The Wooden Heart – Episode 03

“Nothing broken, I think. And your dog came back to give himself up. He thinks it’s his fault.” It was a nice voice saying the words: quiet, educated and reassuring.

“I wasn’t looking,” Gabrielle mumbled, becoming conscious that she was hunched over her wrist, nursing it.

She tried to flex it and bit her lip rather than cry out at the pain.

He had noticed her wince.

“I think you’re OK,” he said quietly. “I have some paramedic training for our work out on the rigs. I can’t feel any broken bones, but you groaned when I was checking out the back of your hand. Can you move your fingers?”

“No,” she said, feeling nauseous.

“It’s an X-ray job, I’m afraid. There are so many small bones there.”

“Thank you,” she said, struggling to rise to her feet.

Gently, he pushed her back.

“Take your time,” he said. “Get up too soon and you’ll only fall again. I saw you tumble. I was walking behind you, but I was too far away to help.”

“Thank you,” Gabrielle said more firmly. “But I’m all right.”

As she struggled to rise, instinctively her left hand went down to give herself extra leverage. She cried out with the flash of pain.

“Don’t use it,” he said sharply. “Let me help you.”

Taking her good arm, he helped her struggle to her feet.

Her head was spinning and she groaned.

“Forgive me,” the man said. “I’m going to use this as a sling.”

Pulling the scarf from his neck, he eased it gently around her wrist and hand. Then he reached behind her head to knot it.

As he tightened the sling she felt the weight of her arm being taken up, and the pain receded to a dull ache.

There was a time for independence, but this wasn’t it.

“What do we do now?” she asked.

“Take your dog home, then drive to the hospital’s A and E,” he said.

“I can’t drive.” She winced. “Not with this.”

The man smiled.

“I can drive you there. My car is only a couple of streets away. I’ll take your dog and help you back to your place. What’s his name?”

“Franz,” she said.

“Fine,” he replied. “He seems to have taken to me.”

“We look after each other,” Gabrielle said. “Because we’re all we’ve got.”

“I know the feeling,” he said quietly. “Are you ready? Easy does it.”


The waiting room in A&E was seldom empty and today was no exception.

Gabrielle checked herself in with the receptionist and was sent to wait. There were two empty seats left in the row. The man hesitated, then sat down beside her.

It was embarrassing being thrown into the care of a stranger like this, but he had been quiet and gentle.

“You have been really helpful,” she said. “But this waiting could take hours.”

“They’re estimating two hours,” he replied, nodding towards the display board. “But you might be taken quicker for a possible bone break. In any case, I can’t leave you here. How would you ever drive home?”

She turned gingerly, and saw the quiet smile on his face and his eyes crinkling. It was a nice face, but lined. The same sort of sad lines she saw in the mirror each morning.

“I don’t know your name,” she said. “I’m Gabrielle.”

Abigail Phillips

Abbie is the newest member of the fiction team at the "Friend." She loves how varied the role is - every day is different and there is always a new story to read. She is keen to work closely with established writers and discover new writers, too.