Chapter 7 – Visiting Hours
She watched his face as Doctor Peters explained that he would be taking over as her physician. She tried hard not to show any emotion. It cut deep that he was rejecting her. She shouldn’t have been surprised, the whole world had rejected her by not noticing that she was missing, but she had thought he’d been different. What a fool she was.
She had no right to expect anything from the man. He’d been her Angel when she woke, and, for some reason, she’d placed some significance on this. He didn’t. That much was clear.
It was laughable really. She’d heard the nurses gossiping and knew that he was no Angel. According to what she’d heard, he was a player, a womaniser, a man who toys with women. She’d been shocked by the rumours and the surprising number of names that were mentioned in conjunction with him. She hated to admit it, but from the sounds of it, he’d earnt his nickname.
He was nothing like the man she fantasied about. He was just a playboy who thought he could do what he wanted, to who he wanted, without any consequences. That made her furious. How dare he treat women like that. How could he play with their feelings, make them think that he liked them, then drop them as his patient. Lover, that’s what she meant, not patient.
She took a long breath and forced herself to unclench her fists. She had no right to be angry. He was nothing to her. He wasn’t even her doctor anymore. He’d never made a move to her and now she’d never see him again. She had no right to this man or to feel any emotion towards him at all.
She closed her eyes. Doctor Peters, her new doctor, was a nice man and was pleased with her progress. The physio was a masochist, the only time she’d seen the man smile was when she was gritting her teeth to suppress the pain laced scream from escaping. She would never take walking for granted again. The simple task hurt more than she could ever guess to relearn. It was as if her body was punishing her for whatever crime Derek thought she’d witnessed.
Despite this, she’d worked hard and was starting to make progress. It wasn’t as fast as she’d expected but it was enough to make Doctor Peters say that he was impressed and not enough to make Doctor Layton want to stay. Was that why he was leaving? Was it because she wasn’t good enough or hadn’t remembered anything more?
Whatever the reason, it was clear to her that he must hate her. He must despise her to not want her as his patient. He didn’t care and neither did she, she reminded herself of this fact.
She took another deep breath and tried to push the anger and negativity out of her mind. It didn’t matter anymore. It wasn’t like she had a relationship with the man, and she certainty had less reason than those on the long list of nurses he’d slept with, she was nothing to him and he was nothing to her. It was simple. She needed to prioritise on getting better.
Mrs Grant was quietly knitting. She’d been oddly silent while Doctor Peters introduced himself as Jill’s new doctor. She was never this quiet, especially when Doctor Peters was in the room. Jill snuck a glace at the woman.
“Are you alright this morning Mrs Grant?” Jill asked tentatively.
“Fine, I’m fine, thank you for asking child,” the woman looked up from her knitting, “Just remembering Frank. He was an idiot too when we first meet. I swear, men, are they all born stupid?”
“I don’t know about that,” Jill smiled.
“Frank was the softest and the sweetest in the packet and I miss him like crazy,” Mrs Grant sighed, “But no matter how sugar coated they are, men are all as dumb as a gum drop in a 10c lolly mix. I honestly don’t know how they manage to get through the day without a woman to show them the way.”
“What are you talking about?” Jill laughed at Mrs Grant’s rant.
“Don’t worry about me,” she put down the knitting needles, “I’m just having one of my delusional episodes.”
“But you aren’t, are you?” Jill said in a soft voice. “I don’t believe that you’re as crazy as you act.”
“Who knows, I can’t tell these days,” Mrs Grant laughed as short sad sniff, “But it doesn’t matter anymore.”
“Why? What doesn’t matter?”
“Don’t you worry,” Mrs Grant smiled. “I’m just being an old fuddy-duddy.”
“No, this is different,” she pushed herself up and turned to Mrs Grant, “Tell me?”
“Doctor Peters came to see me this morning while you were at your rehabilitation session. My tests came back. I’m a teacher, I should be used to seeing bad results.”
“Bad? The tumour?” Jill felt her heart drop.
“It seems that cancer is my new best friend,” she smiled sadly, “I’ve been missing Frank more than usual lately. He’s probably sitting around here somewhere waiting for me. The silly man wouldn’t be able to find his way to the Pearly Gates without me giving directions.”
“Oh, Mrs Grant,” Jill whispered. Suddenly her annoyance at Doctor Layton seemed trivial.
“Don’t worry about it,” She took a deep breath, “You have a fish to reel in and fry. This is going to be fun.”
“Fish? What fish?” Jill asked but Mrs Grant didn’t seem to be listening.
“Remember, once you have him hooked you have to play the line,” she said in a knowledgeable voice, “If you reel him in too early he’ll fight hard and you’ll lose him. Give him some line and let him think he can run, then take it away bit by bit until he doesn’t even realise that he’s lost the game. Then, by the time he’s at the boat, he’ll flop into the net without any trouble at all. With all the fight gone, he’ll be yours forever.”
“Fishing metaphors?” Jill shook her head, “Are you pretending to be loopy again?”
“You’ll find out soon enough,” Mrs Grant yawned, “I’m going to have a nap. What’s left of my brain gets tired so quickly.”
Jill frowned as she let Mrs Grant sleep. She really liked her neighbour. The woman was vibrant, cheeky and so full of life, it seemed incomprehensible to think that she was dying. She hardly knew her, but she was the only person in this world that Jill did know. If she died, then Jill would have no one all over again.
The helplessness of the situation filled her. She couldn’t stand this feeling. She felt lost. She could do nothing to bring her memories back and she was alone without them. Her world was a tiny place and it had been a week since she’d woken and remembered her name. Since then nothing. She should have remembered something more by now. It was all out of her grasp. It was frustrating, but she was done being scared. Now she felt angry.
She was angry that she was in this situation. She was angry that no one had found her or seemed to be looking for her. She was angry that she had this witness thing hanging over her and she didn’t understand it. She was angry that Mrs Grant wasn’t getting better. And finally, she was furious that her Doctor had given up on her.
The world was out to get her, and she didn’t know what she’d done to deserve it. But one thing was she was sure about, she was sick of being the victim. There was no point being afraid anymore. It was time for her to stand up and take back her life.
“Can I come in?” a familiar voice had her look up.
“What are you doing here?” Jill looked at the man who stood there with a bunch of roses held in front of him. He was wearing light blue well-worn jeans and a branded long-sleeved t-shirt, in the exact same colour as his eyes, with the arms pushed up to his elbows. He looked calm, relaxed and so very hot.
“I’ve visiting,” Tom smiled, “I’m allowed to do that now I’m not your doctor.”
“You’re what?” she sneered at her former doctor.
“I’ve brought you some flowers to brighten up your room,” he put them on the tray table.
“Why are you here?” she tried again.
“Are you having a problem with your short-term memory?” he looked closely at her, “Should I call for Doctor Peters?”
“No, my problem isn’t my short-term memory,” she glared at him, “Why are you here?”
“I’m visiting you,” he said the words slowly like English wasn’t her first language, “I brought you flowers.”
“Really?” she said incredulously at his slow speaking.
“Yes, really,” he said with a smug smile on his face.
“Aren’t I the lucky one,” she had no idea what he was doing but figured that this must be part of a joke or a dare or something equally as immature, “Thank you for gracing me with your presence. Now, go.”
“Sorry?” the smirk dropped off his face.
“Get out,” she hissed, “You heard me. Shoo.”
“Shoo?” he looked surprised like this wasn’t what he expected.
“Yes, shoo,” she flicked her hands at him to emphasis the word, “Go, depart, vamoose, exit, leave here.”
“But I’m visiting you,” he was still hovering at the edge of her bed.
“I heard you,” she smiled a broad fake smile at him, “And don’t think that I don’t appreciate your valuable time, which is why I’m suggesting that you go and allocate it someplace else.”
“That’s too bad,” he pulled up a chair, “Cause I’m ‘allocating’ it here and now.”
“No, don’t sit down,” she glared at him as he purposely sat and raised his eyebrows at her as he made himself comfortable.
“Why are you so angry with me?” He lifted one eyebrow, “Is it because of the other day? I’m sorry about that. I didn’t realise that I had a lovebite on my neck. It was an accident, really, a mistake.”
“I see, you were vacuuming, and you missed causing the nozzle to become attached to your neck?” she queried innocently, “Or was the ‘accident’ the woman’s error in judgement?”
“I was somewhere I shouldn’t have been,” he grimaced, “I regret it and I won’t be repeating that mistake.”
“Mistake?” she shook her head, “Charming. I’m sure she was grateful when you explained the situation to her.”
“What sort of food do you like?” he changed the topic, “I could you in some takeaway. The hospital food gets tiring.”
“What are you doing Doctor Layton?” Jill asked in a tired voice.
“Tom,” he corrected, “I’m not your doctor anymore, you can call me Tom.”
“Why?” she scrunched her face up with the question, “Why should I call you anything at all? You’re correct, you are not my doctor and I don’t know why you are here.”
“As your doctor I was restricted in what I could do,” he shrugged, “Now I’m less restricted, which means I can visit you as your friend.”
“And do I get a say in this?” she growled, “What if I don’t want you as my friend?”
“Then I can be something more than your friend,” his eyes got all serious.
“Unbelievable,” she whispered, “You are unbelievable.”
“Thanks,” he smiled.
“That wasn’t a compliment,” she laughed, “And the fact you took it as one proves that you are truly arrogant.”
“Arrogant? Me?” his eyebrows went up and his jaw flinched, “Is this the way you treat everyone who makes an effort to be your friend? That could explain why you’re sitting here on your own.”
“Did you really just say that?” She blinked as she stared at him.
“I’m sorry,” he frowned, “I didn’t mean to say that, you’re being difficult, and it just came out.”
“I’m being difficult? Are you serious?” she growled, “You are a car-crash in slow motion, with no survivors.” she stopped mid-growl.
“Baby, there are plenty of well satisfied survivors,” he smirked then stopped.
“Car crash,” she whimpered.
“What is it Jill,” he leaned forward and took her hand.
“Get off me,” she shook her hand free then whispered with her eyes closed, “My father, he died in a car accident. I can remember the funeral but not the faces.”
“Hell,” he mumbled as he released a long breath, “I’m sorry.”
“Why are you still here?” she snapped, “Get out!”
“Hey, I’m being sympathetic,” he glared at her, “I’m being a good friend, stop yelling at me.”
“Great, now take your fake sympathy and your cliché roses and get out of my room.”
“These are long stemmed red roses, they are not cliché,” he looked offended, “They are elegant, thoughtful and expensive. Most women would be flattered and grateful that I’d made the effort.”
“Oh, how lucky am I that the great Tom, Doctor Lay-em, has made the effort to buy me boring, unimaginative, red roses.”
“Doctor Lay-em?” he sighed, “Is that what this is all about? You’ve heard about my reputation. Please don’t listen to them. That was the past. I’m not that man anymore.”
“Are you stupid?” she glared at him, “I don’t care who you’ve sleep with, the long list that it is. I don’t care how you treat women. I don’t care that you ditched me, actually, I’m grateful that you aren’t my doctor anymore, because now I don’t have to look at your face every day.”
“My angel face?” he said with a cold laugh, “I am not stupid and I don’t believe that you don’t care. I think you care a great deal. You’re angry. You wouldn’t be angry if you didn’t care.”
“Shut up,” she growled.
“See, I’m right,” he grinned, “I’m not your doctor but you are still going to see my face every day.”
“I asked you to leave,” she said through her teeth, “And take those roses with you, maybe if you give them to your ‘mistake’ she might be willing to add to your love bite collection. Or she might throw them in your face. Either way, it would be a better use for them than leaving them here.”
“I’ve told you that I’m not that guy anymore.”
“And I told you to leave,” she countered, “And yet you are still here.”
“And I’m not going anywhere,” he smiled as he relaxed into the chair.
She felt the anger surge through her, right down to her toes. He was infuriating. She had no idea why he was here or why he was acting so stubborn. She didn’t know why it made her so angry, but the energy pulsing through her felt good. She felt alive for the first time since she woke up.
Maybe this, how she was feeling now, was the real Jill. It was possible that the submissive and scared woman she’d been had been a symptom of the amnesia or the uncertainty that existed around having no memories of who she was. She didn’t know if this was more like what her personality should be like but didn’t care. This was who she was now. She wasn’t a victim. She wasn’t going to let this beat her.
And she wasn’t going to let him beat her either.