He was drowning in a sea of blue, bright shimmering azure, but he wasn't afraid. He wasn't fighting even though his breath seemed to escape him. He was on a road clouded in mist surrounded by golden fields, soft honey coloured sheaves blowing softly against his face. Abruptly it was all gone, replaced by the most beautiful smile he had ever seen. Now only that smile filled his consciousness, bright, so inviting across the most perfect rosy red lips...
"Doctor, Doc 'scuse me, Doc there seems to be some movement."
Peter Noakes' soft spoken voice cut through the hazy dreamlike images in his mind. Dr Turner jumped, causing the hard unforgiving chair to clatter. It took a few seconds for Patrick to remember where he was.
PC Noakes stood over him, his anxious face appealing to the doctor. A surgeon in theatre scrubs was coming towards them. Patrick jumped to his feet, straightened his clothing and re-introduced himself to the obstetrician.
Peter stood just out of ear shot, as if somehow hearing the news from Dr Turner, would make it more likely to be good news. The green clad medic departed and Patrick walked towards the visibly trembling policeman.
They had managed to stop the hemorrhaging and repair the damage. It would take time for her to heal, but they couldn't see there being any permanent consequences. His wife had lost a lot of blood, but that could be replaced. Peter started to roll up his sleeve, Patrick held onto his arm and reassured him that it wasn't necessary, the London's blood bank had adequate supplies.
Peter wiped his mouth with his hand, "And...the baby?"
"You have a son, Peter," the doctor's tone had been grave up until then. He had tried to explain Camilla's condition as clearly as he possibly could to her worried husband. The GP's face lightened and his dull tired green eyes sparkled, "He needed a little help initially, but he is now holding his own. He is a fighter Peter, like his mother."
Patrick was fortunately still holding the new father's arm, as the constable failed to stop the relief from engulfing him. He leaned towards the doctor, who was now helping him stay on his feet.
"Can I see him, Doc?" His voice breaking.
Patrick didn't need to answer, a midwife appeared on cue and took the new father's arm from the doctor and led him like a child to the neonatal ward.
Patrick returned to his rickety chair and reached for his cigarettes and lighter. Only to realize, it was now a cigarette and lighter. Had he and PC Noakes really smoked a whole packet of Henley's, while sat waiting in the London Hospital maternity corridor. He put the single fag back into his pocket with the lighter. As much as he craved it, he knew Peter's need was greater.
A young nurse burst through the maternity ward doors and smiled at him. He had known her since she was a girl. He had delivered her brother and her niece. He remembered her mother proudly telling him, that their Betty had been accepted into nursing school.
"Your wife is on the ward phone, Dr Turner,” she beamed, a glint in her eye. Nurse Ezard knew very well he was widowed, he gave her a sideways glance.
"This way Dr Turner," she insisted.
Once beside her, she hissed at him, "If Matron finds out, you are receiving personal communications through the ward telephone, she will not only have your guts for garters, but mine also."
Thankfully the ward was now being manned by the night shift. Nurse Ezard was on her own, while her colleague had gone to fetch another unit of blood from the blood bank fridge, ready for Mrs Noakes; but the seemingly omnipresent Matron could appear at any time. Her rounds were never regular or predictable.
Dr Turner waffled through a confused apology, as Betty ushered him towards the nurses station and awaiting telephone receiver. She moved back towards the door to keep watch for the omnipotent Matron Axume.
"Hello," Patrick spoke into the receiver.
The voice on the other end was so quiet, he pressed the earpiece closer to him.
"Patrick, it's Shelagh."
The doctor relaxed and smiled, he sat on the corner of the nurses desk and let her talk.
"I know I shouldn't have rung, but I was so worried, it's been so long." She was talking very quickly, "I didn't want to...disturb Nonnatus, I thought you might have some news by now?"
"She is in Recovery Shelagh, all is well. She is being transfused but the surgery appears to have been successful."
He anticipated her next question.
"A boy! A healthy baby boy, PC Noakes is with him now."
The phone went silent, he could hear her breathing.
Eventually, “That really is excellent news."
"Do you want to contact Nonnatus? They will be as anxious as you."
Silence again, just the sound of her breath.
"Would you mind doing that Patrick, I would have to explain and..."
Patrick rubbed his forehead, pushing his fatigued hair out of his eyes and kicked himself. What a ridiculous thing to ask her, he thought, he really was tired. He reassured her, he would take care of it and, No, she wasn't being silly, he was.
He changed the subject as swiftly as he could, “Are you feeling any better? Did you finish your chips?"
Silence, then deep breath in, quick exhale out, sound of her tongue been licked around her teeth. She is feeling better, he thought.
"I am absolutely fine Patrick. Timothy ate the rest of the supper, what we were able to salvage."
Nurse Ezard didn’t have any desire whatsoever to clean the sluice with a toothbrush, but she couldn't help being distracted from her watch for her foreboding foe. There was something about, when the old doctor smiled like that, she couldn't help but find distracting.
"Is Timothy in bed?"
"Y..yes, of course," came the reply. Another smile broke out across his weary face.
"Nurse Mannion, I hope you are not setting a precedent, by telling fibs on day one." Patrick glanced at the ward clock, it was still Friday, just. Shelagh started talking quickly, he was exhausted and had to listen intently to catch everything she was saying, as her accent thickened.
She pleaded her case to him. The boy had been through an extraordinary day, he was over excited and although she had tried to protect him from the reason of his father's absence. He had worked it out. He had probably sensed the change in her mood, she was sorry. The bright child had discerned that Akela was responsible for the leaking of joy from the day. She had made a bed up for the pair of them on the settee and they had watched television and read, until Timothy fell off to sleep.
Patrick let her ramble, just enjoying the sound of the voice he had missed so badly over the last three months. He wondered if this was actually the longest sentence he had ever heard her say to him. Eventually he had some pity and reassured her, that he wasn't cross, he completely understood. He added that not under any circumstance must she try and carry Tim to bed, but to leave him there and she in turn should take the child's bed.
A forced cough came from the ward doors, Nurse Ezard's eyes were wide and she was looking at him with a bemused expression. She raised her eyebrows and nodded.
Patrick quickly explained to Shelagh that he had to hang up, but he would be home soon. He suddenly realized how hungry he was and wondered if she was too. She sounded better, more coherent, more herself. Hopefully they had scraped something together from his beleaguered kitchen cupboards, to supplement the doomed fish supper. Timothy had been given money for a pie while Shelagh and he were at Nonnatus. Which seemed like days ago, but was only this afternoon.
He said he was sorry and hung up, after she had said she understood. Patrick again glanced at the clock, this was the second telephone conversation in just over 12 hours; with the person he had feared he would never speak to again. That was until that morning.