Diary of a Long haul Stewardess
I stared at Ed. I couldn’t take in what Mia was saying to me. Ed was looking at me questioningly.
‘Is he alright?' I shouted down the phone. ' Where is he?’ There was no reply. I repeated my questions. Louder. I looked at the phone. The signal had gone.
‘Suz? What is it?’ Ed asked concerned.
‘It’s…it’s my dad. He’s had a heart attack.’
My phone rang again. I could feel the tears welling up in my eyes. I stood still, the phone continuing to ring.
‘Suz. The phone?’ I didn’t move. It hung in my hand getting quite a few bars through its Coldplay, Charlie Brown ringtone. Ed took it from me and answered.
‘Hello, yes this is Suzi’s phone. I’m Ed, her friend. How is her father? Where is he?... Yes. Okay… I’ll bring her down straight away.’
He ended the call and picked up my suitcase.
‘Suzi. Come on,’ he said firmly. ‘Your father is in a hospital near Chichester. I’m going to drive you down there now. He’s going to be alright.’
I continued to stare at him. My mind had gone blank. I couldn’t think what to do. Me - who believes she is so cocksure of everything. Well, not the men in my life but general day to day stuff I can cope with. Remember? I had that ‘dead’ passenger on my first flight. ‘No it’s okay,’ I muttered and, after what seemed like the flicking of a switch, I regained the use of my brain. ‘You don’t need to bother. I’ll be alright.’
‘Like bloody hell you will,’ he replied taking my arm and leading me along the road to the crew car park. ‘You’re in shock. Look at the state of you. You’re in no fit state to drive anywhere. We’ll leave your car here:it’ll be safe enough. I can drive you there. Suz?’ He stopped walking and looked at me. ‘When did you last sleep?’
Thoughts came tumbling back into my head. ‘Hmmm… not sure. Yesterday I think… in Mumbai.’ Hmmm...Maybe not all my thoughts. My brain seemed to be clogged with something thick and sticky. I couldn’t rationalise. One thought kept coming back. My dad had had a heart attack. MY dad. ‘Do you think he’s going to be okay?’
Ed put down my suitcase and came over to me. He put his arms around me and drew me close, encircling me. I could smell his deodorant. It was a mixture of Lynx and his own brand of ‘eau de Ed.’ Deliciously sweet, warm and comforting. Or maybe that was just how it felt to be in his arms at such a moment.
‘Mia said that it happened whilst he was feeding the animals and he managed to phone for the ambulance. They’re doing tests and they won’t know how he is until after the results of those. Best if we get you there as quickly as possible, then you can find out more.’ He gently released me and, taking my hand in his as though I was a child, picked up the handle of my case so that he could wheel it along behind us. We reached Ed’s blue car which was parked in a convenient space near to the exit. He opened the boot and swung my luggage inside. I climbed into the leather passenger seat after clearing some newspapers and a tube of mints out of my way by leaning over and placing them on the seats behind.
‘Sorry, about that,’ Ed said getting into the driver’s seat. ‘I wasn’t expecting to have a passenger. Now, I know how to get to Chichester but I’m not sure exactly where the hospital is.’
I nodded. ‘I wonder if dad had finished feeding all the animals before he collapsed?’ I mused aloud. OHMYGOD! What kind of heartless daughter was I?How can I be thinking of the animals at a time like this? I should only be thinking of dad!
‘What kind of animals does he have?’ Ed asked as he started the engine and drove out of the car park and onto the airport perimeter road.
‘Oh, just a few livestock. Nothing too large, but they do take a bit of looking after. He lives on his own. I’m not sure what’s going to happen to them now he’s in hospital.’
I stared out of the window. Actually it helped to take my mind off whether dad was going to die if I thought about something else. Ed seemed to realise this and carried on the conversation.
‘Does your dad live far from Chichester?’
‘No, only about twenty minutes the other side.’
‘Why don’t I drop you at the hospital then? You give me his address and I could go and check on the animals whilst you see how he’s doing? At least I could do something useful whilst you’re busy.’
I smiled at him as he sneaked me a quick reassuring glance taking his eyes momentarily from the road ahead. He placed his left hand over mine briefly and gave it a quick squeeze.
‘It’ll all be alright. Trust me. It’ll take us an hour or so to get there depending on the traffic. Why don’t you try and get your head down. You look exhausted. You must be jet lagged.’
‘Is that your way of saying I look rough?’
'In the nicest possible way, of course,’ he smiled.
I continued to stare out of the window watching the houses pass by. There was no way I’d be able to sleep. But I took off my jacket and folded it into a make-shift pillow, placing it against the window. Dad was only sixty five. Far too young to have a heart attack. Far too young to die. I rested my head on my jacket. I mustn’t think like that. Positive thoughts only. I looked out of the window fixing my gaze until the houses blurred into one long picture. The warmth from the heated front seat started to seep into my lower back and I could hear Ed quietly whistling my ring tone under his breath.
The next thing I knew Ed was gently shaking my arm and calling my name.
‘Suzi, wake up we’re at the hospital.’
I sat upright and looked out at the sombre brick building in front of us. A few lights were shinning through, but the windows were mainly blackened out.
‘I thought you didn’t know where it was?’ I questioned.
‘Your sister told me the name on the phone and well…’ he looked sheepish. ‘It wasn’t that difficult to find once we got nearby.’
‘Of course,’ I ran my fingers through my hair and pulled down the sun visor to look in the mirror to check for any unsightly dribbles or bogies that might have sneaked out whilst I was asleep. Just a few crease marks from my jacket were etched into my cheek. I rubbed vigorously to restore smooth skin. ‘I was forgetting you are a pilot. If you can navigate your way onto the runway at Hong Kong, finding a district hospital must be a breeze.’
Ed smiled and turned reaching across me into the glove compartment as he did so.
‘Now, what’s your dad’s address?’ He picked up a sat nav and plugged it into the cigarette lighter socket. The penny clicked. ‘You bloody cheat!’ I accused. ‘You didn’t find the hospital just by being clever. You used that didn’t you?’
Ed laughed and started pressing buttons on the machine. ‘Had you going though didn’t I? You thought I did it using my brilliant navigational skills?’ He looked out at the sky. 'Oh, yes. The moon is just rising so it must be second star to the right and straight on 'til morning.'
I playfully hit him on the thigh and reeled off my dad’s address while he tapped it into the sat nav. ‘You must make sure you shut the gate when you arrive.’ I ordered. ‘Otherwise Mabel will escape and... watch out for Gruff. He’s friendly but you have to be strict with him and show him who’s boss. All the animal feed will be in the store room off the kitchen but make sure Jemima and Puddle don’t get in because they’ll eat everything.'
Ed looked at me. ‘That’s fine. It’s only a few animals Suzi. I’m sure I can cope. Oh, and if we’re playing at who’s boss, have you got enough sterling, in case you need anything?’ I picked up my handbag and looked through my purse. I only had a few American dollars and some Indian rupees. Ed reached into his pocket and took a £50 note out of his wallet. ‘Take this.’ I shook my head. ‘It’s only a loan, not a gift.’ I started to gather my things and put my hand on the car door handle. ‘You’ve forgotten something though,’ Ed said staring patiently at me.
‘Thank you?’ I answered gingerly.
‘No, you twit. A key or something. How do I get into the house?’
‘Oh, that’s easy. Go round the side of the house until you get to Gruff’s pen. There’s a spare key just inside his shed on the right under a stone. Dad reckoned that a Gruff was the best protection against burglars.’
‘And Gruff is…?’
‘A goat of course. Don’t you know your fairy stories?’
‘Of course, silly me,’ Ed laughed. ‘Obviously! Who thought of these names? No, don’t answer that. That’s obvious too.’
I got out of the car and looked towards the entrance. Somewhere inside the building my dad could be dying. I took a deep breath and made to shut the door.
‘Suz.’ Ed leaned over the passenger seat and looked up at me. ‘It’ll all be alright. Ring me when you’ve finished and I’ll come and get you.’
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