Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/2274125-Marnie
by Zehzeh
Rated: E · Fiction · Contest Entry · #2274125
Best friends forever
'You look like you've been dragged through a hedge backwards.' Personally, I thought that Marnie's comment was a bit unkind. Usually, I valued my best friend's opinion but sometimes, just sometimes, I could do with a soothing platitude, not being clobbered over the head with a sledgehammer. I admit I was a bit disheveled but then, it was hardly surprising. I had just shot, headfirst, into a hedge and had to crawl out backwards. A hawthorn hedge. With big thorns. My bike remained in the ditch, front wheel spinning lazily with an expensive wobble. 'You've got blood on your face.' She added flatly.

Most people think that Marnie is totally detached and lacking any faint trace of empathy. It is easy to think that the blank face mirrors a soul blank of emotion. Wrong. It is the outward wall of fortress which both protects her from more hurt and imprisons her with her pain. I know. We went through it together and she protected me. Now it is my turn. But a bit of sympathy would go a long way at times like this.

'And my shoulder hurts.' I can do mild and uncomplaining too. I had heard it crack as I smashed into a stump. Agony was close to the real thing. As I slid down the bank into the ditch, funny things happened to my vision. It sort of swirled, in a dizzy, coruscating mandala that promised my stomach that it would empty soon. That is when I passed out.

I surfaced briefly in a noisy, rattling box, filled with pipes, tubes, dangling things and a pungent, penetrating odour. A face, topped with an impossible ginger fuzz, blazing blue eyes and mouth obscured by a pale blue mask drifted into view. I tried to swing a fist to bash away a mask, hissing with that malodourous gas, but a cool hand held my fist. Marnie's whisper of our secret words calmed me and I fell back into the whirlpool.

The recovery room was dark and cold. A nurse was dozing at his desk, his face flickering in the changing display in the computer screen in front of him. A steady bleeping told me I was still alive. Above my head, a bag filled with a clear liquid dripped something into my bloodstream. I tried to move. The whole of my left side did nothing. Lifting my right arm was like moving it through half set concrete. Too much.

'Take it easy.' Marnie's voice laughed in my ear. 'They had to pin you back together again.' She was silent for a few breaths. 'It was a good thing you were wearing a helmet. It could have been a lot worse.'

'What?' My voice was an unrecognizable croak.

'Shhh.' I felt, rather than saw, her move. 'I'm not supposed to be here.' A drift of cold air and the nurse was standing beside the monitor.

'Hello there.' He had a nice smile, all crinkles and twinkles. 'Do you know where you are?'

'Hospital?' I went with the no-brainer. 'Post op?'

'We fixed your collar bone.' He checked the settings on the drip machine and tweaked a setting. 'You had a bit of a brain bleed but we caught it in time.' I did not find the smile reassuring. 'Mister Callan will see you shortly.' I wonder why doctors are Doctor but surgeons are Mister? 'On a scale of one to ten, how's the pain level?' His finger hovered over the drip control. I thought about it.

'One.' Beautifully numb. I smiled. It was the first time in a long time that nothing twitched, ached or graunched. Bliss. I closed my eyes.

They put me in Ward 34, Surgical. My shoulder was strapped up and immobilised. I had a bald patch, stitches and a dressing over the hole in my skull. Two black eyes. Various scrapes and punctures from the hedge and a gash that needed a further half dozen stitches. There were six beds on my half, four of the other five with women in various stages of recovery. Across the transecting corridor was six beds for male patients. Typical NHS* set up. Mixed wards. I wished Marnie was there.

Mr Callan and four of his students made a bed call and he explained all the ins and outs of the injuries both to my bones and to my brain. I had been lucky not to break my neck. Doubly lucky that an ambulance had been called right away. Even so, they had air-lifted me to the hospital. I still do not remember it.

Marnie did not visit. She knew I was being cared for. I was stuck in Ward 34 for six days, then Ward 22, General, for another four days. By then, I knew that I was not going to see Marnie here. I was disconsolate, I missed her so much. They discharged me and I went back to my lonely flat with a daily visit from a motherly carer, who looked at the photo on the shelf.

'What a pretty girl.' She picked it up and held it to the light. I wanted to shout at her not to touch it but clamped shut my jaw. She must have seen my expression. 'She is very special to you isn't she?' With gentleness, she placed it back, exactly as it had been.

'Her name was Marnie.' My throat filled up. 'She saved my life when we escaped from the war.' I had to say it. I forced it out. 'She's always with me.'

'They always are, pet.' I think she had her own ghosts. 'They always are.'


*NHS - National Health Service - British health care service.
940 words
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