“Fiona, are you okay you look terrible?”
“Yeah, yeah I’m fine. Picked up a bit of a bug I think. Nothing too bad, nothing catching.” Fiona turned away from her friend and picking up the clip board left the nursing station, collected the trolley and started the drugs round. Sharon, her head tipped to one side, watched the slender figure dragging herself around the ward. Fiona still smiled at the patients as she passed through, still stopped to have a quick word or check an infusion line. Ever the professional nurse, calm and efficient and no way had she picked up a bug. For a start she wouldn’t risk bringing infection into the hospital and secondly a bug wouldn’t cause that nervous fluttering of the eyelids or the tension in those shoulders. Something was going on and although she was worried for her friend she was also a little hurt not to be asked to share in the problems. She would try at the end of the shift to persuade her to go for a drink or a bite to eat maybe and find out what was going on.
That house, there was a problem with that house. She hadn’t voiced her thoughts but there was something odd there, a feeling about the place. It wasn’t really what you could call an atmosphere but it just wasn’t a place that felt relaxed. The decorations were modern and bright, the fittings stylish and of course it was all clean and new. The garden was lovely even though it was still in its infancy with the perennial plants immature but it didn’t feel peaceful. She could never say so because Fiona was so happy with it all but she wouldn’t want to live there and hadn’t slept a wink last week when she had stayed over though she didn’t know why.
For Fiona the day dragged on. Last night, going back to bed she had convinced herself that what had happened was a figment of her overactive imagination and her nerves which were still on edge. A rose though, a long-stemmed rose with a ribbon tied around the stem. A chill ran through her. That clichéd expression of affection, she knew that a long-stemmed rose would never be a “Hallmark Moment” for her no matter how much time and distance there was between her and what had happened. The manager at the garden centre had tried to interest her in patio rose bushes and was obviously taken aback at the vehemence of her refusal to even look at them. Ladies loved roses didn’t they? Well not this lady, no never again.
“Coffee later Fi?”
“Oh, erm okay. Yeah, yeah of course, usual place about sixish?”
“Are you doing anything about the lodger thing by the way? Are you going to see them in HR, see if there is anyone looking for a room.”
“No, go I’m afraid. The policy at the moment is for them not to be involved in private arrangements. The manager did say that I could put an advert on the notice board but, and get this, she said that there was a rumour going around that there was a problem at my house. It seems that it’s common knowledge that the police have been and she reckoned I should leave it a few weeks before I try to get anyone interested. Now how do you think they found out about that?”
“Fi, you don’t think it was me do you. My God, you know I would never…”
“No, no course not. I think that probably one of the coppers that came knows somebody here. You know how it is, no truly I never for one moment thought it was you. See you later love, I’ve got to go and see to Mrs Jones now her dressing needs changing.” The expression on her friend’s face caused Fiona to throw her arms around her in a warm hug. “Truly Sharon, I know it wasn’t you.”
Easily said but there was a knot of unease worming around in Sharon’s gut. There was something here that wasn’t straight forward, something causing her friend to withdraw and turn in on herself.