IMPORTANT NOTE: Take a Bite Cafe will continue here until 18th October when it will transfer to my new site.
Megan has an adventure in hospital
A finger flicked my nose. I grabbed the owner’s wrist.
‘They didn’t give you the good painkillers then,’ Bella said.
I forced my eyes open. My sister was bending over me, her mousy hair in a loose pony tail and dark bags beneath her pale eyes.
‘Paracetamol only, it seems.’ I tried to push myself up and she helped me put my feet on the floor. ‘Never crash your bike then crash on plastic chairs.’
She sat down on the row of blue plastic seats linked by metal poles opposite me. Each one was ergonomically curved for ‘comfort’, unless you needed to lie down. ‘You look awful.’
I smiled, or grimaced. ‘Having been to the toilets and seen my reflection I can say I don’t look half as bad as I feel.’ I glanced at her feet, bunny slippers. ‘No patent shoes, you must’ve been worried.’
‘Apparently I’ll be right as rain after six weeks with a knee support and some physio.’ I chuckled, faintly. ‘My kneecap played ping-pong, although it has been mentioned if it wasn’t for my gear I might not have a kneecap to hurt.’
‘That’s not funny,’ she said then glanced around at the equally tired and miserable patients sitting around the waiting area. The last time I’d seen a window it was getting light outside, we’d all been there hours. ‘I told you that bike would get you in trouble.’
I sighed and my smile might’ve looked less like a grimace. ‘Where’s Nan?’
‘I asked the nurses to call for me, it’s a bit much for a text. Anyhoo, we ended up in this rounded about conversation that ended in me having to call despite the fact I can’t use a phone.’ She rolled her eyes. ‘This odd man kept signing at me, no idea what he was saying.’
Bella couldn’t sign beyond calling people a ‘fucking cunt’ or a ‘shit stick’, it worked for her.
‘Anyway, she’s too old for you to be giving her such trouble.’
I shot her a look. ‘Oh, I am sorry for being a terrible inconvenience.’
‘That’s not what I meant.’
I scowled at my scuffed boot. ‘I need to call Jimmy.’ I dug about in my pockets looking for my phone.
‘Oh, were you meant to be working today?’
‘Six days a week.’ I shifted about trying to figure out how to peer under the chair without moving my legs.
‘What are you doing?’
‘If I don’t turn up he’ll…’ I pretended to be distracted by the narrow gap between the chairs. ‘He’ll call Nan and get her all worried.’ Assuming Nan didn’t turn up at the café to discover I wasn’t with Jimmy and he hadn’t seen me.
She hissed between her teeth as if I’d done something particularly inconsiderate.
‘I need my phone to let everyone know I’m alright.’ I bent from side-to-side.
She leant over, plucked my phone from my inner jacket pocket and lightly bopped me on the head with it. ‘Calm down before you do yourself another injury.’
I sat back, I couldn’t lurched forward and grab the phone.
‘He’s your boss, he’s not going to bother until it causes him trouble.’ She pressed the button on the side and the screen lit up with a picture of Bessie and a demand for my thumb print. ‘Needs recharging.’
‘It’s not the only one,’ I muttered.
‘The nurse said you were lucky, it must’ve been a combination of safety equipment, muscle, and divine intervention. I suspect it seemed better than saying they’re kicking you out because they’ve got no beds.’ She shook her head. ‘Any good businessperson will tell you if you hollow out a business it’ll collapse in on itself, the NHS is the same.’
‘Can I have my phone back?’
‘Stop worrying, they won’t let you out if you get yourself in a state.’
I gritted my teeth to stop myself pouting like a tantruming teen. My boyfriend and Nan were going to find out I was missing, obviously nothing to worry about.
I wanted Jimmy. I wanted a hug with my face buried in his dad jumper and his arms around me. When I got my phone back I was going to make Jimmy my emergency contact.
My phone started buzzing and she sighed. ‘It’s Nan.’
‘Told you so,’ I said.
She pressed answer, put it on speaker phone and held it near her ear. ‘I’m with Meg, Nan. She’s in hospital.’
‘What do you mean “in hospital”?’ Nan shouted, her voice crackling over the speaker. ‘Why didn’t you call me?’
‘I didn’t want to panic you in your condition.’
‘My condition? I’m old, not at death’s door. Explain yourself, right now.’
I laughed, my ribs disagreed and set me to coughing.
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