That evening, the Manor seemed more of a prison than a home. With the “boys” on safari in Sabang — God knows what they had got up to and right then, I didn’t care. My life was unravelling by the hour, I’d exhausted my options, and my future seemed bleak. I downed my G&T, poured another, and drank that, before arriving at the conclusion.
I shook off that thought. Replaced it with images of happier times. Jane telling me I’d make a good nanny...
‘…Auntie, just think of it. Only seven more weeks, and you’ll have a new life in your arms. Isn’t it exciting..?’
A flashlight moment. Too wrapped up with Mary — and regretfully, Hamish — I’d neglected Junior. Made me smile. I’d go see the little mite next morning. Maybe they’d even let me hold him.
I slept well.
Despite my improving culinary skills, breakfast was charred toast and a Lipton’s tea bag. But my spirits were high. I even looked forward to visiting Mary again — after avoiding Beatriz, and sneaking into ICU to take a peep at Junior.
The feeling of inner warmth dissipated into cold fear as I clickety-clacked along the corridor leading to ICU. My taxi ride to the hospital had been without incident. Reception (unusually quiet) had been straightforward. They knew me. ‘Visiting’, I said, and they had waved me through.
The unease began as I passed Hamish’s office. Had the door been closed, I could have pictured Beatriz on her knees, licking her lips, and attending to matters in hand. But the door was open and the room was empty.
Empty. No Hamish, no hungry harlot, no desk overflowing with files — all cleared.
Had he finished up and left? And where was Junior?
A stern-faced matron stood shielding the door to ICU. She tilted her head, and shook it. ‘Sorry,’ she said, ‘no visitors.’
So much for my sneaking in.
She could have been Beatriz 2. But more immovable. My enquiries, reasoning, and pleading all failed to produce anything other than ‘I’m new here. Ask at reception.’
Damned if I was going back there. I looked at my watch. Mid-morning. Mary would be awake. Small mercies. I sighed, turned on my heels and click-clacked back down the corridor to the main wards and private rooms.
Another wave of fear rolled over me when I found Mary’s room locked, but my nerves settled when I saw her belongings inside. A few minutes later, I located a nurse. One who smiled at me. Once I explained who I was (a close family friend) she told me (in confidence) Mary was having a scan, X-rays, blood tests, and enough check-ups to ensure she was fit to fly. ‘Could be hours, though,’ she said. ‘Ask at reception.’
Damn. Fit to fly?
All roads led to reception. I joined a queue of pregnant mothers, boisterous children, and fretful fathers. After several minutes of unruly mayhem, my enthusiasm waned. I returned to Mary’s room. The door was still locked, and the smiling nurse was not to be seen. Outside there was an empty wooden bench. I sat down, took a deep breath, and rifled through my bag for my phone.
I called Richard.
I called Charles.
One of my fingernails had split. I spent the next few minutes scaling it down with an emery file. I looked at it, sighed, and examined the rest. Needed a new coat of paint.
I called Richard and Charles again.
Waited until calls went to divert.
I had promised myself not to — and I spent a long time peering at my phone’s display — before I made the call that would set my heart fluttering again.
As it rang, I almost turned it off, but then a voice. His voice, a deep burr.
‘Delcie, I didn’t expect to hear from you. What’s wrong?’
I choked up. Spluttered out, ‘sorry.’
In the silence between us, I heard the muffled sound of a tannoy announcing a plane arrival. ‘Where are you?’ I said.
He sounded breezy. ‘I’m at the airport. Escorting Junior to Jakarta.’
I didn’t know what to say. He repeated his question. I stammered out a response.
‘It’s just that…I was hoping to…to see Junior.’
I could sense his voice change to one of concern. ‘Junior needs specialist care, right now. I’m going to make sure that happens.’
Specialist care? Oh shit.
I gulped. ‘Hamish, what happened to him? Is he sick?’
‘No,’ he said. ‘But I’m covering my bases.’ He chuckled. ‘Don’t want to be accused of professional neglect.’
Arse covering, more like. I shuffled my seat on the bench. The wood was uncomfortable. ‘Oh,’ I said. ‘I see.’
‘And if Mary gets the all-clear she’ll join me when Junior is settled in. Then we’re flying back to the UK together.’
‘Oh,’ I said.
‘Look, I have to go. Sorry you couldn’t see Junior. It was a bit of a rush…’
His voice tailed off, and I murmured, ‘it’s alright,’ as the call ended. But it wasn’t. And that bitch, Mary, was about to abandon me, as well.
How could she?
I stared at her locked door. No way. I owed it to Jane and her son. I would hold him in my arms again. I would. And no-one was going to stop me. I’d wait on this sodding bench for a lifetime if need be for Mary to return. Then I’d tell her. I stood up. Clenched my fists.
Jakarta, here I come.