Nightmares of Caitlin Lockyer – Chapter 5:
“Go away – leave me alone!” Caitlin cried in panic.
I woke with a shock in the middle of the night. She was screaming and struggling to get away from someone – but there was no one else here.
I sat on the edge of her bed and shook her gently, but she didn't wake up. She was locked in a deadly struggle with the people in her nightmare.
She screamed abuse at me as I panicked and let go of her. There was nothing I could do.
Gradually, her struggles gave way to helpless tears. “Please help me… you promised…” she whimpered.
I tried to tell her I was here, that she was safe now, that there was nothing to worry about, because she was in the very best of care, but she kept going like she never heard a word of it. Her whispered, desperate pleas continued as I pressed the button to bring a nurse. It felt like forever before a nurse arrived.
I heard her in the corridor, talking to another nurse. “You go on down to tea, Judith. I'll just see to this one and I'll join you. It's that girl who came in last night – the one with the police guard. I heard one of them's pretty hot.”
The other nurse thought this was funny. “You mean the young one who looks like Matt Damon? I heard he's her boyfriend. If she needs a nurse, it's probably because he isn't there to help her. Have fun, Carol.”
Sick of waiting, I spoke. “If you're the nurse, come here.”
The nurse entered the room and sized me up, her look openly curious.
At another time, I might have found her obvious approval gratifying. I know I would have liked what I saw. I would have responded by verbalising the invitation in her eyes. Maybe I should have. I know I wanted to.
All those fleeting thoughts dissolved in my irritation that her attention was on me instead of Caitlin, whose sobs made my chest ache in sympathy.
“She's having nightmares and she won't wake up. Is there anything you can give her to help her?”
“I can't,” she told me flatly. “What she's on, and the condition she's in – hell, she's so sedated she shouldn't be able to have nightmares. She won't be waking up for a while.”
“I see.” I kept my voice equally flat.
“Please. You promised,” Caitlin sobbed. “No, don't let them…”
“Who's she talking to?” the nurse asked.
“Me. She wants me to help her.” It came out bitter. Because I couldn't stop her nightmares.
The nurse looked like she wanted to ask something else, but I didn't want to explore this any further. I let my eyes wander over her body. When I lifted my eyes to her face, I gave her a look that plainly said, “Damn, not bad.” I hated myself for raising her expectations, knowing I was only going to dash them again in moments. She looked flustered, and I took the opportunity to get rid of her.
“If there's nothing you can do for her, then I guess you're better off going back to the nurses' station, or wherever else you're needed.” I flashed her my most charming smile, feeling cheap for not following it up with anything else. “Go to tea, Carol.” Which Carol did, without hesitation.
I stayed by Caitlin, where I promised I'd be, Nurse Carol's words running through my head. She won't be waking up for a while. Caitlin wouldn't miss me if I went downstairs for a few minutes. Not if she wasn't waking up for a while.
I'd be back before she woke up. Perhaps I could make up for my curt dismissal of Nurse Carol and offer to pay for her tea.
Caitlin was weeping quietly now, oblivious to me. I stood up and moved away from her toward the door, thinking of joining Nurse Carol for tea, coffee or anything else she cared to name. Maybe getting to know the shapely Singaporean girl better…
“No… please… don't leave me!” Caitlin's voice grew louder and more panicked with each word. “You promised!” Swearing softly, I sat down beside her again and she was silent.
Swearing a bit more, I realised there was only one way I was going to get any more sleep tonight.
I grabbed a sheet and pillow from my bed and carefully cocooned her body in her own sheet. I squeezed in behind her, so I was half under her pillow and up against the headboard. If she hadn't been so small, I wouldn't have fitted.
So, I didn't get to have a drink with Nurse Carol, but I got the consolation of sleeping with Caitlin.
I stuck my pillow behind me to cushion my head from the cold, laminated surface of the headboard and spread my sheet over myself as best I could. My last thought before I fell asleep was that, under better circumstances, with a bigger bed and less clothes, I'd be happy to climb into bed with Caitlin, so maybe this wasn't so bad after all…
Ah, who was I kidding? It was a bloody nightmare.
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