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South Africa

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“Darling, are you sure this is something you want to do?”

“Ever since I left the order, I’ve always felt as if I was still needed at Nonnatus House,” she runs her fingers through his thick hair, the moonlight streaming in through the curtains of their bedroom their only source of light.

“You’ve been a nurse and midwife for them ever since coming back to Poplar.”

“I know,” she sighs, she lightly bites the side of her cheek, “but I have an opportunity here to serve the world as my community rather than one little section of London.” She buries herself against his chest, his warmth wrapping itself around her body. “Their mission hospital is falling apart. They need all the help they can get.”

Tipping her chin up with the tip of his finger, he smiles down at his wife, “Then I guess that is that.”

She pops onto her knees, excitement flowing through her veins, “Really?”

“I’m going to miss you like crazy,” he captures her cheeks, “you better come back with a souvenir, a genuine one straight from South Africa.”

She melts back into his arms, “I only wish I can take you with me.” For one second, her wretched mind tells her to shut up.

He doesn’t seem to notice. “I won’t be able to take off the time from work, not with our new account from Charlie Chester Casino.”

“No, I guess not,” she kisses his jaw, lavishing him with the attention he was seeking when they had gotten home from the Christmas dinner.

“I want you back as soon as your work is complete.” His fingers dig under her blouse, the need to be skin to skin sizzling between their bodies. “I will buy you a plane ticket.”

“That is rather… hmmmm… rather extravagant,” her sigh slithers out from the back of her throat, his palms now finding her breasts.

“Nothing but the best for my darling wife.”

She moves her leg so that she is now straddling across his hips, “I love you, Jack.”

He captures her hips as she buries her lips along his neck, “I love you, my darling Shelagh.”

 


 

“So,” she sucks in the nicotine, the embers from her cigarette nearly reaching the filter, “I assume that you are going to South Africa?”

He glances up from the article he had been reading to see his wife leaning against the door jamb, her robe tightly tied at the waist. “They are in need of a doctor.”

“But you don’t believe in God.”

He rolls his eyes, “I don’t need to believe in God in order to help people.”

She gives him a scornful grin, the one that makes his blood boil, “How righteous of you.”

He takes a deep breath, “I don’t want to fight with you, not on Christmas.”

She simply shrugs her shoulders, “Fair enough, though Boxing Day will be fair game.” She takes a few steps in and kills the cigarette in the ashtray on his bedside table. “How long will you be gone for?”

“A few weeks,” he has to work extra hard at not rolling his eyes to kingdom come. “You will need to behave yourself when I am gone. It would be rather hard to explain a child if I were gone during its conception.” They had not made love to each other in well over a year when Angela was born and he can count on one hand the amount of times they had made love since then. Usually with the help of a scorching amount of alcohol and a reliable sheath for good measure.

“Well with this new pill coming out, that should make things a little bit more easier.”

Her words cut deep, but with this being the normal state of their relationship, he has learned how to keep such pain from mirroring on his face. “Just as long as you keep your men outside of Poplar.”

“Don’t I always?” She leans down and kisses his forehead, “Good night, Patrick.”

He glances up at his wife, “Good night, Marianne.”

“Don’t forget that tomorrow is fair game,” she sashays out of his room towards her own.

“I look forward to it,” he murmurs under his breath as he glances back at his magazine.

 


 

“Greeting, Doctor Turner,” Shelagh looks up from her notes at the receptions desk. “How was your Christmas?”

“Wonderful,” his smile is forced, but she doesn’t comment on it, she never has. “Especially with the exciting news that we received. Will you be joining our small caravan?”

“I had talked it over with Jack when we got home from Christmas dinner and he’s going to buy me a plane ticket there and back.”

“Splendid!” His smile reaches his eyes, a brightness she had not seen for a long while. “Seeing as how I will also be purchasing a plane ticket to and from South Africa, we can spend some time organizing the surgery center and the medicines we will need to take with us.”

“The nurses and nuns will be leaving on New Years Day by boat, so that should give us a fortnight to have everything ready.” She is already pulling a fresh piece of paper out, “I shall ready a list of things we need to do before we leave.”

“Very well, Nurse Caplin,” he picks up the stack of mail, “I will review over you list and will endeavor to accomplish all that is listed.”