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The Thirty Days of Magrat (part six)

 
Joe Spivey's picture
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Seeing any more patients now, with all the glass on the floor, was out of the question. Maisie had no choice but to go through to the waiting room and, after jokingly checking none of the four people there was dying, she asked everyone to come back in the afternoon.

By now, very few residents of Hope did not know about Magrat. Certainly, the waiting patients did. They also knew Jake Johnson and they had heard what he had had to say while he was being treated. Now, these people were pretty simple down to earth folk, but it didn’t take a genius to work out what had happened. Heck, the expression on that young girls face as she had run past, pretty much wrote them a book.

Even so, Maisie was still surprised when, rather than going home, all four of the patients had followed her back into the treatment room and quietly set-too helping her clean up the mess. They had almost finished when a very sheepish Magrat appeared around the doorway and stood, head down and silent, leaning back against the peeling doorframe.

The four patients and Maisie exchanged a silent conversation and just as silently agreed that they should leave Maisie and Magrat alone. As they passed her, each one of them either whispered something or patted Magrat’s arm. The sullen fifteen-year-old acknowledged each with a miniscule nod.

And then they were gone.

There were a few seconds silence, and it didn’t look like Magrat was going to be the one to break it.

“Hey.”

Magrat’s response was a shrug of teenage shoulders. Maisie tried again.

“I er, wasn’t sure I was going to see you again.”

This time, Magrat lifted her head.

“I’m sorry. I…”

But the words weren’t coming so Maisie supplied her own.

“Don’t be. I would have punched his lights out.”

Magrat managed a half grin.

“Er, you kinda did.”

“I did. Didn’t I?”

The awkward moment disappeared and both of them grinned like conspirators.

Then Magrat’s smile disappeared in an instant to be replaced by a strange combination of anger and puzzlement.

“The bastard had no right!”

And then the anger was just as quickly gone, leaving only the puzzled expression and the lack of words to describe it.

Maisie, however, knew exactly what it was. She had felt the flash of anger burst in her chest too. The difference being she knew exactly what had caused it. She looked towards the open treatment room door.

“The Doc is here.”

Magrat paled.

“Are you going to tell her?”

Maisie watched the doorway.

“Oh, I think she already knows.”

They both heard the footsteps coming across the tiled waiting room floor. Magrat moved away from the doorway and shrank backwards towards the head nurse, all the while following her stare.

Doctor Troy came into the room and went straight across to Magrat. She wrapped her arms around the girl and held her tight.

“Oh Magrat.” Releasing her from the hug, Tuki stepped back.

“I am sooooo sorry. I’m sorry about the Barrets. I’m sorry about Jake. Please believe me when I say that most people in Hope are not like them.”

Magrat looked Doctor Troy straight in the eyes.

“Most people in the camp are exactly like that.”

Tuki nodded and agreed sadly.

“I know. I know and that’s why it’s so important to turn you into a medic, someone they will respect.”

Magrat gestured to the chair where Jake Johnson had been sitting.

“Do you think it will make any difference? I didn’t see much respect and stuff going on there.”

Maisie stepped over to the chair and but both hands on the backrest.

“Arseholes like this don’t respect anyone, kid. Jake and people like him need someone to hate so they can hide their own weakness and fear in a mob of other like-minded arseholes.”

Tuki joined in.

“Hope used to be full of people like Jake. You couldn’t move without some arsehole winking at you.”

The small joke lightened the mood a little.

“When I first started visiting the camps it was because the partner of one of the inner circle was eighteen hours into a difficult birth. He had pretty much decided to kidnap me if I wouldn’t come to help voluntarily. And he had to guard me every second I was there because every guy there wanted to… well, you can guess.”

Magrat nodded. Oh yes, she could guess exactly what the men of the gang wanted to do to a young pretty woman who had walked so invitingly into their camp.

“But,” Tukiko continued. “After that one visit it, was the mothers who put pressure on the men to ask me to go back and help them too. It was also the mothers who kept the men away from me as I tended to them and their children.”

Tukiko folded her arms and looked up at the flaking ceiling of the treatment room.

“And then, one day, it was suddenly one of the men that needed my help. That changed things. After that we had an arrangement. The leadership saw that I was good to have around and, despite themselves, they respected the fact that I could take away pain, save lives and even bring new life into the camp.” She chanced a look at Magrat and saw that, though she was taking in what she was saying, the girl’s expression suggested that she wasn’t quite believing it.

“If you’ve got the skills, Magrat they’ll respect you. The mothers will see to that.” She grinned. “Even Longhands had a mother once. A mother who wiped his nose and spanked his ass. Little boys quickly learn that you just don’t mess with your mom, and they carry that knowledge all through their lives.”

Imagining Longhands as a little boy made everyone smile.

“So, what then?” Magrat said, the doubt creeping into her voice. “I just ‘get in’ with all the moms in camp and then everything will be cool?”

Tuki joined Maisie and leaned back against the operating table.

“It’ll help. So will remembering that Longhands wants this. He wants you to succeed, so he’ll be keeping a protective eye on you for sure. But really, it’s all about you having the confidence to deal with the inevitable ‘arseholes’, as Maise loves to put it.” She stopped and deliberately didn’t look at her head nurse.

“Who knows, you might even get so pig-headedly confident that you could probably punch a man on the nose and get away with it.”

While Magrat laughed, Maisie suddenly found something to pretend to be busy with.

Tuki crossed over to Magrat and held her hands.

“It’s all up to you in the end.” She flicked her head in the direction of her head nurse. “Maisie here can teach you, but you’ve got to have enough confidence to start with to believe that you can do it.” She paused and looked into Magrat’s eyes. “Do you?

Magrat hesitated for only a second. She had always been so afraid of the aggressive males in the gang. Their sudden tempers, their desires. This was her only chance of escaping it. She squeezed Doctor Troy’s hands.

“Yes, I do.”

Tuki almost jumped up and down, but remembered that she didn't do that anymore.

“Good! Now, I’ve just come from a meeting with my… I mean the mayor, and she suggested something that gave me an idea.”

Letting go of the now much happier teenager, Tuki addressed both of them.

“Maise. Find some scrubs for Magrat… And maybe do something with her hair?” She shrugged and turned to Magrat. “Anyway. Enough for today. Tomorrow Maisie is going to take you out on her rounds.”

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Hyle Troy's picture

Hyle sits back in her office chair smiling "Som mor så datter.. "

I would rather die peacefully in my sleep, like Grandad, than screaming, like his passengers



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