine, stumbling back to the cool of the patio. Her mind white washed, she took off the gardening gloves, plopping them back on the table. She walked back to the flower bed. She bent down, her joints protesting and picked up the bag of weeds to empty in the bin.
She poured herself a huge glass of lemonade, adding extra ice cubes. She drained the glass in one humongous gulp, her throat aching.
She looked at the kitchen clock. “Shit I better get a move on or I will be late for my doctor’s appointment.”
She rushed into the shower, taking a moment’s pleasure under the cascade of hot water, then took a final shivering cold water rinse.
She drove through the traffic on automatic, her mind concentrated on finding a parking spot close to the doctor’s rooms in the busy parking lot. She entered the doctor’s rooms with five minutes to spare, announcing herself to the receptionist. A heavy sigh escaped as she sunk down on an uncomfortable chair.
“Doctor is running a little late.”
Her mind drifted back to the email she received. Irritation flared anew. She composed, discarded and re-composed an answer, making notes on her iPhone.
“Ms Wagner, you can come through.” She jumped. Her car keys slid off her lap. She bent down. Dropped her phone. Her face flushed, she walked into the doctor’s room.
She sat down across the desk from Dr Inga, mindlessly responding to the usual inanities.
“Your blood tests came back.”
“There are some irregularities, one in particular that is of concern.”
“We also need to double check on your blood pressure. It has been a month since you have been on the extra dose of medication. You don’t need to undress, just take your top off and lie down on the bed.”
The inflatable cuff of the sphygmomanometer tightened around her upper arm. Her pulse danced an irregular jiggle in her throat. Dr Inga frowned.
She followed Dr Inga’s instructions moving into different positions as she and took her blood pressure, readings, noting it down on a writing pad.
“You can get dressed now.”
She struggled with her top’s buttons, her numb fingers refusing to co-operate. Stoical she sat back down opposite Dr Inga, her face a non-committal mask, awaiting the verdict.
“…..you need to avoid stress. You won’t be able to travel back to South Africa with this frighteningly high blood pressure……” on and on and on the lecture went.
She left the Doctor’s Rooms in a haze, cicadas chorusing in her ears. She got home and made the appointments with the various institutions for the tests ordered by Dr Inga.
She turned on the TV, switching to her favourite programme and started dinner, refusing to go back into her study and switch on the laptop, knowing she will get pissed off all over again.
“I will deal with you tomorrow Mr Darling. You will wish you never wrote that defamatory email in reply to the request for a deposit for counsel’s fees.”
Her phone rung. She muted the TV, eyeing the wall clock. 9 am in South Africa.
“Hi Ben. Thanks for phoning. I assume by now you have read the defamatory email from Mr Darling?”
“Yes, can you believe the attitude?”
“Well, as usual you are copied on all emails in case you have to deal with one of my litigation matters when I am not there. Anyway, I was at the doctor again today. The prognosis is not good and I have made a decision to withdraw as attorney of record in all Mr Darling’s matters.”
“I agree one hundred and fifty percent with you. Especially with your medical condition.”
“Yip. It causes more stress than it is worth. The last court case I carried the counsel’s fees and he did pay me back. Since I have made the move to Australia permanent, my money is here now. So, I cannot carry the huge cost of counsel’s fees, neither can we afford to have our firm blacklisted for non-payment of counsel’s fees.”
“I agree and he knows a deposit is required for expenses. I wonder what is biting his ass.”
“Who knows. I don’t care anymore. I will prepare the necessary Notice of Withdrawal as Attorneys of Record and email it to you. If you could please sign it and hold it ready for service. I will draft a reply to that email and send it to you first. Once you are in agreement with the content of my reply, I will send it to him and copy you. Then you can serve the Notice.”
“Done deal. I have to go, I have a client waiting. Chat tomorrow.”
The next morning she got up, inspecting her heavy lidded eyes in the mirror as she brushed her teeth. She took a shower, scrubbing away the sweat of a restless night.
She went into her study and switched on the laptop. She deleted yesterday’s draft reply, attending to a formal professional response, including a Notice of Withdrawal as Attorneys of Record and sent it off to Ben.
She emailed her travel agent cancelling her flight.
4 PM. Her phone rang and Ben’s name flashed on the screen.
“Hi. I agree with your draft. Just keep it professional. I know how angry you must be. I am angry on your behalf. I printed and signed the Notice last night and it is ready to be served.”
“Okay. I am sending him the email right now so you can get our messenger to serve the Notice on him both at his factory and at his house today.”
“Will you still come to South Africa?”
“No. I have cancelled my flight. I have been warned that I should not fly with my current blood pressure condition. Mr Darling’s matter was the last court case I had scheduled and you know I was going to retire after that. He just made it easier for me. So, I will retire early and follow my dream to write a novel.”
“We are going to miss you.”
“That’s okay. I will still do consulting work for you when you need me to.”
“That’s a relief. I will most certainly take you up on that offer.”