|Joey lifted her head. She had no idea where she was, how she had got there or whether or not be was actually awake. Her pain had not abated while she had been asleep, and she felt almost blinded. She felt so vague, in fact, that she was not sure whether she was dead or alive. The room span and she seemed to be floating on an unpleasant, dizzy haze.|
A nurse entered, bearing a tray on which lay a covered dish. She looked pleasant, and quite young. Her golden hair was pinned up in a neat little knot at the nape of her neck. Several curls fell from this knot, which was pinned quite loosely, and she patted these strands occasionally in a satisfied manner. She had bright green eyes and she was grinning broadly. She gave Jo a nod as she set her tray down on her bedside table.
"There you go, Mrs. Maynard, I know it's broth again and you hate broth, but your husband insisted. Oh, and, speaking of your husband, he'll probably be in to visit later."
With that, she left.
Joey stared after her in astonishment. Her head felt like it was pounding, if that was even possible, even more than it had been before the nurse had entered. She tried desperately to organise her flying thoughts.
"Mrs. Maynard...my husband..." Then it hit her. "Oh, no! Not Jack?!"
And, with that, she gave a deep groan of pain, and fell back onto the pillows again, once more unconscious.
Jo blinked and sat up again. She found that she was in her nightgown and was tucked up in a bed with crisp, snowy white sheets. The walls were painted a dark red and she recognised the room as the San.
She yawned and wondered vaguely to herself what she had done to herself to land up in here. After a while, she remembered the strange conversation she had had with Jack and she immediately came to the conclusion that it and her winding up in the San. were not unconnected.
A short time later, a young doctor - little older than her, thought Jo - entered the room. Something stirred deep in her mind and she had a vague feeling that she recognised him, but she could not put a name to his face, nor could she state exactly how she knew him, so she concluded that she had just seen him somewhere, or maybe just someone who looked a bit like him.
"Hi, Jo." he grinned at her.
"How do you know my name?" she asked. "Are you new?"
"Meh. Ish." he replied. "I've been 'ere a couple years. I was sort of always gonna work here."
"Right." replied Jo. "I haven't seen you before."
"Okey-doke." he said. "I've just gotta write down on this 'ere clipboard that you're awake. Is your bonce OK?"
"Your bonce. Your head."
"No. It still hurts ever so."
"A'right. I'll stick that down too." He scribbled something down on the clipboard that he carried. "I'm Reg Entwistle, by the way."
"Nice to meet you...Dr. Entwistle."
Reg felt slightly odd at this. Joey had never called him "Dr. Entwistle" before, except when she was joking around with him.
"Now." he continued. "Anything else you want to say - any questions, maybe?" He knew that amnesia patients would soon get up a large collection of these.
"Yes." said Joey, trying to fight off the sharp pain in the back of her head. "The nurse who was in here called me 'Mrs. Maynard.' What were the whys and wherefores of that? Dr. Entwistle, did I... did I marry Jack? Jack Maynard, that is." she added as an afterthought. "You may not know who he is."
The colour drained from Reg's face. "Ohhhhhhh, sh*t!" he cried. "Yeah, I know who Jack is..." He suddenly ran out of the room. "Oi! Jack...Jack... Oh, yeah, sorry... Dr. Maynard...Dr. Maynard! There's been a bit of a whoopsie..."
Joey, left to herself, and more than a little confused, at last succumbed to the pain, and fainted again.
"And she awakes!"
Jo looked up. The pain had, at last, gone and there was a different nurse standing in front of her.
"Good, good." said the nurse. Jo could see that she was carrying the same clipboard that Dr. Entwistle had been carrying. "Does your head still hurt?"
"No." replied Jo.
"Great. We were worried it wouldn't stop, see, and so we had to give you meds."
"Where's the last nurse?" asked Jo.
"She's been sacked!" the new nurse replied with relish.
"Weeeeell..." The nurse waved a hand. "Not sacked sacked, just sacked from looking after you." She whistled. "Boy, Dr. Maynard was mad!"
"Why?" asked Jo.
"Oh, there was just that minor slip-up when she called you "Mrs. Maynard"." A thought seemed to occur to her. "I'm Nurse Winterton, by the way."
"Hello, Nurse Winterton." replied Jo. "I'm Joey Bettany."
"Right." said Nurse Winterton. "Errr. Yeah."
"Ummm... Right. Now what do I say?"
"Why?" Jo sat up. "What's going on? I went to sleep and when I woke up, I was in a strange room and Jack was asking how old I was and what my name was and there were all these strange children and the next thing I know, I'm in the San. again and my head is just so sore and then I find that, during the course of this sleep, I married Jack, and I don't know what to think!" At this, she succumbed to the tears that had been coming on ever since she had woken up in the strange room and cried with vigour.
Cecilia Winterton was not a nurse for nothing. Jo was lifted up so that she was sitting up properly, then pulled into the young nurse's arms, and rocked slightly until her sobs subsided.
"Jo." Nurse Winterton knelt down by Jo's bed and looked at her patient seriously. "What is the last thing that you remember before you woke up in the strange room?"
"Well, it was an ordinary sort of day. I was doing my writing, and playing with the kids in the nursery - my nieces and nephews, you see. One of them, Rix, had a tantrum, and I got sent away by Rosa, who's in charge of the nursery. I had had a headache all day, you, see, and my brother-in-law, Jem, gave me something and told me to go to sleep. He's a doctor, you see, and he founded this place." She gestured vaguely round the room.
"And then you woke up and you were in a different room?" prompted the young nurse.
"Yes." replied Jo. "Do you know why?"
The nurse sighed. "Yes." she said sadly. "Joey, do you know what amnesia is?"
"A...amnesia?" stammered Jo. "N...n...no. Never heard of it."
"It's memory loss." said Nurse Winterton. "Good and proper. A knock to the head, like you had, can bring it on. Anna found you in the kitchen lying unconscious on the floor. It had been raining, and you'd obviously slipped over on one of your footprints. She got Dr. Maynard to come, and he brought you into the sitting room at Die Blumen, which is the room in which you woke up. At first he thought it was just a knock to the head, but then it turned out you'd ended up with amnesia, too."
"So...when is it now?" she asked. She knew that time had passed, as the first thing she had noticed had been that her hair, which had been down to her chin when she had fallen asleep, was now surrounding her in a huge pool. She had yet to decide whether she liked the effect.
"It's '84, love." said the young nurse sadly, before bracing herself for the reaction.
"'84." repeated Jo vaguely. "1984. So, how old am I?"
"50, love." Nurse Winterton told her gently.
"That doesn't add up!" Joey pointed out.
"No, dates in this world never do." was the airy reply. "It's what comes of having an author who doesn't know why she's in the top set for Maths, and can't be bothered to calculate ages properly."
"Oh." replied Jo. And then: "How many kids do I have?"
"I actually don't know!" laughed the nurse. "But, y'know all those kids as bounded in when you woke up?"
"All of them were yours."
"All of them?!" Joey was aghast.
"Well, some of them are adopted. I suppose it feels less weird when they all came in twos and threes."
"Mmm." replied Joey. "Are they like me when I was a child?"
"Depends on what you mean." replied Nurse Winterton. "Yes, they really take after you in personality, but no, they just haven't grown up in the same world as you. There's television - media's really taking off. Fish an chips, they're more mature, so they can buy their own chips, music - there are some pretty awesome bands like Slade out there, but there's this awful band called the Bay City Rollers-"
"I love the Bay City Rollers!"
The fair-haired nurse was back, with more broth. Nurse Winterton pointed a firm finger at her.
"Not a word, Willow, not a word."
Whistling, Nurse Willow set the tray down and departed.
"So, as you can see," Nurse Winterton told Jo, "they've brainwashed her as they've brainwashed thousands of other vulnerable young girls like her. Then again, Nurse Willow doesn't have a brain to be washed, sooo..."
The two women laughed together.
"You do actually have to eat that broth, you know." grinned the nurse. She was beginning to see which facets of the women she knew harked back from childhood. Quite a few, evidently.
Joey picked up the spoon and began to eat.
"Sissy, by the way." said Nurse Winterton.
"Oh, yes. Sorry."
Joey shook Sissy's hand, and the nurse left her to it.
Author's Chapter Notes:
A bit of profanity here - we now have Reg on the case!
Chapter End Notes:
Chapter complete. I think the bands mentioned are a bit too early, but they're the best I have.