Sister Grace stood by the patient’s bed with a look of shock on her face. Only yesterday Doctor Roundtree had diagnosed coma due to an overdose of opium. He wasn’t supposed to make it through the night. He was, she thought, supposed to be dead! And yet here he was, his lidless eyes once more focused, his gauzed wrapped lips twitching in thirst. She bent down, took her trusty pipette from a pocket in her gown and dripped water into his mouth. She moved her lips to the side of his head where his ear had been and said gently “There there, Mr Antfarm, you’ll be better soon enough I promise you, I’m here to help and I’m going to take good care of you. I’m going to take all your pain away, I promise.”
Behind her, unseen by Sister Grace and standing stock still in the doorway, Nurse Rain’s eyes grew wide with the shock of what she saw.
“Nurse! Are you planning to start a new career as a door, by any chance?” Doctor Roundtree’s voice boomed out causing her to jump. Sister Grace stood bolt upright, slipping her pipette away into the folds of her uniform and glared at the young trainee. “Sister Grace, I’m sure this wee child could be better employed if she were actually allowed into the patient’s room, don’t you hmmm?”
“Er, yes doctor,” Sister replied, never taking her furious eyes from the young girl’s face, “I’ll make sure she is properly employed, mark my words doctor, mark my words.”
Nurse Rain gulped hard and felt an icy trickle of fear run down her back. Sister Grace’s livid gaze was too much for her and she dropped her own to her feet, her cheeks burning red as she moved into the room allowing Doctor Roundtree in.
“Now, let’s look at our patient shall we?” he announced the room, his tone patronisingly jovial. He moved to the the bed and gasped in surprise, “Good Lord! He’s conscious!”
“Yes,” said Sister Grace quickly, “I had only just discovered that myself,” she glared at the young girl covering by the door.
“Well that is excellent news, looks like you’re off the hook eh?” Roundtree said jovially whilst looking into his patient’s eyes.
“I beg your pardon!” exclaimed the ward Sister.
Roundtree looked up at her angry face, “Oh don’t take me to heart Sister, I merely meant that if he’s pulled through then there need be no investigation into any accidental overdoses. Now, have the patient cleaned up and I’ll return after lunch, eh?” He span on his heel and breezed past the young nurse without even seeing her. She looked up from under her bonnet at the fuming Sister and found her staring at the wretched figure on the bed.
“Sister?” she ventured timidly.
Without shifting her gaze from the patient, Sister Grace said in a voice dripping with ice “You will report to laundry and work there until further notice. I do not want to see you snooping around here again, am I understood?”
“Snooping!” Nurse Rain protested but was cut dead with a single stare from Sister. It was a stare that would have stopped a runaway train. It was a stare that would have made a bear turn and flee. It was a stare that drove the young trainee running down the corridor, tears steaming down her face. She would come back, she would. She would come back help because she knew that what the poor man in room fifteen needed more than anything was her help.
The moon was hidden behind clouds, a dull drizzle soaking the night. Inside room fifteen, a figure reached into its cloak and pulled a small glass pipette and a bottle of opium from a pocket and bent over the terrified face of the burnt man. “There there Mr Antfarm, I’m here to help you. You’ll be better soon. Let me take your pain away.”
To be continued…
All the “Far From Home” posts can be read here.