23. The Heart-stopping, Loving Days....

23. The Heart-stopping, Loving Days....

A Chapter by Peter Rogerson



Eleanor Piper was having a nap when the small party of visitors arrived and stood sympathetically by her bed, not quite sure whether they should wait in silence or waken her. The older woman looked well and peaceful, and her chest rose and fell with her quiet breathing as if she might be enjoying a springtime dream.

I’ll go to the waiting room,” whispered Darren, feeling awkward in the presence of a sleeping elderly woman in a hospital bed.

But sleeping she may have been doing, but her ears were still functioning with the sort of efficiency that would have been marked as A++ in any hearing exam.

Just you stay there, young man,” she said, her voice quiet but most definitely audible, and a trifle slurred as if she’d just imbibed a glass too many of good red wine.

So Darren remained glued to the spot and Jennifer sat on the edge of her grandmother’s bed and smiled warmly at her. “Now what have you been up to, granny?” she asked.

It was nothing I did deliberately,” retorted the older woman, a little less feebly, “it was no doubt worrying about a young slip of a lass like you going off into the wilds with a boy I’ve never met, not knowing what the two of them might be getting up to, and in a tent, of all things!”

What would you have been getting up to when you were young and out in the wilds with a boy your own granny had never met?” asked Violet, determined to at least put the youngsters’ side into some kind of perspective. After all, she thought, people haven’t changed much in half a century, surely?

We knew our manners back then,” retorted Granny Piper, “and knew to to question the decency of our elders and betters.”

Well, if it puts your mind at rest, Darren and I weren’t really up to much. Nothing you wouldn’t have got up to, granny., if our positions had been reversed

As long as he hasn’t gone and put you in the family way,” murmured the old woman, but Darren could see something that none of the others could, or if they were aware of it they ignored it. But there was a twinkle in her eyes that belied any criticism implied by her words, and Darren interpreted it quite correctly. She was taking her own memories back to an earlier time when she’d been young and fancy free, and she knew with a huge amount of certainty what drives the human spirit, both male and female, when that spirit is young.

It’s really nice of you to be so worried about Jennifer,” he said, “and it it’s any help, I respect her too much to put her in the way of any danger, and I’d guess that it would be a very dangerous thing indeed for her to get pregnant if it meant putting a fine lady like yourself on the warpath!”

The old eyes opened and crinkled. “Well, lad, you’ve got some spirit and that’s a fact,” she said, “so you’re the young hunk who’s taken to our Jenny?”

Jennifer,” corrected Jennifer, standing up “I don’t like being called Jenny, granny, and you know that.”

It would be a very foolish young hunk if he didn’t take to her, she’s very beautiful indeed,” replied Darren, “especially her legs,” he added because he noticed that Granny Piper’s eyes had flickered towards the black minidress that covered very little of her granddaughter’s legs.

Violet was about to suggest that Jennifer was more than a pair of albeit attractive legs, when Eleanor laughed teasingly and nodded.

You’d have liked me back in the sixties,” she said, “and especially my legs! We knew what was what back then, and I dared say my best frocks were a bit shorter than the one young Jennifer thinks is dangerous now!”

Really? Granny!” grinned Jennifer.

The trouble with your generation is you think you invented legs, but you didn’t! And frilly knickers! You didn’t invent them either. But back when I was a young student at college we wore what we wanted to wear, and that was usually short as tuppence change from a shilling! And there you are! I bet you don’t know what a shilling was either!”

A pre-decimal coin worth twelve of the old pennies or five of the new ones,” said Darren immediately.

Well, he’s got the right head on anyway,” frowned Eleanor, “tell me, young man, have you got any plans for our Jennifer, then? I mean the sort of plans that need a church minister and a prayer book?”

Darren shook his head. “I can’t make plans until she and I have had words,” he said, “and at the moment we’re only getting to know each other. But if you want to know what’s inside my head, and my head alone, it’s I’d quite happily paint a picture of me as an old man, and she would be there in it with me, beautiful as ever.”

I must say I like your young man, Jennifer,” smiled Eleanor, turning to her granddaughter, “and I never thought I would when your mother said he was from a council house! And those shorts suit him, too.”

I love him,” murmured Jennifer, and because it was the very first time he’d suggested that she had such deep feelings for him, and with her parents and grandmother there, it made Darren’s heart lurch.

Goodness me, you are forward,” sighed Violet. She knew her daughter, all right, and she knew how forthright she could be. But to talk of love at only seventeen, well, she probably didn’t have nay idea what she was talking about.

That’s all well and good, but will you feel the same when you’re old and grey like me, and he’s got a pot belly?” asked her granny, “and just you think of how often the weather changes. Well, men are like that too. Windy one day, sunny the next and winter for a whole season. And women too, so I’m not being sexist or whatever the current term for it is.”

Darren is a warm and sunny day,” whispered Jennifer.

And he loves Jennifer,” added Darren.

And there, by a hospital bed, he took his girlfriend by one hand and drew her towards him, and kissed her, not too briefly but neither was it lingeringly, on her precious lips and let her hair, those lovely long tresses, slide through his fingers as he released her.

A nurse chose that moment to come in on her rounds and blushed when she saw what was going on next to a sick bed.

Hey! You’ll give the patient a heart attack, behaving like that,” she said with an understanding grin, and, turning to Jennifer, she added “and when you’ve cast him aside, let me know,” she said, “he’s just the sort for me!”

I’ll never, ever, cast you aside,” whispered Jennifer.

My Jennifer Juniper,” sighed Darren.

Careful, lad, or you’ll burst out of those shorts!” giggled Eleanor Piper, “and I remember it well, so very very well,” she added, “the heart-stopping, loving days....

© Peter Rogerson 21.05.21


© 2021 Peter Rogerson

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Added on May 21, 2021
Last Updated on May 21, 2021
Tags: hospital, loving, visit


Peter Rogerson
Peter Rogerson

Forest Town, Nottinghamshire, United Kingdom

I am 77 years old, but as a single dad with four children that I had sole responsibility for I found myself driving insanity away by writing. At first it was short stories (all lost now, unfortunately.. more..