Easy As Falling Off A Bike pt 2100

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The Daily Dormouse.
(aka Bike, est. 2007)
Part 2100
by Angharad

Copyright © 2013 Angharad
All Rights Reserved.
  
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Tuesday was more dormouse feeding, a short bike ride with Danny to feed the aforementioned rodents, domestic chores but no cooking–David was back in charge of the catering–so that was one less worry.

Phoebe had the day off and decided to look after her niece, however, I spoilt things by asking if she wanted to go and see Neal. Of course she did, so leaving the rest of the brood to Stella and Jacquie’s mercies we had an early lunch and set off with Lizzie, who was fast asleep in her carrycot on the back seat, to go to Guildford. We set off up the A3 and in a little over an hour we were parking at the clinic, which is not far from the main road.

“I’m really nervous about this,” said Phoebe.

“Don’t be, just relax.”

“What if he looks different?”

“In what way?”

“I don’t know, um–his hair’s gone white or he’s lost weight.”

“He’ll still be the same person underneath it. He knows we’re coming so he should be fine.”

“I’m still nervous–what if I start crying?”

“Pheebs, for goodness sake, everything will be okay. Now are you going to bring Lizzie or shall I?”

“You’d better, I might drop her, I feel so nervous.”

The baby was in the carrycot which I placed on the wheels after I got them from the boot of the car. How could she drop her? I didn’t bother asking, I just led the way, pushing the buggy pram to the reception area with Phoebe hanging on to my arm like a dependent child.
“I don’t know if I can do this, Mummy,” said Phoebe using the maternal diminutive she hadn’t for some time.

“It will be okay, I promise–you’ve spoken to him on the phone every week, just relax and help him to feel good about getting better, so he can look after this little angel.”

“I’ll try, Mummy.” She squeezed my arm and we entered the building. Moments later we were led down to his room, after the receptionist made suitable oohs and ahs over the baby. She rapped on his door and a familiar voice called for us to enter.

“Cathy, Phoebes,” a rather plump Neal rose from his chair and walked over to us and hugged us. “Good to see you both.”

“Um, there’s someone else here to see you,” I said having left the baby in the corridor just beyond the doorway so he couldn’t see her.

“Oh? Who’s that?” he asked.

“Go and see, I’m sure they’ll come in if you ask them nicely.”

He gave me a perplexed look and wandered to the door. “Is this Lizzie?” he asked excitedly.

“Pick her up and check, I think her serial number is on her bottom bracket somewhere.”

He chuckled and peeled back the blanket from her face. “She looks so big,” he said tears dripping from his face.

“Yeah, it’s the bacon sarnie she has for breakfast every day, or the steak at supper.”

He laughed. “Can I pick her up?”

“Neal, she’s your daughter.”

“She looks so beautiful,” he sobbed quietly, “so beautiful.”

I glanced at Phoebe who was silently weeping as well and passed her a tissue. She dabbed at her eyes. “Go and help him,” I whispered and nudged her towards the door. She walked out to the pram and lifted the baby out and handed her to him.

He took her and wept copiously. I began to wonder if we did the right thing in bringing her for him to see and she yawned and stretched, yawned again and went back to sleep–until she noticed that she didn’t recognise the strange person who was holding her. Then she whimpered before going into a full on squawk.

In the end I had to take her and calm her down. Neal sat, and still crying, said how much he missed Gloria and the baby, but it was good that I’d stepped in to look after her–perhaps she ought to stay with me permanently.

“You can’t do that, you’re her dad,” Phoebe pitched into her brother.

“Yeah, her dad, not her mum, and Cathy is good with her–and I can’t do that, can I?” he nodded at me breast feeding her.

“She could feed from a bottle,” Phoebe wasn’t finished with him yet.

“Yeah, but I mean...”

“No buts, you’re her dad, she belongs with you.”

“I couldn’t cope,” he managed to get out before he burst into tears and walked out of the room. Phoebe didn’t know what to do, whether to let him go or chase after him.

“Don’t be so hard on him, Pheebs, he’s still shocked by the loss of Gloria.”

“But someone’s got to tell him, Mummy, that he has responsibilities to this little mite.”

“I think he knows that, but he doesn’t feel he’s up to accepting them just now.”

“So when will he, when she’s twenty five? If he waits much longer, she’ll think you’re her mother.”

“That’s one of the risks of long term fostering of babies.”

“I’m gonna find him,” she went off in pursuit of her elder brother while I sat and let the baby suck me inside out.

By the time they both returned Lizzie had fallen asleep at my breast and my arm was going to sleep with her.

“I’m sorry, Cathy, thanks for bringing her to see me but I think you’d better go now.”

“Oh–alright then. C’mon little un.” I asked Phoebe to collect up all the stuff I’d unpacked from the bag–nappies, baby wipes and other bits and pieces. He didn’t attempt to hug us or the baby goodbye which alarmed me more than a little. I handed the baby to Phoebe and adjusted my clothing, then we settled her down in the carrycot and walked back towards reception.

“You off?” asked the receptionist.

“In a moment, is there anyone on the medical staff I could speak with?”

“Um, I’ll just check.” She opened a binder and began flipping through the pages. “Dr Codrose is here, or should be.”

“I’ll speak with him if I may?”

“Her,” corrected the receptionist and dialled the woman’s pager. A few minutes later the phone rang and the receptionist explained that I wanted to speak with her before we left. “Sorry, what name should I say?” asked the receptionist.

“Lady Catherine Cameron,” I said with I hope a quiet authority.

“She’ll be right over.”

Minutes later a woman of about thirty five arrived and I introduced myself. She took me off to a small office while Phoebe kept an eye on Lizzie who was still asleep. I told the doctor that I was concerned that my visit with the baby had compounded Neal’s sense of inadequacy and depression. She said she’d authorise a regular watch on him and perhaps try and talk to him when he’d calmed down–he’d likely be too distressed to try and talk him through it at the moment.

I thanked her and she thanked me for alerting her to his position. “You suspect he might try something, don’t you?”

“He was very distressed,” I replied, trying not to offer an opinion which bore no authority at all.

We left and half way home Phoebe said, “He’s going to kill himself isn’t he?”

“I hope not,” I found myself holding onto the steering wheel with more force than it usually needed.

She sat staring out the windscreen tears streaming down her face. “Don’t let him die, Mummy, I couldn’t stand to lose anyone else.”

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