Bella had a mentor to ease her back to work. After two weeks she was back on the wards, carrying out nursing duties.
She was back in action, proud of herself, we were too.
She drove her car to and from work – up and down the high street – got herself out and about.
Saturday afternoon, husband watching a football match on television, before he returned to work. Bella telephoned, said she would call to see us.
Bella got out of her car, clutching a bottle of coke, had unscrewed the lid, placed her lips around the mouth of the bottle, and was gulping down the liquid, when I opened the door. The expression on her face – not good.
‘What’s up now?’ I asked.
She stepped into the hall. ‘I’ve been drinking,’ she said.
I knew she was not referring to the coke, I moved backwards, sat down on the bottom stair, steadied my shaking legs. ‘Oh, Bella, no.’
‘I feel physically sick,’ I said. Held my hand out, for her to witness the tremor, for her to witness what she was doing to me.
‘I know, I feel sick too.’ She squeezed past me, sat on the stair, higher than mine. Had got her secret of her chest, forced it on me.
Husband still watching football, unaware of the tragedy unfolding.
‘It’s terrible, isn’t it?’ she said. She showed not one jot of remorse. As though I told her something, that I had done wrong, and we were commiserating. I turned to look at her, to look at what planet she was on.
‘Go and tell dad,’ I said.
She walked into the living room. ‘Dad, I’ve been drinking.’ His eyes stayed on the ball.
‘Just go,’ he said. ‘I’m not interested.’