The next day went better for Cathy than the previous. Word about her episode hadn't been passed on to Fred, so Violet was oblivious to any upsets that had happened. A slight worry before she got to work, once it was clear that she wouldn't have to explain anything, her day went on quite normally. Brassieres were fitted, ribbons were sold, yarn was selected. It was your average day. When things slowed around four in the afternoon, Violet let her leave for the day.
A leisurely walk home occurred. The day was bright and warm. Others would find the heat unbearable, but it was always mild compared to weather in the United States. Summers there were what Cathy considered unbearable; Britain's weather was a cake walk in comparison.
Once she arrived home, Cathy slipped her shoes off and went into the living room. Roger was scheduled to be at an audition in Richmond, over an hour away by bus. He had left early that morning, and Cathy wasn't sure when to expect him home. There was much to do, so she set out to getting them going. Dinner needed to be started, and there was a load of laundry to do. Luckily, dinner had already been slightly started. As Cathy had risen early when Roger left, she prepared the evening's meal – a meat loaf – and popped it in the refrigerator. All that needed to be done was warm the oven and cook it. The laundry was made much easier with the machine they had. The bathroom was too small, so it sat in the lounge.
With the oven heating, Cathy went upstairs to retrieve the dirty clothes for washing. She employed a wicker basket with a lid to house them. The light brown basket stood out from the blue hues of the bathroom walls and furnishings, but it certainly served its purpose in Cathy's constant quest in managing clutter. She kept a laundry bag in the basket, which helped in gathering the clothes and bringing them down to the machine.
Cathy retrieved the laundry bag, then went into the master bedroom to make sure there wasn't anything else that was missing. At one time, Roger was miserable about putting his clothes in their proper place when he was done wearing them. While he had gotten better about it, sometimes he forgot. It was a good thing she checked, as Cathy found a single sock on his side of the bed. Where it had come from, she didn't know. It would be washed with the rest of the things, despite the whereabouts of the sock's match being unknown.
Back downstairs, Cathy went to the lounge to get the laundry going. She remembered a time where all her clothes had to be hand-washed, which had always been a pain. All she had to do was put the clothes in, add the soap, set the timer, and the rest was done for her. A time saver, she thought herself to be such a modern woman.
As Cathy left the lounge, wondering what needed doing next, there was a knock at the door. She wasn't expecting anyone, nor did they receive many visitors, so Cathy was intrigued. She went down the hallway to the door. Opening it just a crack, she was face-to-face with the blond nurse from the day before.
"Good afternoon, Mrs. Cook."
"I wanted to drop in today to see how you're doing. You were dreadfully upset when you left clinic yesterday, and we were worried."
Cathy was equal parts touched and irritated by this gesture. What irritated her wasn't the presence. It was that she had had such a good day, able to put the previous day's events behind her to power on. Trixie was a reminder of the bad day that happened. It wasn't lost on Cathy that this was an incredibly kind thing of the nurse to do. If she didn't care, she wouldn't have been there. It spoke volumes, and it is what drove Cathy to say, "Come in." She opened the door all the way so Trixie could enter.
Trixie was used to working in all kinds of accommodations in Poplar. The Cook residence was striking for how spotless it seemed, and she had only just walked into an entrance hall! She followed Cathy into the living room, which was just as clean as the hallway. One thing was certain – if this level of cleanliness was normal, the house would easily past the home inspection prior to delivery.
"Would you like some tea?"
Trixie smiled. "I would love some."
Cathy nodded and went off to the kitchen, leaving Trixie alone in the living room. She unfastened her cape from around her neck and removed it. This visit with Cathy came at the end of her rounds, and for a good reason. Trixie was going to get to know this elusive patient. "Your house is just gorgeous, Mrs. Cook," she called out.
"Thank you, Nurse. I'll just be a few minutes with the tea. Make yourself at home!" Cathy responded from in the kitchen, where she was making preparations. With the water for the tea in the kettle, she realized the oven was ready for the meatloaf. Cathy removed it from the refrigerator, placed it on a pan, and popped it in the oven. She washed her hands, then set about getting a tray together with all the classic tea add-ins – milk, honey, lemon, and sugar. Two of Cathy's finest tea cups were selected from the cabinet and placed on saucers on the tray. When the kettle began to boil, she poured the hot water into the tea pot. Tea leaves were added to the infuser so it could begin to steep. Cathy picked the tray up and brought it into the living room.
"You didn't have to go to such trouble," Trixie fretted when she saw the tray.
"Well, it's important to be hospitable, Nurse. Roger's mother taught me that. She said, if I was going to be living in this country, then it was important to know how to host anyone at any time."
"A smart woman indeed."
Cathy and Trixie set about putting their add-ins in the tea cup, as was customary in Britain. In Cathy's, she placed milk and a cube of sugar in the bottom. Trixie opted for milk and honey. As hostess, Cathy poured the tea.
"Thank you," Trixie said to her before picking the cup up and taking a sip. It was hot, but it was delicious. "You make a divine cup of tea."
"Roger's mother would have been pleased to hear you say that. Or to hear anyone say that, really. I don't entertain very often, you see, so I don't have many chances to showcase these skills."
"You were close to her?"
"Oh, yes. Very close," Cathy said. "I met her when she visited Roger in New York, and I knew I was going to have to prove myself. Roger's an only child, so marrying her son was quite a feat. On that trip, we spent ample time together since I was out of work then. We grew close, and I was the one who demanded that she come back to the States for the wedding. She wasn't going to; it's quite a journey. But I insisted that she be at the most important day of our lives."
"What made you decide to move back here?"
"It was a simple choice. When word came that she had cancer, we began to make plans right away to move. Roger was making quite a name for himself in New York, too. If we had stayed, who knows what might have happened. But I would have felt awful knowing that his mother was sick and alone. We made the right decision, I believe."
Trixie nodded. She couldn't imagine up-heaving her entire life in order to move to another country. Then again, she had never been married, so she had never had to make such a big decision. "I know that you work at the haberdashery for Fred's wife. What does Mr. Cook do?"
"Roger's an actor," Cathy said with a smile. "He's never been in television or in a picture. Just a stage actor. We met in New York, actually. I worked in the costume department when he was in a production of The Taming of The Shrew. I was his dresser."
"Dresser?" Trixie wasn't familiar with theater terminology.
"It means that I helped actors get dressed... Have you ever been to a theater?" Cathy had hesitated to ask this, as it could have come off in the wrong way.
Cathy was almost relieved that Trixie didn't take offense to her asking. "Some people haven't, and it's much easier to explain to someone who has. When actors go off stage and then reappear moments later in a different costume, a dresser helps with that. Those are called quick changes. We're very up close and personal with actors, as I'm sure you can imagine. But I always enjoyed the work." Cathy took a sip of her tea. "I imagine that you didn't come out here to talk, Nurse."
"Actually, I did," Trixie said. "You weren't in the best shape when I last saw you, now were you? I needed – and wanted – to come and make sure you were okay."
Cathy took a breath. "I am now."
She cast her eyes away from Trixie. "I was before I went to the clinic, and then... I wasn't."
"Why is that, Cathy? What triggered that upset?"
Cathy closed her eyes. "It's very complicated, Nurse."
"Time is of no matter here. You are my last stop. I'm not on call, so I have all evening if that's how long you need me for."
"It's not easy for me to trust people."
"I'm a nurse. You can trust me."
Cathy looked at her. "Titles don't matter much to me, Nurse. It's intentions that matter. And I know you might not intend to hurt me, but how do I know that for certain?"
"Did someone hurt you, Cathy?" Trixie asked gently. If their conversation was any indicator, she didn't think it was at the hands of Roger. So who had damage this girl so?
Reluctantly, Cathy nodded.
"All sorts of people," she whispered. "My father left my mother when I was 10. I never saw him again. It was just the two of us, and money was very tight. After a year and a half, in order to survive, my mother took to the streets at night for her work. She met a man who said all the right things and was kind to her. She would do anything for him... Anything.
"I didn't know what a pimp was, but that was what this man was. And he didn't just want my mother to work for him. People would pay top dollar to have their way with a young girl, he told her. Didn't she want the money? Didn't she want to make him happy? My mother said yes, and that sealed my fate. I still remember the first time, when I was twelve... I'll never forget that night."
Trixie had no idea how to respond to this. The story of Cathy's early life tugged at the strings of her heart, and she wanted so badly to give her a hug. Never had she expected to hear of something like this. "Cathy... I'm so sorry."
"It wasn't your fault. You didn't sell me out for a man." Tears spilled over from her eyes, but she did her best to blink them away.
"How long were you... made to do that?"
"Three years. When I was fifteen, the brothel we lived in was raided by the police. There had been an undercover operation, and they found out about me. My mother and that man went to prison, and I was sent to a home for young former... Former prostitutes. All of the girls there had entered into it of their own volition. Getting away from abusive situations or something like that. They were all itching to get back to turning tricks. I wasn't. I didn't want to go back to it. All I ever wanted was to be left alone... I don't like to think of myself as that kind of person, Nurse."
"And you absolutely should not," Trixie immediately said. "You did not choose that for yourself. If I may be frank, Cathy, your mother has gotten what she deserves."
"I agree," she said. "I don't think it right of me to feel that way. She is my mother, after all. But what kind of mother does that?"
Trixie had no response for this. It was a question that was currently plaguing her, too.
"So, you see, the fact that you're a nurse or Doctor Turner is a doctor means very little to me. I was hurt and used by so many people. It takes me a long time to trust anyone." Cathy shook her head. "The fact that I even told you any of this speaks volumes, really. But... The exam. The prospect of a stranger touching me again through me into a tizzy."
As a nurse, there was something Trixie needed to ask. "Have you had any medical examinations at all since those days?"
"Once," Cathy said. "Right after the police came. They took me to a hospital, and a man I'd never known before did it. When I fought back, he called me combative and had me held down so he could do what needed to be done. He was surprised that I was disease-free. If I'm honest, so was I. But after that, I don't go to doctors."
"After an experience like that, it's no wonder you're so shaken by exams, Cathy. No wonder at all."
"I feel ashamed over my reaction yesterday. I really do. It's embarrassing to be so scared. I'm sure no other patients made such a big fuss over things."
"None of them have been through what you've been through, Cathy. It's perfectly understandable. Now that you've felt comfortable enough to tell me, I'm going to work my hardest to help you feel at ease around all of us. Doctor Turner, the other nurses, and me. When I return to Nonnatus House, I'm going to see about scheduling you for weekly home visits until you're ready to come back to clinic."
Cathy shook her head. "I don't want special treatment, Nurse."
"I saw in your file that you're a citizen of this country. You're entitled to things under the National Health, including home visits. I would do the same for any patient who felt this way."
It was the truth. Trixie was a woman who was dedicated to her career. She felt compelled to make a difference in Cathy Cook's life. Though she didn't understand why at the time, Trixie settled for knowing that it was the right thing to do.
A/N: I'm glad I have a few chapters stockpiled for this story. As an American, the Election and aftermath is just crazy, and I don't have muse to get any writing done. Hopefully I get out of this funk to continue on soon!
If you like the new chapter, please let me know in a review!