* * *
Molly had managed to cram some much-needed Christmas shopping in after work and had parcelled up the presents she intended to send home to her parents and younger sister. She was rostered to work all over the Christmas period so she wouldn’t be able to give them their presents in person this year.
She had been due to have New Year off but Joyce’s accident had caused problems with the time sheets and she ended up volunteering to work then as well. Although Joyce was still in ICU, she was making some progress and the neurosurgical team were cautiously optimistic. Molly popped in most days to check on her and have a word with Ted, who was constantly at her bedside. His devotion was touching and Molly was sure that if the power of love could affect the outcome then her friend had a very good chance of recovering.
The thought naturally reminded her of Sean but then again he was rarely out of her mind. He was the first thought that popped into her head when she woke each morning and his was the last face she saw before she fell asleep. She had taken to avoiding him, even going to the extent of taking a circuitous route when she drove into work. What had almost happened that night after Bert and Doris’s wedding reception had come as a timely warning about how vulnerable she was. Whenever Adam asked her out, she always accepted even though she found him extremely dull company. The fact that their relationship had never moved beyond a courteous peck on the cheek was another indication that there was no spark there, at least on her part. No, Adam definitely didn’t ring any bells. Not like Sean had done. And still did.
In an effort to distract herself, Molly packed as much as possible into each and every day. When she wasn’t working, she was either cooking or cleaning. Her house sparkled from top to bottom while the fridge and freezer were crammed to overflowing with goodies. Why, if an entire army had descended on her this Christmas, she could have fed them! By the time Christmas Eve arrived there wasn’t space for another morsel of food in the house.
She was rostered to work that night but arrived early as she had volunteered to sing in the staff choir. They had decided to dress up in the uniforms that had been worn by nurses during the First World War and there was much hilarity as they donned the floor-length dresses and heavy woollen capes. The caps were the most difficult to master; it took Molly half a dozen attempts before she managed to anchor the starched folds of cotton to her hair and even then she wasn’t confident that it would stay on her head. The men had opted to wear soldiers’ uniforms and a cheer went up when they marched into the canteen, resplendent in their khaki kit. Molly hadn’t realised until that moment that Sean would be with them and her heart leapt when she spotted his tall, muscular figure standing at the back of the group. She couldn’t help thinking how impressive he looked in his uniform.
They set off around the hospital, stopping at each ward to sing a selection of well-known carols. The staff dimmed the lights so that they sang in the glow given off by the lanterns they were carrying. It was very atmospheric and Molly noticed several people wiping away a tear or two. By the time they finished doing the rounds, it was declared a resounding success. Molly changed back into her usual attire and made her way to A&E. Sean was already there and he smiled when she went over to the desk.
‘Back to normal, I see. Although I have to admit that your previous outfit was very fetching, especially that cap. It was a miracle of engineering!’
‘I...erm...thank you.’ Molly felt the blush start at her throat and work its way upwards. Reaching over the desk, she snagged the daily report sheet and bent over it, hoping to hide her embarrassment. Just because Sean had paid her a compliment, it wasn’t an excuse to start behaving like a giddy teenager.
‘Mind you, fetching though the dresses were, I don’t know how the women coped with those long skirts. It must have been a nightmare trying to keep them clean.’
Molly gave him a quick smile then went to check what everyone was doing. There were three nurses working that night, including herself, plus Sean and a locum doctor. Once she was sure that everyone knew what they were doing she went back to the desk, relieved to find that Sean had disappeared. So long as they stuck to work then everything would fine, she assured herself. It was when they got onto more personal issues that the problems started.
The night started off slowly enough and it looked as though it was going to stay that way too. Molly took her break at eleven o’clock and was in the staffroom making herself a cup of coffee when she heard the emergency telephone start to ring. Abandoning her drink, she hurried back to the unit to see what was going on. Sean had taken the call and her heart sank when she saw how grim he looked as he hung up.