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The Island 14: the homecoming
Friday 9th March 2012Sally Thomas, dressed and ready to go home, sat on the hard chair beside her bed. Occasionally she looked rather longingly at the crisp, smooth sheets. She had been longing for this moment, she felt she had spent an eternity in hospital. But now she was up and dressed she was surprised by how exhausted she felt and the idea of a little lie-down was very appealing. But she had watched Sue – the plump, smiley nurse who was all kindness and competence - making up the bed with clean sheets only an hour ago. Some new patient, would be needing that bed soon and there was no way that Sally was going to create more work by messing it up.
She shifted uncomfortably on her chair. The plaster on her leg was hot and heavy. She hoped Barry and Dennis would come for her soon. She was beginning to regret not going home in an ambulance. She might have been driven by Nurse Sue’s boyfriend; he was an ambulance driver, she’d said. And a life-boat man; he volunteered at the life-boat station in Bembridge. She looked round the ward. Against her will she had begun to feel quite at home here; she would almost miss all the bustle and activity, the gossip with the nurses. It was funny to think of it all going on without her.
Suddenly Dennis was there beside her, his round face crumpled with concern. ‘Barry is parked just out the front. Can you manage the walk Sal, or shall I get a wheel-chair?’
‘Of course I can manage,’ Sally said tartly as she struggled to her feet. Feeling weak and feeble was one thing, showing it was quite another. She bent to pick up her little case, but Dennis was there before her.
‘At least let me do that for you, old girl. Are you sure about the wheel-chair? I’ve always rather fancied myself as a hospital porter.’
‘Quite sure, thank you. But you could pass me that crutch. I’m sure I could manage without one, but the nurses are insistent.’
They made slow progress down the passage to the lift, then out through the foyer. Dennis kept promising HobNobs as a reward once they arrived at the car until Sally – who was surprised and disconcerted by the toll that this, her first proper walk since the accident, was taking on her – snapped, ‘a reward that you’ll enjoy much more than me, let’s face it!.’ And, crushed, he fell silent.
At the hospital entrance, Sally stopped, straightened up and breathed deeply. How delicious to feel the cold, fresh air in her nostrils again. Instantly she felt better. At the sight of them Barry, who had been hovering by his car, got in, reversed out his parking space and drove right up to meet them. Dennis opened the car door and helped her in. Barry reached over and spread a rug across her knees. ‘I never saw you two as mother hens before,’ she smiled at them.
They were barely onto the main road, before Barry broke his news. ‘The police have been on the phone. They want to know when they can come and interview you.’