Gran as­sured the hos­pi­tal she could look af­ter me

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

knee with a strange sort of boot thing to wear over it.

“Don’t put any weight on it for sev­eral weeks. We’ll X-ray it again,” I was told.

I was then is­sued with crutches.

“Is there some­one who can look af­ter you at home?”

“I can.”

I looked round. Gran was stand­ing there next to my hos­pi­tal bed. My fairy god­mother. It wouldn’t have sur­prised me if she had been wear­ing tulle and car­ry­ing a wand.

“No. It’ll be too much for you,” I ar­gued.

“Non­sense. You did a big shop yes­ter­day, and there’s the vil­lage shop. You’re bet­ter with me than on your own in the flat. We’ll man­age.”

Gran took me home and set­tled me on the sofa with books and mag­a­zines.

The door­bell rang. It was the doc­tor who had come when I fell. This time I reg­is­tered dark brown eyes and high cheek­bones un­der the mop of curly hair. I couldn’t re­mem­ber his name. I’d been too woozy at the time to take any­thing in.

“Oh, er, hello,” I said. “Hello,” he said, cheer­fully stick­ing out his hand again. He had a firm grip. “Home visit to check on the pa­tient. Make sure she’s set­tled in com­fort­ably.”

“Oh, fine. That is . . .” I thought about all the things I should be do­ing, and about Gran look­ing af­ter me. “Fine-ish.”

“I’ll make some tea,” Gran said, dis­ap­pear­ing out of the door.

My face coloured. can’t drive at the mo­ment.” He nod­ded.

“So a few weeks, then?” I nod­ded again.

“Me, too. I’m fill­ing in at the surgery while one of the oth­ers is on hol­i­day. It’s a nice vil­lage, isn’t it? I’d love to get a per­ma­nent po­si­tion some­where like this.”

I blinked and looked out of the win­dow. I loved the cot­tage but had never thought of the vil­lage as some­where to live per­ma­nently. It was just where Gran lived and I vis­ited.

“I sup­pose,” I said.

“I’ll see you to­mor­row,” he said and raised an arm. “I’ll see my­self out.”

“The doc­tor seemed very nice,” I said when Gran came back into the room. “He’s com­ing to­mor­row.”

“I’ve just made tea,” Gran said with a frown. “I thought he was stay­ing. And I like old Doc­tor Mer­chant bet­ter. He wouldn’t rush off so quickly. More ex­pe­ri­ence than that young whip­per­snap­per.”

I tried out the crutches. They were un­com­fort­able and rubbed my arms, and were very tir­ing to use.

I wouldn’t be run­ning any marathons any time soon, but at least the throb­bing in my leg had stopped.

Each time I flopped back into the chair Gran bus­tled around, mak­ing sure I was com­fort­able and had books and a drink to hand. I think she was en­joy­ing hav­ing me to wait on.

The fol­low­ing evening the door­bell rang. Gran was out in the gar­den so I limped slowly out to the hall to an­swer it. It was the doc­tor again. “Hello,” I said, wob­bling slightly to keep my plas­tered leg up. “How’s the pa­tient?” “Frus­trated,” I said. “There’s so much I need to be do­ing.”

“And how’s your grand­mother? It’s hard work look­ing af­ter some­one who doesn’t want to be looked af­ter.”

He gazed at me for longer than was nec­es­sary and a cur­rent of heat rose up my face.

“Well, let’s see how you’re man­ag­ing,” he said. I of­fered him some tea. “That would be nice,” he said. “I wasn’t par­tic­u­larly look­ing for­ward to go­ing back to my digs.”

I hopped into the kitchen and he fol­lowed me. The ef­fort of mov­ing ex­hausted me and I slumped down in a chair.

“I’ll do it,” he said, so I di­rected him to the mugs and the teapot. We sat and talked. He told me how he was look­ing for a per­ma­nent po­si­tion.

His shoul­ders slumped and he gri­maced as he said it.

“You can stay for din­ner if you don’t mind spaghetti.” Gran’s voice came from the other side of the door.

My face coloured. Had she been out there lis­ten­ing to our con­ver­sa­tion all the time? I’d thought she was in the gar­den.

I saw him hes­i­tate and my heart raced. What had Gran done? How em­bar­rass­ing for him.

“Of course you don’t –” I be­gan.

“That would be lov –” We both spoke to­gether and then laughed.

“I wanted to ask you if you’d come out for a drink but I know how crowded the pub gets and that’s not easy with crutches,” he said.

I nod­ded.

Gran came into the room and smiled at us both.

She laid six cour­gettes and some thyme and rose­mary on the ta­ble.

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