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Excerpt from 'Daisy Weal'

Chapter One.. Definitely, The Most Odd of Places



It started as a fairly unassuming day at 12 Trendal Place, Bishops Ashton. The sun was trying hard to break through a grey misty sky with limited success. It had been raining off and on for a number of days and everything was damp and glistening in the hazy sunshine. A slight breeze ruffled the still wet lush green lawns which had grown at least six inches since they had last received attention. Everything had taken on a dark and leaden feeling and the silence hung hard in the street and surrounding areas waiting with bated breath it seemed, for the inevitable sounds of lawn mowers and strimmers to intrude into this all too brief period of tranquillity.

In the distance towards the town centre the sounds of life were more normal, with the noise of traffic and the occasional horn 'beep' from an impatient motorist wafting in on the slight movement of air. A large aircraft passed overhead out of sight in the sky above the grey, its engines in full voice as it gained height from the nearby international airport. Probably off to some exotic place, thought Marjorie Weal as she stood in her doorway to take a deep breath of the cool and damp morning air. She had pulled on a coat against the cold over her night dress but had kept on her slippers rightly considering that being large fluffy and pink they would be warmer than shoes. She leaned against the door frame waiting for the milkman and wishing that her pregnancy was over. Nine months is too long, she giggled to herself women should have been designed with three months in mind.

A milk float whined to a stop at the head of the street and the clink of bottles broke the silence as the milkman began his deliveries. He muttered “pig of a mornin’ init.” as he stood aside at the gate of number ten to let the postman pass and then followed him up the path to the front door.

“Yeh, but the sun keeps trying.” was returned.

Marjorie walked slowly down the few metres to her front gate to wait for the postman as he came out of next door and was greeted with “Mornin’ Ms Weal, nothing today I’m afraid; Would only have been bills anyway; Baby due soon? Have you thought of a name yet?”

“Very soon thank-you, but not today I hope.” observed Marjorie, “Well if it’s a girl we’re calling her Daisy, haven’t made up our mind if it’s a boy.”

“Well you take yourself inside. It’s no day for you to be out and about in your condition. Don’t you agree Joe?” the postman nodded to the Milkman as he approached.

Joe handed two bottles of half fat pasteurised milk to Marjorie and said, “You do as the man says Ms Weal, he should know he’s got six kids.”

Marjorie nodded turned and walked toward her front door. She had only walked a couple of paces when the first contraction hit. “Oh, George,” she gasped as she doubled over. The pains became intense and rapid and she dropped to her knees, the two bottles of milk falling from her hands and rolling down the path as she grabbed her stomach.

“You see to her, I’ll get Mr Weal.” said Joe ignoring the rolling bottles as he vaulted over Marjorie and rushed to the front door, “Mr Weal, Mr Weal.” he shouted through the open door.

It all became a blur for Marjorie after that. All she knew was that the pains were too close; there had been no build up; it was all too sudden. George was knelt by her holding her hand, “Hang on, the ambulance is on its way; you’ll be OK” and then “I hope!” she heard him mutter under his breath. Then the ambulance was there; and they were at the hospital; and she was being manhandled onto a stretcher; and lights were rushing past; and a nurse appeared; and the pain stopped.

Through bleary eyes she saw the doctor approaching with a bundle in his hands, “It’s a girl.” he grinned and turned the bundle to face Marjorie. All she could see was an enormous set of green eyes looking at her from this wonderful little face. The eyes turned towards her and looked straight at her.

”Well I’m glad that’s over.” said Daisy.

The nurse folded in on her-self and crumpled to the ground. The doctor threw Daisy straight up into the air as he fainted and fell over backwards knocking trolleys and instruments in all directions. Marjorie being made of sterner stuff just went to sleep again. Somehow Daisy had landed in the crib the right way around and perfectly centred. She gurgled happily to her-self because after all, she was a baby. This is definitely the most odd of places, she thought. Then the door flew open and more people rushed in.

“What has happened here?” demanded a very stern looking nurse.

“Oh they all fainted” said Daisy.

Three more people joined the heap on the floor. But the stern looking nurse, who had not been looking at Daisy, swivelled around with eyes that were deep, dark and accusing. That gaze was obviously designed to reduce lesser nurses to jelly and from the fear on the faces of the others it was very effective indeed.

“Who said that?” she bellowed

“Now, now,” muttered Marjorie who had still not quite woken up but had been disturbed by the racket, “not so much noise, you’ll frighten the baby. I suggest that you get some help to remove all these fainted bodies. I do declare that people will fall over at the drop of a hat these days.”

The nurse took one more look around, swivelled about and swept from the room.

“Hello Mum,” said Daisy

Marjorie being full of gas and air which apparently is given to aid difficult births was so convinced that she was hallucinating that she thought she would play along with her imagination for a little while or at least until the effects wore off . So dreamily she said “This really is something that I have to get my head around, but in the meantime dear please remember that you are a baby and until we are alone you only know how to gurgle. Babies don’t speak for at least a couple of years.”

“How odd,” said Daisy “Can I talk to Dad?”

“Not a good idea. Having a baby is hard enough on the poor dear but one that talks might be too much. I think it would be better if we kept this as our little secret for the time being. Now shush someone is coming.” replied Marjorie realising at last that this was indeed real and that she was neither hallucinating nor dreaming.

The bodies were removed and revived and sent somewhere to ‘rest until they were feeling better’. A pair of security guards walked up and stationed themselves at her door and then people in suits started to appear. They were milling around, talking heatedly and pausing periodically to look towards Marjorie. Then one important looking man removed himself from the mêlée and strode purposefully towards her door.

“I understand that your baby spoke….,” he said

“Do you?” interrupted Marjorie who by now had virtually recovered from her medications. She knew that to prevent unwanted intrusion into her life and that of her new baby she would quickly have to take control of the situation. “Then you are a bigger fool than you look. Here she is, no more than an hour old.” she continued, trying desperately not to laugh and at the same time sound sarcastic “Go on, look; she won’t bite. Does she look as if she can speak? Or is the word of a group of people who have trouble remaining conscious of paramount importance here?”

“I have….” he started

“No you don’t.” said Marjorie interrupting him again. “What you have to do is to look at my baby then remove yourself and the guards and let us get some rest. Oh and find my husband he must be worried sick.”

The man looked confused and about to say something else, but instead he bent over the crib and said “Hello.” to Daisy.

Daisy stared up at him smiled happily dribbled a little and said “goo.”

The rest of the stay in the hospital was fairly uneventful with the normal comings and goings of a busy maternity unit. The members of staff who had attended her in the beginning and been carried out didn’t appear in the department again. So for a little while no-one had time for any pleasantries until replacements were found. There were still whispers and quick glances towards her but no-one bothered her.

George came in as often as his work would allow and sat holding Marjorie’s hand and staring at the baby for hours on end. Sometimes he arrived so tired that he fell asleep with his head cradled in Marjorie’s arms.

“He is so tired.” whispered Daisy.

“He’s a good man Daisy,” said Marjorie “who wants to make a good life for us so he works too hard. So I think we can let him sleep for a while.”

Those enormous green eyes stared silently at Marjorie for a few seconds and then: “You were expecting me before you married him weren’t you?” asked Daisy.

There was no accusation in the voice or in the eyes. It was just a question that Marjorie wished hadn’t been asked, but now that it had it could not be avoided.

“One morning I woke up pregnant. No idea how or when or even what happened. I can’t remember any of it. I hadn't even been out drinking.” Then she added “Might have been better if I had but it was done so no point worrying. I had to accept it. I suppose the only good thing was that I had no relatives to judge me. Well apart from my sister Harriet of course and she just stuck her nose in the air and disowned me. Not a great loss as she was never a particularly nice person. Anyway a month later I met George. We hit it off right away and were married within a couple of weeks. I have never regretted it.” she finished firmly.

“Who are you talking to love?” asked George sleepily.

“Just myself, George, just myself.” she soothed “You had better go home and get some sleep. I did mean to ask before you go. You did remember to call your mum in Hawaii with the news didn't you?”

Millicent Daisy Weal was George's mother who had moved to Hawaii with her American second husband shortly after meeting him while on holiday there. She had been worried about George's reaction to the news but he had been full of enthusiasm and encouragement. So she had departed totally in love for a little house just outside of Waikiki. Her happiness unfortunately was short lived as her new husband died only three years after their marriage. But she loved Hawaii and chose to stay. Without fail however, she phoned George and Marjorie once a week and sometimes twice a week since Marjorie's pregnancy.

“Oh god no, “he replied “she will kill me. I better get home and do that. I’ll see you tomorrow.” He bent over and kissed her and then Daisy, gave a quick wave and was gone.

For the next few days that Marjorie was required to stay in the Hospital, George always came and spent a couple of hours with them, never missing an opportunity to pick up Daisy and drool over her. Marjorie was never sure whether Daisy appreciated all the cooings and 'who's Daddie's liddle girl then', but she played along just fine, with large amounts of dribble and gurgling to keep him happy.

Finally the day came when all the medical specialists though still suspicious could find no further excuse to keep them in the hospital and reluctantly agreed to allow them to go home the next day. George was visibly delighted.

George arrived bright and early the following day, happily wheeling a brightly decorated chair which was laden down with very bright pink baby clothes, pink toys and perched on top was a pink carry cot.

“Oh God!” thought Marjorie and Daisy giggled.

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