Monday, 23 April 2012

Things we like

   “He’s waking up Mrs Grey. Jane. Jane! He’s waking up.”
    The light behind my sore eyelids faded a little and a weight struck my chest: a soft, warm weight that leaked onto my face and neck
  “Peter, oh Peter, I thought you’d never wake up.”
She was quiet for a while and I put weak arms around her before trying to open my eyes. I saw fuzzy blurs mostly but then I managed too distinguish a blob that must be the side of her cheek, and a more distant, vertical blob that had to belong to the male voice. A doctor? “Hou.. Hou-ow!” It hurt to talk because my mouth and throat were so dry. 
   “’How long’, was that Mr Grey? Four weeks. You’ve been unconscious for almost four weeks. Let me examine you, for safety’s sake.” Jane’s warmth scrunched away to my side but my hand was clamped in her. Strange: I hadn’t known she had a grip like a vice. Painfully bright light closed each of my twitching eyes in turn andthen  cold steel chilled my chest here and there – as if the beeping machines weren’t telling the doctor more than any old-fashioned stethoscope ever could. Tradition, perhaps; or just showing us all who’s boss. I respected that.
   A cup of water brought my mouth and throat back from the dead. “More,” I croaked, and listened as I gulped the sweetest drink of my life. “What hap...pened?”
   “They found you after three days, all dirty and scratched and your clothes in tatters. I’ll kill that Lee when I see him. Him and his special contracts. Why can’t the rigs do their own maintenance? And why does it have to be so often?” Jane’s beautiful face resolved into a mask of anger, despite her eyes being full of love and welcome for me. “I know work on the rigs is nasty so you have to let off steam in the pub but honestly Peter, after what you did at the wedding I worry about you sometimes.” Ignoring our Amazon list altogether, Jane’s Sister had presented us with a canteen of silver cutery. It had six of everything and was probably intended for us to host dinner parties for her interesting husband and whichever unlucky couple were her flavour of the month. I’d thrown the box right back at her.
  “We’ go’ o’ ‘o,” I mumbled around the cup, “’ecos of elf’ an’ afety.“ I swallowed and put it down. “It’s Europe, right? They insist the companies hire external inspectors no more than thirty days apart. We’ve got to go, even at Christmas.” Her expression softened. She knew how much we both loved Christmas together and we hadn’t spent a whole Christmas Day apart since we were fourteen until Lee took me on as his assistant. And even since then we’ve only missed two in ten years - but they hurt us, even so.
   “Quite some lady you’ve got there Mr Grey,” smiled the doctor making to leave us alone. “She’s spent every Visiting Time for the whole month reading to you. Childhood stories mostly, and football annuals. Even your nursery reading primers. That took me back, I must say. And they brought you back, more importantly.” He beamed.
   My stomach lurched with hunger and then fear. “How long, exactly?” I shrilled.
  Concern darkened the doctor’s expression. “Twenty five days. They found you collapsed in the park twenty-five days ago.”
   “H… Hou lon’ til night t..time?” I burbled; waving a fuzzy arm at the bright window.
  “Why, it’s night already Mister Grey. That’s not the sun you can see; it’s the full moon.”
   I am Peter. This is Jane. I like Jane. See Jane scream. Run, Jane, run. Run, Peter, run. Play with Jane.     

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