I awoke the next morning with a banging headache, I scrunch my eyes rolling onto my side. I don’t remember drinking that much I can’t have been that hungover?
My eyes flutter open, and I can hear the banging clearly, oh go d it’s my front door. It’s probably my landlady asking about the rent … what excuse can I give her this time?
I look down finding I am still wearing my dress from last night, I take out the compact mirror from my purse, in my reflection are puffy panda eyes and my hair is sticking up in places. Great.
‘Coming,’ I shout out as the banging gets louder, I grab a make up wipe cleaning up my face, so I look less like a drunken mess.
I chuck a robe on heading for the door, the banging continues, and I’m half worried the door is about to burst down. I open the door a cra ck to find Karen and Jasper her handyman/ lover? Behind her. He’s definitely the later given by the state of disrepair this place is.
He’s late forties beginning to go bald on the top of his brown hair, he always has a sour expression on his face. Karen on the other hand still has her rollers in setting, she is dressed in her nightie and dressing gown. What time is it?
Karen is also in her mid-forties, her husband left her for a young Greek woman, and she is equally as sour as Jasper. Her lips are always pursed together, and her nose upturned. She is a slim short woman from the east end of London originally and bought this place and a few others that she rents out.
She has been sympathetic to my situation for the most part, but like all landlords they want cold hard cash not a so b story.
‘Good morning, Karen, can I help you with something?’ I ask innocently I know exactly what she is going to say, we have played this charade many times, but I always start the same.
‘The rent for a start younger,’ she spits at me, it is too early for this, I can faintly hear the birds singing in the background, the hum of the engines as the buses starts their routes through the city.
‘If you can give me a little bit more time ..’ I start but she interrupts me pointing her finger towards me accusingly. It’s not like I want to be in this position I literally have no other choice.
‘You’ve ha’ plenty of time!’ Jasper folds his arms looking displeased.
‘I’m working at Summers and Co. now Karen I will get you your money, I just need to get an advance on my salary,’ I plead this conversation is actually giving me a headache. She purses her lips once more but I see her eyes light up when I mention my placed of work.
‘Summers and Co. eh?’ I nod as she taps her fingers against her folded arms.
‘Very well, but I don’t want to have this conversation again,’ she peers up at me her heavy thick lids folding in on themselves.
‘It won’t,’ I give her a tight smile closing the door and flopping back down on my futon.
Rubbing my forehead, I decided to get ready, the paper-thin walls telling me that her and Jasper are getting busy. Not exactly how I want to spend my Sunday morning.
I dress in leggings, crop top pulling on a large sweater, the only good side of this last year if you can even call it that is I am now tiny, not being able to eat is not a diet I wanted. As I can’t afford a gym membership and with work and my sister, I don’t even have time to go for a run it will have to do.
I brush my hair out leaving it down, its naturally straight, I have curled it multiple times, but it never lasts a strong gust of wind will remove hours and hours of work.
Grabbing my keys, phone and wallet I head to the door, I can hear the banging on the walls this time for a whole other reason as I make my way out, I roll my eyes at least this will keep her distracted enough that she won’t bother me.
The rehab facility is a 30min walk from my place, the sun is shining brightly as I walk down the street. I glance at my phone seeing its only just gone 8am. Did she really have to wake me up so early for this?
There are 4 other apartments where I live, I’m pretty sure mine is the smallest but I’ve never checked, I don’t exactly see who else lives there but from the constant banging on my door I surmise that they are not in the same financial mess as me.
The large white building of The Tree Rest Rehab Centre comes into view, it’s a beautiful old Georgian building, high iron gates and large gardens surround the building, which is rare for London. Its obvious to anyone this is a private rehab center.
As you walk in, I help myself to a glass of cucumber water and an apple. I say hello to the nurses as I make my way down the hall to my sister’s room. I know almost all the staff here, I try and visit Jess as I often as I can but with work as it’s been it’s not been possible.
I look through the glass panel on the door to her room. Her arms and legs hold the scars from her injuries, both her legs are raised, and I can see she is staring out the window at least I thought she was until I see her break out into a genuine smile, tucking a strand of her long brown hair behind her ear.
There’s a faint blush on her cheeks and I see why when a tall handsome man in scrubs smiling down at her, his tanned skin and dark tight curls with some stubble. I suppress a smirk as I enter the room. Her gaze flits to mine and her eyes light up.
‘Steph!’ she welcomes me with a huge smile as I enter the room one, I return as I go over to the bed pulling her in for a hug, I look over my shoulder to see the man watching us closely.
When I pull back sitting in the chair by the bed, her gaze flits the man and back at me as her blush deepens.
‘Am I interrupting?’ I ask arching a brow at the man, his gaze locked onto Jess as she turns to me completely oblivious of his attention.
‘No, no Steph of course not Gabe just came to check on me,’ she says but I don’t miss the faint smile that appears as she says his name.
Well sis if I had this piece of eyes candy looking after me, I would be the same.
‘Your sister seems to be doing well, I just wanted to check in on her I didn’t know she was having visitors,’ he states a small frown flickering across his handsome face before he gives Jess a big warm smile.
‘I’ll leave you to it,’ he nods to me and gives her a wink which she misses her gaze focused on me once more.
‘How are you Steph, you look tired?’ I can see the frown on her face as she piers at me. I waft my arms to distract her.
‘I just went out last night with the girls,’ she looks at me unconvinced and presses her lips together.
‘You look thin,’ she mutters after a moment her gaze on my legs.
‘Hmmm,’ I brush some lint off my sweater taking her hand in mine.
‘How are you, Jess?’ she sighs a little.
‘I’m okay but I’m not making the progress they want me to, I’m behind and its so frustrating because I’m really trying to get better,’ she breaks down tears streaming from her dark brown warm eyes, I move to her bedside pulling her in for a hug.
I hold her tight as she cries stroking her hair, I fight back my own tears, what she has gone through I wouldn’t wish on anyone.
‘I know you are Jess, there’s no rush just take all the time you need,’ I give her a reassuring smile wiping her tears from her face as she takes a deep calming breath.
‘They think I might need another surgery, there not sure if there is something apply pressure on my spine which is making it hard for me to walk,’ she speaks softly her eyes downcast sadness filling her eyes and I feel helpless with what to say or do no 17-year-old should have to go through this.
‘What do you want to do?’ I ask softly stroking her arm to comfort her as best as I can.
‘I don’t know, Gabe was telling me it would be a good thing, spines are tricky and there may be something that was missed with all my other injuries, I just hoped I was past that point,’ she sighs at the end looking lost once more, I bite my lip thinking about what she’s said.
‘Well, that is a possibility, would it help with your recovery?’ she looks up at me before shrugging her shoulders.
Her spinal injury is in the lower half of her back, so when the accident happened the risk that she would be completely paralyzed wasn’t the case. The doctors were certain that with surgery she would be able to walk again but other than standing and managing one or two steps before she falls down isn’t the progress she wanted.
There’s still the hope that she will be able to walk, but after having bed rest for a year her muscles have atrophied which makes everything harder.
‘Jess just think about it, they wouldn’t suggest it if it wouldn’t help,’ she nods but I can tell she’s uncertain.
‘So, tell me who was McHottie?’ she bursts out laughing and its nice to see her looking relaxed and carefree.
‘Gabe? He works here helps the nurses with this and that,’ the faint pink blush returning to her cheeks when she said his name and I smiled.
‘He seems to like you,’ I state, and she looks at me before shaking his head.
‘No! He’s really popular all the nurses here like him, I’m just one of the patients,’ she lets out an audible sigh and I smile, ah young love.
‘If you say so,’ she looks up at me intrigued before leaning back against her pillow.
‘Tell me about your new job?’ she asks this time it was my turn to sigh, I filled her in on all the gory details trying to take her mind off everything she had going on here. We laughed and joked for most of the day until she started to feel tired.
‘Get some sleep, call me if you need anything, I’ll come back at the weekend maybe sooner …’ I pulled her in for another hug giving her a kiss on the head as I left her room closing the door behind me.
I bump into one of the older nurses.
‘Miss Bridges did Jessica mention the other surgery?’ she peered at me from her spectacles.
‘Sorry, yes she did,’ I mutter caught off guard after walking into her.
‘It will mean much longer to recover but it’s the only way she is going to be able to walk again,’ I look back through the glass panel seeing her fast asleep. Turning back to the nurse I pause, I can’t deny my sister the opportunity to walk after all of the other surgeries and treatments she has had.
‘That’s not an option without the surgery?’ I ask I don’t want her to be in any more pain. She sakes her head.
‘I’m afraid not, the Doctor is certain this is the only way,’
‘I’ll talk to her about it some more, she’s sleeping now,’ I give her a smile sidestepping her to make my way down the corridor out of the building.
‘Miss Bridges there is the matter of the bill for the additional treatment, I’m about to answer when Gabe aka McHottie appears.
‘I’m sure we can sort that out another time, nice to meet you Stephanie, enjoy the rest of your weekend,’ I pause confused as he whispers to the nurse something I can’t here before I turn walking up the corridor as they both turn to look at me.
That was odd?
I start my walk home an unusual feeling creeps up my spine as if I’ being watched. I turn looking back unable to see anything out the of the ordinary.
I pick up the pace walking back unable to shake the feeling that I’m being watched.