Copyright© 2010 by ExtrusionUK
Romantic Sex Story: Chapter 7 - A long, rambling tale describing the adventures of a idealistic young man and his encounters with the corporate world - or how his bank balance improved and his social life got a lot more complex. (Chapters vary in length and sexual content)
OK ... back to Debbie's perspective, again...
It was an old building, but it had been looked after with some care. In fact, as hospitals go, it had a sort of reassuring solidity, Edwardian brickwork providing a sombre background to the constant bustle of staff and patients, and the technology and infrastructure more recently bolted on. And there was a lot of technology around ... a ventilator, portable ultrasound, more beeping machines that I could not begin to identify.
Even as I surveyed the scene, sipping a plastic cup of too hot, bitter coffee that someone had given me, I found my detachment disconcerting. Of course, I had always known it would come to this ... known that at some point I would find myself in a hospital, surrounded by technology and trying not to get in the way of staff who were...
Staff who were trying to save the life of a man I loved.
We had had, that detached inner self told me, a wonderful few days. We'd gone to Rye, in East Sussex, where we'd first spent a weekend together (Phil joking that the hills would give his wheelchair a proper work out) and then on to Ribblesdale, where he'd been a boy scout. Climbing trees and crags, I thought, running and playing with other fit, healthy young people. I wanted to give god a good kicking, I wanted to ... I wanted to roll back the clock, for this not to have happened, for this not to be happening.
But it was. Phil's tumour had finally broached the last healthy bit of his spinal cord, more abruptly than anyone had predicted. He was alive, conscious, to an extent, might even have been able to speak if it weren't for the tubes. I'd given the staff a copy of his Living Will - he had no desire to live on machines only until his autonomous functions gave up the ghost - and what they were now doing was, really, pretty much palliative care. He knows what's going on, I thought, so just give him the coup de grace But that, of course, would be illegal. So I stroked his hair, tried to keep in his field of vision - could he still see with the drugs he'd been given? No one could tell me. I tried not to break down completely.
Finally, a nurse and a doctor took me to one side, the nurse experienced and kindly, the doctor young and frightened. It was the nurse who spoke.
"I'm afraid, Ms Jensen, that its over. Mr O'Hare is dead."
For a moment, I stared aghast at Phil - at his corpse, some part of me put in - not recognising the change. But, no, there it was - there was no light in his eyes. The man I'd loved, the man I'd wanted to father my children, the man ... was dead. I put the coffee cup down somewhere, looked around a room grown suddenly strange ... and didn't cry.
I felt, in fact, entirely vacant. I felt like a large part of me, the feeling, sensitive, caring part of me had been removed with a scalpel. I dealt with some official stuff almost routinely - Phil had been a committed supporter of organ donation - then I found myself outside, roll up in hand, with no clear idea of where I was, how I'd got there.
I think I sat there for some time. Actually, I know I sat there for some time. A nurse came and sat beside me after a while, gave me a roll up, didn't speak, just sat there with me. I don't know how he knew that that was what I needed.
Eventually, I got up. I couldn't face going back to the hotel I'd been staying in with Phil, so I wandered into town, found another, checked in. I was carrying a lot of Essentials - incontinence pads, skin salves, all the accoutrements of life with a paraplegic - so maybe my lack of other luggage didn't raise an eyebrow. Or maybe it was the platinum card that smoothed the way. Whatever, I got a room, collapsed on the bed fully dressed ... and fell soundly asleep.
I woke feeling smelly and crumpled but in control, somehow. I knew I had stuff to do - give Phil's family the news, get in contact with Work, sort out where I went next. What I did was eat a really bad hotel breakfast - I was ravenous, I discovered - and then sit on a park bench for a while. Realistically, I needed to head for the station and the London train; in the interim I was quite content just sitting there in the late autumn sun. I knew I needed to phone people, though, so I fished out the mobile and stared at it. Somehow, it just didn't feel appropriate to call Dave - and in any case I could easily imagine just how busy he must be. So I stared at the thing for a while.
And then I called May from CareSpan.
I know I went back to our hotel, picked up luggage, paid the bill, did stuff in town and finally got on a train, changing, I assume, in Leeds, and eventually got back to London. I don't remember any of it. Not a thing. Except that I found myself walking down a platform at Kings Cross, even then only vaguely aware of the crowds of people amongst me, the various obstacles and obstructions that always seem to be scattered about ... I was moving on autopilot, most of my mind having simply switched off for the duration.
A hand touched my arm, gently, then more assertively as I seemed to fail to notice ... or to stop, as I apparently should have done. I looked around, startled out of my reverie ... and found myself looking at May, looking at me with kindly concern. For a moment, I didn't recognise her, then I found that I didn't know what I was supposed to do. I must have stood staring at her for a few seconds, as people jostled and shoved past us, and then I began to cry, very softly. She took me in her arms and hugged me.
It was about half an hour later, by which time I was sitting on the sofa at May's home, sipping from a cup of camomile tea, before things began to coalesce into some semblance of normality. I'd stopped crying in the taxi - it was never really a big thing, more a way to relieve the pressure in my skull rather than any outpouring of grief. I knew that would come - I had been preparing for this for months, of course - but I didn't know when. For the moment, I was aware only of that horrible sense of detachment and an odd hyper sensitivity to the taste of the tea ... which was vile, of course, being organic and caffeine free ... and the light touch of May's hand on my thigh. What I was supposed to do, what was expected of me ... I hadn't a clue.
I felt that I could have sat like that for months, but May gently pulled me out of my self-absorption, quietly but firmly reminding me that there were practical things I had to do. Which included, of course, phoning Phil's family - his brother and his parents - and apologising for giving them the news so belatedly, then contacting the Hospital to let them know that his parents would be making the funeral arrangements and would be in contact to arrange collection of the body, and to formally register the death. I had a number of Phil's friends who needed to know, too, but May took the phone away from me and simply asked me to tell her who they were so that she could call them.
"Debbie," she said, almost in a whisper, "you look terrible ... which is OK and not exactly surprising ... but why don't you take a rest ... have a shower, maybe get some sleep ... there are clean sheets in the spare room..." I nodded dumbly ... I was, I realised, exhausted.
"I don't have any clean clothes, I'm afraid ... I couldn't face bringing all Phil's clothes back here so I gave most of them to a charity shop before I got on the train ... and then I realised that all the clothes I had with me were ones he particularly liked - or had bought for me - and I couldn't imagine wearing them again ... so I gave them away, too." I felt a sudden wave of despair sweep over me, but May just hugged me briefly, said reassuring things and finally manoeuvred me towards the bedroom.
"You get undressed, I'll find you a robe and a towel, then sort out some of my stuff that might not look too ridiculous on you ... even if you are twenty centimetres taller than me. Then later on I can go over to your place, if you like, pick up whatever you need from there."
This sounded sensible to me, as I let myself be sat on the edge of the bed, May busying herself with removing my shoes, and there was a definite relief in not having to contemplate going home myself. And I was utterly exhausted...
I woke a few hours later, I guessed - it was dark outside, anyway - and lay listening to May bustling around elsewhere in the house. I thought she was cooking - it certainly smelt like she was cooking - but I simply lay and stared at the ceiling for a time. I knew there were loads of things I had to do, some of them quite urgent, but I couldn't face any of them at present. I might have lain there for ever, I thought, but for the inevitable biological necessities ... which got me up soon enough.
My own clothes were nowhere to be seen, but I found that May had left me a robe of thin pale grey silk beside the bed, so I wrapped that around me - it was warm enough in a pleasantly heated house - and went in search of a toilet. Which turned out to be just across the landing and, in the English manner, absolutely bloody freezing. Like, really, really cold. Even my very brief visit left me shivering, goose-pimples all down my arms ... I pulled the gown more tightly around me, and ran into May, bearing a cup of tea, as I crossed the landing.
"Ah, you're awake," she said cheerfully. "I thought you might be hungry, so there's food ready when you are ... and of course a cup of tea ... you look like you could do with warming up..."
I was still shivering slightly, but I didn't think it was all that noticeable ... and perhaps it wasn't: I realised that May wasn't quite looking me in the eye ... and in fact was clearly taking in the sight of my cold hardened nipples, only too visible through the thin material. Which was a little disconcerting ... but I was the guest ... and well trained by years of corporate life ... so I ignored it, thanked her for the tea and followed her downstairs to eat.
She'd prepared a lamb casserole (had I really been asleep that long, I wondered?), which was excellent, and we drank some wine with it, helping me at least to relax. I was still feeling numb but I was at least more observant ... my clothes - obviously freshly washed - drying in front of a radiator, for one thing, and May's not overly subtle checking out of my breasts as we ate for another. Live and let live, I thought, quite consciously deciding not to get upset by it ... it was hardly the first time I'd been ogled, though rarely by another woman ... and never at all by another woman in her own home while dressed in little more than a silk sheet. Maybe it was the wine but I began to feel more comfortable with the situation ... and to get less careful in keeping the robe (bought for May's more ample figure) entirely closed as I helped gather the dirty dishes and as we moved through to the sitting room.
Another glass of wine went down well and I began to feel tired again. I knew I should call Dave - let him know what was happening, that I was going to need more time away, if only to sort out the practicalities - and the even more organised side of my mind was already making lists of things that needed to be done with banks and building societies, probate lawyers and similar. At the moment, though, what I really wanted was a shower - even in that iceberg of a bathroom - so I asked May if that would be OK.
"Of course," she smiled, "But use the en suite one in my room - it'll be a hell of a lot warmer than the main bathroom."
So I did. And by this time, I wasn't entirely surprised that May followed me upstairs, again, fussing around her bedroom finding towels and things, a process that seemed to take an inordinate amount of time, given that they were - as I'd have expected - all neatly stored in a drawer. OK, I thought ... so this is not just about her being helpful, any more than her choice of a particularly clingy robe for me was utilitarian - I could see a couple of much less revealing (and warmer) robes hanging in the bathroom. So I decided to take the bull by the horns, so to speak. I'm not usually so assertive, nor had I drunk enough for that to be an excuse. Maybe I was still in some sort of shock from Phil's death - well, undoubtedly I was, but maybe that also meant that I needed to keep things OK with May more than I might normally have done. In any case, I don't have a problem with my body and don't have a problem with being looked at - providing I have a choice about it.
So I stopped her rifling through the towel pile, took the perfectly adequate one that she'd just put down from her and sat her down on the bed.
"Stop fussing," I said, "I may be taller than you but not so much so that I need a special towel for god's sake." She started to apologise, reddening as she did so - OK, confirmation, I thought - but I went on. "Anyway - I couldn't help but notice that you've been paying quite a lot of -umm - visual attention to me in this rather diaphanous gown and now you seem to be planning on following me into the shower." Again, she started to protest, again I stopped her. "Which is OK - well, maybe not the shower bit, I actually want to get clean rather than provide entertainment - but if you want to see me naked, that's OK ... I don't mind. You just have to ask, OK - I'm not into girls myself but you're a friend, you've been very kind, its no big deal."
Her reaction came as something of a surprise ... she went an even deeper red, sitting there with a look on her face I hadn't seen since I'd said something similar to my first boyfriend quite a few years ago. Which is to say that she stared at me with a kind of rapt attention ... and then jerked her head almost involuntarily. Odd behaviour in a forty something woman, I thought ... but I guessed I could take it as a compliment ... and as an implicit request.
So I took the robe off.