TIME TO HEAL
I don't own the rights; I just like to play with the characters.
Plot - A glimpse into the life of Dennis and Jenny Merton after they left Ashfordly, to seek medical help for Jenny's mental illness.
Dennis sat on a bench in the shady section of the hospital gardens, his head bowed in deep thought as he waited for the release of his wife after five months in treatment. He loved Jenny like no other woman before her; not that there been many women in his life. He certainly wouldn't call himself a ladies man, far from it, for his choice of career had been a demanding mistress and not many women were willing to become a policeman's wife. The long hours, the stress of being on call twenty-four hours a day, the worry over whether he would come home safe after a work shift or brought to the hospital wounded or worse, would put a strain on any relationship.
That pressure had already cost him one previous relationship, with a woman he once loved, a woman he wanted to marry. A woman, who after much consideration of his marriage proposal, decided she didn't want to become the wife of a policeman and they had gone their separate ways. It had hurt, for he had been young enough, perhaps naive enough to think that love was enough for a marriage but she had seen that it needed more than love, much more and it was something she didn't want, no matter how much she loved him.
It was what drove him into transferring from uniform policing to CID, in an effort to start his life over again.
It had taken him a long time to recover from the heartache, from the rejection, for him to trust women again and when he started dating Jenny, he realised just how lonely his life had become. His life was about work and nothing else, and he was in danger of being a workaholic, if he wasn't one already. But she changed all that. She was lively, beautiful, concerned about the patients she helped with their medicines, she could make him laugh and frustrated at the same time. She began to fill a large hole in his life that he hadn't acknowledged since his relationship with Marjorie had ended. It wasn't just a physically need, a sexual need for a woman's touch, which he certainly felt but it was also an emotional need. A need to connect with another person on every level.
He had, of course, been aware of her when he first arrived in Yorkshire but she was more in his peripheral awareness than his actual notice, especially considering that one, if not two of his men had taken an interest in her. However, it had been during his health scare with diabetes that he began to take more notice of her. And to his pleasant surprise, she had returned his interest. He knew he was falling in love with her but it was their age difference that held him back from fully committing to her, which he knew, frustrated her at times. He was sixteen, almost seventeen years older than her, with just as much life experience as to have with little in common with each other but she had surprised him by not caring too much about their age difference. And as to their lack of common interests, she teased him by saying that they would make their own interests.
He couldn't believe that such a beautiful young woman as Jenny Latimer, could love a middle-aged man like himself, let alone marry him but she had and he couldn't be happier.
At first, their marriage had been wonderful, full of passion and laughter, as they had set up house together, even their aborted honeymoon due to her contracting hepatitis, had brought them closer together then ever before. But as time went on, things began to change between them. He knew now their expectations of marriage were different. He believed he could go on as he had before, except now he had someone to go home to, someone to cook his meals, someone to share his bed with. In some ways, he was still living a bachelor's life with extra benefits and not adjusting to married life, to having a partner in all things. It was no wonder why Jenny started to feel neglected.
Then as her behaviour became more irrational, more worrisome, he made the toughest decision of his life. To put his wife first before his career. However, once he made that decision he knew it was the right one, both in terms of keeping his marriage together but more importantly, it was for his Jenny. She needed help; help that he couldn't give her. All he could give her was his complete support and that didn't come from working twelve, fourteen hours a day or longer.
In the end, it had been the only decision he could have made.
"Dennis." a soft voice came from beside him.
He raised his head and smiled warmly, "Jenny." he greeted her as he stood up, "You look wonderful." he added as he kissed the corner of her mouth.
She smiled, "I can't take the credit for that," she replied as she glanced back to the middle-aged doctor who escorted her out to her husband, "Doctor Lockwood and his staff have been wonderful over the last five months or so."
Doctor Lockwood smiled and shook his head, "You did all the hard work, Mrs Merton. We only guided you through your treatment and counselling."
Dennis held out his hand, "Thank you doctor, for all you have done."
"You're welcome," Lockwood replied as they shook hands, "Remember, Mrs Merton, you may have some set backs in the future but you mustn't see that as a failure. We are only just beginning to understand the mind and how important it is to treat mental illness just as we would any other illness or injury."
Jenny nodded, "I know, but..." she paused as she gazed at Dennis for support, "But there are many people don't see it like that."
Dennis squeezed her hand, "Aye that's true but the people who care for you the most, understand it for what it is, an illness that needs to be treated."
Jenny felt tears well in her eyes at his love and understanding. Even after all she had put him through, in the weeks leading up to her breakdown, he was still beside her, supporting her.
Doctor Lockwood smiled, pleased by the love between the couple; it made recovery easier when there was support at home. He wished more of his patients had it, "Although we've already arranged follow up meetings each week for the next two months, you're both welcome to come in any time if you need to talk or even just for a cup of tea and some gossip." he added with a smile.
Dennis smiled back as he nodded in gratitude, "Thank you again, doctor." he replied. Over the last couple of months, he had a number of private sessions with the doctor, for he needed counselling himself, to come to terms with his own emotions, as well as discussing the best way forward for the time when Jenny would be released from hospital.
The doctor nodded, "If you'll excuse me, I have some other patients to attend to. Goodbye Mrs Merton, Mr Merton."
Jenny smiled, "Goodbye doctor." she replied as they watched him walk away
Dennis turned to his wife, "Here, let me take your bag." he said as he reached for her suitcase, "Shall we go home." he added with a smile.
She smiled, "Yes, let's go home." she replied.
# # #
"I hope you like our new home," Dennis said nervously as he opened the front door of the two storey cottage before he stepped back to allow his wife to enter first. He had taken great care in choosing the right home for them, not to close to neighbours as to have their privacy invaded but close enough to shops and other amenities and he was anxious to please her.
"I'm sure I will." Jenny replied as she stopped inside a home that she hadn't seen before, as he had bought it while she was in hospital. As she glanced around the small foyer, she saw a staircase leading upstairs where she assumed the bedrooms were located before looking down the hallway, where she saw a number of doors leading further into the cottage.
He entered and closed the door behind him, "Upstairs is three bedrooms and a bathroom," he said as he placed her suitcase on the floor and guided her down the hallway, "Down here is the living and dining rooms, further down is the kitchen and off the kitchen is the laundry. There are also two smaller rooms, one of which I'm using as a study. We have a small garden out back, with enough space for a vegetable patch or flowers if you prefer."
She smiled, "Perhaps we can have both."
He grinned, "Aye, perhaps we can." he replied as they stepped into the living room.
"Oh this is lovely, Dennis, it really is." she said as she gazed around the comfortable looking room with it's large lounge and matching chairs with colourful cushions scattered on them. A television set was sitting in the corner, a sideboard with a vase of fresh flowers was against the far wall and a small bar with decanter and wine glasses was beside a bookshelf, which held their books as well as their wedding photos and other mementos.
"Do you like it? I mean you can change anything you want, anything," he said as he stood in the middle of the room, watching her for any signs of disliking their home, "I didn't know what you wanted. I mean, I knew what I like and what you like but finding something we both liked, was harder than I expected." He ran his fingers through his short hair, "I should have brought more of our furniture with us instead of selling it but -"
Jenny gently placed a finger against his lips, "Do you realise you're babbling." she teased him.
He had the good grace to look embarrassed, "Aye, I guess I am." he replied, "I just wanted everything to be perfect for you when you came home." he added as he placed his hands on her waist.
"And it is perfect," she said as she wrapped her arms around him, "I've missed you." she added as she hugged him tight but he felt stiff and uncomfortable, "You can hug me Dennis, I won't break you know." her voice quivered.
"Sorry," he replied somewhat guilty as he wrapped his arms around her, "I've missed you too."
For a several moments, they simply held each other, content to be in each other's arms for the first time in a long time.
She pulled back from his embrace and sat down on the lounge, "It's not going to be easy, I'm not completely healed of my...illness...of my...manic depression." she stammered over the words. It wasn't an easy thing to say, let alone admit to having, "Doctor Lockwood said I could have relapses, even with my medication."
He sat down beside her and gently brushed her hair off her face. He knew how hard it was for his wife to admit to her illness but he also knew it was a large step in the right direction, "And if you do, I'll be right there with you." he replied softly, his voice full of love and understanding.
She felt tears burn her eyes, "What you did Dennis, giving up the police and moving here -"
It was his turn to place a gentle finger to her lips, "I didn't give up anything that I couldn't live without. I can live without the police force but I simply couldn't live without you. It took me a long time to realise it but you are more important to me than the force could ever be," he paused for a moment then continued, "I may not have said it as often as I should but I love you Jen, never doubt that." he said before he kissed her. Just a soft caress, full of reassurance and love.
"I know," she replied, "I love you too." she replied as she settled against him, resting her head against his shoulder, revelling in the feel of him, of his warmth, something she hadn't felt for a long time. "I could stay like this for the rest of the day."
He planted a soft kiss to her hair, "I'm not going anywhere," he replied, "Although we may need to eat at some stage." he added in a teasing manner and to his delight, she chuckled softly.
"And not only to eat." she replied as she settled more comfortable against him, "So, what have you been doing these last several months." she asked curiously, "Besides sitting up our home, that is."
"I have a job, of sorts, not far from here," he replied, "It's only three, four days a week."
Jenny raised her head and looked at him, "That's great. What kind of job is it?"
Dennis hesitated for a second, "I hope you don't get angry but a month ago I caught up with some of my old colleagues from CID," he paused when he saw her frown but continued before she could say anything, "They have started a centre for youths and asked me to help out. It's mostly for runaway kids from abusive families, some have nowhere else to go, some have drug and alcohol problems. It's meant to be a place for these kids to go, a place where they can be safe, instead of wandering around the streets."
She frowned as she pulled back from their embrace, "But I thought you resigned from the service."
He nodded, being mindful of his next words, "I have. The centre is run by the council, not the police. There are some ex coppers helping out, along with professional workers to help the kids with their problems. The centre is needed for these kids, Jen."
She swallowed hard to fight down her growing anger, "You said it's only three or four days a week."
He took her hand in his, "Aye. Sometimes it's only half a day, depending on the number of people we can get to help," he paused and held her gaze, "Jen, I wouldn't do this if it wasn't needed. It's not just for these kids, it's for us too. My pension and savings are enough for us to live comfortably, even with this house but we need to plan for our future in case of any emergencies. I'm not of retirement age yet, so I still need to work and there isn't much for an ex copper to do, except to go into private detective work or security. Neither of which I want to do."
She nodded as she thought about his words, "I think the centre is a wonderful idea and the kids today do need a safe place to go," she said slowly, "And as much as I would like you to be here with me all day, I also know you need something to do. It's in your nature to help others, it's what makes you a good man. But Dennis, I don't want us to go back to the way we were, of you not being here, of me feeling like I did."
He squeezed her hand, "I don't want that either but I need to work several days a week."
She let a long breath, "All right, I can understand that," she paused as an idea come to her, "Perhaps I could help out there as well, one or two days a week."
"I don't think that would be a good idea." he said without thinking.
She frowned again, "Oh why not?" she replied as she felt the rage building inside her once more, "Surely one or two days won't matter. Or don't you want your wife working, even for the community."
He forced himself not to respond to her sudden anger, the doctor had warned him that there might be mood swings as they readjusted to each other after being apart for so long, "Of course not. I didn't mean it like that." he tried to sooth her.
"How else did you mean it." she fumed.
"I only meant that most of these kids have come from troubled backgrounds and I'm just concerned on how it might affect your own recovery." he replied, hoping not to make her anger any worse than it was.
She took a deep breath, then another and a third, just as nurses told her to do when faced with a surge of irrational anger, "I'm sorry, oh god I'm sorry. I didn't mean to get angry at you," she collapsed against his chest in disbelief, "I can't believe it, we've only been back together for an hour or so and I'm already yelling at you."
He planted a soft kiss to her hair, "It's all right, the doctors told us that this could happen," he said reassuringly, "Why don't we wait a month or so and if you still feel like helping out at the centre, then I would be pleased to introduce you to the people who run it."
"I think I would like that." she said before she let out a long sigh, "It's going to take time, isn't it Dennis, time to heal?"
"Aye it will but we'll see it through together," he replied as he held her tight against him, "That's my promise to you, Jen."
I hope you enjoyed this short story, to see what their life might have been like after they left. I felt they needed to have some good news, some hope in their lives and this is my way of giving them that. I may do a sequel to this story and possibly some others as well with Dennis and Jenny.
Of all the various sergeants and even all the constables that appeared in the series, I've always had a soft spot for Dennis Merton :)