I tried to avoid the young men Gran wanted to set me up with

The People's Friend - - Short Story by Alyson Hil­bourne -

again. Where was she?

I opened the front door and looked right and left. Then I slammed it and ran to the back door. The sun was hot on the ter­race as I went out and there was the fresh smell of cut grass. Gran of­ten sat out there for lunch but there was no sign of her at the table.

I hur­ried down the steps, now quite fran­tic to find Gran, and that’s when it hap­pened. My shoe caught on an un­even stone and I fell, bang­ing my head on the dry lawn at the bot­tom.

Pain shot up my leg. “Chloe?” Gran came rac­ing over to me.

I tried to raise my head, but it was so heavy. I winced.

“I was . . . look­ing for you . . .”

“I was putting some tins in the re­cy­cling bin. Never mind that – are you OK?”

“Yes. No.” My voice was lit­tle more than a flut­ter of the wind.

I opened my eyes and closed them again. It was too much ef­fort. My heart was thump­ing in my chest.

“Chloe, can you move?” I felt Gran’s hand on my arm. “Chloe? I’m go­ing to phone for an am­bu­lance.”

I tried to lift my hand in a stop­ping mo­tion.

“No,” I whis­pered. “No fuss.”

“But you’re hurt! I daren’t move you.”

I glanced at the house and saw Gran com­ing back on to the ter­race. What a lot of trou­ble I was caus­ing.

“Chloe? Oh, thank good­ness you’re awake,” Gran said. “I’ve called the doc­tor but I think you’re go­ing to need to go to hos­pi­tal.”

I was protest­ing when we heard the front door. Gran left me to an­swer it.

“I’m the locum, Gary Lorimer.” I was vaguely aware of a youngish man with dark curly hair, wear­ing a suit. He put a bag down be­side me.

He care­fully checked me all over, and then phoned for an am­bu­lance.

“I think that leg needs set­ting,” he said with a smile. “More than I can man­age out here in the gar­den.”

I moaned.

“No. I don’t want to go.” “You don’t have a choice in the mat­ter,” he said briskly.

The am­bu­lance men strapped me on to a stretcher and care­fully lifted me on to the trol­ley. It was hideous, not be­ing in con­trol.

Gran came with me in the am­bu­lance.

She waited while I was taken for X-rays and checked all over. I was given numb­ing shots and then they straight­ened out my leg.

“They want to keep

you in overnight, Chloe, be­cause you banged your head.”

“No, why?” I protested, but I was soon asleep.

Next morn­ing I learned the ex­tent of the dam­age I’d done to my­self. My leg was in plas­ter up to the

“Do you live here all the time with your grand­mother?” he asked as he checked my pulse and tem­per­a­ture.

“No, I was just vis­it­ing for the week­end. But I’ve had to tell work I’m not sure when I’ll be back. I

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