“Don’t worry, Ginger, you’ll be OK,” she said to her friend.
“I can’t believe I’m going through with this,” came the small reply, Ginger shaking with nerves as she spoke. “What if it goes wrong? What if I end up worse than before?”
“You won’t,” Sophie reassured her. “I don’t know how many years of training these surgeons go through, but it’s a long, long time. You can trust them.”
“Are you sure? I’ve seen plenty of horror stories on the news. People can die when surgery goes wrong. What if I die?”
“You won’t die, Gin. Trust me, you’ll be alive, wide awake, able to walk again.”
“I hope so, Soph,” said Ginger, hugging Sophie. “I hope so.”
Sophie hugged Ginger as tight as she could, giving a big smile as if she was perfectly true to her word. Shame that she wasn’t. She knew absolutely nothing about surgery, and less than nothing about this kind. Just two weeks ago, she had demanded that the doctor explain the procedure to her, but she had been in a daze the whole time. Worry for Ginger had taken over her mind. Sophie knew for a fact that Ginger wanted nothing more than to be out of her wheelchair and back on her feet again, but why such an extreme procedure? They couldn’t kill an innocent 15-year-old girl - could they?
“Ginger Sheppard,” said the surgeon whom Sophie had met before, wheeling in his equipment as he spoke, a nurse with needles behind him. God, he looked so calm. If Sophie were him, or even the nurse, she would be falling to pieces about scarring someone for life.
The man snapped his fingers in Sophie’s face, literally snapping her out of her deep thoughts. “I’m sorry, Miss Hawkins, but you’re going to have to leave the room. Your friends are waiting outside for you. And don’t worry about Ginger, she’ll be fine.”
Sophie jumped. “Oh, right.” She turned to her friend and held her hand. “Goodbye, Ginger. I’ll .... see you later, OK?”
“Bye,” said Ginger. It seemed to be the only word she could get out. Oh no, thought Sophie, she’s having breathing trouble again - even more chance of death. The nurse got out a walkie-talkie and asked for some oxygen. Sophie, finding this image of Ginger unbearable to look at, left the room, feeling excessively pessimistic.
“God, I’ve never had this kind of school trip before,” said Modi, another friend. She was obviously trying to crack a joke, but no-one laughed. This wasn’t the time or place.
“It is like a school trip, actually,” George joined in. “There are so many of us here, what with all them in hospital, and us visiting ....”
“How are you, Sophie?” Faith, their school nurse, interrupted. George looked at her with stony eyes for a second - he hated interruptions, but as soon as he realised why, he calmed down a little. He wasn’t completely calm though. No-one was.
“Worried,” Sophie admitted. There was no point in saying she was fine, as she knew that the highly intelligent Faith could see through lies like that. “Ginger’s having breathing trouble, it’s all going wrong .... she might .... you know ....”
Not sure if this is any good or not (your comments please!?), but I'm very proud of it so far. The plan is that it'll be a collection of connected short stories, about a residential school for AS people, with each story being like a student explaining their thoughts on the year just gone (this is different cuz it's a bit of the prologue). All sorts of mad things have happened there, so it should be quite interesting and complicated when it's finished (assuming it ever is, knowing my attention span).
- b.k. x