Friends and Anger 6

She remained in a coma for weeks but because she was stable, was moved out of intensive care into a private room he’d arranged for her. He put his life on hold and visited every day for hours and would alternatively read aloud to her the books he knew she loved, played her favourite music or just talked to her. He’d been told these were good things to do for a loved one in a comatose state. He became a fixture about the hospital, never missing a day.

Then one day after a month, the hoped for event occurred; she woke up. He rushed around to the hospital on the news but was intercepted by the consultant who’d been caring for her before they’d let him in to see her. There’s some things you should know before you see her. The broken ribs have healed well as well as the damage to her legs but there’s been some atrophying of the muscle tissue, but with time and light exercise that’ll come back. She’ll also need some dental work; a plate or possibly some crowns. The damage to her left eye we’ll have to do some cosmetic surgery on but I’m afraid she’ll always be partially sighted in it.

That’s the physical situation, but psychologically she’s in a very fragile state. I’m told by the police that her boyfriend who beat her up committed suicide. We haven’t told her that. I don’t think she can handle that at the moment. She’ll be ready for discharge in a couple of weeks but will need 24/7 attention for the first few weeks after that. I don’t think it’d be in her best interests to go back to the flat she shared with her boyfriend.

That’s not a problem, she can live with me until she’s fully recovered. We’ve been friends since our university days.

What will you tell her about the boyfriend?

That he’s on the run from charges of grievous bodily harm and attempted murder.

The consultant thought that answer came out a touch too quickly and somehow rehearsed, but he’d a large patient load and he’d long ago learnt that these things will work out as they’re going to, and he had absolutely no control over them.

He took her home and rearranged his apartment and his whole life around her needs. She was very frail and weak. He carried her to and from the toilet in his arms, helped her, gave her bed baths, combed her hair and fed her soups at first but gradually built up her diet. He would read to her in the evenings until she fell asleep. Mainly poetry because they both shared a love of many of the same poets;  Yeats, Dylan Thomas, Robert Frost, AE Housman and an occasional touch of Alfred Lord Tennyson. The irony of him reading Tennyson’s The Kraken Wakes to her after her long sleep wasn’t lost on her. It raised a little ghost of her old smile. That was the first good sign after a few weeks of her being passive and unresponsive.

Sometimes she’d wake up screaming out of a nightmare and he’d roll off the fold away bed he’d bought for the living room and rush into the bedroom to hold her down by her shoulders and whisper into her ear – It’s Manno, I’ve got you, I’ve got you, you’re safe now, I’ve got you, it’s Manno. She’d gradually calm down and slip back into sleep. The weeks went by and she slowly grew stronger and started to lose that horrible anxious look of a hunted animal that absolutely killed his heart. If he made any sudden or unexpected moves, she stopped jumping – shithead had certainly done a job on her.

One day, she said she wanted to try standing up. She sat up in bed and he helped her turn so her feet touched the floor as she sat on the edge of the bed. He held his hands out palms upwards as he stood in front of her. She held on to them and after a few tries managed to haul herself upright. The moment you feel too weak, just sit down. The bed is directly behind you. She wobbled as long as she could but finally flopped down on the bed. She kept on at it again and again until she could stand upright and steady at the first try.

Manannon watched her sheer guts and determination and thought, I should have killed the bastard more slowly.

When she got used to standing by herself, next came learning to walk again. He placed a chair with arms three paces from her bed and she took small careful paces towards it. Now turn – very slowly. Can you feel the front of the chair against the back of your legs? Yes. Now sit down slowly. The effort exhausted her and she took a long rest before attempting the return journey. Stand up, don’t move until you’re rock steady, get back to the bed, turn, feel the edge of it on the back of your legs and then sit. That first effort exhausted her for the day, but she insisted on pushing on. As she got better at it, the chair was placed six paces away at her insistence. She was really pushing herself.

She worked hard at it, eventually being able to swing her feet to the floor herself and stand upright while insisting he didn’t hold her hands. He still hovered around her just in case, but there was determination in her he’d never seen before. As time passed, her stamina and confidence grew. She could walk around the flat slowly and carefully but always with one hand on some surface.

Watching her gradually relax and recover was the happiest time of his life. Though they were living together, it wasn’t an affair or a marriage, but rather somewhere between those two positions. It wasn’t sexual because he was waiting patiently for her to invite him into that final intimacy in her own time. If it didn’t happen, he’d accept that. It was understandable; from what she’d intimated about sex with shithead, in the end it’d walked a thin line between rape or brutality, whichever way you looked at it. He’d broken her. An abused woman’s Stockholm syndrome.

As she got stronger and could cope for herself, his hours getting home tended to become unpredictable as he got back to work but when he got home at a reasonable time, they’d have the pleasure of preparing and cooking a meal together, put on some gentle music and sip a glass of wine. They discussed a variety of topics as they ate, but never shithead or his beating her up. He never pushed it.

As the weeks went by, she slowly regained her strength, so they’d go for short walks. First short ones around his apartment with him hovering behind her ready to catch and then progressed to longer ones around the neighbourhood. Going down steps was still a problem, so he always ensured he was in front of her in case she fell. One of her hands on the banister and the other on his left shoulder. He came to admire her determination to regain her health. He’d see her starting to flag, but she’d always insist on pushing herself to go an extra fifty hard steps. There was a new hardness and determination in her that’d never been there before.

A delicate orchid hammered into blued steel on an anvil of iron cruelty. That girlish flower part of her he always loved was gone forever.

Once when she started to look a bit wobbly, he tried to hold her up by her upper arm, but she shook it off – it has to be me doing it myself or it’s no good. He recognised that new stubbornness only too well and never again attempted to help her walk.

He started taking her for longer and longer walks in a nearby wood. She was really getting her strength back and insisted on longer and longer walks. It culminated in some light jogging which grew into harder and harder runs. Walk, jog, sprint. Walk, jog, sprint. Unconsciously, he was putting her through combat training. She was never that physical and a certain suspicion had started growing in his head about what was behind all this determination.

At the end of one session when they were resting she went very quiet and eventually said she never would to be a victim again. Never ever again. She knew he knew how to fight. Would he teach her how to fight? Suspicion confirmed, this was all preparation to go after shithead for what he’d done to her. It was good motivation for her recovery, so he didn’t tell her the truth.

Cutting straight to the quick he asked, do you want to hurt him or kill him?

Kill him.

He thought about it for a while. What makes you think I’m the one to teach you how to kill?

I have a long memory too. That day we were mugged as students, you damaged them permanently, but I know if they’d hurt me, you’d have killed them. I saw the rage come out of you. The only thing that kept them alive that night was me standing there in shock and watching you. You would have killed them otherwise.

He’d always been careful not to show that side of his personality to her and thought he’d succeeded, but obviously not. He couldn’t be around her 24/7 for the rest of her life to protect her from another shithead, but on the other hand, teaching her how to really defend herself would involve explaining, showing and training her how to do some pretty nasty things.

I’ve been fighting for my life since I was twelve years old, he said. I can teach you some principles, some moves, and they’re all savage and brutal and there’s no going back once you’ve used one of them. Whatever it is you end up doing, you’re the one who’s going to have to live with it afterwards. Do you think you can you do that?

Yes, I’m prepared.

Nobody is every prepared for that, he thought, ever.

Very well, I’ll teach you.


Click here for all currently written chapters of Friends and Anger.

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4 Responses to “Friends and Anger 6”
  1. Blackswan says:

    A perfect progression. Like teaching a man to fish … he’ll feed himself for a lifetime. Love it. A gal who can look after herself … finally.


  2. hunter says:

    Wow, what a great story.
    You are catching some real fire.
    Thanks for letting us read it.


  3. jb frodsham says:

    Excellent, I was looking for more.


  4. tedsned says:

    So well done! The narrative grabs you and won’t let go. Love it!


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