An Alternative for the Cruel End of Episode 171
Tell me: how did you handle David's death?
I couldn't. For a long time I simply couldn't.
Fortunately I hadn't seen that episode, but my family told me. The particulars I didn't hear until years later, at the time when I first got to see this part of the series. It also was my first acquaintance with Magda, and she soon became my very favourite female character on the show. And one of the reasons for that was her obvious attraction to "my" David: a friendship, a relationship that hinted romance, but that was never elaborated properly.
So I wanted to know more. And that's why I started one of my dearest fanfics: "Magda's Diary", in which she describes her life in Coopers Crossing from a very personal point of view, both what happened in front of the camera and outside our view, all the way from her arrival till the day she left. (Ehm... that's what it's meant to do one day. There are still some parts missing.)
Magda's Diary - though very well received - is still far too precious to me to be published in the harsh spotlights of ffnet. If you're interested, you can find it on my homepage (see my profile). The funny thing was however, that after having written how Magda experienced David's demise, I felt an urge to write an alternative ending. A more happy ending. Starting a few hours after David has left - for the second time.
Only in this version, there was no patient down that gorge that needed his help.
And that's what has become the story of
What could (and should) have happened instead
From Magda's Diary:
(...) Oh David... I want, I need to talk to you. I want to help you, to be with you when you need me. Why won´t you let me?! Why can´t we at least give it a chance?! I love you, David. And I need you. It doesn´t have to be here. If you want to go somewhere else, I´ll come with you. If you can leave here just like that, then I can, too. And I won´t be sorry, for you are far more important than my work. Guy and I managed with only two doctors last week, so Geoff and Guy should be able to, too. But I want to be with you! I have to go to work now, but I´ll try and figure out a way to catch up with you. Somehow! Even if it means taking the car and following your tracks to the end of the earth!
"Knock knock." Magda popped her head into Geoff´s office.
Geoff looked up. "Hi."
"Have you got a minute?"
"Yeah, sure. Come on in."
Magda entered the room, closed the door behind her and took a seat, and Geoff put down his pencil. He was busy making a new schedule, she noticed. A schedule without David. Well, it looks like she came just in time, otherwise he´d had to do it a third time.
"What can I do for you?" he asked casually as he leaned back in his chair.
She took a deep breath. This was definitely not going to be popular... "I would like a week off. Starting tomorrow." Her voice doubted between trembling and determination.
Geoff sat up as if there were a spring inside him. "What?!"
But Magda looked him straight in the eye. "I mean it, Geoff. I understand that it´s very inconvenient for you and for the base, but I have to."
Geoff shook his head. "Look, I´m sorry, but you can´t just barge in here like that and demand a week off on such short notice. We´d be down to two doctors!"
"So?" Magda raised her eyebrows. "I admit that it´s not exactly an ideal situation, but Guy and I managed pretty well on our own last week. So did David and I last November. So it should be possible for you and Guy, too."
"That´s not the point!" Geoff started to get agitated. "The point is that things don´t work this way! How can we ever expect to give a reasonable level of service if everyone just takes off on a whim without giving some sort of notice in advance so that we´d be able to organize things?!"
Magda´s lips tightened. This was a direct attack on David... "I´m sorry. I have to," she said grim.
"And I´m sorry, too, but you can´t!" Geoff insisted.
A few seconds of tense silence followed. Then Magda started to get up. Very slowly and very determined. She leaned her fists on the desk, and said with calm resolution: "In that case, you can take this as my notice, Geoff: I quit, starting tomorrow. You´ll find my letter of resignation on your desk first thing tomorrow morning."
Geoff´s mouth fell open as she walked out of the room, with resolute steps and head high. What had gotten into this base?! Yesterday David, now Magda... This was ridiculous! Was Guy going to come in here tomorrow, telling him that he´d want to return to the city immediately? And what was Magda up to? What was going on here? It must be something major if she´d quit her job for it. After all: where could she go?
All that ran through his mind in just a few seconds. And then he jumped up and ran after her. "Magda!"
Clare jumped in her chair. And at the door Magda turned around. Her hand was resting on the doorhandle, and it stayed there. As if she was to leave any second now.
"Hey, can´t we at least talk about this?" Geoff asked when he came up to her.
She looked him in the eye. Earnestly. "I am quite determined, Geoff."
"Yes, I can see that." Geoff heaved a sigh. "But don´t you think you owe me at least an explanation of some sort?"
Magda bit her lip, and Geoff noticed how pale she got all of a sudden. Comforting he put his arm around her shoulders. "Come on," he said with friendly persuasion. "I´m not that much of a bogey that you can´t tell me what´s going on, am I?"
She didn´t answer, but let Geoff usher her back into the office. From the radioroom Clare sent them a wondering, enquiring glance. But Geoff shut the door and they sat down again in silence.
Geoff watched his colleague with puzzled concern. What was going on inside her? She just sat there, staring at her hands.
"Why don´t you start by telling me why you want time off so badly that you´re willing to quit your job for it," he said gently.
She looked up into his kind eyes, but lowered her glance immediately again. There was a long silence, but Geoff waited patiently for her to compose her mind. And in the end, she looked up, and asked toneless: "Geoff, if you were to choose between Kate and your job, what would have your priority?"
He looked at her. Wondering. "Well, Kate of course. But what does that have to do with..." He broke off his sentence in a sudden dawning apprehension. And surprise. "You mean... David?!"
She nodded silently. They lapsed into another silence while Geoff was digesting this new piece of information. He knew David and Magda had been mates, but never had he suspected it to be anything more than that...
"I didn´t know you two were..." he hesitated.
"We aren´t," was all Magda replied, making him wonder even more. But this time she continued without being prompted. "I have to find out, Geoff. I have to find out what´s going on."
He nodded with understanding. He had been just as surprised by David´s sudden decision to leave; it stood to reason that Magda, as his mate - or even something more than that - wanted to find out the motive for it even more than he did.
And Magda continued tormented: "I have loved him from the very first moment I set eyes on him. But I didn´t... I don´t know how he feels about me. Sometimes it seemed he did, sometimes it seemed I was just a friend. And I´m not that experienced in these things that I dared to confront him myself. It would be so much easier if he made the first move..."
A soft smile touched Geoff´s face. It sounded all too familiar... Hadn´t Kate and he been circling around each other for years in the same way?
Magda heaved a sigh. "I have to find out, Geoff. I have to find him. I have to know. I should have gone and talked with him last night, but I was angry with him. And this morning... I can´t live with this... this not-knowing. If I ever want to acquiesce in his leaving, I have to know. It won´t be easy, but if he doesn´t love me, I have to know for sure. And perhaps..." She fell silent.
´Perhaps there is still a chance that he does love her,´ Geoff completed in his thoughts. How obvious things became when you finally saw the missing link! He couldn´t understand that he hadn´t noticed before. Magda and David were always together; how come no one had ever thought anything about it? He knew that he himself wasn´t the quickest one in picking up these things, but not even Nancy - nor Kate for that matter - had ever mentioned these two as a possible item. The mysteries of mankind...
"It´s allright," he said softly, "I understand. You want to go after him."
Magda nodded. "The sooner, the better. The longer I wait, the harder it will be to trace him."
"Do you have any idea where he´s gone, now that he wants to explore his potential?"
She shook her head. "Not the slightest."
"Well, he was probably on his way to Broken Hill," he told her. "We dropped him off by his car this morning at Korinda Station; that is some 20 km west of the track to Broken Hill. So you could start your search in that direction."
Magda looked up, with big, inquiring eyes. "You mean...?"
He nodded with a smile. "You take your week off and go find him. We´ll manage."
A sad smile came over her face. "Thank you, Geoff." She was on the brink of tears, and quickly got up to leave.
"And Magda," he said quickly before she disappeared.
She turned back to him. Yes, tears were gathering in her eyes.
"If you don´t find him immediately... you can make it two weeks. Okay? Just let me know no later than Monday."
The gratefullness was in her eyes; she couldn´t say a word.
But Geoff understood. "Good luck," he wished her with an earnest smile.
And he was left pondering why on earth it was so incredibly difficult to tell the dearest person in the universe that you loved him. Or her. Somewhere along the evolutionary line of mankind, something must have gone wrong...
Magda nearly ran outside. Tears started trickling down her cheek, and impatiently she brushed them away. No need to cry now, was there? Or perhaps there was: of plain relief? Relief that Geoff had understood. Relief that she could go and search for David, and still keep her job. She paused for a moment and leaned onto the fence in front of the base. Yes, relief was what she felt. She hadn´t realized it thoroughly before, but now that she had been on the brink of quitting her job, all of a sudden she was aware of how much she enjoyed working here. The adventures, the clinics, the people, her colleagues... She was living here, and very much so. She had a job she loved, and even though it did require irregular shifts and long hours sometimes, she had managed to blend in a bit in the social circles of the town as well. Her colleagues - especially the ones she´d been working with from the beginning - had accepted her the way she was, and the people in town were on their way of doing the same. It would have been a shame to leave now, and have to start all over again...
She shook herself. Enough of that. There were other things at hand. For even though she was really beginning to feel at home here, the Crossing would never be the same without David. She had to get him back. Or at least find out where he was and why he had left in the first place.
She took a deep breath. Okay, now that her first mission was accomplished and she had gotten the week off, what was next? Yes, finding David... And if there was a pretty good chance that he had been on his way to Broken Hill yesterday, then that would be her first stop, too. If she could get there tonight, perhaps he would still be there. You never know!
She jumped up and hurried back inside to get the keys to one of the cars. Off to the airport!
"Jim," she said upon entering the office, "I have to get to Broken Hill as soon as possible. When is the first plane leaving?"
He eyed her quizzically. "Tomorrow at 8 a.m. What´s the rush?"
Magda´s face fell. A whole night to lose? She wouldn´t get to Broken Hill before midday tomorrow! "Isn´t there a quicker way?" she inquired obstinately.
"Nope. Unless you take the car and drive there. But to drive there at night... I would strongly advise against it if you´re not very well acquainted with the road."
She heaved a sigh. He was right of course. The track to Broken Hill wasn´t exactly a well-kept German Autobahn. And she had never driven that road past the Gonzalez property, which was no more than approximately 30 km south of the Crossing. It would be madness to drive the whole 300, 350 km by herself in the dark on a track she didn´t know. If she wouldn´t get lost in the first place, she´d arrive in Broken Hill completely dead beat. And besides, she couldn´t very well deprive the base of a car for a whole week, maybe even two, could she? Better get a good night´s sleep and take the plane tomorrow morning.
"Okay, then I´ll take the plane tomorrow," she sighed.
He got out his ticketbook. "When are you coming back?"
"Don´t know yet. I´ll get the returnticket later."
Jim nodded and started filling out a ticket for her. "You got any ID about you?"
Magda shook her head. "Just my driver´s licence, sorry. Shall I go and get my passport? It wouldn´t take more than ten minutes."
"No worries, your driver´s licence is fine. I know who you are. It´s just to help me spell your name; I´m not that good at German."
Five minutes later she got back in the car to drive home. With a one-way ticket to Broken Hill. And with a whole night ahead of her to worry and ponder and torture herself with self-reproach.
The packing for this trip into the unknown went swiftly, since she instantly resolved on leaving skirts and dresses at home in favour of wearing jeans that were easy to match with just about any shirt or blouse. She made herself a quick dinner, studied the map of Australia in the vain hope of finding some clue as to where David might have gone, and paced about the room in between hope and fear. What if she wouldn´t find him? In a country as big as this, it would be like looking for a needle in a haystack. He could be anywhere within thousands of square kilometers!
But she had to! She just had to find him! If only to get a proper explanation about his leaving! And perhaps... oh, who knows... please...! Perhaps, in some small corner of his heart...?
She found that she was far to restless to go to bed and have that good night´s sleep. Instead she kept pacing the room for half the night. Still with the same questions torturing her. What had gotten into him? Why hadn´t she gone and talked with him last night? Where could he have gone? Would she be able to trace him? Would there still be a chance that indeed he did love her as much as she loved him? But if he did... then why had he left?!