Staying at Daisy's(5)

By: Jill Mansell

Daisy blinked, pulled herself together. What was it she was meant to be doing now? Oh yes, talking to him.

But what was she supposed to say? Not ‘You lying cheating fucking bastard’, that was for sure. Oh no, that definitely wasn’t the kind of thing the doctor would have had in mind.

After twenty minutes Daisy rose to leave.

‘You go and wait in the relatives’ room,’ urged the kindly nurse who was checking Steven’s blood pressure, ‘and I’ll bring you a nice cup of tea.’

Daisy wondered why people always said that. It might be a truly horrible cup of tea but they’d still call it nice.

‘It’s OK, I’m fine. Just going outside for a bit, for some fresh air.’

‘Right, love, you do that. Is there anyone else you’d like us to contact?’

‘No thanks.’ Smiling briefly, to make up for her uncharitable thought about the tea, Daisy indicated her bag. ‘I’ve got my phone with me. I’ll go and do that now.’

In the echoey sloping corridor outside the entrance to the ward, she had to leap out of the way as a porter whizzed passed with a boy in a wheelchair. A girl in jeans and a navy Puffa jacket was studying the noticeboard intently. The fluorescent lights flickered overhead, accentuating her pallor. Daisy hesitated, struck by the fact that the girl had glanced at her then abruptly, almost guiltily, turned away.

Taking her phone out of her bag, Daisy punched out a series of numbers and said, ‘Hi, it’s me. I’m leaving the hospital now. I’ll be home by five.’

Less than a minute after pushing through the doors marked EXIT, Daisy slid back into the corridor. The girl in the Puffa was no longer loitering by the noticeboard.

Peering through the glass porthole of the outer entrance to the intensive care unit, Daisy saw her standing by the second door, the one that led into the ward itself.

She was being spoken to by the kindly nurse, and sobbing as if her heart would break.

Feeling absurdly jealous, Daisy realised that the nurse was being just as nice to Puffa girl as she’d been to her, only instead of offering a nice cup of tea she was handing her a tissue.

There was a bandage, Daisy now saw, round the Puffa girl’s left wrist.

Leaning against the outer door so that it opened just a fraction, Daisy heard the nurse saying in a warm, soothing voice, ‘I’m so sorry, love, but you can’t go in. It’s relatives only.’

The girl was distraught. If she hadn’t been crying, she’d be pretty, Daisy automatically noted. Then again – and maybe it was inappropriate under the circumstances, but she still couldn’t help thinking it – the girl might be pretty, but not as pretty as her.

Daisy eased the pressure on the door, allowing it to close once more. Now she really did need some fresh air. It was also about time she actually rang Hector, rather than just pretending to ring Hector. He’d be wondering where she’d got to by now.

Steven’s condition deteriorated during the night. By eleven o’clock the next morning, dry-mouthed and light-headed from lack of sleep, Daisy found herself being led from the unit and ushered into the bad news office. You could tell it was the bad news office, it contained comfortable chairs.

The consultant, who was in his fifties and wearing a crumpled checked shirt under his immaculate white coat, said, ‘Mrs Standish, I’m sorry. We’ve carried out the second set of tests and they confirm what we feared. Your husband sustained an extremely severe head injury. There are no signs of brain function.’

Oh God.

Oh God.

‘Right.’ Daisy nodded and gazed out of the window. It was raining hard outside. ‘So, basically, he’s already dead.’

‘I’m afraid so.’

There was a box of tissues on the desk in front of her. For the tears, of course. Daisy, embarrassed by her inability to cry, said, ‘Well, thank you for everything you’ve done.’

The consultant cleared his throat. ‘There is one other thing I’d like to discuss with you, as Steven’s next of kin. The opportunity to allow others the chance of life.’ He rested his long fingers on a form and slid it across the desk towards her. ‘I don’t know if you and your husband ever discussed the issue of organ donation, but in our experience it can be of great comfort to the family in years to come, knowing that—’

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