فصل 14

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فصل 14

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  • زمان مطالعه 6 دقیقه
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Chapter fourteen

The visit

Taka stood by the bed looking down at her lying there, her dark eyes very big in her brown face, her hands lying still on the white sheets. She suddenly looked very young to him, no longer the powerful woman who had made him so angry, but a frightened girl who had nearly died in the sea she loved.

‘I’m sorry I said that,’ he said. ‘I thought you were going to die. I was frightened.’

Joyce closed her eyes. Taka saw two tears run down her cheeks. Without thinking, he reached out and took her hand.

‘Joyce, you’re OK. You’re going to be fine.’

‘I’m sorry. I don’t know what the matter is. I’ve had dreams…’ Her voice was quiet.

‘I expect they’ve given you drugs. To stop the pain.’

‘Yes,’ she said.

‘That’s probably what’s doing it. But you should be all right now. Do you want me to call anyone?’

‘No. No-one.’ Joyce closed her eyes.

‘Are you tired? Do you want me to go?’ Taka asked.

She was still for a minute, then she shook her head. ‘No,’ she said softly. ‘Stay here for a bit.’

For a long time Taka sat by the bed, holding her hand. He wasn’t sure if she was awake or asleep. Then she said softly, still with her eyes closed. ‘Taka… what happened?’

‘It was a stonefish,’ he said.

He felt her hand hold his tighter. Then she opened her eyes and looked at him. ‘I would have died, wouldn’t I? If you hadn’t been there.’

‘You could have done.’ He remembered the feel of her body, shivering with pain and cold, as he’d carried her out of the dark water.

She was quiet for a moment. She moved her leg under the covers, carefully.

‘Does it still hurt?’ he asked.

‘Yes, but it’s much better than it was. How long do you think I’ll have to stay here?’

‘Not long. I expect you’ll be swimming again in a week,’ he said, trying to be cheerful.

She bit her lip. Suddenly she looked tired.

‘I’d better go,’ said Taka. She nodded her head and he let go of her hand. He didn’t want to leave her.

‘I’ll come back this evening if you want,’ he offered.

She smiled and said, ‘Yes, I’d like that.’

Taka left the room and Joyce lay there on her own again. She thought about her dream. The memory of that day in Zambia had been hidden very deep in her mind. It had needed the pain and the drugs to bring it back. Now she lay and thought about it all, the people who had been part of her life there, and what they had meant to her.

Taka left the hospital and came out into the hot air. He went back to the research building and sat in front of his computer for a few minutes. But he couldn’t work. He typed Joyce’s name into the computer and called up the recording of her presentation. He replayed the last few minutes when the lights came up and Joyce’s face filled the screen. He looked at her dark head and long neck, the high cheekbones, the shy, crooked smile she gave as her talk ended. Then, not knowing quite why he did it, he copied the recording onto the video-disk he wore round his neck.

He stood up and moved around the room restlessly. Just then the video-disk round his neck beeped. A call. A white haired Japanese woman was standing in a garden. She spoke to him in Japanese. ‘Taka. You’re looking very well,’ she said.

‘Grandmother!’

‘But your hair needs cutting! You’re just like your grandfather. Never time for a haircut. Hair falling into your eyes.’

Taka laughed. His grandmother and he had always been very close. Taka was her first grandchild and the only boy.

‘I’ve been busy! We’ve just had the opening ceremony for the Centre,’ he explained.

‘Do you realise how long it is since you visited me? I think it’s time you came. Take the weekend off. You work too hard! I’ll see you on Saturday.’ And his disk went dark again as she finished speaking.

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