This is the third part of a fiction serial, in 753 words.
After two weeks, and no recurrence of her Angina, Rebecca Baxter was looking forward to going back to work on the following Monday. But when Gillian didn’t appear downstairs that morning, she went back upstairs, and into her room.
“Gill, why aren’t you up and about? Come on love, you will be late for work, and make me late too”. Gillian looked sulky. “I don’t fancy going in, mum. Tell them I will use the rest of my holiday, I feel like taking a longer break”.
On any other morning, Rebecca would never have tolerated such nonsense from her daughter. But it was her first day back after being off sick, and she didn’t want to be late. “Okay, I will ask Mister Bell, but I can tell you know he’s not going to like it”. With that, she left in as much of a huff as she could be bothered to display. Then she almost missed the usual bus, and had to run up the hill to catch it just as the doors were closing.
By the time she got to work, Rebecca was feeling rather breathless, and quite stressed. The last thing she needed was to have to apologise to the boss about her daughter’s seemingly pointless absence. He was busy on the phone, but he smiled at her, and pointed at the chair opposite. As his phone call went on, Rebecca could feel the shortness of breath getting worse, and there was a pain along the side of her jaw that felt like toothache. She rubbed at it, but it didn’t go away.
As there was no pain in her chest or arms, it didn’t occur to her to take one of her tablets from the packet in her handbag, and place it under her tongue.
Jim Bell was still trying to explain to a factory manager why he didn’t have anyone suitable to recommend, when Mrs Baxter fell off the chair, face down onto the floor of his office. He hung up on the factory manager and rushed around his desk. She was as white as a sheet, and he could get no response from her. So he went back to his desk, picked up the phone, and dialled 999 for an ambulance.
Gillian was settling down with two toasted teacakes when the phone rang. She suspected it was going to be her mum, ringing to have a moan at her.
“Hello, Gill. It’s Jim Bell from work. You mum has collapsed unconscious, and the ambulance is taking her to the General. I have to tell you that they were doing resuscitation on her before they left, and it doesn’t look good. Maureen has gone in the ambulance with her, but you need to get down to Casualty as soon as you can”. Gillian was determined to finish her teacakes before they got cold, so took them upstairs with her and ate them as she was getting dressed. She could get the 187 bus to the General Hospital, it wasn’t that far away.
It took about forty minutes until Gillian walked into the busy Casualty Department, then waited for a receptionist to become free to talk to her. “My name is Gillian Baxter. I’ve come to see my mum, she was brought in by ambulance”. The woman gave her a knowing look, and a pleasant smile that seemed false. “Please take a seat, I will get someone to come and speak to you. There was a friend from work with her, but she left about five minutes ago”.
A young Indian doctor came into the waiting room. He took her to a room, the same one she had sat in that night over two weeks ago. When she had sat down, he sat next to her, and spoke very quietly. “I am very sorry to tell you that your mother has died, Miss Baxter. Between the ambulance crew and the medical team, we tried hard to save her, but after thirty minutes, there was no point carrying on. Is there someone we can call to be with you? A relative or close friend perhaps?”
Unsure what to say, Gillian looked at him for a long time. “No, there’s nobody, doctor. She was only fifty you know, just fifty”. He nodded sympathetically. “Would you like to come through and see her? She just looks like she’s asleep, nothing horrible I assure you”.
Shaking her head, Gillian sat up straight. “No thank you. I don’t think I would like that”.