“Hospital canteens!” Janet prodded her fork at an
unappetising-looking piece of fried fish. “They don't improve,
“This one doesn't, for sure” Lily answered. “It's certainly
not the food that's making you glow.”
“Whatever do you mean?”
“Oh, come off it, Janet! You've met somebody. You've just got
that faraway blissful look about you. Everyone's noticed.”
The tall brunette smiled. “I hoped it didn't show.”
“No rule again being happy. So what's he like? Anyone I know?”
“No. He doesn't work at the hospital.” Janet looked flustered.
“He's younger than me. A dish. And he just...he makes me so
be wanted. This boy just came along and.. I don't know where
it's going, he's younger as I said, but it's so good I don't
care! I feel like some soppy teenager saying this, but I can't
stop thinking about him, and when we're together, it's like
I'm so excited I'm going to burst.”
She stopped, reached across the table, and grabbed Lily's
hand. “I'm so sorry, Lil. I'm going on and on about myself,
and you're..I mean what happened...”
The staff nurse smiled. “It's OK. I'm pleased for you. You're
a good person, you deserve happiness. I was raped and the
little bastard got away with it. I've dealt with it as best I
can. It doesn't mean everyone else's life ends.”
“Nor yours, Lily! Why don't you think about having some
“What, have some middle class poser with a beard tell me how
I should feel? No, I'm coming through it. I've got my friends
and family. Now I just need more time. It's been a year,
nearly. I'm getting my life back on track.”
“Yeah, of course. Look, I've got to get back to the ward.
Catch you later. How are you liking A and E by the way?”
“It's interesting. But my secondment there ends next week, so
tell the girls on the ward to get those “Welcome Back” cards
As Janet walked away, Lily frowned. Her friend's new happiness
had reminded her of Paul. Their love had seemed strong. But
then Martin Bromley had exploded a bomb of sex inside her, and
her relationship had collapsed in the blast as if it were
made of playing cards.
Paul had tried to be supportive, but it was hopeless. Their
lovemaking, so good before, was now a fiasco which he could
not even complete. She had been taken by another, and the
giving of her body could never be the same. That the taking
had been accomplished not by wooing, but by trickery and
force, somehow only made Paul's affection more meaningless. An
arrogant young demigod had ravished her, and then decided to
keep her as his possession. It was sheer luck, not Paul or
Lily, that prevented him. And her flesh had responded,
rebelliously, betraying both her and the man she had loved.
Hard pointed nipples and a wet vagina were the Quisling, the
Benedict Arnold, of her love for Paul.
Two months after the trial, he had moved back down south. They
had agreed it would be better if he didn't write.
There had been nobody since. Celibacy seemed a belated
assertion of self-determination. But increasingly, her body
was again rebelling against her principles. She threw herself
into her work, but was aware of being sexually frustrated.
She'd thought of moving down south herself, making a fresh
start. But then Martin Bromley would have driven her away from
her home town, scored another victory. For a time she lived
back at home with her parents and sisters, but the house was
too small, and seeing her every day just reminded her parents
– especially her father - of what had happened. Stress was the
last thing he needed with his ruined lungs.
So she had found a tiny apartment that she could just afford
on one wage.
It was the opposite side of the hospital to the college, so
as a rule she had no occasion to ride through the college
grounds. She had considered doing so, out of defiance, but
grim realism had prevailed. The five youths had overpowered
her once already, and they would not have grown weaker. The
thought of again falling intohis hands was one that
threatened her sanity. And she imagined a Pemberton at a
Despite your alleged outrage at previous events, Miss Harris,
you insisted on trespassing onto the college property yet
again! At best your action was ill-advised, at worse
provocative. But perhaps that was your intention. Perhaps
Martin was not alone in feeling aggrieved that your abduction
– or perhaps I should say elopement – was interrupted?
In the weeks after the trial, she had imagined killing both
Pemberton and Martin. But slowly, her fury had given way to a
sullen, pragmatic acceptance of reality. The law would not
spare her as it had Martin. Taking action herself would be
difficult, and again there was the all-too-real risk of
capture. One could hire people who would hurt or maim or even
kill for a fee, but she couldn't afford those fees, and anyway
she would be an obvious suspect if any harm befell her
ravisher or his defender.
For a time she became a cause celebre among the townspeople,
a focus for their constant resentment of the college. One
night, a gang of local youths had actually invaded the school
grounds to seek revenge. But they had been defeated in a
savage brawl – Martin fighting effectively, in the thick of it
– and over time, the mood in the town reverted to its usual
vague, unfocused grumbling.
In the hospital, despite her concentration on work, her career
had stalled. She was no longer spoken of as a rising star; she
had been passed over for promotion. A year earlier, managers
had said she was assertive but popular and fair; now it was
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?