Just over a week had passed since Sahira had been shot, and she was finally beginning to feel better, aside from being incredibly bored.
She had had plenty of visitors, but none of them could stay very long. They all had to get back to their work and she envied them greatly. She had only been off her feet for eight days and she was already desperate to get back inside an operating theatre, preferably as the surgeon this time rather than the patient.
To add to her gloominess, she hadn't seen her sons since the accident. They had stayed with their father all week because she had refused to let them see her. The last thing she wanted was for them to see her confined to a hospital bed, but at the same time she missed them like crazy.
Henrik had been in to see her every day, but since the shooting he had had extraordinary amounts of paperwork and filing to complete, detailing every single feature of the traumatic event. On top of that, he also had to keep up with his surgeries. He could never stay for more than about half an hour at a time. Half an hour a day was not nearly long enough.
Suddenly there was a knock at the door.
"Come in," she called, sitting up in her bed.
Much to her pleasure, it was Henrik who entered the room.
"Good afternoon, Miss Shah," he said, smiling fondly at her.
"Henrik, when can I go home?" she said exasperatedly.
"That is the very reason I came to see you," he said. "You can go home this evening."
"Thank God!" she said with relief. "How long before I can come back to work?" Since the day of the shooting, that had been one of the most pressing questions on her mind.
Henrik smiled sympathetically,
"It's going to be anywhere between four to six weeks, I'm afraid."
"Four to six weeks?" she echoed, her relief crumbling away to be replaced with complete dismay. "Can't I come back sooner and just work half days?" she said desperately.
"Perhaps," Henrik said, looking thoughtful. "How soon were you thinking?"
"Make it four weeks and I'll consider it."
"But - "
"Miss Shah," he said, cutting across her, suddenly looking more serious. "You know as well as I do that coming back to a high stress job so soon after major thoracic surgery is nothing short of suicide."
"There must be something - " she pressed.
"No," he said, more sharply this time. Sahira felt a little taken aback, her determination to get back to work had obviously bothered him.
"Miss Shah," he said, more composedly now, his face giving nothing away, "eight days ago, saving your life was... well, it was the hardest thing I have ever had to do. While you are my patient, you are my responsibility and I will not let any more harm come to you. If that means I have to keep you away from this hospital for a month, then so be it."
Sahira said nothing, she was touched by how much he cared for her, but was also exasperated by his stubbornness.
"I am doing this for your own good," he said, smiling, clearly noticing her frustration.
"I know," she sighed. "But four weeks is such a long time. I'm really going to miss..." She wasn't sure how to finish that sentence. She was going to miss everything about working in the hospital, but she was going to miss Henrik the most. Something stopped her admitting that though. Perhaps it was the awkward adolescent still within her. For a moment she felt like a teenager again, standing on her doorstep with a new boyfriend.
Pull yourself together, Sahira, she thought hastily.
"I'm really going to miss... this," she finished vaguely.
"I'm sure the time will fly by," he said encouragingly. "And you will get to spend plenty of time with your children."
"I love my children, Henrik," she said, "but I'm not in the best place right now to be confined to my house with two boisterous little boys jumping all over me."
"Perhaps not," he said.
It seemed to be a developing habit with them, as once again they lapsed in to a heavy silence, laden with unspoken thoughts and admissions. They simply gazed at each other.
Once again, they were interrupted by a knock on the door as a nurse walked in.
"Hi, Sahira," she said cheerfully. "I've brought all your valuables from the safe; I hear you're going home tonight."
"Yeah, thanks Claire," she said as the nurse sat a small plastic bag containing her jewellery beside her bed.
"Mr Hanssen." The nurse acknowledged him with a polite nod and left again.
"Well," Henrik said, "I will let you get organised. That is, if you are feeling ready to go home?"
For a moment she felt like saying she wasn't ready to go home, simply to win herself a few more days in the company of friends, but the desire to see her sons was too strong.
"Yeah, I'm fine," she said.
"Good. Well, I really must be getting on."
"See you later," she said and once again watched him leave the room with an unexpected pang of sadness.
She sat for a few moments longer on the bed, staring at the door like a love-struck puppy.
"For God's sake," she muttered aloud to herself. "Get yourself together. You're being ridiculous."
She hopped stiffly off the bed, picked up her bag and set to work collecting her belongings which had somehow become scattered across the entire room. She tipped the bag of jewellery on to the bed and picked out her earrings. After she had shoved her bracelet and watch in to her bag, all that was left on the bed was her wedding ring. She had been wearing it as usual even after she and her husband had separated, but now Henrik knew the truth, it seemed silly to continue with the charade. She turned the ring a few times in her hand, deliberating. Finally, she threw the ring in to her bag, deciding that now was as good a time as any to move on.
An hour later, Sahira had collected everything and was ready to go home to her boys.
Picking her bag up with her right arm, she headed out to the nurses' station. After a short chat and a few quick goodbyes, she collected her discharge letter and prescription and started down the corridor to the lift.
As she reached the lift, Henrik came around the corner and stood beside her in front of the lift door.
"Going down?" he asked, clicking the 'down' button.
"Of course," she said, smiling.
With a loud ping, the lift arrived and the doors slid open. Several nurses walked out chattering amongst themselves.
She and Henrik walked in to the now empty lift.
"What floor?" she asked.
"Ground, please, I'm going to the Emergency Department."
"What a coincidence," she said light-heartedly, "I'm going to the ground floor as well."
The lift seemed to be going slower than usual. They stood closely side by side, neither saying anything, both watching the little screen above the door.
Fourth Floor... Third Floor... Second Floor...
Four weeks, she thought to herself. Four long weeks without seeing Henrik, without doing surgeries together or bickering in the corridors.
As the screen switched to saying Second Floor, Sahira threw caution to the wind and turned to Henrik.
Stretching up on her tip-toes so that their faces were almost on a level, she did something that two weeks ago, she would never have expected to be doing.
She kissed him.
The doors slid open just as she moved away from him again and slipped out of the lift past a group of unsuspecting maintenance workers.
Looking a little dazed, Henrik called after her, still standing unmoving in the lift.
"What was that for?"
She turned back to look at him with an affectionate smile and said,