Christmas Cards

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Sitting back in her armchair, with hands that never stopped shaking, Mary opened the envelopes of the three letters the postman had just put through the door.

The first was an electric bill she would have to go to the post office to pay off. The second was a junk letter about signing up for a credit card and the third was a charity circular  which as well as wanting her to send money for homeless people, contained a Christmas card and gift sticker labels.

Mary looked at the Christmas card, it was a drawing of a brass band playing in the snow next to a town centre war memorial. She smiled and opened the card. It was blank inside.

Putting the other letters aside, Mary got up and placed the card with the handful of others on the window sill, next to the little Christmas tree who’s fibre optic lights changed colour and give little magic to the cold room.

Going back to her chair, Mary pulled a blanket she had knitted over her knees and dozed in front the TV. She was not interested in watching much now, it was mostly the background noise and the sound of voices that made her keep the TV on all the time.

The doorbell rang around lunchtime, breaking into a dream Mary had been having about being a little girl lost in a snowy countryside. Mary stirred, heard the door unlock and open.

A voice called out, ‘Mary? it’s only me, nurse Sandra. Sorry I’m late. It’s terrible weather out and Mr Lambrook fell this morning! Such a fuss! Are you okay?’

‘Hello, I’m fine thanks,’ Mary answered.

Sandra appeared in the doorway, rain dripping off the hem of her health visitor’s blue and white dress. Her dyed bright red hair was tied back into a bun and her face was blotchy red with cold and rushing about.

‘How about I make us a cup of tea and some soup?’ Sandra asked.

‘That would be lovely.’

Watching the lunchtime news they ate and drink, making light comments on the daily events. Then Sandra ran some health checks on ninety-three year old Mary, asked some basic questions and made a few notes.

Waiting for Mary to come back from the bathroom, Sandra noticed the new Christmas card and realised she had received the same one yesterday. Getting up, she left her notebook on the chair and went to the windowsill. Picking up the card, she opened it and saw it was blank.

Placing it back, Sandra looked in the other cards and found that all ten were blank. A few had come from charity letters, one from a high street shop valuing a loyal customer, another a craft magazine sample and two others from packs of cards that donated money to charity when brought.

Sandra felt a wave a sadness. Had no one sent Mary a real Christmas card this year and when was the last time anyone had?

Hearing the toilet flush, Sandra returned to the other armchair and took up her notebook once again. She wanted to write her finding down and suggested Mary was lonely. Sandra knew not much would come of that though, other then another push to get Mary to move into a care home. Mary had repeatedly refused, she wanted to die in the house she had been born in, like her mother before her.

‘Did you manage okay?’ Sandra asked as Mary shuffled into the room.

‘Yes,’ Mary answered though she seem out of breath.

‘Right. I’ve just a few more things and then I have to go.’

They finished up, said their goodbyes and Sandra went out to her little blue car. Sitting there, Sandra looked at the closing door of Mary’s house and wished she could do something to help the old woman.

Well…maybe there was….

The next day, the postman dropped more letters through Mary’s door. Mary hobbled from the kitchen were she had been cleaning up milk she had spilt. Collecting the letters, she went back into the kitchen where it was warmer and opened the envelopes.

There was a Christmas card and inside was writing.

Mary read the words, tears coming to her eyes. Sandra had sent her a card.

Abandoning the other letters, Mary took the card and moving the blank charity one, placed Sandra’s next to the flashing tree.

All day, Mary’s eyes kept going to the Christmas card and she found herself constantly smiling.

Outside

Red Leaf Tress Near the Road

She wanted to go outside and walk through the falling leaves. She wanted to feel the wind full on her face and smell all of the earthy, autumn scents. Seeing everything from her window or the screen wasn’t the same. She needed to physically be there.

But she couldn’t.

This bed, this room, was her life now. She had no body, she was just a mind trapped within a rotting shell. And how much longer would she have to wait to be free? No one could tell her that.

She looked out of the window and tried hard to smell the nature. But someone had lit incense sticks again that was the only thing she could smell. She was sick of that and the scents of candles and flowers. She understand why they did it now; not to comfort her, but to comfort themselves from the hospital smells and her decaying flesh.

She longed for it all to go away and for her just to be outside walking barefoot through the woods. She shut her eyes and thought about the wind in the trees and the singing of birds. She could touch the tree trunks and walk in streams and mud, just like she use to do.

She sighed.

It felt like she would never go. Perhaps, that was her curse? To just carry on like this forever and each generation of her family having to care for her and go through the same emotions. Maybe, they’d get bored and just sign her care totally over to the hospital. Then either they would store her away in a freezer or some scientist, crazed with frame would find a cure and she could go outside again…

She wanted to know why it had happened to her. She must have done something wrong and being punished. But that didn’t make any sense. She had been good to the world, unlike so many people. She had chosen a quiet, animal and world friendly lifestyle. She had meditated, eaten right, helped everyone when they needed it and had never been selfish or needy herself. Surly that was how humans should be? Why would someone as good as her be punished with this crippling sickness?

She was too tried of trying the figure that out. It was something she tried to keep at bay, but with only her thoughts and imagination still in use, it was hard for her to keep away from that line of thought. Sometimes she would reflect on what the doctors, nurses and her family were saying, but most of the time it was the same things over and over again. It was easy for her to mute their words now, though she desperately craved them.

She looked at the window again and knew if she could cry she would do. When would she be back in mother’s natures arms and free of this hell?

Nurse Part 2

Nurse, Woman, Person, Girl, Syringe, Injection, Shot

After handing a pack of new bed socks to the vampire, Head Nurse Cassie decided to check on the other vampire. She couldn’t remember which one Will the elf had said was being discharged tonight, but the second vampire looked in worse shape. As she entered the room, he was laying in the bed, with the blue woolen blanket folded down to his stomach and his head  propped up on pillows. He was looking out of the window with sad, almost empty eyes.

‘Hello,’ Cassie said and grabbed the clipboard notes.

The vampire didn’t reply.

She reminded herself of his name, Princes Luton from what was now Denmark. He had been found almost died in a car park three nights ago. He had been attacked by werewolves or shape shifters or something else with huge teeth and lots of dark fur.

‘How are you feeling?’ Cassie asked.

‘Fine,’ he replied sadly.

Seeing that he had only been checked less then ten minutes ago, she put the clipboard back and crossed the window. Outside the wind was blowing a small tree and some bushes that formed a small garden in between the hospital buildings. The sky was very dark blue almost black color with a touch of white dotted stars.

Cassie opened the window and felt the wind on her fur. She heard the vampire take in a deep breath. He sighed the breath out deeply then took another one. She turned back and saw he had shut his eyes.

‘If you are feeling better later, you could possible go out in a wheelchair,’ Cassie told him.

‘Maybe…’ he said.

‘Let me know if you need anything. Your blood is coming soon.’

The vampire mumbled a thanks.

Cassie left him, closing the door behind her and went to check on everyone else which as the rest of the patients were settling down to sleep, was quick and easy. Going back to the desk, she found Harriet Hippo on the phone and the other nurses getting on with other tasks.

Sinking into the other chair, she thought about phoning the doctors’ office and seeing when the vampire doc who was scheduled to visit the ward might be due. Picking up the other phone, she thought it might be a bit pointless as no one ever knew, but still…Cassie dialed and waited.

When the office receptionist picked the phone up, she put her question in, but just as she had thought, no one knew the answer and of course if there was an emergency it might change things. There were only three vampire doctors on tonight and two were doing the ward rounds.

‘Is it an emergency?’ the receptionist asked in a clip tone.

‘Not really,’ Cassie said,’how many do the docs have to see?’

‘About thirty are on the list,’ came the reply, ‘of course, they’re not all vampires. There are some half-vampires, two owls, a boogie man, three shadow figures, some ghosts -‘

‘That’s fine, thanks,’ Cassie cut in and hung up.

‘So, you don’t think the Prince is very good either?’ Fenchie spoke out.

Cassie opened her mouth, ready to tell the nurse gnome off for over hearing, then decided there was no point.

‘He’s lost a lot of blood though,’ Pepper chipped in, her arms full of supplies.

‘Yes, well,’ Cassie finally got in, ‘I think he might be depressed. Compared to the Lord, he doesn’t seem to be recovering mentally.’

The buzzer for the door rang and Cassie answered it with a quick hello.

‘Food delivery,’ came a man’s tried voice back over the intercom.

Cassie buzzed him in and a few seconds later heard the wheels of a trolley along the floor. She stood up and watched the man knocked on the door of the first vampire then let himself in. Leaving her nurses to their duties, Cassie followed the delivery man in. Stopping in the doorway, she watched the Lord receiving his breakfast and quickly drinking it from the bag.

‘I’ll come with you to the next one,’ Cassie said and got a grunt from the seemingly human delivery guy.

Heading down the doors and opening the one to the Prince’s room, Cassie was glad to see him still in bed. There had been too many nights with different patients were they had left via an open window. Taking the blood from the human, Cassie set up the drip.

‘Unless you feel you can drink it?’ she asked.

The vampire shook his head.

Hooking him up, she left wondering what the doctor would say when they got here.

Nurse

Nurse, Woman, Person, Girl, Syringe, Injection, Shot

It was the start of the night shift on the hospital ward. Head Nurse Cassie looked at the list of patients on the board behind the desk. Next to the bed numbers and the names were initial letters written in red. She transferred them into words and counted the different creatures that were actually in the rooms.

There were two vampires, three werewolves, a pixie, five witches, a warlock, a demon and a shape shiftier. Cassie then read the next lot of information attached to each name which stated why they were here and who their doctor was. Nothing had changed from last night. With that refreshed in her head, she turned to the messy desk left by the day staff and began trying tidy it up.

Around her, drifted the low muttering of voices from the patients and the nurses. Though she couldn’t hear any actually words. The movement of furniture, TV shows and a phone ringing added to the background. Cassie smiled and felt herself settling in for the night. Pulling over the wheeling desk chair, she double checked her long brown tail was tided out of the way.

Sitting down, she was then drawn to check the small pink bow between her small round brown ears. The phone rang and Cassie answered it. The kitchen staff were running late due to the delivery being held up. The vampires would have to wait for their breakfast.

Putting down the phone, Cassie decided it was best for the moment not to tell them. They had only just woken up and would be grumpy enough. She got back to cleaning the desk then checked the medical trolley. Making a note of the things that were needed, she waited till the other four nurses came back to the desk.

‘Were you late?’ Frenchie, a pink gnome asked.

‘A little,’ Cassie admitted, ‘twins where playing up…the little monkeys.’ She giggled and the other nurses joined in.

‘Are they still walking all over your husband?’ Pepper, the rabbit, inquired.

‘Yes and taking great delight in it too,’ Cassie replied.

More laughing followed and Harriet the hippo had to hide her snorting.

‘Oh, I think one of the vampires is getting discharged,’ Will spoke out, cutting in.

Cassie turned to him and took in the tall elf. The blue pants and jacket, did not seem to suit him, but maybe it was just the clash with his light green hair and the tattoo green leaves on the edges of his face.

‘The kitchen has just said their food is delayed. If they ask you can tell them, but for now…’

‘The blood is late again!’ a sharp, male noble voice shouted out.

They all turned and saw one of the vampires standing in the doorway of his room. He was shockingly tall and thin, with a very white face and blood shot eyes. He wore a black seventeen hundred suit with a white shirt and a frill at his throat. His long black hair was tied back making his too high cheek bones more pronounced.

‘Lord Trell, I’m sure it will be here soon,’ Cassie said and got up.

She escorted him back to his room, noticing his bare feet with long toes and cracked yellow nails. The vampire flung himself on to his bed with a loud groaning. Cassie eyed him then checked his clipboard notes at the end of the bed. Seems he hadn’t been eating much anyway.

‘I’ll let you know when it has arrived,’ she said, ‘you should put your bed socks on.’

Lord Trell sighed and looked at the discarded stockings on the bedside table. He picked them up and showed the nurse the holes in them.

‘I’ll get you some more,’Cassie said with a shake of her head as she left.

Hallucinating

He lay on the bed in crippling pain. He wet his lips and dropping his gaze from the ceiling, to the closed door diagonally across.

‘Nurse?’ he crocked, ‘nurse!’

He put his chin to the top of his chest and squeezed his eyes shut. His ears zoomed in on the machines beeping around him and his heavy breathing. He tried to relax, but his whole body was tense with the pain. He bent his fingers, curling them against his palm then uncurling them. He breathed deeply, imagining each exhale taking some of the pain away with it.

The door opened and shuffling footsteps made his eyes crack open. A short nurse had appeared at the foot of his bed. She was wearing a small white hat with a red cross on it, under which her hair was neatly curled. Her dress was a blood red colour and there was a white pinafore over it with a red cross dripping on the front. She picked up his notes and studied them.

‘Are you new?’ he whispered.

‘No, dear,’ she muttered.

As she placed the notes back and came over to him, he noticed her too red blushed cheeks and long black eyelashes. Her skin was pale and tried, though she looked to be in mid-twenties. She checked his drip and he noticed a wedding ring on her finger.

‘Can’t you give me something for the pain?’ he asked, motioning with his left hand his broken legs and right arm.

‘Of course,’ she said and with a smile left the room.

He rested back on the pillow and shut his eyes again. The pain in shot around his legs and he gritted his teeth. He heard the door open again and the same shuffling footsteps. He lay still and just listened to the nurse rattling around. In a few minutes he knew he’d be feeling fine again, perhaps even high.

‘Done. I’ll be back soon.’

He nodded and heard her leave the room. He drifted, dozing but not falling asleep. His right foot itched and he wiggled his toes in the cast. The blackness before his eyes changed to grey then to a bloom of colour. He sighed and fell into the pools of rainbow.

‘Hi, how you feeling?’ a voice called out.

He opened his heavy eyes and a nurse he recognized was before him.

‘I’m fine. That other nurse helped me.’

‘Other nurse?’

‘The one in the red dress and white pinafore.’

‘There’s no nurse like that.’

He opened his eyes wider and stared at her.

‘And no one was due to check on you until now,’ she added.

‘But, she was here! She had a hat and an…accent, old English,’ he stated then frowned at his own words.

‘Are you feeling okay?’

The nurse stepped over and began checking him out.

‘I saw her,’ he muttered, ‘I know I did.’

‘It’s okay. It was probably the pain relief. Maybe you should get some sleep now?’

‘Alright,’ he responded.

The nurse smiled and left.

He shut his eyes and began dozing.

‘There you’re feeling better now, aren’t you?’

He snapped open his eyes and looked up into the face of the old nurse.