Sarah Tills was twenty three when she died. There was no great mystery, no horror, no drama. She was sat at her desk when a terrible headache began and then she started feeling sick. Three hours later she was pronounced dead at St Catherine’s Hospital in the medium sized and rather ordinary town of Hopeford. She had no family, no partner, only her work mates to mourn her passing but yet she could not leave the ward where she had died. All those wasted years of shyness and never trying.
That was almost four months ago. She watched in silence as the two person side bay was occupied by countless passing strangers. Some for a few hours, some for days. A minor car accident, an old woman who had slipped and broken her hip, an attempted overdose, early labour, a young girl who had fallen from her horse, a cyclist rear ended by a drunk driver. A never ending parade of the ill and the misfortunate but still she stayed to watch.
In late September a young man was brought in and due to an overflow from the A&E department he had been temporarily bedded in the side bay of ward 12. He was polite and quiet and joked with the nurses and orderlies, apologising for all the fuss. He had fallen from a ladder and broken his ankle, as far as she could tell and was waiting to be moved to Mens Surgical on the third floor. At ten past one in the morning he rolled over and looked her in the eye and said. “Hello. Are you okay?”
Sarah looked over her shoulder and down the length of the corridor. There was no one there but her. “Erm… Yes. I’m okay. Are you in pain.” She felt rather silly but didn’t know what else to say. No one could see or hear her. He sat up and pulled his T shirt straight. “Come in.” Beckoning her into the room. “When did you die?” She just stared at him unsure what to say.”I… Um… June.” He nodded. “You must feel very lost.” She moved silently across the room. “Yes.” She laughed. “A little. You can see me?” He laughed, such a warm, human sound. “Oh yes. He shook his head in mock tragedy. “Blame my Mother she could ‘see’ as well. I suppose that’s why I can. I’m Adam.” They chatted more and more like old friends as the hours rolled past until at about five am, one of the nurses popped her head around the door. “Oh your awake Adam. We have a bed for you in surgical. The Doctor will be popping by later this morning. Can I get you anything? Are you in any pain?” Adam smiled. “Sorry, must have been dreaming, I think I was talking to myself. I’m okay thanks. Any chance of a sandwich?”
After the Nurse left with a wink and promises of ham sandwiches and a mug of hot tea, Adam turned to Sarah again. “So do you just haunt this ward or do you do housecalls?” He has such a sweet smile, such a boyish face, deep blue eyes. Sarah looked away, suddenly shy and a little afraid. “I don’t know. I’ve never left this ward.”
Thursday morning and the Doctor, who looked worse than Adam was flicking through his paperwork. “Well good news, ankle isn’t broken but you have fractured a bone in your foot. You came down pretty hard on it. We’ll get it bandaged and you should be okay to go home tomorrow, you’ll need to rest it and speak to your own GP but it all looks pretty good. Rest, pain killers and you should be up and about in no time, you’re pretty fit so I don’t see any problems. Did you have anything you wanted to ask?” Adam smiled. “No just be glad to be home. So am I being moved to the third floor?” The Doctor flicked back and forth through his folder. “To be honest Mr Connor, there isn’t any room, we just don’t have a free bed. Easier to keep you here and then discharge you later tomorrow.”
It was actually Saturday by the time all the paperwork and drugs and bandages were done by the time he put his key in the door. Though they had been chatting the entire time Sarah was still nervous as she walked in behind him and into a very nice, clean, well decorated semi. “I’m scared.” Her voice sounded so small and weak, even to herself. “I know but as long as you want to you can stay.” He held out his hand and she brushed against it with her own. It was like static electricity and she realised. She wasn’t alone any more.