Last week, I announced that I was bringing back my Guest Blog Post slot. I’m looking for stories and non-fiction pieces of up to 1500 words and poems of up to 40 lines. If you can also send me a photo and a little bit about yourself too, that would be great. Please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org
My first guest is the wonderful Murray Clarke. I’ve known Murray for a long time now, since my very first writing days! Murray’s story is based on fact.
Over the Rainbow
‘Arthur! Nicola’s here . . . our daughter, Nicola. She’s come to see you.’
‘Hello, Dad. It’s Nicola. How are you feeling today?’
The privacy curtains had been drawn for sometime. From my bed two metres away, I could see nothing; only eavesdrop on the conversation — rather like listening to a play on the radio. But this was real life, not a cosy Sunday afternoon drama.
The hospital ward was filled to capacity. Fully gowned, masked nurses and doctors moved efficiently from one patient to another. This was the NHS doing what they do best — saving lives. Some doctors had come out of retirement to offer their services; and young nurses barely out of training college were helping too. All had been thrown into a War Zone against an unseen enemy. Every one of them: a hero.
Many of the patients spread out in their beds, like me, were struggling to breathe. Many, I suspected, had underlying health conditions that would compromise their immune system and potential recovery. Patients wore a mask with their own oxygen supply. Plastic tubes inserted in to the back of their hands pumped life-enhancing drugs into their veins. We’d all been tested for the dreaded Covid-19 virus and were told to expect an agonising three days’ wait for the results.
‘Mum, do you think Dad can hear me?’ Nicola was talking.
‘I’m sure he can,’ she replied. ‘Watch his eyes. Sometimes he blinks.’
Visitors were not encouraged in this ward and I wondered why an exception had been made in this case.
‘Dad, I’ve something to ask you. When you get out of here, Alex and I would like you to do something for us. Make a vegetable plot. Nothing too big. You’ve always loved gardening, and you know what Alex is like! He can do all the hard work for you — like the digging. What do you say?’
‘A few carrots would be nice; potatoes, of course; peas; maybe cauliflowers? You can choose, Dad. You can even plant some Brussels sprouts — you love those, even though no one else in the family does! When it’s all finished you can sit on your wooden bench under the shade of the willow tree and I’ll bring you a mug of tea. Just the way you like it. Three sugars and so strong you could stand a teaspoon up in it. Builders’ tea, you always call it.’ She laughed.
‘Look, Nicola! He’s moving his eyes!’ I heard the other woman whisper. ‘He understands what you are saying.’
A kindly nurse had stepped forward and opened one side of the curtains. I glimpsed an old man with an unruly grey beard, mask and tubes, lying on the bed. His wife and daughter at his side.
‘We’ll leave you now, Dad. Be back tomorrow,’ said Nicola. She squeezed her father’s hand, affectionately. A tear in the corner of her eye.
When I awoke early the following morning, the bed and the old gentleman were gone.
I’d like to think that Arthur had been transferred to the Intensive Care Unit where, after several days of tender loving care from the NHS staff, he’d made a full recovery and was allowed home to the bosom of his devoted family.
I’d like to think that Arthur DID plant that vegetable patch for his daughter and son-in-law. And get to sit on the bench with a mug of strong tea, admiring his handy work as the evening sun slipped slowly behind the horizon.
I would like to think . . .
But, I just don’t know.
(NOTE: The above short story is based on fact and my observations during a four-day stay as a patient in Burton on Trent Hospital in early April 2020. The events as described are true, but the names changed for obvious reasons. Thankfully, I tested negative for Covid-19, but was diagnosed with pneumonia. I am now at home making a full recovery).
GOD BLESS THE NHS.