Tuesday, December 7, 2010
Countdown to Christmas: Josephine Myles
Josephine Myles said: My favourite thing about the Christmas season is making everything from scratch. I usually make gifts for my family and closest friends – perhaps something knitted, crocheted or sewn – and I love adorning the house with handmade decorations. My mum used to get us to festoon the windows with cut paper snowflakes when I was a child, so this is something I still do every year. I also like to make at least one new ornament for the tree each year, which I decorate on the last weekend before Christmas. I have a Christmas craft box full of red and gold ribbons, thread and fripperies, and I'm really looking forward to digging it out again in December!
"Twinkle, Twinkle" – a short story by Josephine Myles. Part of the Dreamspinner Press Advent Calendar 2010, Naughty or Nice.
Recently moved back to his home town alone, Dr. Tom Berriman isn’t looking forward to Christmas. The only decorations he appreciates are the attractive pair of legs belonging to the electrician working on the emergency room ceiling. When the electrician comes crashing down and requires treatment for electric shock, Tom’s mortified to realize the legs belong to a guy he most definitely wasn’t friends with at school.
But newly hunky widower Vince seems willing to bury the hatchet—and Tom starts to think maybe the holiday won’t be so lonely after all!
After checking in on one of his earlier patients, the redoubtable Mrs. Brown, who today claimed to have swallowed half a bottle of Toilet Duck—last week it was allegedly Persil Color laundry liquid—Tom swung by the cubicle containing his unlucky electrician. He shooed out the nurse and took a closer look at the patient. Even unconscious he was an attractive man, with strong bone structure, full lips, and silvery stubble thick on his cheeks. Tom distracted himself by examining the paperwork. Pulse, blood pressure, heart rate, breathing: all stable. Burn to left hand, second degree: washed and dressed. Patient's name… no, surely not. But then again, he had that patch of white hair too.
A soft huff drew Tom's focus from the name spelled out in bold, black ink. He looked up to meet a pair of blinking, gray-blue eyes.
“Vincent Draper.” It should have been a question, followed by a brief rundown of his current condition. Instead, it came out as an awed whisper. Last time he'd seen Vincent, he'd been a ball of blubber squeezed into a school uniform. Plastic-rimmed glasses—the cheap, NHS issue ones—had obscured his eyes, and a melancholic aura had set him even further apart from the rest of the grammar school lads. They'd picked on him mercilessly. Called him VD and made filthy jibes about his mum. They'd shoved him around, safe in the knowledge that VD didn't have the guts to fight them off.
And then that last time… that last time things had gone too far.
Tom gulped, trying to ignore the hot shame that threatened to engulf him. It was just dilated capillaries. He could bend them to his will. He stared down at the clipboard, holding it in front of him like a shield.
“What happened?” the man croaked, seeming not to have heard Tom's whisper.
“You appear to have had an electric shock. You've sustained a second-degree burn to your hand, but otherwise everything seems fine. Any aches or pains?” Proud of the way his bedside manner had returned, Tom risked a brief glance up at Vincent, whose brows contracted quizzically.
“That‟s never—” Vincent's eyes dropped to Tom's badge, and it was too late to try and conceal it. “No way! Tom Berriman! What on earth are you doing back in this dump?”
Tom gestured down at his green scrubs, too stunned to come up with a better answer.
“Yeah, I heard you went off to medical school. Fair play to you, mate. You've done well for yourself.”
Vincent's smile seemed genuine, and Tom's shoulders started to relax.
“And what about you? I didn't recognize you at first.” Tom watched Vincent push himself up, wincing as he put the weight on his injured hand but managing to get to a sitting position with his legs dangling off the bed. Although he tried really bloody hard not to ogle him, Tom wasn't convinced he'd succeeded.