Wincing in pain, James Eliot sat up slightly in his hospital bed as he noticed Harriet Peterson’s hair through the glass in the ward door before he spotted the rest of her. Entering the room, Harriet waved as she saw him sitting up in the bed, bandages covering his torso and some cuts on his face. She walked towards his bed, hovering beside him, looking him over and tutting.
James was so happy to see her, even though she was looking at him as though he was a laboratory experiment. He’d also never been so bored, sitting wasting the day away, hoping she’d visit. He’d only been there one day but already he was growing tired of doing nothing.
“Harriet, you finally decided to pay the injured patient a visit then?”
“Finally?” She sat down on the chair next to the bed.
“I’ve already had visits from Rosie and Bill. Even Ian popped by.”
“Rosie, Bill and even Ian didn’t have an important case, as well you know.” She glanced at the bright pink flowers in a vase on the bedside table. “From Rosie?”
“Yes, with a sappy card. Poor thing took one look at me and burst into tears. I told her I was fine but she didn’t like seeing the bandages.”
Harriet sighed. “I told you to be careful, James.”
James placed his hand on his heart. “That I was, I swear it. You can blame the girl I was with. She was the one driving the motorbike.”
“Either way you should count yourself lucky that you crashed into that cabbage field.”
“You here just to give me a lecture on road safety, Miss. Peterson?”
“Hmm. Well, you need one sometimes. But you look so terrible, I’ll hold it off until later when I can really annoy you.” She tapped his arm. “Any broken bones?”
“None. Few cracked ribs though. Mostly damaged pride. I fell off that motorbike arse -over-head.”
“I can imagine.” She smirked. “And the poor girl driving?”
“She was lucky, I cushioned her fall! She was discharged yesterday. She hasn’t even visited me. It’s me you should be worried about.”
“You’ll live. Oh, and I brought you some grapes.” She held up a crumpled brown paper bag.
“I was wondering when you were going to bring me a present. Thought perhaps the present might be you.”
“No, I was going to say, hope you kept the receipt.”
She pulled the bag away from his reach. “For that remark, I’ll keep the grapes.”
“But they’re mine.” He laughed. “Hand them over oh wicked witch.”
“Fine, help yourself, they’re full of pips.” She plonked the bag onto his lap.
He peered inside the bag and frowned. “Not seedless? Harriet, what were you thinking?”
“Would you like me to pre-chew and then spit them out for you? Honestly, James, don’t be a baby. Here have one on me,” she said, shoving a green grape in his mouth as though feeding an infant.
He smirked as he chewed the grape and then discreetly removed a pip from his mouth.
“Well, how are they treating you in here?” She watched as a female nurse walked past and James winked at her. “I can see we might have trouble with you.”
“No, no, it’s all a bit of fun, isn’t it?”
“They’re meant to be working, James.”
“I’m not distracting them.” He next winked at a passing handsome male nurse.
“Well, I’m bored, Harriet!”
“Poor James, always needs some quiet time until he gets quiet time and then complains.”
“Alright, so I’m contrary. So would you be if you’d fallen off a bike into some smelly cabbages with everyone standing over you with your torn jeans and helmet hair on display.”
“Oh, it wouldn’t happen to me.”
“You mean you wouldn’t ride on a motorbike?”
Her eyebrow rose and she neatened her hair. “No, I mean, I wouldn’t fall off.”
James laughed heartily, causing him to clutch his stomach in pain. “Come on then, what have I missed at chambers? Any gossip?”
“Nothing remotely exciting or important. We’re a bit busy. Didn’t you hear, one of our top barristers had an accident, ended up in a field of cabbages?”
“For that you shall have none of these grapes!”
“Don’t want any.”
“Don’t like the seeds.”
With a throaty laugh, James grabbed her hand and gave it a squeeze. “Oh Harriet, I do miss our sparring of a morning.”
“It’s only been one day.”
“Yes, but when they wheeled me in, I half expected to hear your voice berating me.”
“I’ll always be here to watch out for you, James. When I got the call you’d been in an accident, I didn’t know how serious it was so naturally I was concerned, we all were. You’re very valuable to us, to me especially.”
“As a barrister?”
“Yes, but as a friend too.”
“Harriet, I might cry!”
“We’ll both be weeping in a minute. Save your strength for healing those ribs. We shall manage somehow at the office without you.”
“It will be tough.”
She touched his face. “Not a pretty sight, I’m afraid.”
“How bad is it? Diagnosis? And be honest.”
“I’m afraid nobody’s going to want to date you in this state.”
“Well, say what you think, Harriet, don’t beat around the bush or anything.”
“Would never dream of it. You’re looking a bit pasty too.”
“You could do with a haircut.”
“What’s that got to do with anything?”
“Nothing, just an observation. A slight trim couldn’t hurt before work resumes. Speaking of which…”
She got up from the chair and James watched as she left the ward without another word and re-entered five minutes later carrying a bundle of files.
“What’s all this?” James exclaimed as she dumped them all onto his legs.
“Homework. You won’t be bored, now will you?” She smirked and then kissed him on the head. “Get well soon, James, it’s not the same without you.”
“Thank you, Harriet. And next time you visit, seedless grapes.”
“Fine, and next time you’re on a motorbike…don’t fall off.”