Thursday, September 24, 2009

Smoke Signals in the Night

DoctorProfessor Nyfenfork, in perhaps a bid to make me more compliant, has moved my house closer to the hospital.

And it almost worked! There was me, thinking that nobody noticed me climbing out the window after lights out, shinning down the drainpipe and legging it into my own kitchen for a cup of tea (the water in the house is so much more palatable than that at Saint Feasance's) when all the time I should have been alert to the fact that this was probably exactly what he (and Blackmann) wanted me to do.

But dash it, it's my own house; my own cups and spoons; my own cupboards and my own jamjars. I left the kitchen light off- the flame under the kettle cast more than enough light for me to feel comfortable; relaxed, even- especially when I thought about all the nurses clambering around outside, trying to be quiet as they spied on me, getting more and more vexed as they failed to establish even what room I was in (I don't glow anymore).

So I made a pot of tea and let it draw. The view from the kitchen window was different. How could it not be? If Nyfenfork had brought the garden along with the house then he mught have had a chance of bringing me around. But he hadn't, and all there was to look out upon was the walls of the hospital. This, however, comforted me. I had another biscuit from the tin.

As my eyes adjusted I began to be able to make out that the nurses, dressed in commando gear or not, were beginning to get steadily less stealthy as the night wore on and their patience grew thin. They were hardly even bothering to conceal themselves anymore.

Cheeky little faces in the dark, all scrunched up and serious. When I saw one of them yawning, I quietly put the kettle on again. Then I placed the biscuit tin in plain view on the table, and waited.

I could hear them talking out there, but I couldn't make out what they were saying. Then: more silence. After a few minutes of this the kettle boiled and I made a fresh pot of tea. It had been drawing for a couple of minutes when I heard the quiet knock upon the front door.

I took in a breath, let it out, and stood up. I was in no hurry. Then, with my hands in the pockets of my dressing gown I sauntered casually out of the kitchen and along the hall, all the while pretending not to see the eyes watching me through the letterbox.

I opened the door and made a good show of being surprised to see half a dozen nurses in commando gear standing there looking sheepish. Of course I asked them in.

It was warm in the kitchen and they were cold. They rubbed their hands together and eyed the biscuit tin. First one, then the rest, took off their balaclava helmets. "A vast improvement, ladies!" I said, pouring six cups of tea and giving myself a hot drop. Two or three of them smiled, shyly, whispering yes pleases or no thank yous as I offered milk and sugar. No-one refused a biscuit.

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