It had been a long day on AAU acknowledged Serena, but this close to Christmas it always was. The usual mixed bag of admissions were augmented by this years current selection of winter bugs and flu, putting pressure on already scarce beds. If you added to that pot the increase in seasonal accidents – most directly related to the amount of Christmas spirit consumed by the unfortunate revellers of Holby, a quiet day was a virtual impossibility. Today had been particularly trying. Serena had barely had time to breathe, let alone stop for lunch. The day might have been more tolerable if her co-lead had been there, but she was off duty today, and as far as Serena was aware, had been making the most of the opportunity to catch up on sleep.
The final nail in the coffin of her patience had been the patient A&E had insisted on sending up to her for surgery just an hour before the end of her shift. Yes there had been vascular issues, but nothing that Connie couldn't handle. Not with her new Trauma Theatre ready and waiting, Serena had thought bitterly. Deciding that it would take more energy to debate the issue than to do the surgery. Serena had scrubbed in as rapidly as she could. Apparently Mr Cassey had been standing on a chair putting up decorations when he slipped and fell on a string of battery operated fairy lights. He had landed heavily and the fragile lights had shattered and embedded themselves in his thighs and various other body parts in that region. There were a number of glass fragments close to major veins and it would be tedious work to extract them all safely. Fortunately (or not depending on your point of view) Mr Casey seemed not to have been wearing any clothes at the time of the incident, so there would be no cloth fragments to concern them.
When Serena had walked into the Theatre the first thing she had realised was that, despite their mishap, the lights were still working. Turning to Fletch who was gowned ready to assist she had said.
“Perhaps, now that we have established that the lights at least are still functioning, we could turn them off? Preferably before Mr Casey starts thinking the light really does shine out of his backside” her tone very efficiently stifling the laugh that Fletch had been about to release.
It was two hours after her shift had supposedly ended that Serena was finally able to leave the hospital and head home. She had high hopes for the evening ahead. Bernie had offered to cook dinner and had agreed to watch “It's a Wonderful Life” with her. Bernie had somehow managed never to see the Christmas staple film which just happened to be one of Serena's all time favourite movies. It never failed to lift her spirits and she was looking forward to curling up on the sofa and sharing it with Bernie.
All things considered she'd been in a reasonably good mood when she had walked through the door, but it had soon started to dissipate. Bernie's welcome home had been less than effusive, she hadn't even got up from the sofa to hug her. Serena had contented herself with pecking her partner on the check before she sat down. Whilst the smell wafting from the Thai takeaway cartons in front of them on the coffee table was delicious, it wasn't the home cooked meal Bernie had offered. She brushed both these minor disappointments as far to the back of her mind as she could and dug in hungrily.
The food had been eaten and the film half way through before Serena snapped. Pausing the DVD she turned to Bernie.
“If you're not interested in the film, you don't have to watch it.” she said rather tartly.
“I do want to watch it! What makes you think I don't?” questioned Bernie, slightly taken aback.
“Oh, I don't know.” retorted Serena “Maybe it's the way that you're fidgeting and sighing all the way over there? Maybe it's just me that's boring you then?”
“No Serena, no” interrupts Bernie.
“You didn't bother saying hello when I got home, certainly didn't think I was worth cooking for – like you promised to.”
“Serena, it's not that, it's not you, it's me.”
“I've heard that one before!” says Serena indignantly
“Oh God, I didn't mean...” Bernie dips her head as she struggles for the right words, but the rest of her remains motionless, bolt upright in the corner of the sofa. “Will you let me explain?” Serena gives a small nod of her head which Bernie interprets as permission to give this explanation her very best shot.
“It was the gift wrap.” she says. Serena's eyebrows rise in disbelief. “You know I'm not good at wrapping things.”
“I think that's been established.” notes Serena.
“Well, this afternoon I thought I'd take advantage of having the place to myself and wrap your Christmas present. Well, it's umm, sort of delicate and I was using my elbow to hold the paper together on it while I broke off some sellotape with my mouth. I was a bit too, um, enthusiastic, and when the tape gave I recoiled a bit. My elbow slipped and your gift started to fly off the table. I grabbed for it, and got it just in time. Unfortunately I sort of threw myself off the chair to reach it and landed in a rather odd position. I've done something to my back muscles. They keep going into spasm and it makes it hard to move, and sit completely still.”
“Bad?” Serena asks in a less angry tone.
“Pretty bad.” says Bernie with a grimace.
“Ok, so for that I can read you're in agony?”
“Um. Not far off.”
“Why didn't you say anything?” asks Serena, her voice much more gentle now.
“It's a bit embarrassing really. And I knew how much you were looking forward to dinner and the film. I didn't want to spoil it for you, so I did the best I could. Takeaway because it was too painful to cook, and I thought if I sat in the corner of the sofa you might not notice I was uncomfortable.” Bernie says sadly.
“And all I did is come home and take my frustration out on you. I'm so sorry. It was a really tough day and all I wanted was for you to hold me. I didn't even notice you were in pain. I'm sorry.” and by now there is a look of sympathy on Serena's face.
“I was trying to make sure you didn't notice. It was kind of the point.” says Bernie reasonably.
“Let me make it up to you. We can watch 'A Wonderful life' another time. Head to the bedroom, take your top of and lay on the bed.” smiles Serena.
“Much as I'd like that, I don''t think I could manage any, um, funny business.”
“Bernie, I'm not entirely certain what you were thinking, but I was offering you a back massage to try and sort the muscles out. Certainly no 'funny stuff' as you put it.” Serena is now trying to hold back a smile.
“Oh, well,” says Bernie. “That would be, that would be very nice.”
“Go on then. I'll be up in a minute, just got to do something first.”
“What'?” Bernie asks.
Serena smiles broadly
“Order you a selection of gift bags. I think it'll be safer.”