Life With Mabel: Part Nineteen

This is the nineteenth part of a fiction serial, in 741 words.

People rushed to help Mabel up, and without even taking time to thank them, she hurried into Woolworth’s. Grabbing her bag and coat, she went into the manager’s office without knocking. “Sorry, I have to go. My best friend has been knocked down, and I need to get up to the hospital”. Without waiting for a reply, she almost ran out of the shop.

By the time she got to the Casualty Department, she was out of breath, and panting hard. At the reception desk, she spoke very loudly, almost hysterical. “Winnie Finch. She was knocked down by a lorry. I have to see her. Is she okay? Where is she?” The nurse at the desk paused, giving her time to calm down. “Are you a relative?” Mabel was angry at the question, and felt it was wasting time.

“No, I’m her best friend. She hasn’t got any relatives. I live next door to her, my name is Mrs Mabel Price”. The nurse stood up and showed her into a small room. “Wait here please, have a seat. I will get one of the doctors to come and speak to you”. Mabel couldn’t sit, so she just stood staring at the door for what seemed like ages. It wasn’t a doctor who came in, but another nurse.

“Mrs Price, I am Matron. I am so sorry to tell you that your friend was dead on arrival, and her body has been taken to the mortuary. As you say she has no next of kin, it will be referred to the coroner for a post-mortem and an enquiry into the accident. I think the best thing you can do now is to go home”.

Walking home felt like a dream, and she had to keep stopping to make herself believe it was all real, and actually happening. It had been such an idyllic week, and it seemed impossible to consider that she would never see Winnie again. Before she got to the end of her street, she had to lean against a garden wall and sob uncontrollably. A woman coming down that street crossed over to the other side, probably thinking she was either mad or drunk.

That night she couldn’t eat. She stayed in her own house, terrified to use her key and go back into Winnie’s. Seeing her things in the house would make it even worse. There was nobody to talk to about it either. And even if there was, they would never understand why she could be so distraught about the death of a next-door neighbour. Mabel took some comfort in the fact that she didn’t have to go to work the next day. She could never have explained to her colleagues why she was so upset.

The other thing that made it worse was that she could have no involvement in what happened after. She would not be asked to attend the inquest, or told when and where it was. She would not be notified about any funeral arrangements, because she was not a relative. Winnie had been her life, and now she felt she no longer had a life. Even worse, she no longer had real love, or hope for the future.

There was some information in the local newspaper. They carried a short story about Winnie some time after the accident. There was a photo of a much younger Winnie in a wartime nurse’s uniform under the headline, ‘Much loved local nurse killed in tragic accident’. Mabel wondered where they had got the photo from, as she had never seen it.

Reg was back from the Continent, full of how great his trip had been. “I am going to be wearing a suit to work from now on, Mabel love. They have seconded me to the management team”. Mabel wanted to be happy for him, even though he hadn’t brought her back a single gift from his visits to three different countries. So she told him what had happened to Winnie, in part to explain her subdued mood.

She was annoyed when he looked relieved, mainly because she knew exactly why he did. “Oh, that’s terrible. Poor Winnie. Did you see it? I hope not, it must have been awful”.

Fortunately, he was happy to go back to sleeping in the spare room, and said he would walk down to the pub and have their pie and chips for dinner to save her having to cook.

29 thoughts on “Life With Mabel: Part Nineteen

  1. (1) A little bird told me that Mabel would run into resistance at the receptionist desk. (FYI – It was a mockingbird, not a finch.)
    (2) “Your friend was dead on arrival, and her body has been taken to the mortuary.” Perhaps death becomes her? She’ll need maintenance, of course. But first, Dr. Ernest Menville will use spray paint to make her look “natural.”
    (3) Overheard:
    Woman: “You must be either Mad or drunk.”
    Mabel: “Actually, Ernest is the drunk one.”
    Woman: “Then you must be Mad?”
    Mabel: “No, but I’m sad as Hel.”
    (4) The newspaper had fished the wartime photo out of Winifred’s chest of drawers. Mabel knew Winnie’s chest well, and had also been in her drawers. But she had never been in her chest of drawers.
    (5) Overheard in the Afterlife:
    Dennis Elliot: “I wonder who Mabel will fall in love with next?”
    Winifred Finch: “I don’t know. Ask Saint Peter for the list.”
    (6) Overheard:
    Mabel: “You didn’t bring me a single gift!”
    Reginald: “That’s because you’re not single. You’re married! Or have you forgotten?”
    (7) Since Reg is a railway worker, he should have married Boxcar Bertha.

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