It wasn’t until the first lecture on wound management that Delia first saw her. No, heard her actually – with an accent several hundred times posher than her lilting welsh one.
“You won’t believe what Dr Craig asked me today” the girl half-whispered to another nursing student, as they shuffled down to two seats directly behind Delia.
Several sheets of paper and some pens came tumbling down into Delia’s lap.
“It’s fine” she said immediately as she gathered them all up, chasing a pen escaping under her seat. Turning around she was met by some striking blue eyes and even more striking red hair. She turned around and smiled. The girl smiled in response, her eyes crinking up at corners. Her face morphed into a look of concern.
“I’m such a klutz have I got anything on your uniform?”
Delia rubbed at a long blue pen mark on her apron.
“Nothing that won’t come out in the wash!” she said cheerily. The girl looked apologetic. Something seemed familiar about her though and Delia couldn’t quite put her finger on it.
“Oh I’m so sorry I haven’t even introduced myself and already I’ve…”
“Patsy the lectures starting!” The girl’s friend pulled her back into her seat. Delia smiled at her again and turned around to the front.
Back up on the surgical ward with some of her classmates she was still thinking hard, having spent half the lecture wondering why she knew that girl. Surely she wouldn’t forget hair like that (especially with eyes to match). The matron snapped her out of her daydream.
“And here is yet another example of the lack of professionalism shown by today’s students,” her hand pointing accusatorily at the pen mark on Delia’s apron. Delia stared wide eyed at her.
“It was just…”
“It was just a complete lack of pride in your appearance is what it was!” Delia’s friend Trixie looked at her equally mortified, while their other classmates stared at the floor. The surgical matron had a bit of a reputation.
“I want you to be back here at eight o’clock to help prepare the patients for bed.” Delia tried not to groan – that meant bedpans and sponge baths.
“But Matron I promise it was just…” she briefly protested but trailed off as she saw the anger in Matron’s eyes. She must have woken up on the wrong side of the bed.
“Just that you’ll be back here every night for the next two weeks for that. I am not here to be argued with. Now go and change.”
“How on earth did you get that on you?” Trixie asked, entering their twin room back at the nurse’s home. “You know how she gets about uniforms.”
“This red-headed girl dropped her things on me in the lecture this afternoon,” Delia replied, staring up at the ceiling. She thought she could see a spider crawling across the corner if she squinted. Trixie wouldn't like that. Delia sighed heavily - she had to go back to the ward in a couple of hours now and had wanted to go to see a film with Trixie and Charlotte.
“That wasn’t very nice of her! Didn’t she see you?” Trixie exclaimed checking her makeup in the mirror, patting her bleach blonde curls. Delia was about to explain more about it obviously being an accident when Trixie turned around and asked “Wait? Redhead? She wasn’t that new girl was she? Patsy Mount?”
“I think so? Wait, that one from the paper?” Two days earlier a newspaper clipping had been circulating at breakfast about girl from a rich family up north whose father was very unwell and she was set to inherit his fortune. Rumour had it that she was starting nursing training somewhere London but no one could work out why. Trixie had dramatically announced her plans to move to Paris if she ever inherited a fortune. Charlotte thought she might buy her own farm perhaps. Delia knew she’d seen that face somewhere.
“Well I heard she’s only been here a week and has already had two proposals from doctors” Trixie continued, reapplying her lipstick. “Apparently she likes to keep a couple on the hook at a time for fun.”
“Really?” said Delia skeptically. “Well, she was saying that Dr Craig had asked her something unusual before the lecture today.”
“There you have it then,” said Trixie. “She’s here fishing for a husband. Apparently, the family works in hospital management, political stuff. It’s only proper.” She put the last touches on her eye makeup with a flourish and picked up her bag. “Trust her to drop all her things on you and you to take the punishment. She’s probably never been punished in her life! So sorry to leave you but I’ll tell you all about the cinema tomorrow morning.” Trixie grabbed her coat and bag and gave Delia a wave before she shut the door behind her.
Alone in her room and due back at the hospital soon, Delia cursed her luck.
“Well it’s good to know your husband hunting hasn’t been interrupted like my evenings have Miss Patsy Mount…”