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these pages of gold

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i.

 

 


When she first meets Delia it’s whilst she’s doing a stint on Urology.

It’s as she’s leaving the ward for a well earned cigarette, when there’s a racket as the door across the hall from her swings open and she’s met by a fresh faced young woman (who must be no more than 19 or 20, she thinks,) with Matron barking orders at her from behind the swinging doors.

Patsy recognises her almost straight away.

It’s the young woman from the nurses home who had been pulled up about the tidiness of her room at breakfast a few days before, with the same look on her face as she did when she received her scolding.

Delia though, who is clearly trying to pay attention to her superior fails to notice the narrow hallway that she’s walked into; that’s how Patsy almost ends up being swilled by the contents of a rather sour smelling bed pan.

‘Oh heck, I am so sorry,’ Delia gasps, the sincerity is clear in her voice. Staring at her, as if she’s waiting for another scolding or worse. There’s no time for a response though, as she realises whereabouts she is, and continues hastily onwards down the corridor.

All of her memories of fourth year come rushing back, and Patsy grins to herself.

Thankful she’s no longer in Matron’s direct line of fire.

 

*

 



Later in the day, after a particularly grueling day spent with Doctor Winward, Patsy comes across her again, looking a lot more composed than before.

Delia’s sitting in the hospital garden on her lunch, a ham sandwich in her lap and a thoughtful look on her face as she reads the newspaper.

‘Feeling any better, old thing?’ Patsy asks, coming to sit down on the bench beside her, ‘You looked awfully flustered earlier, if you don’t mind my saying,’

At the sound of her voice, Delia turns her head to look at her with a look of mild surprise, then nods halfheartedly,

‘It can be a little bit… full on, on the ward. I don’t know if I’m cut out for it,’

‘I can promise you there’s not one person in this hospital who hasn’t had that thought, once or twice. Lord knows I certainly have,’ Patsy says, remembering the florist in Chelsea, ‘But you needn’t worry, you’re not doing as bad as you think you are,’

Delia smiles gratefully, and takes another bite of her sandwich,

‘I’m Patsy by the way,’  she says,

With the last bit of her sandwich swallowed, Delia shares her name.

 

 

 

 


ii.

 

 

 

Patsy plonks down on the edge of the bed, then relaxes onto her back. Her cheeks burning from smiling so much, and her head buzzing from one two many Gin Fizz’

It’s not often their nights off coincide, and typically going to the local dance club is not something Patsy does often. But Delia had been invited by a couple of the junior doctors, and she’d all but begged her to join them.

And the evening did turn out to be rather fun, in the end.

Delia has her back turned as she peaks out of the bedroom door, making sure they were quiet enough not to disturb any of the others, and Patsy can’t help but admire how wonderful Delia looks this evening.

By no means does she mean that Delia never looks wonderful— even in their ghastly nurses uniform—(which Patsy finds thoroughly unfair). But in this moment; leaning against a now closed door with her eyes shut, and her hair undone, Patsy can’t help but marvel at how beautiful her friend really is.

‘My feet are absolutely in bits,’ Delia groans, kicking off her shoes and crossing the room to close her curtains, ‘William stepped on my toes so many times tonight, I’m sure he’s broken one,’

‘I quite think that he fancies you, he was glued to your side all evening,’ Patsy says, unable to keep the edge from her voice, ’and Richard was practically begging you for a dance too, the poor fellow. Tell me, Deels, how does it feel to be such a woman in demand?’

She tries for a smile, but it’s small and doesn’t quite reach her eyes. There’s a strange feeling in the pit of her stomach, as she remembers the way Richard had ran his hand down Delia’s back, and stupidly, how she had felt… almost betrayed, by Delia as she smiled kindly back at him.

Surely she wasn’t jealous of the attention Delia was getting, in fact apart from the odd remark here or there she hadn’t found Richard very interesting at all.

The bed dips as Delia sits down next to her, but she doesn’t give Patsy her answer. There’s a slight ringing in her ears, but the room slips into a long silence. Worried, Patsy props herself up on her elbows, ‘Delia? Are you alright?’

When she doesn’t reply, Patsy sits up properly and takes Delia’s hand in her own, ‘What’s the matter, darling?’

Delia turns to look at her, their faces so close Patsy can feel the warmth of Delia’s breath. And then, as swift as a thought, there are lips against hers; gentle, but certain.

She can feel Delia’s grip on the bed tighten underneath her hand, and her own heart echoing through her entire body, right down to the tips of her toes.

Only after, wen she realises what’s happened, she blinks her eyes open to see Delia looking at her with an almost stony expression; betrayed only by the panic in her eyes as she waits for what will happen next.

It happens all too fast; all too slow, all at once.

And Patsy kisses her back.

*


‘This feels like a dream,’ Delia whispers the next morning, as they lay together on the bed still clad in last nights clothes.

Patsy runs her fingers down Delia’s arm, and rests her forehead against hers; willing time to slow down so they can stay in this dream a little bit longer.