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Abigail: Chapter 63
I became aware of a beeping sound coming from somewhere slightly above me, but when I attempted to lift my head to switch it off or turn it down, a searing pain flooded my senses. I must have cried out because the next thing I became aware of was Rob’s face in mine.
“Some people will do anything to avoid paying their way,” he said with a wink.
I tried to smile but it hurt. Speaking hurt too but I was determined to give it a go. The words came out all croaky and I was reminded of Muriel.
“Come closer.” I said the words in a whisper, hoping that Rob had seen my mouth move.
He leaned in. “Hello Charlie.”
I smiled again. Ouch! “Hello,” I whispered.
“Do you know where you are?”
“No. Am I dead?”
He laughed. “Nice try, but no. You’re in the hospital. In Barnstaple.”
“Did I miss Christmas?” I’d promised the girls I’d be home in time for Christmas. If I’d missed it I might as well be dead.
Rob shook his head. “It’s still Saturday. Daft cow, you’ve only been out about ten minutes!”
“Toby’s fine. In fact, we’ll have to wait and speak to the nurse, but I think you can see him. I’ll be right back. Don’t go anywhere.”
Ha! As if. I watched as Rob walked out of sight then closed my eyes. I must have drifted off to sleep again because the next thing I knew I heard voices in the room with me. It was Rob and someone I didn’t know. Rob was trying to persuade the other person that I was well enough to travel.
“But she’s drifting in and out of consciousness. We really can’t let her travel in her condition.”
“I’m only snoozing,” I said in another whisper.
Rob must have been looking at me and had seen my mouth move because as soon as I spoke he was in my face again. “Sorry, we missed that. What did you say?”
“I said, I was only snoozing. I want to go home.”
“See?” said Rob with triumph. “She wants to go home. Best place for her.”
The stranger wasn’t convinced but eventually, after another hour or so of observation, it was agreed that I could go home, on the condition that I went straight to my nearest local hospital if I felt even vaguely unwell.
“And no walking. Take her down to the car park in a wheel chair.”
A wheel chair arrived and I watched as Rob collected my bag from the cabinet next to the bed and hooked it over the handle of the chair. With my belongings all gathered up he turned his attention to me and carefully guided me into the chair.
“Your carriage awaits Ms Diamond.” He wheeled me carefully out of the emergency department and along a corridor. He looked round to make sure no-one was watching and then leaned into me and whispered. “But first, we have to make a little detour.”
The lift doors pinged open and Rob pushed me out and into another corridor. I looked around but didn’t recognise this part of the hospital.
“Where are we?”
“You’ll see,” he said. And with that he pushed me onto one of the wards.
He left me parked in the middle of the corridor while he flirted with one of the nurses behind the desk but he was soon back and wheeling me along the ward to one of the side rooms. A figure was standing at the end of the bed, her back to us, but when she heard us come in she turned and smiled broadly.
“Charlie! Look at you!”
I smiled and then winced. “Hello Abigail.”
“What’s happened to your voice?”
“Just a temporary side effect,” Rob explained on my behalf. “On account of her wind pipe being squashed apparently.”
“Goodness! Sound awful!”
She didn’t wait for a reply. Instead she came round the side of the bed and hugged me.
I heard myself groan.
“Ooh, sorry!” Abigail let go of me and then stood to one side for me to see the figure in the bed. “Charlie, I’d like you to meet Toby Rogers, my husband.”
“Nice to meet you Toby,” I whispered.
He didn’t say anything, just nodded his head in greeting. He looked like he'd escaped from a concentration camp. His cheeks were hollow and his eyes had sunk into his face. The skin on his forearm was dotted with cigarette burns and his hair appeared to have been pulled out in clumps. I knew he’d heal and the hair would grow back but right now he was like a shadow of his former self.
“How long are they keeping him in,” Rob asked Abigail.
“Just overnight. Doctor says if we’re very lucky we can go home tomorrow. He’ll need lots of bedrest of course, and plenty of TLC, but we’ll be home in time for Christmas.”
I looked at her and saw her eyes were wet with tears. All she’d wanted, since the first time I’d met her, was her family all together again in time for Christmas and now it was actually happening, I could hardly believe it.
“How will you get home?” I asked.
“Toby’s dad’s going to come and get us.”
“You don’t want us to hang on? There’s room in the car with us if you like?”
“You’ve already done so much, both of you. It’s fine.” She smiled, and then added in an undertone, “I think Saul will be glad to escape. Our Lucy can be a bit of a handful.”
Rob and I both pretended to look shocked, as if this was complete news to us. I didn’t think Abigail bought our act but she didn’t seem to mind, she was far too happy basking in the glow of her valiant husband’s return. She gave me another hug, promising to catch up properly after Christmas, and we said goodbye to Toby. His eyes locked onto mine and for the briefest of moments I thought I caught a look of fear in his eyes but when I looked again it was gone. I smiled, wished him a speedy recovery, and ten minutes later we were in the car and on our way towards home. Christmas Eve in Gloddfa Bont. What more could a girl wish for?