“Mrs Andrews. Mrs Andrews?”
She was conscious of being in a room that echoed a lot. The ceilings were high and there was a smell that was unmistakably connected with hospitals.
Her first thought was about Peter. Who would be looking after Peter? The world was coming at her in flashes. She heard the sound of horns that had raised themselves into something more threatening. She remembered the faces of the people as they threw their insults at her. She remembered their hatred that had multiplied with her attempts to reignite Brian’s engine. She only just remembered the police officer as he reached into the car.
“Mrs Andrews. Laura, can you hear me? Blink if you can hear me.”
The voice was different to the ones she had been hearing earlier. This one belonged to a woman.
From deep down, Laura made the journey to the surface. She was swimming upwards and away from a very dark place. There were things down there that searched and searched. Once or twice something brushed the soles of her feet and panic shot through the rest of her body like acid spilt across naked flesh. She looked upwards. She was almost there when a voice whispered into her ear:
They all know about you Laura. They all know about your dirty husband and his cheating ways. Relax. Give your children a chance. We’ll look after them. We have good homes for the likes of them. Let me take you to meet Simon.
Fear gripped her and she pushed with new strength for the surface.
“Laura can you hear me? Blink if you can hear me.”
“I think she’s having a seizure. We’ve checked her for drugs but there are no obvious signs. If I were to make a guess, I’d say that she was experiencing some type of paranoid schizophrenia. The police were able to get some details from the car and we’ve taken the liberty of checking her name against our computer records. If I’m right, this one has been here before.
“Hang on. She’s blinking.”
Laura had finally made it to the surface. She was now in the room looking at two doctors who were staring back at her.
“Laura, it’s Laura Andrews isn’t it?”
Laura pushed the affirmation out of her,
“Yes, it is.”
“You’ve had a bad experience. A police officer found you in your car, crying hysterically. You were blocking a long line of traffic so you caused quite a stir. Could you tell us what caused this? Have you any history of this type of event?”
Laura thought back to the black months after Simon’s death and nodded.
“I was being treated for depression after my husband died. I received counselling, no drugs. I was pregnant at the time.”
The two doctors exchanged looks and Laura thought she could hear the female doctor think the words, poor woman, pregnant to a dead husband.
“Are you on any medication now?”
“Do you have any other dependencies like tobacco or alcohol?”
“A bottle of wine once a week, is that a dependency?”
“It’s a lot less than we’re on.”
At that point a nurse moved quickly along the ward.
“Excuse me, but one of you is needed in emergency. They’re run off their feet. I don’t know what’s happening to this country.”
A look from the male doctor indicated that she should be more conservative with her general conversation.
“You go,” said the female doctor, “I’ll finish up here.”
As the nurse and the doctor were walking quickly away, Laura thought she could hear the internal conversation that was going on between them. They were at the cutting edge of immediate medical care and had experienced a massive increase in patients attending casualty with wounds from violent attacks both animal and human.
The world was going mad.