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Green: The Colour That Brings Hope

Green: The Colour That Brings Hope

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Green: The Colour That Brings Hope

Länge:
400 Seiten
5 Stunden
Herausgeber:
Freigegeben:
Feb 11, 2017
ISBN:
9781370501243
Format:
Buch

Beschreibung

The second book in The Colour Series.
First Edition, February 2017.

Alex suffered dreadfully at the hands of her persecutor. She is left with mental and physical scars with no choice but to face the trauma, and her past, and try to move on. Whilst she is now finally alone and free of her 'shadow', she is also frightened more than ever – facing an uncertain future, with her sanity in the balance.

Seph's own ghosts have also returned to haunt him. He faces impending responsibilities of his own, and he has to come to terms with his own errant behaviour and patterns he has formed since childhood.

Friends and family rally to help, and Seph's father, James, refuses to give up on Alex. Through these ties and relationships, new bonds are discovered, and old ones renewed, revealing their true value.

Alex begins the painful task of putting her life back together again. This time, the way she wants; on her terms

Secrets and deceit are behind her, her past something she has to let go of, but it seems Seph is the one to struggle most with adapting to change.

Alex has to accept she has problems; she has resulting mental health issues from her trauma. She has to learn to deal with life and keep it all in balance, in the ways she has been shown. She needs to believe in herself, and allow hope – and love – into her life again.

Because hope is the key. Hope for the future and for peace of mind. And for both to find peace in themselves.

Green is the colour that brings hope.

Herausgeber:
Freigegeben:
Feb 11, 2017
ISBN:
9781370501243
Format:
Buch

Über den Autor

Cat Giles lives near Birmingham in the UK. She works as a self-employed Graphic Designer and has many creative hobbies and interests including writing, painting, photographing nature and playing drums. After self-publishing The Colour Series Cat is making slow progress working on a new novel as well as a non-fiction 'non-memoir'. She also delves into poetry and blogs but still lacks courage in publishing most of them. To balance the creativity, Cat likes to spend as much time as possible enjoying nature walks in all weathers, usually looking for feathers and other treasures to admire and collect.

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Green - Cat Giles

Giles

Prologue: The Call

It was just gone eight o'clock in the morning when Seph's mobile trilled. He had a mouth full of cereal.

'Hi, Flick,' he mumbled down the line. 'Sorry, just having breakfast.' He chewed quickly and wiped his mouth with his hand. 'What's up? This is early.'

'I think you might like to visit your father,' she advised mysteriously. 'We've had a hell of a night!'

'Why, what's up?' He jumped to the wrong conclusions. 'Have you two had an argument?'

'No, nothing like that. Look, your father said I wasn't to tell you–'

'Tell me what?'

'I think you should know,' she said. 'I know you would want to know–'

'Know what?' His tongue poked at cereal stuck in his teeth, his brow formed a frown. 'Come on, Flick, stop being so mysterious. Spit it out.'

Her words came out fast, a release, but in earnest. 'It's Jennifer.'

Hearing the seriousness in Felicity's voice, Seph braced himself, shocked by the sensation of his heart jolting. Cereal caught in his throat and he winced. 'What's happened?'

Part One

Chapter 1: Freedom

After about the tenth apology for her behaviour, her appearance, her shakes, James put his foot down and told Alex to stop it right away. They were in the visitor's room – a break from the ward.

Alex drank tea from a paper cup, her hands shaking. Not as badly as the first time he'd visited, but he was becoming accustomed to her fragile state.

'Thanks for coming,' she said.

'Alex, love, both apologies and words of gratitude are now banned between us. I visit because I want to,' he stressed, 'and I will continue to do so.'

A small smile surfaced, then she announced, 'I've decided to go to the clinic.'

'I see. Are you sure?'

'I don't think I have a choice. I can't get it all out of my head. I keep getting these flashbacks all the time. He's still there, whether I'm awake or asleep. It's like constant adrenalin pumping twenty-four hours a day, although I think these tablets are helping now.'

'Yes, you seem calmer.'

James reached for her hand and held it tightly. It was cold and trembling, her thin, bony wrist peeping from the sleeve of her dressing gown. The soft, fluffy fabric made her skin seem all the more pale and papery. He knew she was barely eating, despite whatever he brought along to try to tempt her. Her face was gaunt, her cheekbones hard-edged and threatening to break through the surface of her skin. Her eyes remained dull, locked in numbness.

She continued to explain, 'I'm just not ready to go back; I don't even feel like I should be here. It's like being in limbo. I feel awful, physically and mentally. I don't even want to think about it.' She shook her head, as if the memories might fall out if she did so.

'I understand. You must take your time, but wherever you are, I'll visit. You can call on me at any time.'

A moment passed before she voiced her true fears.

'They say it's going to be hard; I'll have to face a lot. I'm going to have to go through it all again!'

James patted the back of her hand. 'You're strong, Alex, you can do it. I have every faith in you.'

She smiled gratefully, even for the clichés, but her eyes glistened. She looked away from his gaze, self-consciously. She'd seen herself in the bathroom mirror earlier. And as bad a mirror as it was, as stark and worn as the bathroom was here, she recognised how awful she looked. Like a character from a horror film, a tortured victim, someone who'd been through a manic, horrendous experience but had the fortune of surviving. Or rather, the misfortune. Right now her mind couldn't see much of benefit in having got through it. She was too low, too distraught to cope with anything other than living day-to-day, often hour-to-hour. The future was a concept she couldn't yet fathom or contemplate, hidden from view by a huge obstacle course she now needed to get through now to reach the other end. If she could summon the energy and willpower, that is.

In many ways, she was glad to be alive, to see James for a start, to savour the sunshine and quiet, to be able to live without being under surveillance or in threat. There were brief moments of gratitude. But her life had been so controlled; she had never known anything else. The freedom now open to her was a threat in itself, and she felt inadequate and terrified. She was now able to grow up and figure out and plan her own life, without restraints and rules: without outside control. Bizarre rules that had had no basis or rational reason. Even more bizarre was how she realised now she needed that control; she had lived her life within its constrictions. That was how she had managed to survive.

Alex's nerves were shot: a sudden release from abusive behaviour she had endured for most of her life. The release was both a blessing and a curse. She had never had to deal with this and hadn't been ready for it. She had believed it would be over, that she would be dead by now. She hadn't imagined being in this situation, having a new life laid before her like a blank book with crisp, clean new pages. But she wasn't a writer like James, she wasn't creative at all, she couldn't imagine what to put on or in those pages; the thought scared her to death.

A ghost of a smile showed, as she thought, 'I have been scared to death before. But not of it.'

Freedom – her future – was what was keeping her here, in stasis. Causing her shakes, her lack of appetite and lack of enthusiasm. She had to face it all, alone for the first time.

And James was a blessing, but he wasn't the answer.

Someone dropped a spoon behind them, over near the counter, and Alex jumped in fear, her eyes wide and scared, the metallic sound grating, her hands trembling more as she scratched her brow and her face twitched. In her mind she saw metal, a knife. The blade flashed in her mind.

James reached for her left hand and touched it gently, over the dressings, as if he sensed her spiralling thoughts. 'Everything will be alright, Alex, I promise. It will take some time, but you will be okay,' he soothed, realising he had spoken these words already, to Seph. 'I'm here to help you. Everyone's here to help you, love.'

She looked at him doubtfully, eyes wild due to someone's simple clumsiness. She would need to go a long way to get over this incessant fear and anxiety and James was deeply glad he was not in her shoes.

Chapter 2: In Hiding

Seph and Freddie were head to head as they crouched on the floor over a piece of paper, necks bowed. Seph was scrawling, marks spreading across the page.

'What are you doing?' Charlotte asked, standing over, them, eyes on Seph and tactically standing closer to him than her brother, Freddie. When Seph was occupied or concentrating he looked like an angel, with his dangling curls, his cherubic face. Until he looked up, or grinned with mischief, then a little demon showed itself.

'Planning an ambush,' her brother told her, in serious tones.'

'On what?'

'The enemy.'

'Oh. What enemy?'

Seph made more scribbles and Charlotte waited. A look from Seph could make her feel girlish and honoured, but he ignored them both while he had a pencil in his hand.

'What we need is bait,' Freddie said.

Seph looked up, with a smirk. 'Bait?'

Freddie grinned. 'Yeah. Want to play, Charlie?'

She shrugged. She wasn't always included. Often she was merely an onlooker. 'If you like.'

Finally, the boys looked up at her, like she was useful and might even be awarded a starring role in their game. She met Seph's blank gaze with a smile. He was so cute. But he looked away quickly and made her feel fatter than she was. She looked down at her chubby fingers and then at his slim ones, and listened to them plan in code – boys' code.

'Right, sis, here's what we do. You're the bait, so you need to keep still, keep very quiet, and wait.'

'For what?'

'You'll see.'

She looked at Seph for clues but he was watching Freddie, following his lead. 'Are you being naughty, Freddie?'

'No,' he said with a chime in his voice. He said to Seph, 'We need something long, like a belt.'

Seph jumped to his feet and pulled the wardrobe door open wide, tugged out his best trousers and disengaged the belt. He held it aloft like a snake.

Freddie snorted. 'That's far too short!' Freddie mocked. 'Won't do. Need one at least twice that size,' he looked at Charlotte as he said it. She was watching Seph avidly, his every move.

Seph dropped the belt on the floor and marched out.

'What's the belt for?' Charlotte enquired.

'Be quiet, we're busy.'

Bloody boys. 'It's a game, Freddie, not a war,' she sneered. It didn't help her cause.

Seph came back with a bunch of his dad's ties, and a big grin across his face.

Charlotte went red, and almost forgot about the ties in his grip.

'Aha!' Freddie cried. 'Come on, sis, over here,' he beckoned her out onto the landing, towards the bannisters.

'Why?'

'Just stand here, where the enemy can see you.'

She sighed with exasperation and stomped over to the spot. In no time at all, Freddie had bound her to the bannisters, fixing a couple of knotted ties around her waist, one around her hands, and the belt around her shins: clamping her to the bannisters like a bicycle lock. 'I don't like this, Freddie! Stop it, it's too tight!'

'Oh, stop whingeing, it's just a game.'

'It's not fun.'

'Shut up, Charlie.' He leaned forward and whispered – hissed – in her ear. 'If you're lucky, Seph'll rescue you.'

She wriggled, her face flushing red and shamefacedly looking at Seph.

He saw the discomfort in her eyes.

'Let me go, Fred!'

'Stop being a baby. Wait there.'

She muttered and tried to tug herself free but the knot was fast and she couldn't release the belt before untying her arms. She began to whine. 'I'll scream.'

'Oh, Christ Almighty, you're such a baby, Charlie.'

She appealed to Seph – she thought she saw sympathy in his eyes. 'Seph? Please untie me.'

'I'll put one round your mouth if you're not quiet,' Freddie warned.

'You just dare!' she cried.

'Teach you for stealing my sweets, fatty.'

'I didn't!'

'Found the wrappers in your pocket, liar!'

Seph went back to the map he'd drawn to avoid them bickering. He never understood sibling arguments; he was an only child.

'So,' Seph called out, 'we have the bait. What's next, Captain?'

Freddie stood tall, ignoring Charlotte's squirms and rolling a spare tie in his hands. 'Well, my chap...' He was well in character now. '...We lie in wait. Let's go to the hideout.'

The boys ran downstairs, map and makeshift military weapons in hand, and Charlotte pulled hard at the fastenings, muttering and weeping as she stood bound and helpless, wondering what they were up to, where they had gone, and when they might be back.

***

Liz held Charlotte against her, inspecting the red marks on her wrists. James was livid.

The boys had returned and were making their way up the stairs. They had been running around the garden. They were breathless and red-cheeked. Even more so, now they had been found out.

'Seph? What's been going on here?' James demanded.

The boys looked at one another.

'You've been in my wardrobe, for a start.' James said.

'We were just playing.'

'Who tied up poor Charlotte?'

She was pink from struggling and straining, tears dripping from her face.

The boys looked at each other again.

'It was me,' Seph said.

'Was it, indeed? And what do you say?'

'It was just a game. We were coming back to untie her–'

'I don't care!' James fumed. 'How dare you treat visitors like this! You should know better. What do you say to Charlotte?'

He looked very briefly at her. 'Sorry, Charlotte.'

She looked back, dumbfounded. Her mother stroked her hair.

'I'll speak to you later,' James said firmly. 'Stay in your room.'

Seph sighed and trudged towards his room, closing the door.

Charlotte looked at Freddie. His expression was blank. She despised him even more, as brotherly-sisterly fights went. The coward.

'I'm so sorry,' James said to Liz, his tone altering. 'Are you alright, Charlotte?'

She nodded, tears having ceased in shock. Freddie kept quiet, his eyes on Seph's closed door.

Then their father appeared at the bottom of the stairs.

'Everything alright up there? What's going on?'

'Boys' games,' Liz told him. 'Picking on Charlie.'

Richard nodded, as if it were to be expected. 'Ah. You okay, sweetheart?'

She nodded meekly, wiping her innocent eyes dry with her sleeve.

'I really am sorry, Liz,' James said.

She smiled, 'I'm sure Freddie's not so innocent in all this. Don't worry, James.'

'I don't know what gets into Seph sometimes,' James confessed, glancing towards the closed bedroom door. 'I can only apologise. Would you like a drink, Charlotte? Come down and choose.'

They made their way downstairs and Seph waited in his room, occupying himself for the rest of the visit, ostracised. He couldn't determine why it was he put himself in these positions – accepting blame for things he hadn't done, readily taking it. He knew the consequences before the family left the house.

It brought on a showdown. As soon as the front door closed and the visitors drove off, James made his way upstairs.

James would shout and holler and Seph would detach, blank-faced and oblivious. Because it wasn't actually his fault, nor his doing. Not always. And James would grow more incensed by the aloofness, his cold reaction, not comprehending it, deceived.

In punishment, Seph would get his things confiscated, shut in his room for defined periods and banned from certain activities. But Seph didn't care. It was time alone, to daydream, to draw (if he still had his pencils to hand), to fuel his imagination. And time away from James ranting at him.

***

'It's not funny, Barbara.'

She bit her lip. 'Oh, James! You get so worked up. See the funny side.'

'You're as bad as he is. He sits looking at me with such arrogance, mocking me. I don't know where he gets it from.'

'He testing you.'

'He acts like he doesn't care. That's what annoys me.'

Barbara nodded. 'Exactly why he does it.'

James waved his hand in the air and swore.

Barbara's smile surfaced again. 'I bet it took a few ties. Charlotte's not exactly slender,' she said.

James's mouth began to form a vague smile. The corners upturned. 'Several. But it's really not funny, Barbara. Poor Charlotte.'

'Like you were never cruel to girls when you were a boy?'

He frowned. 'That's not the point.'

'It is. He's a child, a boy; he's playing. Don't take it so seriously. Not everything Seph does is because he's troubled or affected.'

'No? Then explain why it is Liz called a couple of days later, to tell me Freddie confessed to the whole thing. Seph hadn't done it at all!'

Barbara's smile evaporated. 'Oh. Oh, I see. Well, why would he–?'

'Precisely. Explain that.'

***

Midnight, or thereabouts. Seph had switched off the studio light sometime before. He put the side light on and dropped onto the sofa. The flat was quiet; he had no urge to put on any music. He'd not been listening to much music for a while. Lyrics became intrusive too easily. His mood couldn't take it, yet he couldn't find anything of solace.

He reached for a newly crafted spliff he had tucked under a magazine and lit up, screwing his eyes up against the smoke. With one draw, he felt the hit. It was good stuff, he'd made sure of it. A couple more hits and things would be easier, smoother, softer.

He slouched back in the chair and put his feet up amongst the debris, resting them on art books and unopened mail.

It was about the right time for popping out to a club. Did he fancy it? Nope, no feeling at all. Though that might change at three or four in the morning, when he was wide awake and enduring the torturous, lengthy hours of the night.

***

James set off the door buzzer when he entered the gallery. The sound ushered Felicity from her office. It was another damp, murky day. There had been many recently, and James had been struggling to maintain a positive outlook and an even equilibrium when those around him appeared to be caught up in the atmospheric gloom. He fiddled to close his umbrella and compose himself as Felicity approached. She unknowingly put James on edge as he fought to tidy his ruffled hair, her elegance in such close proximity. Her perfume overwhelmed his damp mustiness.

'James!' she greeted, her cheerful tone and open smile a tonic on a grey day. 'Nice to see you! Just passing?'

He summoned a bright smile in return. 'Hello, Felicity, how are you?'

'Very well, thanks. You?'

'Oh, so-so. I wondered if I might have a brief word with you, if you're not too busy? It's about Seph.'

'Ah. I see. You'd better come through,' she beckoned, and he rested his dripping umbrella by the door and followed.

***

James sat in front of Felicity's desk while she roused the coffee machine into action. She stood impatiently with one hand on her hip as the liquid droned and dribbled into a cup, and James surreptitiously glanced over her fine figure in her smart blouse, short skirt and glossy heels. Her immaculateness set him to patting at his fringe fussily and sniffing that awful damp odour emanating from his jacket: the scent of soggy tweed.

She brought the coffees over and placed them down on the desk, her perfume wafting under his nose, then sat herself in her executive chair, legs crossed, eyes eager, sensing gossip about to fall her way.

'Is Seph alright? Not bad news, I hope. I haven't seen him in a while.'

She had both elbows on the desk as she carefully sipped her drink and focused on her visitor.

James sipped the strong coffee and put the cup back down. 'Not bad news as such, no; I hope not anyway... Look, I am awfully sorry to drop in like this on personal business but I'm rather worried about him, and you're the only one I could think of asking.'

She stared back dumbfounded. 'Me? Why's that?'

'Well, without arousing too much suspicion. And someone female would be better.'

'I'll obviously help however I can. Fire away.'

***

Seph smirked when he opened the door. 'Hi Flick. Nice to see you; come on in.'

'Hello, darling,' she said and stepped inside the flat; into the lair she had often visualised but hadn't hoped to be visiting under such circumstances.

'To what do I owe this pleasure? You should have told me you were coming and I'd have got the red carpet out. Saved up for some Bolly,' Seph said.

She stood over the coffee table, surveying the room, taking in her surroundings with great interest. She had never seen his flat or his studio in all the years he had produced work for her. Perhaps odd, but that fact escaped her as she scrutinised the place, searching for warning signs of a man losing his marbles. From what James had told her, she had expected both the flat, and Seph, to be a visible mess. Granted, he didn't look his best, but in the circumstances that was no surprise.

'This is very nice – as cool as I expected... So how are you? I've been worried about you, Seph. Haven't seen you since that dreadful business a few weeks back,' she said. 'You've gone into hiding; it's not like you.'

He faced her with arms folded, self-defensive. He was putting on a brave face but paranoia reigned. His eyes narrowed with suspicion. 'You haven't been speaking to Jack, or Dad at all?'

'Should I have?' She was poor at deceit. Seph saw straight through it. Her presence at the flat said enough.

Felicity busied herself taking mental notes on his appearance. He was unshaven to the point a beard was forming, his clothes were rumpled; there was paint on his hands and arms, and down his jeans – nothing too unusual in any of that. He was red about the eyes, but nothing untoward. He mostly looked tired, and drawn, as if his youthfulness had retreated out of harm's way. She couldn't yet see past the mockery in his expression. His defences were raised.

Seph said, 'I've been getting lectures left, right and centre. You're not about to try as well, are you?'

She planted her hands on her hips. 'Oh, Seph, darling! Stop being so paranoid. I came to see how things are going. You look like you've been working, that's good to see.'

'Who asked you to come?'

'No one asked me! I wanted to.'

'Right. Sure. Well, welcome to the pleasuredome.'

He moved off to give himself some distance from her prying eyes. Women always had that knack of trying to snoop into his thoughts, his soul.

He was waiting for a visit from Auntie Barbara. That would be the icing.

'Seph, I'm not here to lecture you, you're a big boy, after all,' she smiled playfully. He wasn't playing along. 'But if your work suffers and you fail to deliver, the fact is, I may have to find a new artist to replace you, darling.'

Seph swallowed, his smirk faltering. 'Jesus, Flick. Ouch.'

'Sorry, did I kick you where it hurts?'

His head dipped, and he exhaled deeply. 'It's a bad patch, that's all. I'll get over it,' he admitted, and tried to reassure her. 'I'll deliver,' he said firmly, looking her in the eye. 'I won't let you down; I have to make up for what happened.'

'Yes, you do, I'm sorry to say. Look, you've clearly had a bad time of it, but I am operating a business. I can't be charitable forever, and unfortunately your wall space is pretty redundant right now. I need more work from you. End of.'

'I'll have something ready for you by the weekend, I'm working on it right now.'

'Good, because there are many talented young artists out there, all looking for wall space and someone to back them. It's a competitive world. You can't afford to let things slip, Seph.'

His smile returned, a sardonic one. 'This was Dad, wasn't it? Got his mark all over it. Fucking sly old fox.'

Felicity looked down at her car key in her hand. 'I've spoken to both your father and Jack. They filled me in on what's been going on... I heard about Alex.'

The name almost wiped his smile. There was a twitch in his gaze but he held it steady. 'Nothing more to say, then, is there?'

'I'm so sorry,' she offered. 'I do hope you've not been avoiding me because you feel bad about what happened? I know you weren't completely honest with me but I understand why. These are very delicate situations. I am sorry it turned out so awfully.'

He shifted his footing but kept his focus on work. 'Yeah, well, I won't let you down. Seriously.'

'Good, I'm pleased to hear it. Because you haven't yet, and I would hate for that to change.'

'I hear you loud and clear, Flick.'

'I know I sound rather ruthless but I do think it's important you have some focus right now.' She stepped closer and tapped his arm. He didn't look like he could cope with the warmth of a hug. It was then she smelt the drink on him. A stale scent she wasn't used to in his presence. Perhaps James was right after all and Seph was performing his best act for her. She regarded him more closely, as he stared back with faked nonchalance. She studied the hollows under his eyes, the frizziness of his hair. And noticed he did look a bit thinner. His carefree humour had gone. His eyes looked haunted. She suddenly clocked how nervous he appeared, too, worried she could see through him.

Felicity diverted her gaze. It landed on the messy coffee table again. It was then she spotted the ashtray, the gathering of used joints. She looked back at Seph before he realised she had seen the evidence, and tactfully decided against reporting it back to James.

'I have been worried about you, you know,' she said.

'Appreciate your concern, but I'm okay.'

'Well, you know where I am... Will I see you on Saturday?'

'Yeah, Saturday; I'll be there.'

She gave a firm nod in reply, and a smile that said she wasn't entirely convinced. 'Good. I'll have the coffee ready.'

Chapter 3: No Turning Back

The clinic was an old mansion, whitewashed walls on the façade that screamed loony bin from the outset. The taxi curled up the drive slowly and Alex stared at the ominous darkened windows. The place looked like something in a costume drama, or an old people's home, battered around the edges, a bit unkempt. It felt like the kind of place in which you might get forgotten.

Alex had read too many classic novels, where women got put away by their husbands, brothers, fathers. She hastily reminded herself that this was her decision.

The taxi driver pulled up close to the main entrance, opened the door and helped her out. He brought her bag from the boot. He had been the friendly sort, not too chatty. It had been a long journey. They were in the midst of nowhere, fields and trees all around. She paid him with shaking hands and he kindly offered to take her luggage inside.

'No, it's okay, I'll manage,' she said. 'Thanks very much.'

His smile was sympathetic. 'Best of luck, love. Hope it goes alright for you.'

She'd said nothing, apart from telling him where she needed to go. And he had said nothing about it all the way, but unfortunately the large sign on entering the drive had been a clue. And arriving at a clinic with luggage: it didn't look all that positive. Not with her shakes, and the fading visible damage. Some of it was taking longer than expected to disappear into mere memory.

The front door opened and someone emerged. A young woman: in a plain outfit that could be construed as staff uniform. She smiled warmly at Alex. Her voice was encouraging, positive, like the natural flow of water bubbling over pebbles in a stream.

'Hello there! Want a hand with that? Come on in, we've been waiting for you. Just got your room ready. There's tea ready too, if you want it.'

Alex smiled, meekly. She still wasn't sure. It was her choice; she could still back off.

But the taxi driver had already closed his door and was taking a call over the radio. He drove off within moments and Alex was stranded.

The nurse came closer and reached for her bag. 'Don't stand out here, it's chilly today: you'll catch your death.'

Alex hoped her comment wasn't prophetic.

***

Alex hadn't known what to expect. The clinic's website did feature a photograph of the place but mostly the site comprised suitable wording, not imagery. Visually, she had had no way of forming preconceptions. Perhaps that was the intention.

There was a lot of paperwork to fill in and sign on arrival; of course none of the small print got read. She couldn't find her glasses to check through it. She found them later, in the wrong compartment of her bag. Nerves must have fuddled her brain when she was packing.

Alex handed back all the forms, and her signed agreement to allow her hard-earned savings to start dwindling with effect, and hoped she was doing the right thing. In that moment, it didn't feel right. It felt strange, uncertain, like her life in general. Could it be any worse than having been stuck so long in a dreary hospital ward?

That was the sad thing. As she stood in her allocated room, adequate as it was, with plain cream walls, wood panelling, a single bed, desk, chair and small wardrobe, it felt like a prison. She assumed, never having had the misfortune of being incarcerated. In any case, the door had closed on her, shutting her in, and shutting out voices, sounds, of shuffling, doors closing, other inhabitants and staff. Face it: this was her cell for God-knows how long to come.

She swallowed the lump in

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