Laura’s friend who lived above her, cleaned premises for a living.
A tale came my way: Laura was cleaning offices at a quarter to nine in the morning. Her reward? A bottle of wine.
‘What are you playing at?’ I demanded. A career woman cleaning other peoples dirt for alcohol.
Laura denied the casual labour. She said the tale teller was mistaken. Years later she confessed it was true.
Now officially on the sick, Laura was not capable of nursing. Weeks became months and still she had not returned to work.
There was to be a meeting with her employer. Laura attended this meeting accompanied by her friend. A discussion concerning Laura’s long-term absence from nursing.
It was decided Laura would take a sabbatical: a year off work without pay. She was given time to think about it.
I attended the next meeting with her employer, so did a union representative. It seemed that Laura had no choice, take the leave or be sacked. I sat in that room, Laura by my side opposite a man and two women I had not met before. It was agreed, Laura would take a year out
I could not contain my composure. A tear tumbled onto my cheek, like the toddler my daughter used to be. My tears began to flow. I could see the sorrow on the faces of people I did not know.
We left the room. Laura went to her ward to collect her pay slip. Opened the envelope straight way. Her eyes scanned the paper whilst her mind raced to the off-licence.
She turned and looked at me. ‘What are you crying for?’ Was all she had to say.