The days that followed Bill waking up were interesting. For reasons involving drugs and probing, Bill was very, very moody. His short fuse only made worse by the fact that recovery was a tiring and mainly boring process. He had smoke still sculling around in his lungs but through this near-death experience Bill had a new fire in his eyes that meant all he wanted to do was get out in the world, to see things and feel things and create memories. The first memory he wanted to recreate was a decent cup of tea, something that clearly wasn’t a strong point of the talented NHS staff. Saving a life is a daily routine, but they’ve unfortunately not managed to master putting a tea bag in a cup before the milk, not after, he thought. Nice to see Bill was excellent in his new found perspective.
Visitation times in the hospital were between 1.30pm and 7.30pm each day, which meant that anything after this period seemed ample time for Alex to get time alone with Sarah. Now that Bill hadn’t, well, died, it seemed like the next thing on the agenda could be their previous attempt at a romance of sorts. This was what Alex thought at least, and it was to his dismay that it wasn’t at the top of Sarah’s wish list right now. The thought of “but your brother survived a giant house fire so maybe we should see this as a chance to live life to the full!” stayed as just that – a thought – and even though that’s how Alex felt, it’s probably one of the least romantic and poorly constructed forms of emotional blackmail of modern times. One of the best pieces of advice never given was choose your times of emotional game playing wisely. That approach was rightly left in a box at the back of Alex’s mind.
Since the fire at the house, Alex had spent his days living with his parents. He had been given a generous amount of leave from his boss at work – “feel free to take as much time as you need, although having you back a week Friday would be suitably ideal..” – but it was the mammoth task of completing admin and phone calls coupled with realising the next two things that made things very hard work:
1 – The financial term ‘life savings’ is one that doesn’t stretch across the whole of your life if you do indeed need them for something as important as buying your entire life again.
2 – Losing everything is really, really crap.
Alex’s day was just the above two thoughts over and over again every time he turned on his parents TV, every time he looked at his phone and every time he opened his eyes. One day the commercial for Jurassic World flashed up on tele. After his interest had peaked, he realised that there was literally no point in buying it because he didn’t technically own a TV, DVD player or anywhere to really watch it. This, Alex thought, must be what it’s like to have been a young adult during times of hardship and war. What, with no technology or options but with the ‘house has been on fire’ situation included there for equal measure. Being an orphan to a private disaster was clearly taking its toll on Alex, and even he wasn’t sure how long it would take for things to even hint at normality. This situation was Alex at peak amateur dramatics. No girlfriend, no house and no real prospects, things were really looking grim for Alex. Things could only get better, surely? And then the phone rang. The caller was Sarah.
“Hi Alex, have you got a minute?”
Great: ominous and polite. That’s usually a cocktail for dropping a massive bombshell.