MRS. WILSON’S BREAK • by Avis Hickman-Gibb

“Mrs. Wilson… Rachel Wilson? Your X-rays are back, will you come through–the doctor will see you now.” The receptionist’s voice drifted into her consciousness.

Just when she’d got herself comfy on this very awkward chair, damn it.

“Come on, love,” a nurse smiled at her, “come through–we can give you something for the pain now.”

As Rachel slowly shuffled through the swing doors hugging her arm, she felt so… foolish. Painfully, she made her way to the railed bed in the curtained-off cubicle.   When faced with a climb, she gratefully accepted more than a helping hand from the nurse–in the state she was in, there was no way she’d have got up onto the bed. After the nurse settled her, she was left alone and the silence enveloped her; not too quiet–as when Billy was festering a temper. She could hear the friendly buzz of subdued conversations in the A&E department. Soothing, like bees on a summer day.   Really, she couldn’t understand how she’d let things get to this. How many times had she ended up here? She tried to remember and count up.

Too many, she decided.

“Now then, Mrs…Wilson,” said a brisk voice, as what looked like a fourteen-year-old schoolgirl whipped the curtains back and appeared suddenly. Rachel jumped; she must have dozed off. God! It seemed they got younger every year; Billy said that was a sign of getting old. He must be right.

“Okay, Mrs. Wilson… Rachel; do you mind if we call you Rachel?”

Rachel slowly shook her head; at least that would be respectful.   It was much better than some of the things Billy called her.   The doctor began her examination. Words were exchanged with the nursing staff; X-rays were looked at. It was decided–the arm was broken.

“Okay, then, Rachel… you’ve broken bones in your left arm–right?” The teenaged doctor raised her voice and spoke slowly at her. “We are going to pin them together, then plaster it–you’ll be a lot more comfortable afterwards.   Apart from that, you’ve got a fine collection of bruises.   You’ll be all colours of the rainbow tomorrow. But we’ll start by giving you some painkillers now. Nurse?”

Why is this little girl shouting at me, for Christ’s sake? I’m not deaf, thought Rachel. Grumpily, she watched the doctor write up the prescription.

“Do you have anyone at home, Rachel–to look after you–or would you like me to book a bed for the night?” The doctor exchanged a glance with the nurse. “It might be best to keep you in overnight–is there anyone you want us to contact, who’ll be worried about you?”

Was there anyone? Rachel thought: Well, there was Billy, out in the waiting room. He wouldn’t be happy about her staying in–even for one night. Who’d get his breakfast tomorrow?

“Well, if you think it best, doctor, then I’ll stay in.”

Relief made her mouth wobbly, and she thought: It would be like a little holiday; and who knows, maybe I could even stay in longer? Mrs. Wilson closed her eyes on a weak gush of tears.   You never think it will happen to you, and when it does you make excuses–he’s tired… or he’s disappointed… it was my fault, I didn’t think; I made him angry. I fell over.

It was like a bad dream. She’d had enough of it from her husband for all those years; now she was getting it from her son–his son, too.

Well, like father, like son–so they said.

Avis Hickman-Gibb lives in a small   market town in Suffolk, England.   She lives with her husband, son and two cats.   She is the only female in the house and it makes her feel so special.

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Joseph Kaufman