Joan knows she should be feeling something. Is aware in an abstract sense that somewhere inside her a toxic mix of anger, humiliation and pain is building, but it hasn't arrived yet, and for now all she has is a welcome kind of numbness. In the bad old days, Joan would have sought to prolong this sensation, this detachment, her solution found in handfuls of little white pills. She misses feeling untouchable, and knows that the craving will only worsen the longer she sits motionless on the bottom step, staring at the door Arthur had shut quietly as he left. Standing is more difficult than anticipated. The nausea returns with a vengeance as soon as she pushes herself upright, and Joan presses a hand to her stomach, waiting for it to lessen. A few seconds later it feels safe to move again and she drifts down the hallway, glancing into darkened rooms. Her home feels foreign, once-familiar outlines slightly distorted. She finally comes to rest in the kitchen, where an envelope containing her test results lies discarded on the table. Tonight was Joan's second attempt at telling him. Shit.
She snatches up the envelope, nails scraping against paper as she begins to tear feverishly, piece after piece fluttering down to land on the floor. She sinks down to her knees and continues to rip, smaller and smaller pieces until she sits gasping, surrounded by shredded paper. She tries to take a deep breath and is startled as a panicked, shuddering sob bursts free, too loud in the emptiness.