Ok no disclaimer required. Just a small warning there is a reference to rape but nothing graphic its right at the end of the first part, (this one). Its in flashback italics. Skip if you want.
The rest of the crap is mine. So dont borrow without permission. E wot takes wot isnt isn wen es cotched will go to prisn. Or Ill hunt you down and torture you or something.
This is a continuation of the saga begun in "The Day After" and takes place in august of the same year. As you can see Im English so I retain a fondness for the letter u in words. Not to mention such quaint spellings as centre, theatre, et al!
Comments, complaints, phone numbers the e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org
She woke reluctantly.
Everything hurt. Everywhere.
Especially her ribs; and the area between her le .. memory returned in full force and she gasped, softly but audibly. Quiet though it had been it was loud enough to attract the woman fussing by the sink.
"Ah, youre awake at last. Good"
She glanced around the room a private room? with suspicion, before studying the woman who had addressed her. "Erm, sister?"
The nurse smiled. "No, not yet, lovey, just nurse. How are you feeling, lovey?" The nurse began to fluff her pillows, helping her into a vaguely upright position.
"Like I lost a really bad argument with a double-decker bus". It was almost a question.
The nurse laughed. "Not quite". Then her expression became grave. "By the state of you when the ambulance crew brought you in that would have been the better option. The police want to talk to you when youre able; they need to ask a few questions."
A look of panic appeared on her face. Legs and arms twitching in an automatic fight or flight response. She looked ready to bolt. The nurse placed a hand gently on her shoulder. The one that hadnt been dislocated.
"Its alright lovey. You arent in any trouble. But its obvious that you have been very badly beaten and possibly, probably..". Her voice trailed off, unsure of quite what to say.
"Raped", the girl supplied. "Gang raped, to be precise; there were 6 of them".
The nurse looked ready to cry. Only ingrained professional responses held the tears in check. "Oh, lovey".
The girl looked up, dry-eyed. "These things happen, hey?"
The nurse shook her head slowly. "Just because you live ., I mean youre ."
"I live in a cardboard box under the Hungerford railway bridge", the girl supplied. "Homeless. Down and out. What ever you prefer to call it."
"Homeless", the nurse stated firmly. "Just because youre homeless doesnt mean you arent entitled to the protection of the law.".
The girl smiled; it was a cynical smile. "Youll forgive me if I tell you that I dont regard the busies as friends".
The nurse straightened the blanket. "Theres a detective would like to speak to you, he asked if we would phone him when you awoke"
"Dont, please". It was little more than a whisper.
"Dont you want these men caught?"
"They wont catch them. They wont even look for them very hard. If I were a nice respectable woman, maybe. But Im a beggar, a guttersnipe. They wont care enough to even write a report. Better for everyone if I forget it."
The nurse looked ready to argue, but persuaded by the set of the girls jaw, abandoned the idea and shook out the blankets, rather fiercely, instead.
Having finished with as much neatening of the room and its contents as was feasible the nurse sat on the corner of the bed." Im your nurse for the day. My name is MacArthur. Ill be responsible for your care for the next few days at least. Now I want to tell you one or two things because its a certainty those doctors wont." She didnt exactly sniff, but the girl got the distinct impression that she wanted to. "I need to ask you a few questions first ." She paused as a wary expression crept into the girls eyes, and the openness, which had been developing, disappeared, leaving her face closed. "Nothing bad", an attempt at reassurance. "We need a name and a birth date for our records. These will not be given to the police without your permission. And were going to need your permission to run a couple of tests."
The girl fidgeted, uncomfortably aware of the fact that her genuine birth date and quite possibly, her name, would reveal her age to be 15. The hospital would have no choice but to inform the police and social services. She would be put into care. That would be worse than being on the streets. She needed to give information that was as close to the truth as possible or shed never remember.
She took a breath. "Sam. Erm, Samantha. Jarvis. April 1st 1953." Right first name, correct date but the year made her 17, old enough to be on her own.
Nurse MacArthur looked at her for a few seconds; then she smiled. "Close enough, eh? Well, Sam, theres no easy way to ask this; we need your permission to run tests for venereal disease and possible pregnancy."
Sam swallowed, suddenly very afraid. "Yeah." It came out as a croak.
She cleared her throat and tried again. "Yea." Harsh and cut short.
"Yeah, go ahead", third attempt; it sounded ok this time.
The tests had been uncomfortable. Her body had still been sore from the earlier invasions. But at least now they were done. She was back in bed, in her room. Now to wait for the results.
Nurse MacArthur brought her lunch in. She was ravenous.
Perching on the edge of the bed, MacArthur enquired conversationally, "So how long have you been living rough?"
"Since January, eight months roughly. Do you know how good it feels to be clean? To have a bed to sleep in? To have a meal and not just scraps?" The questions were rhetorical. Sam didnt really expect an answer.
The nurse just shook her head. "I suppose I aught to tell you whats happened so far."
Sam looked up but carried on eating.
"You were brought in on Tuesday morning; a passer by called the ambulance after falling over you whilst taking a short cut. He thought you were dead at first, but you were breathing, noisily, but breathing. He waited nearby for help to arrive, then left. He left no name. The police are a bit upset at that." She smiled and continued. "Initial examinations showed you suffering mild hypothermia, probably from lying in the alley overnight, even though it was warm."
The girl interrupted. "They got me Sunday night. If I was found Tuesday Id been there two nights. I knew it was Sunday. Even living on the streets you always know Sundays. Theyre different. Different people around. Folks go to church. Those arent too good to beg from. They dont give often. Except lectures. Theyre good at giving those! So is today Wednesday?"
There was a brief silence.
"No, Sam. Today is Friday."
The fork clattered onto the small table. "What! Christ! I was out for most of a week!"
MacArthur nodded. "Apart from the rape "
" you have 3 broken ribs, a broken wrist; the shoulder of the same arm was dislocated. Your nose is broken. So is your right leg. And you have so many cuts and bruises that it would be hard to tell what colour your skin usually is, except for the fact that the back of your neck is white."
Sam was grateful for MacArthurs feeble attempt at humour. Somehow it made the list of injuries sound better"
"Will you please consider reporting it?
The girl shook her head.
MacArthur spoke gently, "Just because youre homeless doesnt mean you dont have value, you know."
"We arent worth police time to investigate. Take my word for it. Theres no point. Really."
Giving up for the moment the nurse continued "there are some old scars on your back but they are fading. And, since they are obviously nothing to do with this attack, the police werent interested". Her voice faded and the tilt of her head told Sam that, even if the police didnt want to know, MacArthur did.
Sam squirmed slightly. Here it comes; she thought, wryly, the point where the friendly nurse reels in horror and refuses to care for me any longer. She cleared her throat and stated calmly "A gift from my mother, courtesy of my fathers leather belt. Given the day she threw me out of the house. When she found me in bed with my girlfriend." There was another short silence. Sam carried on eating. She suddenly had no appetite, but life on the streets had taught her, eat when you can no matter what, you might not be able to later.
"Youre a .lesbian"
"Yeah". The girl didnt look up. She didnt want to see the same look in the nurses eyes that she had seen in her mothers.
A further silence.
"And for that your mother your mother did THAT!"
Then the nurse spoke quietly. "I believe my daughter is a lesbian also, but she doesnt know how to tell me. Perhaps you can help me ask"
The fork crashed down again. Sam stared incredulously into MacArthurs face, desperately seeking the truth. The nurse sat still under the scrutiny. Unwavering. Honesty writ plain on her features.
"Bloody Ada!" Sam began laughing then stopped, suddenly finding herself close to tears. She swallowed several times. She did not cry. You never cried. First law of survival. Tears are a weakness. Weak people go under. Only the strong survive.
"You want her to talk to you? Tell her about me. Make sure she knows it makes no difference. That youll still see to my care. That you dont condemn. She will know she can talk to you then"
"Thank you". The nurse gripped her hand briefly before hugging her. Releasing the girl as she noticed the discomfort, no, the embarrassment, on the girls face. "Well. Id better let you get some rest "
"Havent I slept enough?" Sam queried, even though she found herself suddenly very sleepy.
"Your body needs it to repair itself. Go on. Lie back." She moved the pillows and made the girl comfortable, before turning the light to its reduced setting.
Restless. Dreaming. Turning from side to side. An arm came up. Made a fist. A muttered "No".
She had been hungry. Begging had been poorly rewarded during the previous two days. She had gone to the alley behind the restaurants in Villiers Street, knowing that there would be something edible in the bins at the back. They were always throwing good food away. It would be safe there tonight; the restaurants were never open on a Sunday. There would be no kitchen staff to chase her with a knife like last time! Sure enough there had been plenty of scraps, almost full meals, in the refuse containers.
Then the voice.
"Well, well. What have we here, then. The bitch who thinks shes better than a man."
She had recognised the tones. The man, another one of those living under the arches, one of the very few who had realised she was a girl and not a boy. He had tried it on with her last week and she had wiped the floor with him. Shed turned; unworried, knowing he was no threat.
Ah, bugger the thought unspoken as she contemplated the sight that met her eyes.
He was not alone.
This time hed brought 5 friends and they were spread out between her and the entrance to the alley the only way out. If she could have found space to run she would have beaten them for speed. But there was no way she would get past them.
Backing up slightly she had picked up a piece of timber which had been protruding from a pile of rubble. Damn, damn, damn, now what.This is not good.
Shed fought like a tiger. Knowing what failure would mean. She had broken at least some of their bones before a savage blow from a crowbar had shattered her right shin; bringing her to the floor. One of them had grabbed her arm as shed fallen, pulling her shoulder from its socket. Another had kicked her, caving in her ribs.
Shed felt the darkness coming and shed surrendered to it gratefully, welcoming unconsciousness as she felt the first of them force into her.
Gasping, "No". Shouted this time. She clawed her way out of the nightmare; out of memory. She struggled to sit up, sweating, ignoring the pain it brought. Safe. She was safe. Safe in a hospital bed. Tears streamed down her face.
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