“Doctor and Nurse Mannion!”
Shelagh released Doctor Turner’s hands and jumped quite a distance as the intruder’s identity became clear.
“Oh, Fred! What on earth are you doing here?”
“I receiv’d word to pic’up your bike from the pier at the doc’s surgery. Terribly busy ya all‘re, so I thought I’d help. But wot’re ya guys doin’ on the side of the chuffin’ frog and toad anyways? I thought ya’d be back at Nonnatus.”
“That’s my fault, my car decided to stall our plans and I thought I could fix it. I don’t suppose you could give us a ride back, along with my car Fred?”
“Of course doctor, lucky I decided on my truck today. Or ya’d have to call the mechanics, very expensive. Might be me next quest, eh? Would do sum good wif that old Steve Claridge and ‘bit of financin’ genius. Well com’ on in, the weather’s poor.”
The tinge of pink on Nurse Mannion’s cheeks went without question for Fred, who thought it was due to the cold weather (which was partially true). It also went unnoticed by Fred how awkward the pair had become.
“Thanks Fred. Here, after you nurse.”
Sandwiched between Fred and Doctor Turner was not ideal for Shelagh, yet she didn’t voice her concern to either of them, especially Doctor Turner. The moments recently shared just added to her confused state.
‘Why now were things starting to get complicated?’ She thought to herself. Her path shouldn’t be congested with these complicated emotions, yet something was starting to bloom that Shelagh wasn’t ready to accept.
The car ride back didn’t help either as Shelagh endured it through a high degree of concentration to Fred’s recount of his day, rather than the proximity of Doctor Turner. Soon the trio found themselves turning the corner to Nonnatus house and after gathering her bike, Shelagh thanked Fred and Doctor Tuner for their kindness. However, as she made her way back to the familiar steps of Nonnatus she was suddenly stopped by a tug.
Turning she was realized what the cause was, Doctor Turner.
“Nurse Mannion, I really hope I haven’t ruined your day off.”
“No, not all. It’s just as well, I promise you.”
“Well, I still hope we can keep our appointment.”
“The café? Surely you haven’t forgot, I did promise you a warm cup.”
“Oh, well surely you’re too busy and I wouldn’t-”
“Not at all. When I get a free moment and you as well, we’ll leave for it. See you again then.” With that Doctor Turner turned back to Fred, leaving Shelagh dumbfounded by his insisted request and outcome of the day.
The days that followed were uneventful in comparison to the encounter between Doctor Turner and Nurse Mannion. The days were filled with community work and round about care for the residents of Poplar. Along with overdue health initiatives brought out by the government’s national health services. The report that came out last year predicted the fall out of the NHS spending and funding. The problem had no solutions and no exceptions, not even for the primary care services of Doctor Turner’s practice that included the antenatal care of Nonnatus house and the clinic.
The nuns reconciled their worries with pray and trust in the Lord to steer the nation’s economic problems to clearer ground. While the nurses found reconcile through gossip and distraction elsewhere, it was Shelagh who felt stuck on middle ground, with concern for a certain someone on her mind. The nation’s health was a constant worry, but was set on the back-burner as other problems were present before Shelagh. However, the start of her day was no different until a simple conversation with a fellow colleague had Nurse Mannion’s head spinning afterwards.
“Nurse Franklin please stop withering about the latest trends. We have work to complete.”
“Nurse Mannion how can I stop when there is so much going on with fashion! A lady can never overly expose herself to it.”
“Well if that’s how you truly feel, maybe I should ask a Sister for help or opinion on the matter, perhaps Sister Evangelina?”
“Perhaps I shall continue this discussion after I’ve completed the charting then.”
“I think that would be more than appropriate.”
“You know, you really are a tough stickler for the rules.”
“Well, one of us has to be Nurse Franklin.”
Both stifled smiles as they continued to work, but after a few moments of companionable silence, a thought dawned on Nurse Franklin that she had to voice.
“You know Nurse Mannion, you can call me Trixie and I could start calling you by your first.”
“My first name is Trixie, well Beatrix, but no one really calls me that. Anyways, Nurses Miller, Lee, Brown, and even Jane call me by my first name and I do the same to them. I would think after years working here, you would as well. Why is that? Only the Sisters ever call us by our last names, but that’s due to strict professionalism.”
Shelagh was taken back by her question, for the request seemed obvious, yet strange.
“I suppose, since the Order has been my home I tend to mirror its teachings.”
“But you’re not a nun, you can live more openly and try the experiences the world has to offer. There’s so much out there, such as traveling or going out to the clubs.”
“I see your point. I really do, but I don’t know think that’s a life intended for me. I grew up within the Order, the safety of these walls, and was able to get my education through its charity. University was completed thanks to Nonnatus and I feel more than compelled to repay. I made it so that the majority of my NHS salary goes back to Nonnatus and this community.”
“I see, but that doesn’t mean you can’t experience the life of a young women, similar to my own. Perhaps one of these nights you’ll grant the nurses and me the company of your presence?”
‘If only that request would have been months ago’ thought Shelagh. The invitation to join in on the nurses’ nights out were always a desire of Shelagh, but she had just started the path of a postulate. She had already informed Sister Julienne of her plans, which couldn’t be changed.
“Thank you for your offer, but presently we are too busy for that. We have to finish the rest of these charts and check in with our patients. I’m going to take a quick break before I’m off to Doctor Turner’s clinic. Please carry on,” but before she exited, Shelagh turned back slightly, “Trixie.”
With that, Shelagh escaped the nurses’ room, without a glance back and failed to see the smile across Trixie’s tinted lips.
Shelagh found herself outside and wondered where that came from. First that conversation and second, her acceptance to call Nurse Franklin by her first name. True, she had known Trixie the longest, yet it never seemed appropriate to do so, but now it felt as if things were changing.
‘My head really does hurt and what I’m doing isn’t helping.’ Shelagh thought as she reached into her pocket and grabbed two items. An old brass lighter and one single cigarette were Shelagh’s guilty pleasures and used rarely; so rare that this was her second cigarette out of the whole year.
As she brought the now lit cigarette to her lips she couldn’t stop the words that Doctor Turner had asked her only days ago, which shifted to a conversation with Sister Julienne.
“What name would you take my dear?”
“Well, I was thinking Bernadette, after the saint and well…” Shelagh trailed off and blushed at the superficial reasoning behind her choice, but Sister Julienne knew her far too well.
“And for your love of the classics, the ‘Song of Bernadette,’ which is more than acceptable.”
Sister Julienne smiled genuinely, but soon a small frown started to peak its way through. “However, my dear I have heard from Sister Monica Joan that your respite, apart from midwifery, has been spent in sadness. She told me that the ‘young bird that found a nest now falters.’ Whatever is the matter?”
“I’m not sure, I don’t know why she would say that. I know Sister Monica Joan always means well, but that’s not the case. I’m perfectly content and there’s no room for concern Sister.”
The last part sounded hollow to Shelagh’s ears, but she didn’t need concern. For if her choices were to be inquired by the ones she loved the most, she too would start to question them.
“Very well, but you know that you can always turn to me my child, even if you require-” But Shelagh didn’t let her finish.
“Thank you Sister, but I best be going now. I’ll see you later for compline.”
“Yes of course.” With that Shelagh was off and left Sister Julienne with more questions than answers.
The dragged out puff did nothing to ease Shelagh’s thoughts and only allowed for a brief distraction of her worries. Then her mind switched to another memory, the last time she had a wee puff of another cigarette.
It was rather an intimate moment shared with Doctor Turner and it would seem that more of those were repeating themselves. It was an innocent observation and she allowed a tiny smile to spread across her face as her mental list was continuing to grow. ‘I wonder if Doctor Turner has noticed these moments or my odd behavior. If he hasn’t I shall count myself-’ but before she could finish her train of thought, she was confronted by another intrusion as of late.
“Sergeant! Just the person I was looking for.” Doctor Turner turned up yet again on a private moment of Nurse Mannion, but this particular out-of-place behavior brought a smile to his face.
*cough* “Doctor Turner?” *cough*
“I’m sorry nurse. I must have a knack for catching you at inopportune times, but I must say, I’m surprised yet again. I really didn’t take you for a regular smoker.” He had a twinkle in his eye and found himself relishing in the occasion.
“Please Doctor, you shan’t tell anyone. Especially Sister Evangelina or Sister Julienne…” her eyes were downcast then from embarrassment “I told them a while ago I would stop. But I’ll have you know I am not a smoker, not a regular one, occasional at best. Besides these were gifted to me.”
“I’ll make a promise not say a word, for I am in the process too. A few years’ worth in quitting, but we both know how well I have done, especially after a tough birth.”
“Yes, I do remember. Well, uh, you looking for me?”
“Earlier you said ‘just the person I was looking for,’ well here I am.”
“Oh yes, well I was talking to Nurse Franklin and wanted to know…” But at that moment Doctor Turner found his mind scrambling for an excuse. ‘What do I say? I came all this way to know if you wanted a ride to the clinic, even if it’s a block away and I never have asked any other nurse, just you? That would seem unprofessional and could possibly scare her away. Think man.’
“Well I was on my way to the clinic, but I wanted to know the status on the Ridson pregnancy from Nurse Franklin. Then I remembered you were next on rotations and I thought we could go together? My MG has been fixed and carpooling is great for the environment.” The last bit made him cringe internally as he thought about it. ‘She rides a bike everywhere Patrick.’
“Oh, well I don’t see why not. We are going in the same direction, but as long as my break remains between us.”
This time Nurse Mannion had a different take on the day, perhaps these shared experiences were meant to be and there was nothing to worry about.
“I promised didn’t I, but I must ask. Who were they from?”
“Let’s just say she’s an eccentric bird.”
With that the pair set off again as concern was squashed for the time being just like the first cigarette bud shared.
“And as the days they flew by
You were the one by my side…”
Oh my goodness, this took me so long to update and my only excuse is finals, which literally took the life out of me. Thankfully that is all in the past now, it was ugly, but somehow I got through it. I hope you all liked this chapter, it was super long and I still have my reservations over it. Nonetheless, I really wanted to update this story and hopefully the next chapters will be better. Thanks!