"What's your name love ... no, don't try to move ... Can you tell me your name, Sweetie?"
"Okay, stay still for me now. Let's see what's broken." Hands roamed over the woman's body. "Okay, nothing broken, but I'm worried about your head." The injured woman was lifted into the ambulance.
The siren sounded loudly. "Ouch, my head ... that noise ... " Then bright strip lights flashed as she was wheeled down a corridor with her eyes screwed up.
"Can I have your name, please?" A puzzled look crossed the woman's face. "You don't remember? Okay, we can work on that."
"Her ID says she Mrs. Ruby Walker," the paramedic said.
"Okay, Mrs. Walker, we're sending you for an x-ray ..."
"I'm not Mrs. anything, I'm only nineteen."
"Have you got my makeup?" Ruby asked the nurse. "Oh dear, I must look a fright." She struggled out of her bed and crossed to the mirror above the sink. "What's happened to my face?" An elderly lady with grey hair stared back at her. "What have you done to me?" Ruby slammed her hand down on the sink.
"Calm down Mrs. Walker, you'll hurt yourself."
"I'm not Mrs. Walker, I'm Ruby. Stop calling me Mrs. I'm not a Mrs I tell you." Ruby threw herself on the bed, like a toddler in a tantrum. "Go away." She thumped her pillow. Then the tears came. The nurse left the room briefly.
"The doctor says for you to take this medicine." Ruby knocked the little plastic cup from her hand. The nurse retreated and left Ruby to get over her anger.
"Happy Birthday, Ruby. Time for your medication." She reluctantly took the little pills.
"I can't believe I'm twenty today." She grabbed her makeup bag.
"No Ruby, you're seventy not twenty, remember?" Ruby looked in the mirror and accepted the truth, for now. "We're going out today."
"Ooh, where we going, to the disco?"
"No Ruby, we're going shopping. Remember, we spoke about it yesterday. You need some new clothes."
"I can get a gypsy skirt ... and some hot pants ... and a smock ... ooh, and some espadrilles. How much money have I got?"
"Fifty pounds. That should get you a skirt and blouse, or a nice dress."
"Fifty? Ooh, that'll buy loads."
"Now let's go over things again, what's your name?"
"And how old are you?"
"And where do you live?" Ruby recited the address. "Okay, well, it's time for you to go home."
"You'll have ongoing support, but as an outpatient. Now, don't forget your medication."
"I know. But you're ready for that next step." 'That's what she thinks' was the thought going through Ruby's head. She was only nineteen; how would she manage without her parents' support.
"This isn't where I live," Ruby said, looking at the bungalow, "I live in a big house with three floors and a big garden."
"No, Mrs. Walker, this is where you live now. That other house, that was your family home, years ago." Ruby decided to go along with her. She'd had enough of being locked up. Inside everything seemed strange. Photographs sat on the window sill; pictures of strangers. "I've got to go now. I'll leave you to settle back in."
Left to her own devises, Ruby explored this new residence. "Ah, the kitchen, now where's the kettle?" After some searching she found everything she needed to make a cup of tea. She sat in an armchair positioned to look out of the window. "Ah, it's good to sit down." She wriggles a bit. "This feels kind of familiar." Before long she dozed off.
When she woke it was dark. "Where's the damned light switch." She followed the wall, groping for the familiar shape, then tripped over something on the floor, stubbing her toe. "Damned thing." She bent to discover a padded box. It was a familiar shape and feel. She knew without looking inside that it contained her sewing things.
The light switch discovered, Ruby picked up the little box and took it back to her chair. Every item held a memory. "My darning mushroom; now whose socks did I mend?" The buttons each told a story. "My school cardie, Mum's dancing dress, shirt buttons, dad's maybe?"
She put the box away and turned on the television. "Ah, Corrie. I wonder what Elsie Tanner's been up to?" But where was Elsie and who were these people? A knock on the door took her by surprise.
"Who is it?" she asked nervously.
"It's Dottie." Her childhood friend. She opened the door to a virtual stranger. "It's been a while, hasn't it." This old lady couldn't be Dottie, but she did look vaguely familiar, especially the eyes.
"When was the last time I saw you?" Ruby had no idea. "I read about your accident in the paper." The lady looked around the room. "You making tea?" Yes, that was Dottie. Her friend took the armchair near the fire whilst Ruby put the kettle on.
"How do you take it?"
"Milk and two of course. I haven't changed that much."
"Oh, you have. I see you've stopped bleaching your hair." Ruby had a picture of Dottie in her mind. Tarty blonde with skirts that were far too short. That's how Mum described her anyway.
"I'm trying to remember the last time I saw you. It was before I started work on the cruise ships." This meant nothing to Ruby. Damn her memory! "Remember Saturday's down the Maj?" The Majestic Ballroom, yes, Ruby had fond memories of that dive. "That's where we met the Walker brothers." Walker, that was her name, or so they told her. "Now I remember, it was your wedding, that's the last time I saw you. How is Bill?"
Who was she talking about? What wedding? "I'm not married." Ruby was getting confused again.
"Divorced him did you?" Ruby knew she would never divorce anybody.
"I'm not and never have been married." Ruby was loosing it.
Dottie crossed to the window and picked up a photo. "What d'you call this then?" She shoved the picture at Ruby. "That's you and Bill on your wedding day. Look, that's me in the bridesmaid's dress. Horrible thing it was too." Ruby backed away. Her head hurt. Married? If she was married where was this Bill? It was then she spotted the urn. On the front a plaque, 'RIP William Walker.'
She fell to her knees. "Bill, why did you have to die?" The memories and the tears came flooding back. She was Mrs. Walker, she was seventy years old, and the last five years had been spent on her own after she lost the love of her life.