The ride over was unexpected and completely different than the other times they shared such a journey. Doctor Turner’s MG was fully repaired from their previous excursion and didn’t waver over the short distance to the clinic. ‘Thank goodness’ thought Doctor Turner. Even the chatter seemed to flow easily between the pair; filled with more probing questions on who bestowed Nurse Mannion her cigarettes. A short discussion on quitting and the alternatives available, for it was a poor health behavior they indulged in.
Shelagh should have been embarrassed by Doctor Turner finding her in that situation, but it seemed appropriate for him to know this fact about her. They had already shared a cigarette before and she quite liked how only Doctor Turner shared these moments with her. It might have been selfish on her part, but for the moment, she didn’t care. She would gladly ride over to the clinic with her colleague, but thinking beyond that would only serve in confusing her mind and future plans.
Timing, it would seem, was no friend to her these days, especially when the car ride ended. Their roles as nurse and doctor resurfaced once they stepped out of the car, but not immediately.
“Thank you Doctor Turner for the ride, again. I’m glad we made it this time.”
“So I am. I shouldn’t tell you this, but I thought for the sure the car was going to give out. I would have made us both late then.”
“I’m sure you would have thought fast on your feet or I would have out raced you over here.”
“Really now? I’m sure it would have been a draw at the very least.”
“But you forget that I am never late. I have a certain representation to maintain.”
The light heartened banter was a welcomed change in Doctor Turner’s opinion. These past few days were filled with constant worry over Nurse Mannion, especially after the pier incident. He was no Watson when it came to deducing people’s personal lives, but something about her struck him differently. She was a highly skilled midwife and nurse he had ever worked with and he desperately wanted to know more about her.
“As do I, believe me. In fact I’ll show you at the annual fundraiser in the coming week. Timothy insisted we sign up for something, you’ll probably figure it out soon.”
“Really? Sister Julienne did mention something about a fundraiser and how this year it changed location. I’ve never gone to it in the past.”
“Well, she’s right about that. This year the regional boards decided that Poplar should host it and Sister Julienne volunteered the services of Nonnatus House. You’ll surely attend this one, won’t you?”
It went unnoticed by Nurse Mannion that Patrick’s voice almost sounded like a plea, but he was able to keep his composer. It had occurred to him, while they were discussing plans for the regional fundraiser, how much talking they had done over the past week than the years of working together.
“I certainly won’t say no to helping out Doctor and I’m sure-” But before she could finish a voice of a formidable nun caught them both by surprise.
“Nurse Mannion and Doctor Turner, isn’t about time to start clinic? It’s ten past, get a move on you two.”
A huff escaped the nun’s flared nostrils as timely manner was never a questionable feature of Nurse Mannion, but definitely a fact about Doctor Turner. He was probably going over the moon on a new idea and conspiring with the fellow nurse.
“Hurry up now.”
“Yes, Sister.” Was all Shelagh could shout back as she was slightly mortified by being caught in front of Sister Evangelina. ‘Surely the Sister didn’t think anything of their chatting, which had made them late now. Oh dear.’ Shelagh thought, just when things were looking up.
“I guess we should get going then.”
“I suppose your reputation has been tainted now nurse.”
“You’ve joined the club of chronic lateness or tardiness. It’s good to know I’m not the only one now.”
Doctor Turner wasn’t going to let a slip up on time damper the great banter the pair shared. The awkwardness experienced before surely wouldn’t find its way again (or would it).
It might have been a jumble of emotions felt within Nurse Mannion or the silly smile plastered on Doctor Turner’s face, but she found herself laughing. Nothing, not even the impeding wrath of Sister Evangelina would have stopped Shelagh’s smile. They had shared another quick laugh and made their way to the clinic’s entrance.
They parted ways to their respectable posts, which couldn’t have come at a better time as the clinic engaged with a number of patients. Effectively consuming the staff of nuns, nurses, and physicians. Ordinarily, the staff would have been spread thin, but thankfully Doctor Turner’s clinic served as a teaching station once a week for the local nurses and volunteer services of physicians. However, not everyone was keen on the program, especially Sister Evangelina.
“I don’t know about you, but extra hands always get in the way if you don’t ask me Nurse Mannion.”
“You surely don’t mean that Sister. Ever since Doctor Turner allowed for the program, we are able to pull in a lot more help.”
“Yes, yes, but the health programs always implemented by Doctor Turner leave the rest of us to scramble around. You never know when he’ll add more to his plate or ours.”
“I’m sure the Lord knows what is in store for us. He wouldn’t send us tasks that we could not handle.”
Sister Evangelina’s demeanor softened a little and decided to speak her mind on a different matter. A topic that Sister Julienne unnecessarily worried about, in her opinion.
“Speaking of, I’ve heard from Sister Julienne you know. On your path towards becoming part of the Order and it would seem you have already started.”
“Oh, yes. I wanted to keep it quiet for a while, not that I’m ashamed, but I didn’t want anyone to make a fuss.”
“Wise decision, but you know Sister Julienne worries about you. In fact, we all do, it wasn’t long ago when we took you in. Sister Julienne and Sister Monica Joan care deeply, but I know you would make a fine addition to the Order.”
“Thank you, Sister. That means a lot to hear, but I wish they didn’t worry, no concern is necessary for me.”
“All the same. Now then, go on to see to our next patient.”
The approval of Sister Evangelina unknowingly weighted heavily on Shelagh. However, even with her blessing, Shelagh couldn’t shake off a knot forming in the bottom of her stomach. She hadn’t realized that soon more people would become aware of her life choices and by the fact that it was becoming real. ‘How would others react, how would he react?’ But her train of thought was interrupted. She looked on to see Doctor Turner holding the arm of a little boy, no older than eleven and realized it was his son, Timothy.
The gears that controlled her body went on instinct as she walked over, concern for both men driving her forward and just in time to hear their exchange.
“I texted you twice dad. It’s not my fault you don’t read them.”
“But I’m working Tim. Why didn’t you let the school handle this?”
“Yeah, you’re always working and I already told you why.”
“Excuse me?” But before the matter got out of hand, Shelagh decided to step in. From her own past experience, she knew their words would only escalate.
“Could I help Doctor? And hello Timothy.”
“The school sent him over with a cut. I don’t know why the school nurse couldn’t deal with this and Timothy knows he is not supposed to be out alone.”
“Hello Nurse Mannion. I told dad here the nurse was out sick and I’m not that young to walk the streets alone.”
“May I?” She looked at both Turner men for approval as she proceeded forward, gently grasping the poor boy’s arm.
“Well, it’s not a deep wound, but it’ll need to be cleaned and wrapped to avoid any grime. If you agree Doctor Turner?”
For a moment, she felt as if she overstepped her boundary. Timothy was Doctor Turner’s son, she was merely a colleague to him, even if she considered herself a friend to Timothy. But that thought was pushed out her mind as Doctor Turner’s face softened and replied with a calm yes.
“You’re more than kind nurse, thank you. You’ll be alright with Nurse Mannion Tim, and behave yourself. No cheek in front of the kind nurse.”
“Yes, dad.” Only Shelagh witnessed the evident eye roll from Timothy as Doctor Turner turned back to his previous tasks. Shelagh then steered Timothy to a chair in a quieter part of the clinic.
“You know Timothy, your father is just busy.”
“I know, but he could at least check his mobile from time to time. It’s not my fault the nurse was sick.” Shelagh could sense the boy’s disappointment and worked hard to think of a way to cheer him up.
“You know what Timothy, I heard from your father that the two of you are participating in some sort of fundraising activity.”
His face brightened up then, both as the prospect of actually going and the possibility of Nurse Mannion joining in.
“He actually told you? Does that mean you will also be there?”
“Well, Sister Julienne hasn’t told me much, it seems you know a lot more than I do. Would you kindly tell me more about it?”
The two jabbered on as Shelagh managed to clean and bandage Timothy’s arm while he tried to contain his excitement. However, the two of them were unaware of a pair of eyes watching them in-between patients. Patrick Turner knew of the fondness his son had for Nurse Mannion and vice versa, but he had never witnessed it before.
After Marianne’s death, she made him promise that Timothy would have the love equal to that of both parents and the presence of female influences. He had promised and not till today did he think it was possible to fulfill both requests. He could finally rest easy to know that the influences of the opposite gender were present, as he observed the mother-like hands that Nurse Mannion possessed.
As Patrick Turner looked on, he noted that Nurse Mannion continued to seem different. ‘Was it the light cast upon her or the new situations he found her in?’ Whatever it was, he wanted so badly to see more of her, no matter the capacity. He made up his mind and knew humility would become his new friend as he hoped courage could push him forward to Nurse Mannion.
Whoa, this took me forever to write up; I contribute it all to writer’s block and my hectic life, sadly. Thank you all who are still reading this, I’ll try to update sooner and hopefully this chapter wasn’t too terrible. Thanks!!