Brown Eyed Girl

Caroline hadn’t been hit by a bus. She’d been hit by a taxi. In the circumstances, I quite forgot to ask whether or not her interview had been successful.

As I switched off the phone and sank down into a chair, my senses buzzing with shock, I felt Mimi’s wet little nose nuzzling devotedly against my ankle.

“Don’t torture yourself, Michael.” advised Steve Hemmings, consultant haematologist at the west end hospital, a man with whom I had worked on several occasions. “It’s so easy, in these cases, to keep thinking about the last thing you said to her, and all the things you didn’t say. But she knew you loved her.”

Did she? I wondered. She didn’t show it.

She couldn’t very well show it now.

Caroline lay stretched out beneath white sheets, absolutely flat, her mouth slack. Humming softly beside her were the machines which still pumped power into her heart and lungs, keeping her going in the absence of signals from the brain. Her blond hair had been shaved in an undercut where surgeons had tried desperately to treat the injuries to the left side of her head, but it had probably already been too late by the time she arrived in the hospital; haemorrhaging blood had swamped her delicate neural tissues, crushing and suffocating vital areas. She was a vegetable now. I brushed back her hair, set her lips more neatly together. I wanted to ask for her handbag. She wouldn’t want to be seen like this, without her make-up on. She was still my beautiful Caroline.

You can find the complete version of Brown Eyed Girl in issue 63 of TBD.

Jennie Kermode