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‘Nurse Busby!’

There was a hush over the clinic, and every nurse in the room became wide eyed and silent, turning in the direction of the head nurse, Nurse Phyllis Crane, who was holding up a set of files and looking rather irritated, her eyes narrowed, the jowes of her cheeks trembling angrily.

A young, nervous looking brunette, small in stature, her blue scrubs baggy because of it, approached Nurse Crane and stood at attention like a soldier standing in front of their commander.

‘Yes Nurse Crane,’ she said meekly.

‘I’ve just come from examining Mrs. Smith, after reviewing the vitals that you recorded. None of these numbers are accurate! Blood pressure reading of 180 over 90 for a 25 year old woman?! She would be dead on the floor of a stroke by now if it was really that high! I had to check her vitals and temperature all over again and redo your work!’

Nurse Busby looked down at her shoes, her ears red, ‘I’m terribly sorry Nurse Crane-’

‘Do not interrupt me!’ Nurse Crane shouted, and Nurse Busby looked on the verge of tears.

Nurse Crane took in a deep breath of air, opening her mouth to continue her onslaught, no doubt trying to make an example of Nurse Busby by making her tongue lashing a public spectacle for the entire back office in the clinic.


All eyes in the clinic turned to a tall redhead they knew to be the second in command, Nurse Patience Mount, striding over to stand between Nurse Crane and Nurse Busby.

‘I’ll handle this,’ she said, plucking the file from Nurse Cranes hand.

‘Her incompetence is a direct reflection of your training, Nurse Mount, I hope you know.’

‘I said I’ll handle it. She’s my responsibility, I’ll take care of it,’ she said soft, but firm, placing a comforting hand on Nurse Busby’s shoulder as they turned and walked in the opposite direction towards her office.

‘Come on,’ Nurse Mount could be heard saying as they walked together, her hand slid to the back of Nurse Busby’s neck and gently rested there, seemingly guiding her, ‘let’s take a look.’

‘I’m sorry, I don’t know what happened. I must have gotten these numbers confused with something else...’ Nurse Busby trailed off feebly.

‘It’s alright,’ Nurse Mount said softly as they walked, ‘we’ll review it together, don’t worry.’

On the other side of the room, having watched this entire debacle, Nurse Trixie Franklin hung back around a corner of the tiny clinic, her arms crossed and her shoulder leaning against the wall, her expression rather perplexed as she observed yet another example of the strange transformation in her friends behaviour.

Here she was, Patience Mount. Stressed out, cantankerous, well known bitch of the office, and an obnoxious chainsmoker (though a fucking good nurse), actually being nice to the new girl, Delia Busby. The fresh out of nursing school, doe eyed and sweet as cake girl who, until recently, Patsy couldn’t stand. She had been as mean to her as Nurse Crane had just been, refusing to even so much as shake her hand when they were first introduced, barely acknowledging her, snapping at her for making small mistakes.

That was a month ago.

Now, all Trixie knew was that the two had been whisked away to a conference in Aberdeen a week or so ago, Patsy to present in a panel on modern midwifery and forced to take Delia along to observe, for the learning experience. Patsy had been vehemently against it. Stuck in the company car, driving all the way from London to Aberdeen with this no-nothing kid? Babysitting this annoying, spoilt brat? She had better things to do with her time, so she said.

Since they’ve returned, Trixie could only shake her head in disbelief at the sudden reversal of Patsy’s behaviour towards Delia. She wasn’t just being nice. She was holding doors open for her. She would order for Delia in the cafeteria, pay for her food, pull out chairs for her. Trixie found it so odd, and worried that Patsy was somehow manipulating the girl. She had 10 years on her, after all. Delia was so young, only 21 and away from home for the very first time in her life, still so very impressionable. It made Trixie worry she and Patsy were in some kind of unhealthy relationship. She was the only one who seemed to notice, though.

Trixies eyes widened as, just before Patsy and Delia disappeared behind Patsy’s office door, she watched Patsy’s hand on the back of Delia’s neck, her thumb rising to gently stroke her neck, over the wisps of hairs hanging delicately loose from the younger woman's ponytail. The door shut behind them with a soft click and Trixie wondered just what the fuck was going on between those two.

‘Well!?’ Nurse Crane shouted shrilly, pulling Trixie from her thoughts. All the junior nurses around her jumped, ‘Don’t you all have some work to do?! Get back to your patients!’ she said, Nurse Gilford, Nurse Dyer, and Nurse Anderson scrambling from their respective corner, tripping over themselves to get back to the front to deal with the waiting room full of patients.

Trixie ignored Nurse Crane and stood still until the room was completely empty, save for her. She looked at the door where Delia and Patsy had disappeared behind, eyeing it suspiciously. Feeling overwhelmed with an insatiable curiosity, she practically tiptoed to the office, pressing her ear close to the door.

She heard nothing for several moments, save for the thumping of her heart. Her pulse pounded in her ears, anxiety rising within her at the prospect of being caught. She knew she had patients to attend to, but getting to the bottom of whatever was going on between those two became the number one thing on her list of priorities at the moment.

‘She hates me,’ Trixie heard Delia mumble. She strained to hear her through the door. It sounded as if Delia’s voice was muffled somehow. Like how someone sounds when they’re being hugged or held. Was Patsy holding her?

‘No she doesn’t,’ Patsy said, ‘but it was wrong for her to yell at you in front of everyone. If she tries it again you tell her to speak with me. I’ll not have her doing something like that so long as I’m here. ’

‘I feel so stupid.’

‘You’re not. You just have to slow down and ignore the long line of patients outside the door. I know it’s tempting to rush but we need to get you into the habit of giving the patient you’re with your undivided attention. We can review your other files after work if you want.’

Trixie raised an eyebrow. After work? So they were seeing each other outside the clinic. Trixie held her breath as the two on the other side of the door remained silent for several seconds.

‘Have you been good today?’ Trixie heard Delia ask. Her tone had changed. It seemed more… confident.

Good? What did she mean by good?

‘Yes,’ Patsy said softly, ‘I really wanted to, but I didn’t.’

Wanted to? What was Patsy talking about?

‘Good girl.’

Good girl?!

‘I want a cigarette,’ Patsy said.

‘You may have a cigarette,’ Delia replied.

‘Thank you.’

Trixie blinked. Was she hearing this right? Did Patsy just ask permission for a fag? From Delia-fucking-Busby?

A door clamouring open behind Trixie made her jump. She had to clamp her hand over her mouth to prevent an audible gasp from escaping. She quickly turned and snuck away as quietly as she could before Nurse Dyer noticed her standing by Patsy’s office door. Trixie quickly made her way out to the front of the clinic to take the next patient in line, desperately trying to focus on her work, but she couldn’t shake the conversation she had just overheard from her mind.

It was evening and the clinic had seen out it’s last patient. Trixie had been in the back collecting her things before leaving for the day when Patsy walked in, the tall redhead shrugging off her coat and smelling of smoke, no doubt returning from outside after having a quick fag. Trixie watched as the redhead tugged on the sleeves of her thermal, the one she wore under her scrubs. One would think this to be a sensible garment in the dead of winter like it was, the temperatures being well below 0 for the last several weeks now, but Trixie had worked alongside Patsy for several years. She had always seen her wear the thermal underneath her scrubs, even on the hottest of summer days. Come to think, she had never seen the woman's naked arms ever. There were several theories between her and the other nurses as to why this was. Nurse Gilbert and Nurse Anderson presumed it was a modesty thing, but Trixie knew the woman to be far from religious. Nurse Dyer and herself presumed she had tattoos or an embarrassing scar or something that she wanted to cover to look professional. None of them ever asked, reckoning it was none of their business, after all.

The sight of the redhead brought back the memory of the conversation she overheard between her and Delia earlier that day, and she unconsciously looked at Patsy curiously, working to put together the puzzle in her head but not having all the pieces.

‘Alright, Trix?’ Patsy asked, returning Trixies curious gaze.

Trixie blinked, smiling innocently, ‘I’m fine. Just leaving for the night…’ she trailed off, buttoning up her coat before continuing, ‘How is Delia?’

Patsy merely looked at her.

‘You, um, spoke with her after Nurse Crane gave her the what for,’ Trixie elaborated, ‘She alright?’

‘Oh,’ Patsy replied casually, ‘she’s alright. Told her she needs to work on paying attention to details before she enters her vitals. Not to worry about the workload and take her time to do it right. I’ve been checking up on her throughout the day. She’s getting better.’

Trixie gave a reassuring smile, nodding, ‘That’s good. You seem… to be more keen on her then you were before,’ Trixie said slowly, feeling like she was treading on dangerous territory.

Patsy gave a soft smile, ‘She’s growing on me, yes.’

Trixie nodded, prodding further, ‘Was it… did something happen when you were stuck in the Highlands? Julienne said you two were snowed in somewhere without the car…’

Patsy kept her soft smile and quiet demeanor, ‘We had a chance to talk, is all.’

Trixie looked back at Patsy with as little emotion as possible, her body turning towards the redhead, arms crossing over her chest challengingly.

‘Is it?’

Trixie watched as the muscles in Patsy’s jaw clenched. She took a breath through her nose and clasped her hands behind her back.

‘Are you insinuating something, Trixie?’

Trixie blushed, but held firm, ‘I’m just… concerned.’

Patsy tilted her head, raising an eyebrow, a silent command for Trixie to continue.

‘Just things I’ve seen… makes me think there’s more to you and her than you’re letting on.’

Patsy was quick to respond, ‘Such as?’

‘Opening doors for her? Pulling out her chair?’

‘I’m being polite.’

‘Buying her lunch?’

Patsy scoffed, ‘She’s just out of school and living in one of the most expensive cities on the planet, Trix. There’s nothing wrong with me buying her lunch. Phyllis treats you and I from time to time. Even buys us drinks every now and again.’

‘Patsy, I’ve seen how you touch her,’ Trixie said quietly, watching as Patsy narrowed her eyes suspiciously at her, ‘it’s as if you’re… together,’ she finished with a whisper.

The two women shared a tense stare, one waiting for the other to move. To breathe.

Trixie finally relented and spoke, ‘It’s just... from the outside it might look like you’re being polite and friendly, but there’s something else going on behind closed doors. Isn’t there?’

Patsy didn’t respond. She merely glowered, her lips a thin line across her face.

‘She’s young, Pats,’ Trixie whispered, her voice wavering slightly, ‘easily impressionable and… and I just want to make sure there’s nothing…’ Trixie struggled to search for words, so she trailed off, hoping Patsy would catch her drift, ‘I’m just trying to look out for the both of you, is all. I don’t want anything to happen to either of you… for whatever reason.’

Patsy took another deep breath through her nose.

‘I assure you, Trixie, the relationship between Nurse Busby and I is strictly professional,’ Patsy remarked calmly, straightening her posture, ‘Even if there were something more, I would never use my position to influence or take advantage of her in any way. Or anyone, for that matter. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some work to finish before I leave this evening. Good night,’ she said with an absolute finality in her tone, turning on her heel and leaving Trixie alone in the back room, the smell of the last cigarette she smoked lingering in the air behind her.

Trixie closed her eyes and shook her head, attempting to rid herself of the uneasy feeling in the pit of her stomach, but it was unrelenting. She chose to just leave it for now. And besides, she reasoned, Delia was 21. An adult. An adult who could consent. If there was something going on, the two were perfectly within their rights to carry on as they were, but… Trixie shook her head and exited the building, resolving to keep an eye on the girl for the time being. Maybe it was nothing, but Trixie wouldn’t feel right with herself until she knew for sure Patsy was telling the truth.

One month ago.

Patsy was briskly walking down the corridor of the clinic, flipping through a patient file before she went into the exam room where they were waiting for their checkup. She was tired, and agitated. A near constant state of her being, one came to find out about her when they got to know her. Though, one could hardly blame her. With the exception of her boss, head Nurse Crane, she was the one senior member on a team of junior nurses with only three years of experience combined between them. Thankfully, Nurse Franklin, next in line to Patsy and her only friend at the clinic who could tolerate her near constant horrible mood, was able to keep them in check while Patsy was able to focus on her work. Despite this, they were severely understaffed, and more often than not, Patsy found herself taking on the bulk of the work every day. She took it on without reservation because otherwise it just wouldn’t get done, and if it did, it wouldn’t be done properly.

‘Nurse Mount!’

Patsy turned her head to see Ms. Julienne poking her head out of her office door, giving Patsy an deceptively cheery smile. The woman was in her mid-60’s, a retired nurse who had taken on the role of Human Resources for the clinic, hiring and managing yearly reviews for employees and the like. Patsy found the woman tolerable but knew no good news ever came from being called to her office. In her case anyway.

‘May I have a moment of your time?’ she asked, flashing a grin.

Patsy scowled. Time was the one thing she never had, but with an impatient sigh, she turned around and made her way to Julienne’s office.

Once she entered, her eyes landed on another person in the room. Someone she had never seen before. A young girl who looked sloppy in her ill fitting scrubs. Patsy, always one for looking crisp and professional, immediately disliked her, despite her looking bright eyed and bushy tailed and just all around happy to be there.

Patsy hated her youth. Her dimpled smile. Her innocence. Her inexperience.

Patsy turned to Julienne as the woman rounded back behind her desk after closing the door to her office.

‘What do you want,’ Patsy said terse, looking to Julienne, ignoring the girl.

Julienne narrowed her eyes, her smile a tight line on her face. She looked determined not to let Patsy’s rudeness get the best of her as she stood, her fingertips gently pressed against the top of her desk.

‘I just wanted to introduce you to the new member of our team, Nurse Delia Busby,’ she said, nodding politely in the girls direction, ‘She’s just graduated at the end of last term in December, and will be doing her residency with us here at Nonnatus clinic,’ Julienne interlocked her hands together in front of her before continuing, ‘Nurse Crane has requested that I place her under your charge for her training. Take her under your wing, if you will.’

Patsy eyed the girl across from her, who puffed out her chest, looking determined to make a good impression as she stiffly held out her arm for a handshake.

‘Pleasure to meet you, Nurse Mount,’ she said. Her accent sounded Welsh to Patsy's ears.

Patsy merely glared at her, clenching her jaw, making no move to return the gesture. She took a step back and opened the door to Juliennes office.

‘You. Out,’ she said, nodding her head from Delia to the hallway.

Delia retracted her hand, turning red, clearly embarrassed, ‘Oh… um, a-alright,’ she mumbled as she nervously scurried out of the room, Patsy closing the door behind her, leaving it open just a crack.

Patsy rounded on Julienne with a death glare, ‘Seriously, Julienne? I don’t have the time to babysit these fresh out of school nurses, cleaning up after them when they inevitably cock it all up. I’ve enough on my plate as it is fixing all the fuck-ups from the other nurses on top of my regular work.’

‘You know how I feel about swearing Nurse Mount,’ Julienne said, turning up her nose at Patsy.

‘Well I bloody well don’t appreciate some newby being dropped in my lap like this when I have a million other things to worry about,’ Patsy fought off the awful urge to wink, a facial tick she had unfortunately developed over the course of her adult life whenever she felt stressed. She was fighting off that urge most of the time, recently.

‘Nurse Mount,’ Julienne said firmly, ‘Nurse Crane and I believe it’s time for you to take on more of a mentorship role here at the clinic. The new nurses who come through could use training under the guidance of someone as experienced as yourself,’ Julienne finished resoundingly, hoping the compliment would soften Patsy. It did the opposite.

Patsy tucked the files she was holding under her arm before holding both hands out firmly in front of her, ‘You are not listening to me,’ she pleaded through clenched teeth, desperately trying not to raise her voice, ‘I do not have the time to train anyone, let alone someone who has zero experience. Can’t you put her with Trixie and the rest?’

‘Nurse Franklin already has her hands full with the other three,’ Julienne said, her voice lowering and her gaze intense, ‘This is not a request, Nurse Mount. You will take on Nurse Busby and ensure she is properly trained and managed.’

‘No. I’m not doing it,’ Patsy finished defiantly.

Julienne merely sighed, the tight line in her face turning to a stern scowl as she clasped her hands together once more in front of her.

‘Nurse Crane will hear about this,’ Julienne threatened.

Patsy rolled her eyes at Juliennes attempted tone of authority as she gripped the doorknob tightly in her fist, ’Well good, maybe she’ll actually fucking listen to me.’

She swung open the door and exited the room. Her head turned to her side to see the new nurse standing there meekly, her head down and expression sad. Patsy was sure she had heard every word between her and Julienne, and she didn’t care. Maybe it would be enough for the kid to stay the hell away from her and let her do her work in peace.

Scowling, Patsy turned on her heel and continued walking down the corridor to the exam room where her patient was waiting. After spending some time putting on a cheery smile and thoroughly checking them over, Patsy moved on to the next patient, their door closed. She leaned in and heard Nurse Gilbert’s voice animatedly chatting with them while recording their vitals. Patsy decided then that she probably had just enough time for a quick cigarette before meeting with this patient.

Not bothering to grab her coat, she headed toward the back area where everyone kept their lunches and other personal things, opening the back door and stepping outside into the alley, the only designated place she and the other nurses could smoke. She was greeted with the sight of Nurse Valerie Dyer, wrapped up on her puffy down coat and smoking her own cigarette.

Valerie nodded her head in acknowledgment, ‘Alright Patsy?’ she asked, taking a long drag. Patsy could hear her cigarette crinkle, the tip glowing orange as she pulled in the smoke.

Patsy grunted, her breath coming out through her nose in white puffs from the cold as she beat her pack of cigarettes against her palm. She had gone all morning without one and having Valerie blow smoke in her face absolutely made her mouth water.

‘Met the new girl yet?’ Valerie asked conversationally.

‘No,’ Patsy said miserably, doing her very bet to convey that she was in no mood for chit chat, which went completely ignored by Valerie.

‘She seems really nice!’ Valerie said with a small smile, ‘Friendly. Welsh girl, you know. Says she’s happy to be living in the city for a change, what with growing up out in the country. Can’t imagine there’s fuck all to do out there where the sheep outnumber the people.’

Valerie laughed at her own remark, which went ignored by Patsy who concentrated on lighting her cigarette. She pulled in a long drag, finally feeling a moment of relief from the stress of her job as the nicotine hit her system.

Both Patsy and Valerie jumped when the back door burst open, slamming noisily against the brick wall of the building with a loud ‘bang!’ The two smokers turned towards the commotion and watched as Nurse Crane emerged from the building, looking more bulldogish than usual.

Valerie chuckled nervously, ‘’lo, Nurse Crane,’ she eked out politely.

Phyllis had her eyes locked on Patsy, who looked right back at her unwavering as her cigarette dangled precariously from her lips.

‘Leave us, Nurse Dyer,’ Phyllis said as she approached, coming to stand almost nose to nose with Patsy.

Wide eyed and looking between the two, Valerie took one last quick drag of her cigarette, giving a nervous but cheery ‘Rightio,’ before chucking her butt into the receptacle and scurrying back into the building, closing the door behind her, knowing better than to disobey a direct order from head Nurse Crane.

Neither Phyllis or Patsy broke eye contact as the door creaked on its hinges before clicking shut. Patsy managed one more drag of her cigarette before Phyllis reached up and pulled it clear from her mouth, throwing it to the ground.

‘Oi,’ Patsy said a little tiffed as she exhaled a line of smoke, She reached into her trouser pocket to pull out her pack of cigarettes for another. Phyllis immediately batted them out of her hand and they fell to the ground, landing with a light crunch on the icy snow.

‘Phyllis, what the fuck?’ Patsy said incredulously.

‘Listen here,’ Phyllis began, ignoring Patsy's consternation, ‘I’ve just come from having a nice little chat with Julienne.’

Patsy pursed her lips and rolled her eyes.

‘If you think you can continue working here with this selfish, shitty attitude, being rude to your coworkers and running from responsibilities-‘

‘Running from responsibilities?’ Patsy repeated, cutting her off, ‘I’m the one who takes them on! I’m the one who carries the load from the other nurses and you fucking know it!’ she shouted, taking a breath to calm herself slightly, ‘God knows if I didn’t do it nothing would get done right! Besides,’ Patsy said, crossing her arms and shaking her head thinking back to her earlier conversation with Julienne, ‘I didn’t become a nurse to train others. I don’t have time for it and I don’t want to do it,’ she huffed.

‘Well tough shit, kid. The only reason I haven’t sacked you yet is because you’re one of the best damn nurses I’ve ever worked with, but you have to do the work to make sure the next generation is as good as you.’

Patsy growled, fighting off the urge to twitch again. It seemed like no one understood the amount of work and pressure she was consistently under. She absolutely refused to take on one more fucking task.

‘It wouldn’t be so bad if we weren’t so understaffed, Phyllis! I’m at my wits end by the end of the day fixing all the mistakes from everyone else under Trixies watch!’

‘Well maybe if you were the one who trained them in the first place, like I initially asked you to, they would do their work right the first time!’ Phyllis shot back challengingly, ‘You’re not passing her off to Trixie this time. Not this one.’

Patsy shut her eyes tight. Fight it fight it fight it, she thought.

‘Can’t you send her back?’ Patsy asked through grit teeth, slowly opening her eyes again, ‘This… Delilah, or whatever the fuck her name is? Can’t she go somewhere else? A bigger hospital who has the staff and resources to fucking train these new nurses right? Why doesn’t the NHS send us someone with some fucking experience for once to help out instead of burdening our load?!’

‘No, I can’t send her back, she’s not a puppy you pick up at the farm, Mount. She’s a nurse. A smart one, too. I purposely requested her to fulfill her residency here because she consistently received top marks in her class. She has the makings to be a great nurse and midwife, which is why I want her paired with you. I want you to train her, because I know you’ll bring out her full potential.’

‘Phyllis, I’m begging you,’ Patsy said, pinching the bridge of her nose with her thumb and forefinger, ‘please give the kid to Trixie. I don’t have it in me to oversee anyone’s training. I don’t have the time.’

‘You will make the time, Mount,’ Phyllis said warningly, making her way back to the door, the hard snow in the alley crunching under her footsteps, ‘and her name is Delia. Delia Busby,’ she said as she opened the door, ‘put in the effort to show someone an ounce of respect for once and learn their fucking name, would you?’ she finished, slamming the door behind her.

Patsy clenched her fist, pacing down and up the alley for a few moments, her breath coming out ragged in white puffs that floated about her head before disappearing. She took a few paces away from the door to make sure she couldn’t be seen before she rolled up the thermal sleeve of her right arm to her elbow. Her forearm was riddled with faded marks, scars she made herself with her own teeth, and she brought her arm to her mouth and added a new one, digging her teeth into her arm, pressing hard into the skin, marking herself yet again. It was painful, but it relieved the tension. It was the only thing she could think to do to cope with the insurmountable stress that she felt was piled into her every hour of every day. She let go and bit down again hard, feeling herself calm, feeling her breathing slow, the tension leaving her body with every thump of her pulse in her ears. She let go and looked at the red mark she had created, wiping it clean from spit and the spot of blood she drew before she lowered her sleeve back down to her wrist.

She turned, reaching down, snatching the pack of cigarettes Phyllis had knocked out of her hand earlier, shoving it back into her pocket before heading back inside, slamming the door behind her.

Patsy had finished with her next patient, her eyes on the paperwork in her hand as she exited the room and shut the door. She stopped in her tracks suddenly when she realized the new nurse was standing directly in front of her, blocking her path.

‘Oh,’ Patsy grunted, ‘What do you want?’

‘Um,’ the new nurse began meekly, staring at her hands in front of her, ‘Ms. Julienne said I was to shadow you for the next few days.’

Patsy sighed, the girl was standing so close she wondered if she took the phrase ‘shadowing’ literally. She took a step back to distance herself, her mood souring again at the thought of this kid on her tail, following her around all day, and every day thereafter for the rest of the week.

A set of glaring eyes bore into Patsy, making the hair on the back of her neck stand. She looked over to see Phyllis watching her like a hawk, eyes narrowed and arms crossed challengingly. Patsy scowled at her.

‘Alright Busby,’ she emphasized through clenched teeth, saying her name loud enough for Phyllis to hear. Patsy shifted the paperwork in her arms from one hand to the other, an idea occurring.

‘Follow me,’ she simply said, turning on her heel and walking quickly to her office. The new nurse has to work double time to keep up with Patsy's long strides.

Patsy opened the door to her office and flicked on the light, dropping the file in her hand on top of the others that were piled high in a neat stack on her desk. The office was simple. A desk with a computer, a chair, and no decorations on the walls, other than a calendar provided by the NHS, each month a PSA reminding people to wash their hands and cover their mouths when they coughed and the like. The office harbored no sign of personality whatsoever. Even the coffee cup next to the phone on her desk that held orphaned pens and pencils was completely white.

Patsy stood over her computer and opened up their record keeping software.

‘Sit,’ she commanded to Delia, pulling out her rolling chair for the girl.

Delia sat down wordlessly, looking at Patsy for instructions.

‘This information’ Patsy said, placing a finger on the stack of files, ‘needs to be transferred electronically,’ she said plainly, her finger moving to her computer.

Patsy opened a file and held it up for Delia, ‘Look, all the information is here, the format on the screen is the same as it is on the paper, someone just needs to type it all up.’

‘There aren’t computers in the exam rooms where you can just type this up while you’re with the patient?’ Delia asked.

‘No,’ Patsy said terse, ‘you see, Busby, the NHS is like the Titanic. It’s old, it’s slow, it’s terribly outdated, and if it keeps going it’s current course, it’s doomed to fail. Horribly.’

Delia merely blinked.

‘They’re also too cheap to get computers for the exam rooms or laptops for us to carry around, either. Otherwise I wouldn’t have to waste half a day handwriting notes and then typing up an electronic copy,’ Patsy forced a smile and patted the back of the chair, ‘Well. Happy typing then! I’ll come in and check on you at the end of the day,’ Patsy finished, rounding her desk and heading out the door, leaving Delia looking quite worried as she opened the first file.

It was nearing six o’clock when Patsy had finished up with her last patient of the day, actually quite looking forward to going back to her office to find the new girl having done her paperwork for her. It made her walk with a kick in her step to think she might get out of here at a reasonable hour for once.

She opened her office door, finding the once occupied chair empty, the files on her desk looking a little disheveled.

Patsy looked around, hearing footsteps, and spotted Phyllis walking towards her.

‘Where’s the kid?’

‘I can only assume you’re referring to Nurse Busby?’ Phyllis said with an eyebrow raised, ‘I sent her home early, Nurse Mount.’

‘Why?’ Patsy asked incredulously.

‘You were given specific instructions to have her shadow you this afternoon, were you not?’

Patsy shrugged, ‘And?’

‘And instead you sequestered her to your office where you treated her as your personal secretary.’

‘So what? It’s work we all have to do. If I have to do it, she has to do it!’

‘The point of her shadowing you is you two working together! For you to sit with her and teach her, not just dump her with the extra curriculars you don’t have the patience for.’

Patsy merely rolled her eyes, walking into her office and sitting down behind the computer. She figured she would at least look over what Delia had done before she left for the evening.

She opened the first file on her desk and opened the accompanying electronic copy. Immediately she noticed that the electronic copy was paraphrased. Several words were missing. Several words were incorrect.

‘What the fuck?’ Patsy mumbled to herself.

She picked up the next file on her stack, finding the electronic copy in a similar state. And the next one after that.

‘These are wrong,’ Patsy said, throwing the file down on her desk with force, ‘all of these are fucking wrong!’ she yelled to herself, leaning back in her chair with her hand over her face, taking several deep breaths.

She kept her hand over her face to cover the twitch of her eye, finally giving into it as she felt the stress of the day rising within her exorbitantly.

‘I’m going to just have to fucking do it all over again,’ she resolved finally, her words muffled by her hands.

As she came to terms that she would be stuck there well into the evening redoing Delia’s work, she shot up from her chair and slammed her office door so hard the walls vibrated from the force. She leaned against the door, pulled up her sleeve, and sank her teeth into her left arm.