“Here you go Dad.”
“What’s this?” The item in question was a medium sized, rolled up sheet of parchment, which seemed ordinary, but Patrick had some idea what it was. A drawing without a doubt, its context to remain a mystery until revealed by Timothy, but he was never this secretive with his drawings before. Timothy was getting rather good for his age and was usually proud of his artwork.
“It’s a picture and don’t open it.”
“Why? Isn’t it for your old man?”
“No and besides, you have loads.”
“Alright, but can I at least know who the lucky recipient is?”
“It’s for Nurse Mannion Dad.”
“I see, this must be a form of ‘thank you’ for taking care of your arm. Don’t you want to give it to her?”
“I do, but I thought it would be easier if you gave it to her since you both work together. Just remember not to open it, I drew it for her eyes only.”
“Okay Tim,” but as Patrick held onto the rolled up sketch, he contemplated his son’s request. It was rather tempting to uncover the subject of his son’s drawing. Patrick valued his son’s confidence in him, but he couldn’t help the curiosity in knowing what Tim had drawn for Nurse Mannion. ‘It couldn’t be anything embarrassing, surely it wasn’t a picture of him and Nurse Mannion,’ he thought to himself.
“Come on Dad, I don’t want to be late for school, again.”
“Right,” with his son in tow and the rolled up drawing held tightly at his side, they exited the flat. “We’re off then Tim.”
“Did you hear the latest bit today Trixie?”
The trio of gossiping nurses consisted of the reluctant Cynthia Miller, the eager Jenny Lee, and its ring leader, Trixie Franklin. It was a tradition first initiated by Nurse Franklin to gossip the latest details around the office and the events of Nonnatus House. A form in coping with their demanding jobs and served as comradery among the nurses, which usually got out of hand.
“I can’t believe it myself. Honestly, it’s not like we live in the 20th century.”
“That’s a bit harsh Trixie.”
“I’m sorry Cynthia, but I just can’t believe it. Even you have had some form of relations, but to never have been kissed, to never have experienced euphoria in that form, honestly.
“What are dramatizing about today, Trixie?”
All three heads snapped in the direction of their surprised guest, but to their relief, it was Nurse Mannion that found them gossiping and not one of the nuns.
“Oh Mannion it’s you, thank goodness. If one of the nuns caught us again, I wouldn’t hear the end of it. Especially from Sister Evangelina, simply frightful.”
“I would hope not, but you all know it’s not polite to gossip, especially here at the clinic.”
“We know, but I must tell you the news, you wouldn’t believe it. We found out that Jane has never been kissed.”
“Quite, not a single bloke out there,” chimed Nurse Lee.
While all three nurses exchanged looks, they failed to realize Shelagh’s discomfort over the subject. After her life in Aberdeen ended and her life in Poplar began, she never broached the subject of male relations or kissing. She wasn’t a prude, but it was rather hard to get asked out on a date or kissed when your suitor knows you live in a convent. The news of her rare living arrangements were always found out during school and university, even in nursing school. In the end, she gave up on the idea of finding such love and focused her devotion on the Lord and professional work.
“Well, I must say, I have noticed Jane’s reluctance in sharing and conversing. Then again, why are you surprised? We all live with nuns, don’t we?”
“That’s completely different. The nuns took vows and chose a life within the Order. I don’t think Jane has the same commitments.”
“Trixie, I think Nurse Mannion has a point. Why is it so hard to believe it,” added Nurse Miller.
“Well Cynthia, it just is and it’s quite sad.”
“Perhaps, we should let the subject drop before we deter any longer from our work. Did you get your charting done?”
“Really, that’s all you have to say…Shelagh?”
Shelagh was both astonished that Trixie used her first name and how she found it. It wasn’t a secret that she had a first name, but she simply didn’t like it. Her name meant heavenly, but over the years she felt incompatible with such a name and inadequate in its measure. It reminded her too much of her life in Aberdeen and at the moment, she was in the process of relinquishing her name before entry into the Order.
“Don’t look surprised, but I took a tiny peek at your work file. It’s rather pretty and we should have been on a first name basis ages ago.”
“It’s just, please don’t call me by my first name again.”
“What? It’s only fair, I didn’t mean to offend you.”
“I know, but it’s just that, I won’t be answering to that name for much longer. I wanted to tell you all when the timing was right, but I guess now seems appropriate.”
“Tell us what,” concern evident in Trixie’s voice and the nurses’ gazes upon Shelagh.
“Well, I made the decision to join the Order. It only seems right and fair to do so.”
At the conclusion of Shelagh’s statement, silence fell upon the group as their minds worked through her news. Shelagh held her breathe, anxiety flooding her veins in response to her coworkers’ words to come. In all honestly, she had hoped for a covert way in relaying her announcement and would have preferred Sister Julienne as the messenger rather than herself.
“I think that’s wonderful,” spoke the ever encouraging Cynthia after a few moments of unreadable expressions were exchanged between the nurses.
“Yes, I’m sure the Sisters are thrilled,” spoke Jenny.
“What do you think, Trixie?” Asked Cynthia, who noted Trixie’s grim and extended silence.
“You simply can’t Shelagh.”
“Trixie!” Exclaimed both Cynthia and Jenny, surprised by her outburst, but not by her view on the matter.
“What? I’m telling her my opinion, this isn’t…this isn’t tickety boo or what have you,” shifting her focus from Cynthia and Jenny to Shelagh. “You don’t really want that life. Last time we talked, we discussed the opportunities life truly has, I think-”
“Please, Trixie,” Shelagh had cut her off before the discussion could continue, which was threatening to break her hold on her emotions. “I have already made the decision and I wish you didn’t disagree. I am making the right choice, now if you’ll excuse.”
Shelagh practically flew with great urgency from the room with no specific place in mind. She had feared this reaction from those around her, questioning her choice in taking religious vows. There was no way for others to understand why the religious life was going to become her path and her life.
The last few weeks had led Shelagh to waver in her decision by a few experiences shared and by a few people, but her decision had been made. Especially by informing the nurses, which Shelagh thought would have alleviated her worries, but now she thought otherwise. ‘Trixie is just upset, there’s no reason to-’ but her thoughts were interrupted by an unexpected force.
A firm grip had encompassed her upper arms, had halted her step, and the near face plant into a broad chest that was wearing white. At first she was disorientated, unsure what it was that she almost collided in, but realized the white was a lab coat. A lab coat wore by none other than Doctor Turner, the strength that prevented her fall.
“Oh Doctor Turner, I’m so sorry,” her eyes met his and in that instant her worries a few seconds ago seemed miles away. Her own feelings and thoughts seemed blank as an unfamiliar sensation took over. Doctor Tuner had stopped their collision, but his hands remained on her arms, along with their close proximity. ‘Is this what it feels like to be held, to be held by a man’ were her thoughts right before he dropped his hold on her.
“Um, thank you for catching-.”
“No need nurse,” was his curt reply as he continued right pass her, resuming his initial course.
“Me,” Shelagh found herself whispering the single syllable of her interrupted sentence. She watched his retreating form with confusion and concern swelling inside of her. Wondering if something had happened to Doctor Turner.
He knew his words were short, but he had to leave. He didn’t mean to sound rude and he certainly didn’t mean to intrude on the nurses’ discussion. Patrick knew he should have made his presence known, but when he heard Nurse Mannion’s intended course of action, he was fixed in place. When he caught her, all he wanted to do was ask why and to shake sense into her but remembered he was nothing to her. He had no right to question her life, he had no right at all.
Once that realization dawned on him, his legs were on autopilot, resuming his route back to his office. He had slumped into his chair, feeling defeated as he reminded himself with disbelief that she plans on joining the Order as his eyes fell on the furled drawing.
It has been ages since I have updated this story! I hope you all liked the update, it’s a bit of a filler episode, but small develops took place for our lovely characters. I hope there are still people interested and I really hope you enjoyed it. You all are lovely and amazing, don’t let anyone tell you differently!