The incredible sequel to the Ski Slope Saga by Sharky Cast. Love this story!!!
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“A free holiday?” Annie asked “Are you sure that‘s what she said…?”
“Yes,” said Bobbi. “Her parents are away, and she’s got the house to herself, and what’s-his-name is away as well I think…”
“You mean Tom?!”
“Oh yes! So she’s invited us over for a bit!”
“How long for?”
“Well, several weeks, as I understand it. Apparently it’s her 21st sometime soon, and she’s got plans for some big party or something for it, once Tommy’s back.”
“Now now,” said Annie, “you know he doesn’t like being called that!” giving her friend a look.
“Ooops, ‘course. Mustn’t forget that…” said Bobbi, almost to herself.
They had been discussing the sudden invitation that had received from their friend Ros, who they had both met while on a rather disastrous skiing trip abroad over the winter holidays. They had become good friends, and had remained so once back home. They had visited each other at their respective universities briefly, but this was the first time they had been invited to Ros’s home. The idea was quite an exciting one – Ros had said her parents had a large house in the country, and the offer of a free holiday was not something to be ignored!
Currently Annie and Bobbi had continued staying in the flat they both shared, rather than go home for the holidays, as they expected they would be bored at home, but staying in their flat wasn’t providing them with much fun either. Getting away would be a very welcome chance, Annie mused. Studying during the past two terms had been rather awkward for both of them, since they had both come back from their skiing holiday in plaster.
Bobbi had spent most of the spring term on crutches, with her right leg in plaster after a nasty fall out on the slopes. She had become very proficient on her crutches, and also amassed a large collection of male fans, although Annie suspected this may have been due to the way the use of crutches caused Bobbi’s large and attractive breasts to bounce excessively…
Annie had come back to university with her left arm in a long arm cast, due to a broken wrist, forearm, and elbow. She had also had the misfortune to have broken all the toes on her left foot several times over the course of her holiday, resulting in her requiring a short leg cast, with her poor broken toes supported by a plaster toe-plate. She had thought she would only need to wear the leg cast for three weeks, until her toes had healed, but unfortunately for her this was not to be the case. Two days before the cast was due to be removed, she had been walking (limping) home after a lecture, with her toes freezing cold as the combination of cast, toeplate and castshoe made it awkward for her to wear a sock over her injured foot. Just as she started to cross a road near to her flat, a cyclist had come speeding form round a corner, and shot past her. As she had stepped out with her casted foot first, his rear wheel had run over all of her injured toes. Upon going to hospital, she had been told that most of the previous healing had been undone, the result being an extra four weeks in plaster while the bones in her battered toes mended.
The long arm cast had been even more trouble, as Annie was left handed, so taking notes from lectures became quite a problem. Luckily, it was a requirement that all her essays were typed anyway, which was easy enough for her to do one-handed. However, being unable to perform other basic tasks, like cutting bread for a sandwich even, had made life very awkward.
Just before the Easter holidays, Bobbi had her long, almost straight, leg cast replaced with a below knee cast with a rubber walking heel, making her much more mobile. With her return to mobility, however, Annie noticed Bobbi had once again returned to being her former clumsy self. She was often to be seen with her left foot in once of her preferred knee high black boots, her right trouser leg rolled up to accommodate her new short leg cast, limping about or staggering slightly off balance when she forget she was in plaster and unable to bend her right ankle. Annie made sure she kept her injured toes well out of Bobbi’s way; she easily picture Bobbi accidentally standing with her walking cast on Annie’s exposed toes, resting as they were on their toe-plate.
Fortunately, their luck had changed during the summer term, and both of them had their casts removed just prior to their exams. It had been nice to relax and do not at lot after their exams had been over, but that was weeks ago now, and boredom was beginning to set in. A chance to see Ros, who was always good company, would be fun, not to mention the attractions of a free holiday.
“When did she say we can go?” Annie asked Bobbi.
“Anytime!” answered Bobbi.
“Alright, what about…” began Annie, looking across at the calendar hanging on the wall.
“What about now…?!” cried Bobbi.
“Now..?!” queried Annie.
“Well, I mean this evening, after we’ve packed” said Bobbi. “I’m bored, let’s just go!”
“…” began Annie. Bobbi was so impulsive sometimes!
“What, not got any plans have you?” Bobbi inquired.
“No…” Annie admitted.
“Well then, let’s go!” yelled Bobbi, leaping up and heading purposefully towards her room. “Get packing…and for God’s sake put some summer shoes on girl!” she yelled over her shoulder.
Annie walked more sedately to her own room. Sitting down on the bed, she tugged off the white sports socks she had been wearing, and stared glumly down at her feet. She placed her right foot flat on the floor first, and spread her toes. Her cute size 6 foot was pale after spending all summer covered up, but other than that it was very attractive. Her toes her short but cute, and very pleasing to look at, she thought. She wiggled them slightly.
Then she looked across at her left foot. It seemed slightly thinner in comparison, the muscles still not fully recovered from weeks in a cast, but otherwise it was fine. It was her toes she was concerned with. They had all sustained multiple breaks over the winter, and looked very much the worse for wear. Her second and fourth toes were the worst, with definite permanent zig-zag shape to them now. The tip of her middle toe seemed to bend upwards now, very noticeably (she thought), and her pinkie toe had never quite pointed in the same direction as the other since it had been dislocated. Even her big toe had a slight bend in it. She pulled the sock back over her left foot disgustedly. Grr, she hated those toes now. She hap kept them covered up in public since the cast had been removed. Even once she had got back together with her ex-boyfriend Darren, she had found she had wanted to keep those toes covered, even in bed. How could Bobbi expect her to wear sandals…? Bobbi had broken some toes herself over the winter, Annie remembered, but Bobbi’s had been minor breaks, and had healed without any problems, not even requiring a toeplate on her cast.
Annie’s bedroom door flew open, and Bobbi appeared, holding an armful of crumpled clothes, startling Annie out of thoughts about her toes.
“Message from Ros” Bobbi said excitedly, brandishing her mobile ‘phone. “She says the party is on, bring smart evening wear, it‘s going to be a big do! We can invite friends too!”
Bobbi’s head and disappeared from round the door as quickly as it had appeared, after casting an inquisitive glance at Annie’s one bare / one sock covered feet. Great, thought Annie. Just great. She yanked the white sock off her left foot ,and threw it into her laundry basket. She only owned one pair of formal evening shoes, rather tight and stiff due to infrequent use, and worse of all, open toed…!
Annie selected one of the heavy suitcases she had brought to university and began carefully packing clothes into it. She wondered what Ros’s house would be like. Ros had never really said much about it, other than it was ‘in the countryside’ and ‘quite large’. It sounded like it could be a nice holiday! Annie also wondered how Ros was doing. In the short while they had known her, Annie and Bobbi had realised Ros was one of… no, actually the most accident prone person they had ever met. Bobbi had been the first to meet Ros, who on that occasion had injured herself twice in the first week of her skiing holiday with her boyfriend, breaking her leg on the slopes, and her arm and nose by falling down the stairs a few days after. That same evening the three of them had planned to have drinks together, but this all went disastrously wrong. A power cut, and Ros breaking her other arm and hip had been just two of the low points of that night!
After that, they kept in touch with Ros, but didn’t see her again until her hip spica cast had been removed. Even then Ros had still been using crutches, but not just because of her newly-healed hip. A few days before coming to visit Annie and Bobbi, she had dropped a box of groceries on her foot, breaking two of the bones in it, and putting her in a short leg walking cast for 4 weeks. Some while later, Annie received an e-mail from Ros, mentioning her foot was no longer in plaster, but she was going to need someone to write her answers to her exams for her, as she’d broken her hand by slamming it in a door. Annie wondered how so many accidents could happen to one person!
She assumed Ros wasn’t in any sort of cast at the moment – surely not, if she had invited them to stay? Then again, Annie mused, Ros never did tell them her foot was in plaster before she came to visit… Casts didn’t seem to bother Ros in the same way they bothered, well… everyone else! Annie supposed Ros must be used to it!
Annie could hear Bobbi running about the flat, collecting all her belongings she might want to pack from all the corners of the flat where they seemed to be scattered. It was so typical of Bobbi just to want to rush into something like this! She realised she didn’t even know how long they would be staying for! And evening wear for a party…? Annie wondered what sort of occasion this would be. She knew Ros came from quite a wealthy background, although she wasn’t snobbish or haughty in the slightest, and very modest. Still…
Annie was busy imagining herself in her evening dress sipping champagne from a crystal glass, when Bobbi once again appeared at the door. She had changed her clothes, having taken off her shorts, socks and running shoes, and put on a shirt tan skirt, leaving her feet bare for the present.
“Oi, haven’t you finished packing yet?!” she asked.
“No!” answered Annie, exasperated.
“Well, I have,” said Bobbi. “Will you give me a hand to get this in the car?” She gestured to an enormous suitcase behind her.
“Oh, sure.” said Annie, and was out in the hallway lifting one end of the case before she realised she was barefoot, with her misshapen toes on view, and vulnerable too!
Between them, they manhandled the heavy suitcase down the wooden stairs; Bobbi in front, walking backwards, and Annie carrying the back. As Bobbi reached the ground floor, she called out;
“OK, I got it now!” and pulled the suitcase towards her. The rear end of the case was tugged from Annie’s grasp, just as she had her bare toes curled over the edge of one of the stairs. She squealed with the thought of the immanent pain, and gritted her teeth against the impact.
The suitcase hit the stair below Annie’s feet, and bounced down the last two steps, assisted to the ground by Bobbi. Annie, her heart racing, sighed with relief and she wiggled the cute toes of her right foot, and flexed her left ones as best she could.
“Right, just put this in the car, and….oooh!…umbrella!” said Bobbi, suddenly. “We might need one, you never know…” she added, as she crossed over to the hall cupboard.
The cupboard in the hallway had started out as being used for hats, coats and scarves, but gradually more and more of Bobbi’s things began the pile up in there, as if it were some sort of overflow to her room. Now it was piled high with bags of all kinds, spare bedding, her crutches from her broken leg days, numerous sports paraphernalia, and other bundles and parcels.
“Ah, here’s one.” said Bobbi, taking hold of a handle wedged into a load of bags.
She tried to pull it out, but it was stuck fast. She tightened her grip on the handle, and gave it several hefty tugs, rocking the whole pile dangerously. A few more inches of the umbrella appeared, then it stuck again. Bobbi stepped closer to the cupboard with her left leg to brace herself, and gave one final heave. The umbrella, revealing itself to be a red and white striped one, appeared out of the wobbling heap as if by magic. A sturdy looking bag at the top of the pile tipped over onto its side at the same time, and the zip, which hadn’t been done up, parted as a highly polished black ten-pin bowling ball rolled out and plummeted to the ground.
Annie, still standing on the stairs, watched in horror as it dropped like a rock into Bobbi’s left foot. The THUNK! of the ball landing completely drowned out the CRUNCH! of Bobbi’s big toe joint being shattered.
After the bowling ball had slammed in to her foot, Bobbi let out a piercing yell and snatched her foot off the ground, her hand automatically clamping round her damaged toe.
“Are you alright?!” asked Annie, the pointless question coming involuntarily from her lips as she rushed down the stairs to help her friend. Bobbi lowered herself to the floor to sit by her case, her teeth gritted against the pain.
“Can you bring some ice…?” Bobbi managed to say. Annie nodded and turned to go to the kitchen. She spied the bowling ball, still pitching and careering about the floor. “A menace to unguarded toes!” she thought to herself, realising with horror that she was still barefoot herself. Without thinking, she picked up the ball, then, suddenly petrified of dropping it on her own toes, gripped it tight. Having broken both her big toes last winter, she knew what pain Bobbi must be in right now, and she didn’t want to join her by having her own bowling ball accident. She looked around for somewhere to put the ball she was still clutching, but didn’t dare to put it down on any smooth surface in case it rolled off, dropping onto her feet. The cupboard from whence it came was still open, and so she wedged it in there once again, holding it in place with one hand until the last second as she shut the door, terrified of it rolling out again. Then she went for the ice.
The journey to the hospital, with Annie driving Bobbi’s car, was not as pleasant one. Bobbi sat in the passenger seat, her long leg curled up on her lap as she held the ice pack to her foot and toe. She complained loudly, in between sobs, as every slight jolt and bump of the car caused agonising pain to shoot through her crushed toe joint. She had not been happy that Annie has insisted on taking the time to put on both socks and shoes before helping her out to the car, and was even less happy when, reaching to change gear, Annie’s hand had knocked against Bobbi’s injured foot, causing another lance of agony in her constantly throbbing digit.
There followed an interminable wait at the local hospital’s Accident and Emergency. Seemingly countless hours later, Bobbi was helped into a wheelchair and wheeled away. Annie stayed in the waiting room, looking round her fearfully. She found that she was more and more afraid of hospitals since her experiences on holiday. She glanced round furtively at the other ‘inmates’. There was a young man with his arm in a sling, apparently on his own, and a middle aged woman on crutches with a heavily bandaged ankle. Further down the waiting room there was a very unfortunate looking girl wearing a foam neck brace and with a splint over her nose. No-one, however, seemed to be in any sort of cast. Annie wondered if Bobbi would get a cast for her smashed toe? Bobbi, as a medical student, would no doubt have known whether or not her injury required a cast, but Annie had assumed Bobbi wouldn’t be in the mood to chat about her broken toe, so hadn’t asked her. Annie was only too aware that broken toes might require treatment with a plaster cast, as hers had while on holiday. On the other hand, when Bobbi had stepped on Annie’s previously unbroken big toe on that same fateful holiday, the break had only needed temporary immobilisation in a crepe bandage. That didn’t seem to stop it hurting though!
After what seemed like an age, Bobbi reappeared, hopping along painfully on a shiny new pair of aluminium forearm crutches.
“Alright…?” Annie asked tentatively as Bobbi drew level with her.
“Me, the toe, or the world in general?” snapped Bobbi, heading out towards the car park without stopping.
“Er…” stammered Annie.
“Well,” continued Bobbi. “If it’s my toe you’re talking about, it’s broken, and quite badly too. The joint is a bit of a mess too, the upshot of it all is I’ll be stuck with this cast for a couple of months.”
For the first time, Annie looked down at Bobbi’s left foot, which she was holding awkwardly in front of her as she crutched along. The pleated tan skirt Bobbi was wearing didn’t quite come down to her knees, and her long shapely right leg was bare, with only an old flip-flop on her otherwise uncovered foot. This contrasted sharply with her left leg. There was a fresh new plaster cast starting just under her knee, and covering the whole of her lower leg. Only the first two joints of her smaller toes could be seen poking out from the padding surrounding them, and her little toe was almost completely hidden inside the cast. Her big toe was covered with an additional piece of plaster of paris which completely enveloped it, and covered most of her second toe as well. The part of the cast holding her big toe went right over the end of her toe, so it was totally immobilised, with not even the tip of the toe able to be seen.
“Oh…um….I’m sorry…” mumbled Annie.
“Yeah. Well, it certainly puts a bit of a damper on the holiday doesn’t it…?!” replied Bobbi.
“The holiday…?!” Until now, Annie had totally forgotten the proposed visit to Ros. “We’re still going…?” she asked, surprised.
“Of course we are! What do you think? That we’re just going to still around feeling miserable just because of a er…” she raised the knee of her casted leg “…mishap…? We’ll just have to go tomorrow now, that’s all.”
By now they had reached Bobbi’s car. Bobbi began to open the passenger door, fumbled with her crutches, and stumbled forward. She caught herself just before she toppled over, but only by stepping with most of her weight on her newly casted foot. She yelped loudly with pain as she did so; the quick step forward having jarred her shattered and swollen toe joint.
“Are you OK…” Annie called from the driver’s side of the car.
Bobbi nodded in between uttering a few choice phrases, before opening the door, throwing her new underarm crutches onto the back seats and hopping into the passenger seat. She slid the seat back as far as it would go, then propped her plastered left foot up on the dashboard. Annie climbed into the driver’s seat, and looked over at Bobbi. Bobbi had her head back with her eyes closed. Annie was sure that from the way Bobbi had her leg up on the dashboard, anyone looking into the car from the front would be able to see right up Bobbi’s skirt, but Bobbi probably wouldn’t care right at the moment!
After an uneventful drive, they pulled up outside their flat. Bobbi seemed woozy, and was almost asleep. She’d probably been given some medication for the pain, Annie guessed, which was having that effect on her.
She went and opened the door, then helped Bobbi out of the car. Bobbi took a moment to work out where she was, then pulled herself together and crutched inside.
“Are you OK, you seem a bit….?” Annie began as they entered their small hallway.
“Yeah, yeah” Bobbi half sighed, half mumbled. “Just feel…drained. I’m going to bed, see you in the morning.”
“G’night” said Annie.
Bobbi swung herself on her crutches to the foot of the stairs, and then, with what obviously was an effort, placed her crutches on the first step and hopped up onto it. She swayed slightly, then, off balance, tipped backwards, slamming her right crutch out behind her to stop her fall. Unfortunately for Annie, Bobbi’s crutch didn’t strike the ground, but landed right on the canvas shoe Annie was wearing on her right foot. The light fabric did nothing to protect Annie’s fourth toe from the whole of Bobbi’s weight for a few seconds.
Bobbi regained her balance, blinking with surprise. “Sorry” she blurted out, unaware of what had just happened. “G’night…” she called as she made her way unsteadily up the stairs.
Annie’s heart was racing, and there was a pain in her foot.
“No!” she pleaded with Fate. “Not her toe, again! Please!”. She took a deep breath to calm herself. Her toe wasn’t broken, it couldn’t be, she’d been wearing shoes, they would have protected it. And it wasn’t hurting that much – was it…?!
She went up to bed herself, convincing herself she wasn’t limping as much as she was. In the sanctuary of her room, once she had closed the door and drawn the curtains, she thought about her squashed foot again. As soon as she did, the dull pain in her fourth toe became more noticeable. She unlaced and slipped off both her canvas shoes (very gently with her right one), and then stared down at the colourfully striped sock on her foot. Nothing seemed to be visibly wrong with her toes while the sock covered them. That was a relief. She had been dreading seeing a tell-tale unnatural bend in her poor toe. Unable to bear the suspense any longer, she eased off the tight sock and inspected her toe carefully. It was bruised, and slightly swollen. Pinching it between her thumb and forefinger, she wiggled it slightly. Ouch. It hurt! Not a good sign, she thought. Still, that didn’t mean it was broken. No, it was only bruised, surely…?!
She hobbled carefully to the bathroom and bushed her teeth, keeping her right foot slightly off the floor as she did so. Back in her room, she changed into her pyjamas and got into bed. Lying on her side, she tried to force herself to sleep, all the while trying to ignore the dull throb emanating from her toe. After a while, she lay on her back and tried to ignore the ache.
“It’ll all be OK in the morning,” she told herself as she lay there tossing and turning. “Everything will be fine in the morning…”
The next morning Annie woke feeling tired and drained after a fitful night’s sleep. It wasn’t so much the pain in her toe that had kept her awake for half the night, although that was a factor. She had also been worrying that her toe might have been broken, and also she had a lot on her mind, what with Bobbi being injured, the invite to see Ros and the rest. Why did injuries and poor Ros seem to go together? She just seemed to naturally (or unnaturally maybe, Annie thought) attract harm in her direction. And often in the direction of those in her immediate vicinity as well! Goodness knows what state she might be in now, for it wasn’t as if Ros was likely to let something like being in plaster deter her from inviting a her friends to stay. And, Annie considered, even if Ros had been in perfect health when she asked them, that had been days ago, and anything could have happened to her even in that short space of time!
Annie rolled back the covers on her bed and looked at her toe for the first time that morning. The ache had pretty much gone (she convinced herself), but the digit was certainly swollen and discoloured. Not broken though, she told herself, not broken! Just bruised, she repeated in her mind. She carefully slipped a sock over the toes of her right foot, and pulled the left one on too, before placing her feet into her slippers. Going barefoot around the house was not something she had done for ages, and she was not about to start now, especially not after what had happened to Bobbi the day before! Wearing her slippers and pyjamas, she made her way down the short landing to the small bathroom to have a wash. The door of Bobbi’s room was still shut, and no sound came from inside. Bobbi was probably still dozing, sleeping off the effects of the painkillers she had been given in the hospital the night before.
After her morning ablutions, Annie, walking with a very slight limp, went downstairs to make breakfast. There was some post for laying on the front door mat, and she picked this up before going into the kitchen. One of the envelopes looked suspiciously like a bill; two were flyers for a local supermarket and a pizza outlet, but the fourth was a cream coloured envelope with a neat, handwritten address:
“Miss Anne Barker and Miss Roberta Smith…”
Very formal, Annie though! She didn’t recognise the writing, but she already suspected who it might be from. She tore it open. Two invitation cards fell out, and a folded letter, which the picked off the kitchen table and read. In contrast to the formal address and invitations, it was a carefree note, written in the same neat sloping handwriting.
“Dear A & B,” it read.
“Feel free to come down anytime, but make sure you’re hear for the Main Event…” (these words were underlined twice, and Annie assumed they referred to the invitations) “We will have the house and grounds…” (And grounds – wow!) “to ourselves, so we should have a plenty to do. Looking forward to seeing both of you very soon. Yours, Ros”.
That was cheering! At least it meant Ros was actually expecting them anytime, rather than Bobbi just assuming it! The neatness of the handwriting was also a good sign. At least it mean that Ros’s right arm was cast-free, although Annie did have momentary visions of Ros writing the letter from a wheelchair, or from a hospital bed with both legs in traction…!
A clatter from upstairs announced Bobbi had woken. Annie left the letter on the table and set about making breakfast. With a click-clack noise from her forearm crutches, Bobbi swung herself into the kitchen. She appeared somewhat dishevelled, with her black hair looking rather tousled. She was wearing short pyjamas, and leaving heavily on her shiny aluminium crutches. Despite this, she looked much more alert and with it than she had done the previous night. She said she felt much better, her injured foot was throbbing slightly, but nothing unbearable. While buttering toast, Annie showed Bobbi the letter from Ros and the party invitations.
“Oh she is silly…!”, Bobbi said, reading her invite. “Miss Rosalind Wingfield-Straker requests the pleasure of the company of…” she quoted from the card in her hand, then let out a laugh. She picked up and quickly read the note that had accompanied it.
“Any time eh? Well, we better get going!” said Bobbi.
“Are you sure you’re feeling alright?” asked Annie, pointing at Bobbi’s plastered foot.
“Of course!” said Bobbi, raising her casted lower leg up above the level of the table, and peering at it as though she was trying to see though the layers of plaster. Annie saw the three remaining visible toes of Bobbi’s foot wiggle slightly, then Bobbi let out an exclamation of pain and hastily lowered her foot back to the floor. Bobbi looked over and noticed Annie’s worried expression.
“Don’t worry,” she said, somewhat unconvincingly. “It’s fine…”
After breakfast, Annie and Bobbi went upstairs to dress, and Annie to finish her packing. After being pestered to hurry up at least half a dozen times by an impatient Bobbi, Annie was finally ready. The task of packing had temporarily diverted Annie’s mind from the dull ache coming from her bruised (not broken, not broken, she told herself repeatedly whenever she was reminded of it) fourth toe.
Annie’s case was carried down to the car without incident, although she was very anxious for her toes. She had no wish for any more broken toes. Bruised! Just bruised, she said to herself yet again. Bobbi’s car wasn’t very big, and as Bobbi’s case occupied the boot, Annie’s case had to be installed on the back seats, along with the miscellany of last minute items that didn’t fit into the cases, like coats, walking boots (just the right boot in Bobbi’s case) and of course the fateful umbrella.
Bobbi opened the passenger door and settled herself into the seat, which was already slid back to its limit. She was wearing black very short shorts, and a striped t-shirt, with Annie thought looked a little too tight for Bobbi’s impressively sized bust. Her good foot was simply slipped into a flimsy flip-flop, and she had propped her plastered left foot up onto the dashboard as she had done the night before. She busied herself with a map while Annie climbed into the driver’s seat. She was more modestly dressed, wearing a mid-length denim skirt, socks and light shoes. This had brought forth comments from Bobbi, who couldn’t understand why Annie insisted on wearing socks during the hot summer months. Annie hadn’t told Bobbi about her own accident last night; she didn’t want to make Bobbi feel guilty, and besides, Bobbi, with her medical student experience, would probably insist on getting it checked over, when it was clear that it wasn’t broken. No, no, only bruised. Surely…?
They set off shortly before 11am, and were soon cruising down fairly empty roads, directed by Bobbi’s haphazard navigation (“Oh, we should have turned up that road we’ve just passed…”). Just after one o’clock, they turned down the third road that Bobbi had said definitely led to Ros’s house.
“Are you sure…?” Annie whined, as the road seemed to head out once again into open countryside.
“’Course I am…trust me…” replied Bobbi. “It should be just here on the left…”
As they slowly rounded a corner, the red brick wall that had flanked the left had side of the road was suddenly broken by a pair of black wrought iron gates, with a gravel driveway passing through them.
“Here it is…told you!” exclaimed Bobbi.
Annie turned the car onto the gravel path, which developed into a picturesque tree-lined avenue. Visible at the end of the straight double line of oak trees, a very impressive house could be seen. It was of red brick, with stone edged bay windows on all three floors, and stone steps up to a central heavy looking front door. The sides of the house swept forward to form two single storey wings, covered in close cut ivy round the numerous windows. The space in between the two wings was a wide expanse of gravel, which the driveway led into. In the middle of this a raised ornamental pond was situated, with a fountain in it that wasn’t currently functioning.
Annie and Bobbi looked at each other with raised eyebrows, and impressed expressions on their faces. Annie drove the car right up to the steps on the far side of the pond, partly so Bobbi wouldn’t have so far to hobble on her crutches, and partly so they wouldn’t have to carry the cases very far.
“We better say hello first” suggested Bobbi.
They made their way up the steps and knocked on the massive oaken door. Nothing seemed to happen for a while, and so Bobbi found a handle attached to a chain next to the door, and give it a tug. This seemed to set a bell ringing somewhere in the vast house.
“Are you sure she lives here…” Annie asked with a note of panic in her voice, but at that moment they heard a voice they recognised as Ros’s calling “Coming….coming!”
The door clanked and then swung open, to reveal Ros, standing to greet them. Annie and Bobbi stared – neither of them had suspected this!
Ros was wearing a pleated cream skirt that came down to just above her knees, and a light blue sleeveless top that contrasted pleasantly with her straight red hair. On her small feet she was wearing a pair of mid-blue sandals, and the nails of her toes were painted in a shiny cobalt blue. From the tips of her short toes, to the top of her head, there was not a cast or bandage on her.
“Hello! Hello!” Ros said merrily. She was smiling cheerily, but her smile dropped when she saw Bobbi.
“Oh, what have you done?!” she shrieked.
“Broken toe…” murmured Bobbi, not wishing to dwell on it.
“Oh your poor thing! Big toe? Oh, I’ve done that several times, hurts doesn’t it!?” She raised both of her big toes and wiggled them slightly as she said this.
“You’re looking…er…very….well!” said Annie to Ros, quite startled by her lack of casts.
“Thanks, you too!” answered Ros, obviously not grasping the cause of Annie’s astonishment.
Turning back to Bobbi, she began to ask: “How did you…” but was cut of by the arrival of a fourth person in the gloomy entrance hall.
“Oh, this is Susan, my younger sister. Sue, this is Annie, and this is Bobbi.” introduced Ros.
A girl advanced out of a side door somewhere in the deeper gloom at the back of the hall and came towards them. There was a dull ‘CLUNK’ every time her right foot hit the polished wooden floor, and Annie and Bobbi could soon see why. So, it’s genetic, was Annie’s first thought as she saw Sue in the light.
The younger girl was already about the same height as Ros, and of the same slim build, and shared Ros’s straight red hair. She wore a red skirt of a similar length to Ros’s, and a short-sleeved summer blouse. Her left foot was bare, but a white and new-ish looking cast was on her right lower leg. It started at the base of her toes, which had bright magenta nail polish on, and finished just below her knee. Her knee itself had a pad taped on it with sticking plaster. Her left arm also sported a cast, covering her hand and ending a bit more than half the way up her forearm.
“Hi!” she said cheerfully. She obviously shared Ros’s ambivalent attitude towards her cast.
“Er…hullo!” said Annie and Bobbi together.
“You too?” Sue said with a grin, indicating Bobbi’s cast.
“Yes, er…what did you…” Bobbi began.
“She fell off her bike trying to go as fast as she could down the spinney!” answered Ros on Sue’s behalf.
Annie and Bobbi both exchanged quick glances while the other two were looking away momentarily.
“And here’s Baskerville!” said Ros joyfully, in response to a scampering sound from a room off the hallway.
Annie and Bobbi, not sure what to expect, look in that direction. A large, plump, black Labrador, tongue hanging out and tail wagging, came charging into the hallway. He leapt up at Bobbi, nearly knocking her off her crutches and back down the steps, and then licked Annie’s knees frantically.
“Oh he’s lovely!” exclaimed Bobbi, who was fond of dogs. Privately, Annie was surprised the dog didn’t have a bandaged tail or something similar. Perhaps the talent for injury that seemed to haunt Ros’s family didn’t apply to dogs, she thought.
“I better get ready; they’ll be here any minute,” Sue said to Ros, and departed, the walking heal of her cast echoing down the hall.
“Sue’s going away with some friends today,” Ros explained. “She’ll be back just after Tommy comes back. So…do you want to look around the place, or would you prefer to unload your car first?”
“I suppose we might as well get our cases in,” said Bobbi.
Just then a blue car came up the gravelled drive, and stopped near to Bobbi’s car. Two girls got out of it; presumably the friends Sue was going away with.
“That’s Jenn,” said Ros, indicating a short, dark-haired teenage girl, “and that‘s Kim. They‘re both school friends of Sue’s.” Kim was taller that both Ros and Sue, with sandy blonde hair and deep brown eyes.
Sue appeared again, dragging a wheeled suitcase behind her. She hugged Ros, said a quick “Goodbye, nice to have met you!” to Annie and Bobbi, and hurried down the steps to her friends as fast as her plastered leg would allow. Her case was quickly loaded into the car, and all three girls piled in, before the disappeared at speed down the tree-lined driveway.
The three others waved from the top of the steps, and then descended them to unload the car. Bobbi hopped down quite easily on her crutches. The skill of swinging herself down steps and staircases had quickly come back to her in the short time since she had been forced to use them again. Ros lifted Bobbi’s case out for her, while Bobbi opened the car door, and both her and Annie made to pull Annie’s case out. Annie wished Bobbi would leave the case alone, as she couldn’t really help due to her crutches, but Bobbi had already let go of one crutch in order to seize the handle, and pulled the case towards her. She misjudged, and pulled the case far too hard, causing it to be pulled right out of the car. Annie failed to grab the unsupported end in time, and it fell squarely and heavily onto her tip of her right foot.
Annie gave a small yelp as she felt the second toe of her right foot bend unnaturally under the sudden pressure, but Bobbi didn’t seem to have notice what had happened. The same thoughts that had occurred to Annie the previous night swam through her mind again; “No! Not another toe! Not broken, just bruised, not broken…”
“Oops…!” Bobbi muttered, absent mindedly.
They all turned to carry the cases up the steps. Bobbi carried the odd remainder of things left in the car such as their coats as best she could, while Ros struggled to drag the other case indoors. Annie limped on her newly squashed foot, but due to the heavy case she was carrying no-one noticed. Just as they reached the top of the steps, Annie saw the blue flip-flop come loose and slide off Ros’s small and pretty right foot. Ros gave a tut of annoyance, and took a step backwards in order to slip her foot back into the sandal. Whether it was because of the heavy case she was holding, or just because she couldn’t see what she was doing, Ros’s foot missed the lower step on which her shoe rested. The ball of her foot caught the edge of the step, and, with her heel unsupported, her foot tilted sharply upwards. With all her weight suddenly on it, her ankle turned, and Annie thought she distinctly heard a ‘pop’ from Ros’s ankle joint.
Ros gasped in pain, and let the case fall to the top step. Holding her ankle, she hopped inside, her fallen sandal now forgotten. Annie quickly followed her, pushing the two cases though the door, and wondering just how badly Ros had hurt her ankle. Both Annie and Bobbi rushed to help her, as Ros tentatively lowered her foot to the floor until her bare toes just brushed the wooden floorboards.
“Ow” gasped Ros. “I think I twisted my ankle…”
“Let me have a look” offered Bobbi, so Ros hopped over to and perched herself on the bottom steps of the dark oak staircase that rose from the middle of the large and impressive hallway. Bobbi awkwardly laid her crutches down and managed to squat down, keeping her casted left leg out to one side of her. She took Ros’s right ankle in her hands, causing a yelp to come from Ros, who quickly recomposed herself and smiled, somewhat weakly.
“I’m sure it’s only twisted…” she murmured. Bobbi looked down at the ankle. It was already swollen, and starting to discolour slightly.
“Hmmm…” said Bobbi, unsure she agreed with Ros’s diagnosis.
Ros was undeterred. “It’s alright….it’s fine!” said Ros, and rose to her good foot, still in its flip-flop. She attempted to take a step with her right leg, yelped in pain, stumbling forward and grabbing the banister post only just in time to prevent herself from falling. After a moment, she looked up at Annie and Bobbi, with a look of mixed bitterness and disappointment on her face.
“P’haps you ought to go to hospital…” said Annie. “Just to get it checked…!” she hastily added, not wanting Ros to worry about what Annie was personally already convinced of; that the ankle was certainly broken!
Ros reluctantly agreed to go to hospital to get her ankle checked over. She kept continually thanking Annie for her offer of a lift in Bobbi’s car, and offering her apologies to both of them for being such a nuisance. Leaving Bobbi behind to sort things out at the house as best she could, Annie and Ros set off to the nearest hospital. As the area was strange to Annie, she didn’t have a clue where the local hospital was, but, unsurprisingly, Ros knew the exact route, and guided Annie there while holding an improvised ice-pack to her swollen ankle. Ros kept constantly apologising for the inconvenience she was causing. For Ros’s sake, Annie hoped she hadn’t broken her ankle, but judging from her past record, considered this to be very unlikely!
For the second time in as many days, Annie found herself sitting in a hospital waiting room, with all its associated unpleasant sights and smells. This hospital was considerably smaller that the one near to her flat. Upon their arrival, two different nurses had greeted Ros by name, and Annie got the distinct impression that the staff here were used to dealing with Ros’s accidents and injuries. One of these, a small and petite blonde nurse called Lucy, fetched a wheelchair, and Ros was eventually wheeled away to have her ankle X-rayed, and leaving Annie to wait. Annie sat on her own and worried about her two toes that had now suffered misfortunes, both at the hands of Bobbi. The dull ache from her toe that had been broken (no! not broken!) the night before had been constant during the drive down, and now this was joined by a similar, or possibly even worse pain now coming from the second toe of the same foot. Should she get them checked out? She was in a hospital, so now was an opportunity to do so. She thought; no, she was convinced they were not broken, only bruised, so there should be nothing to worry about.
So why this doubt? She thought about her previous broken toes, and a phantom pain seemed suddenly to return to her (as she considered,) unsightly digits of her left foot. No! She curled those still bent toes, remembering the awful cast she had been placed in because of them. If her newly injured toes were only bruised, she reasoned, and she knew that was the case (right?!), then there was nothing to be gained by getting them checked over. No need at all. They’d probably feel fine in a few day, and if not, they’d certainly be alright by next week. So no need to worry, she told herself!
Annie found herself thinking about her toes, feet, injuries, Bobbi, casts, Ros… until she suddenly jerked her head upright, suspired to find she had been dozing off in the waiting room, probably because of the previous night’s fitful sleep. Glancing up and the clock on the opposite wall, she realised she had been waiting for some time. As if on cue, she spotted Ros down a corridor, though a door on the other side of the waiting room. She was looking somewhat tired and worn out, but smiling still, however faintly. Annie could see she had been given a pair of metal forearm crutches, and from the way she was moving Annie could tell she wasn’t allowing her right leg to touch the floor, but the row of occupied seats between her and Ros made it impossible for her to see below Ros’s waist. Ros stopped as a tall and skinny nurse, who looked to be in her late twenties, came into view and spoke to Ros. The two seemed to know each other, and Ros grinned and then pulled an exasperated face at something the nurse had said. Annie saw the nurse take something that looked like a pen from her pocket, and Ros raised her right leg so it slowly came into Annie’s view. A brand-new, gleaming white, short leg cast covered Ros’s right leg from just under her knee to the base of her short toes, where the cobalt blue nail polish was now interspersed with minute flecks of white plaster. The nurse signed the cast with her marker pen, exchanged a few more words with Ros as she carefully lowered her leg to a more natural position, and then left about her duties.
Ros crutched over to Annie, in a manor that was both graceful and dignified. She still managed to look very pretty, Annie thought, with her colour-coordinated top and nail polish, and of course single blue flip-flop. The crutches and fresh white cast, now emblazoned with “Not again! Get well soon! Meg XXX” half way up, seemed to compliment Ros’s looks rather than detract from them.
“Ready to go?” Ros inquired, in a way that seemed to suggest that breaking one’s ankle was a regular part of daily routine.
Annie, who realised she must have been staring at Ros and her cast, mumbled that she was, and together they made their way back to the car. Annie was going to offer to put Ros’s crutches across the back seats and help her into the passenger seat, but Ros had already installed herself in the car with her crutches held beside her, all without letting her newly plastered leg touch anything, before Annie could even utter a word. Bobbi’s car reluctantly started on the third attempt, and once again Annie drove a friend who had a leg in plaster home from the hospital. Annie couldn’t help noticing Ros wasn’t inclined to prop her leg up on the dashboard in the way Bobbi had done!
“So…broken then…?” began Annie.
“Yes” sighed Ros, resignedly. “Nothing to worry about, just one of those things…!”
On arriving back at Ros’s house, Ros thanked Annie once again for driving her, and hopped up the stone steps swiftly and easily on her crutches. From behind her, Annie noticed Ros gripped her remaining blue sandal tightly with her toes, obviously not wanting it to slip off as the other one had and cause yet another accident! It was the first time she had seen Ros’s left foot closely, she realised. While at a glace it appeared attractively pale, small, sleek and slender, with well manicured toes, Annie’s closer inspection revealed a faint but visible scar running along the outside edge of her foot, while another ran across the ankle bone. Her second toe looked slightly crooked too, and her fourth and fifth toes seemed to…well…curve the wrong way?! Annie wondered how many times those bones had been broken in order for them to look like that? Just how many times had Ros actually broken something!?
Annie followed Ros up the steps and into the entrance hall, anxious to see to see if Bobbi had done anything to herself or the house in their absence! The first thing she saw as she entered were their cases, which Bobbi had dragged to the foot of the stairs, but with her cast and crutches had been unable to carry upstairs, and anyway, couldn’t have known which rooms to put them in! She had left to the able-bodied ones (which Annie disgustedly realised it was just her left in that category!) to move the heavy cases. However, Bobbi had not been entirely idle. She had found the kitchen, and after much rummaging around and opening countless cupboards, had made herself lunch. But she has also made a big plate of sandwiches and a pot of tea, and all three of them sat in Ros’s front room eating hungrily. They all had their feet up on the big padded footstool placed in front of the luxurious settee, which Annie found secretly amusing! Two casted feet, two bare ones, and her own sock-covered pair!
Ros continued to offer her apologies for fracturing her ankle, as if it somehow affected Annie and Bobbi more than her. Annie and Bobbi both assured her that it wouldn’t affect their holiday; it wasn’t as if they’d planned to do anything particularly active, and Bobbi was casted as well, so one more broken limb didn’t seem to make any difference (“Join the club!” Bobbi had said, unenthusiastically!). Annie secretly compared the duo of casted feet propped up on the foot rest. Bobbi’s cast already somehow manage to look a bit worn, even though she’d only had it for less than a day, whereas Ros‘s was gleaming freshly, and somehow seemed more attractive than Bobbi’s. ‘Stop it!’ Annie told herself – there’s nothing attractive about casts! But, as if having a two-way conversation in her own head, she admitted there was something nicer about Ros’s cast than Bobbi’s. Perhaps it was that Ros’s cast was of a ‘conventional’ shape, reaching from slightly below her knee to just before her short toes began, with a small amount of the tube-like bandage thing (Annie searched her mind for the term from her own experience in casts – stocking something?) folded over et the end, presenting a slightly off-white border to her pale toes.. The toe end of the cast was sloped slightly, so that even though Ros’s toes were quite small, all of them were fully exposed, even her tiny baby toe. The whole cast seemed to be very well moulded to Ros’s slim but shapely calf and ankle.
Bobbi’s cast, by contrast, seemed much bulkier, but Annie couldn’t be sure whether this was to the different nature of her injury, or simply the handiness of the person that had applied the cast. Bobbi could probably tell her, but Annie didn’t like to ask, as casts seemed to be…well…a private sort of thing. The cast finished a few inches below her knee, unlike Ros’s, although this meant they were approximately the same length, as Bobbi was a good deal taller than Ros. The main difference was at the toe end of the cast; white plaster covered Bobbi’s broken big toe and most of the one next to it, and only part of her other toes could be seen, with her smallest toe almost totally hidden in the cast. ‘Lucky her!’ thought Annie, as she was reminding of the cast she had been placed in due to her own broken toes, and the (she thought) woeful lack of protection it had offered them. She wiggled her own toes at the memory, and instantly wished she hadn’t. Fresh stabs of pain came up from her two previously injured toes on her right foot, and she began to worry about them again. Perhaps she should try to tape them up herself tonight before she went to bed…? She didn’t want to end up with more bent and unsightly toes, like her left ones… or like Ros’s… She stole a glance at Ros’s toes with their shiny nail polish, which Ros was unconsciously wiggling back and forth. Ros glanced at Annie at that moment, and saw her staring at her cast. Feeling herself going red, Annie looked away hurriedly, and opened her mouth to say something, but Ros cut in before her.
“Want to sign it?”
“Umm…yeah….” Annie mumbled.
Ros put down her empty plate and stood up, leaving her crutches where they were, leaning on the sofa beside her. She hopped energetically over to a bureau and opened a draw in it before hopping back with a large marker pen. All the while, Annie had been waiting for the slip and crash that she felt sure must happen, but Ros regained the sofa without incident. She handed Annie the pen, and then hoisted her plastered foot up into Annie’s lap, causing Annie to feel very embarrassed, even though she wasn’t sure why. She wrote: ‘Get well soon, Annie’ in small letters near the top of Ros’s cast. Bobbi shuffled closer, and taking the pen from Annie, scrawled: ‘Enjoy your break! Bobbi xxx’ in large, untidy letters right across Ros’s shin. Annie though this was somehow rather rude, but Ros giggled with approval.
After they had eaten, Annie had offered to wash up the lunch things. She thought it looked better to offer before being asked, as she was the only one who could really carry them.
‘Typical’ she thought. ‘Now I’m going to have to act like the servant for the rest of the holiday. I wish I could break a bone!’ She had instantly rebuked herself; ‘No, what am I saying?!’ She sincerely hoped she hadn’t jinxed herself, and in case she had, she thought feverishly of her desire to remain as unbroken as possible for the rest of the day!
Ros’s showed the girls around the rest of her house that afternoon. It was very big, but only the centre portion was really used; two ‘wings’ that stretched away to either side were used only for storage, and one of them was actually crumbling into disrepair; Ros had said, and no-one had been in there for years. Downstairs in the main part of the house there was a large dining room, and a comfortable living room too. Annie and Bobbi both walked (or in Bobbi’s case, crutched) round this room with secret amazement. As with any family living room, there were pictures of Ros and her sister Susan dotted about the place. The thing that Annie and Bobbi noticed was the recurring theme in all of the pictures – nearly all of them showed at least one of the girls sporting some cast or other!
There was a picture of the two sisters and a red-haired woman, presumably their mother, standing together on a promenade overlooking a beach and sea-scape. The two girls both looked a lot younger in the photograph, and Susan’s right arm was hidden inside a white triangular sling. Ros was leaning on crutches, and standing further back, which meant Annie could see her legs, both of which were in short white (but heavily signed) casts like the one she was in now.
Another picture on a sideboard showed a garden with a tree-house in a tall oak, and a grinning Ros in the foreground. Her hand was plastered from her fingers to half way up her forearm, encasing her thumb in thick plaster. Annie didn’t like to ask what had happened; but she guessed Ros must have smashed her thumb with a hammer while helping with the construction of the tree-house!
Bobbi couldn’t resist commenting on one framed photograph which hung on one of the long walls. Ros was standing holding some award or other, but wearing only a riding helmet, a skirt and a single smart shoe of her left foot. The reason for this was obvious, however, as other clothes at that time simply would not have been necessary. Ros was in one of the largest casts Annie had ever seen (not counting the hip spica cast Ros had been in by the end of their skiing holiday). The cast in the picture started above Ros’s slender waist and covered her entire torso, with two distinct mounds visible where it covered her breasts, and continued up and over her right shoudler, and down her right arm, which was bent at the elbow and held out horizontally at shoulder level to! Her right leg was also in encased in plaster starting somewhere up underneath her skirt, and finishing just above her ankle, leaving her bare foot free.
“What the hell happened there?!” asked Bobbi.
“I won a show jumping competition!” said Ros, misunderstanding what it was Bobbi was asking about.
“Er… fell off at all, did you?” asked Annie.
“Yes,” admitted Ros. “On my way back to the stables. That’s why I was in those casts when I collected the award” said Ros, in a manner that seemed to suggest Annie and Bobbi might not have noticed the huge amount of plaster covering her slight body at first glance…!
“Broken toes?” said Bobbi. “You’d better have a cast for that!” Annie stared, horror-struck, as Bobbi began applying a white plaster cast to her lower leg. Annie struggled to get away, but somehow couldn’t.
Ros appeared, hopping closer without her crutches, holding more rolls of plaster-of-paris bandage. “I knew you’d like it!” she grinned. “Now you’ve got one too…!” Suddenly Ros began to wrap Annie’s other leg in the warm, wet bandages. Annie tried to tell Bobbi and Ros she didn’t want a cast, but she couldn’t speak even. Bobbi had now started wrapping Annie’s midriff and torso as well. The plaster was wet, yet also somehow dry and warm. It gave her a relaxing feeling, but at the same time started to constrict, stifling her. She tried to move; to cry out; but the plaster body cast was unforgiving in its hold. She couldn’t move, she couldn’t breathe, she was going to suffocate…
Annie sat bolt upright with a start, fully awake and drenched in sweat, her heart thumping. It took her a moment to realise where she was. Then she felt a sense of relief that it had been a bad dream, combined with a sense of acute embarrassment that she’d actually had a nightmare about being in a cast. Why? Was is so bad? She’d been in two at once before, and while not at all nice, it wasn’t the stuff of nightmares! Perhaps all the ‘photos of Ros or Susan in a cast of some kind that she and Bobbi had secretly amused themselves by finding and counting all over the house…?
Perhaps it was that she hadn’t been sleeping that well, being in a strange bed, and with her injured toes hurting intermittently. She had attended to her them as best she could, without mentioning anything to the others. She had used sticking plaster wrapped quite heavily around her squashed second and fourth toes and part of the way down onto her foot below each toe, hoping this would keep them sufficiently immobile to allow them to heal. Unfortunately this irritated her at night, resulting in fitful periods of sleep, from which she would wake suddenly if the knocked her painful toes or caught them on the bed sheets.
As if on cue, she was reminded of just how aggravating the sticking plaster taped all over her right foot was. It itched, and she wiggled her toes in annoyance. Immediately she wished she hadn’t, as pain flooded up from the two mummified digits. Sleep seemed now out of the question, at least for a while. She got out of bed, and crossed to the window. The grey light of dawn was creeping over everything, and so she sat down at the window desk to look out.
Annie thought about her time at Ros’s house so far. The last few days had passed without incident. The weather was wet, so they went out only occasionally, but Ros’s house was quite a fun place to spend time in. They also met the other occupant of the house, and huge fluffy white cat called Princess, whom Ros clearly adored. However, Princess had hissed at Annie, and had scratched Bobbi’s hand when she had tried to stroke her. Bobbi declared the cat was evil, but Ros said Bobbi must have frightened her. Ros would sit in the evenings; her white plastered leg out in front of her, and the large white cat making a striking colour match as she sat on Ros’s lap, purring, but looking at Annie and Bobbi as if they were alien invaders…!
A large white cat was still occupying Annie’s thoughts when a load KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK came from her bedroom door, along with Bobbi’s shout of “Nine o’clock! Breakfast!” and the clack-clack on Bobbi’s crutches on the wooding landing as she moved off. Annie raised her head out of her hands, realised she’d fallen asleep again, and murmured “coming….” Still more than half asleep, she reached for her dressing gown, and ran a hand through her tousled hair. Her slippers has fallen off her feet as she had been dozing, and she slipped her left foot back into the padded warmness. The right slipper had slid further away however, and she thrust her right foot towards its inviting comfort, when …CRUNCK! She surfaced properly from sleep in an instant. What was that? A numbness spread up from the front of her right foot, then a dull ache. She looked under the desk, and saw she unintentionally rammed her right foot into the ornately carved leg of the desk. She had caught the leg squarely between her two taped-up toes. The ache increased to a steady throb, and she pulled her foot out, full of alarm! Her middle toe looked very angry, and with a concertina shape to it now. The pain mounted as she continued to gaze at her foot…
It was a tried, grumpy, and dishevelled Annie who finally hobbled into the kitchen at 9.25 that morning. She had taped her injured toe up as best she could, using her rapidly dwindling supply of sticking plaster from her luggage. She limped as she walked, as her toes hurt whenever she put weight on her foot, but she hoped it wasn’t too noticeable. Bobbi and Ros were already in the kitchen. Ros was dressed in shorts and a patterned T-shirt, and was standing at the cooker, elegantly balanced on one leg, poaching eggs. Bobbi, on the other hand, was still in her pyjamas, although without her dressing gown on. Going without crutches seemed to be the order of the day, as both Bobbi’s and Ros’s were leaning against the wall near the large bay window on the other side of the kitchen.
“Good morning!” Ros called, cheerfully.
“Morning…” Annie mumbled back, as she sat down at the table, already convinced it was far from good.
“What’s up with you?” queried Bobbi, making her way from where she was leaning next to Ros, to join Annie seated at the table. Without her crutches, she had to make this short journey purely by hopping, and that method of locomotion wasn’t suited to people with Bobbi’s figure. Her melon-sized breasts bounced alarmingly with every jolt, threatening at any moment to jump right out of her top. However, she reached the table without embarrassing herself, and slumped down in a chair, stretching out her long leg with her plastered foot, and bringing it down to rest on the table top with a loud ‘thump’.
“Nothing…” said Annie, and anxious to change the subject, but with her mind still occupied with her own injured foot asked: “How’s your toe?”
“Huh…hurts” said Bobbi. “Toes always do if you break ‘em … as you should know!” she added with a grin. As she said this, the prodded Annie’s toes with her own bare foot. She never intended to hurt Annie, being ignorant of the broken and damaged toes she had recently suffered, but unfortunately she prodded Annie’s right foot.
“OW!” exploded Annie, but just at that moment, Bobbi was distracted by Ros’s shout of “It’s ready!”
* * *
After breakfast (which wasn’t easy to serve or clear away, owing to two of the girls being in casts), Bobbi asked Ros if the could do something she’d been wanting to do for a while.
“Can we look in the derelict part of your house now?!”
“Well,” answered Ros, reluctantly. “There’s nothing much in there, and it’s a bit dangerous you know”
“Screw the danger! I bet there’s all sorts of cool stuff in there!” said Bobbi.
“Oh well, if you want to” replied Ros, gathering up her crutches. “Don’t you want to get dressed first though?”
“No…” answered Bobbi. “I’m good like this…let’s go!”
Annie followed Bobbi and Ros, wishing Bobbi wouldn’t be so impatient all the time. Annie didn’t think a semi-ruinous wing of a mansion really sounded like her sort of place, but she was curious to see inside.
Upstairs, at the end of a long corridor past the bedrooms, Ros halted and unlocked a large oak door.
“Make sure you close it behind you,” she warned. “I don’t want Princess to get in here.”
She passed through the door, followed by Annie. A short passageway opened out into a large and high-ceilinged room, that had evidently been some sort of ballroom in years before. It was gloomy, and the lights didn’t work, but enough light was coming in through the tall windows all down one side, each hung with mouldy-looking curtains. The walls were peeling, the ceiling cracked, and boxes an all sorts of other junk were piled up in places. At the far end a sort of wooden gallery with a staircase up to it jutted out from the darkness half way up the end wall. It looked fairly dull to Annie, but this wasn’t everyone’s view.
“Wow!” exclaimed Bobbi, as she crutched through the archway. “What an amazing place!”
She crutched around the piles of old boxes and stuff, stopping occasionally and looking in them. She uncovered a portrait, which, also faded by age and damp, was still in fair condition. It showed a young lady in that looked like early Victorian costume, sitting on a garden seat. She had Ros’s read hair, and, unusually, a white, patterned eye-patch over her right eye.
“Who’s this?” asked Bobbi.
“That is my great-great-great … er … great grandmother, who used to live here,” explained Ros. Both Annie and Bobbi exchanged glances when they noticed the eye-patch.
Being characteristically nosey, Bobbi continued to rummage through some photographs, of varying age. One, an old holiday snap, caught her attention. It showed a slightly younger Ros and Susan, and a young, dark-haired girl, who looked about Ros’s age. Startlingly, or perhaps inevitably, the sisters and the dark-haired girl were all in casts. Ros was leaning on crutches; the top of a SLC on the right leg just visible, while a much decorated SAC was on Susan’s left arm. The dark-haired girl in the middle was the most casted. She was sitting in a wheelchair, her right arm in a LAC, and with casts to her knees on both her legs. Closer inspection showed that her right pinkie toe was also taped up, and strapped to the one next to it.
“Where’s this taken, and who’s she?” asked Bobbi.
“In America, about three years ago,” Ros answered. “I’ve got family over there. That’s my cousin Laura.”
“Yeah… I can see some similarities…!” said Bobbi, with another sideways glance at Annie.
Just then a movement in the gloom distracted them. Something white was flitting between the boxes.
“PRINCESS!” wailed Ros. “I thought you shut the door…?!”
“Ah… oops…” said Bobbi.
At Ros’s insistence, frantic efforts were made to catch Princess, or at least shoo her out of the room. The problem was, Princess didn’t seem to want to leave. None of the girls were very quick on their feet (be it two or just one!), and wherever they went, Princess would evade them and sneak off somewhere else, until she eventually scampered up the staircase at the far end of the room and into the darkness. Ros set off in pursuit, the stairs creaking ominously under her weight. As she neared the top, Princess appeared on the railing.
“There she is!” said Bobbi, moving closer.
“I think I can get her…” replied Ros, holding her crutches in one hand and reaching out with her other for the elusive feline. Just has her hand neared Princess, the cat leapt off the gallery. Ros lunged, misjudged, and toppled over the shallow rail with a cry of surprise; landing several feet below with a loud THUMP!
Princess landed easily on a long shelf by Bobbi, causing it to wobble severely. A large and heavy book end tumbled off, and plummeted towards Bobbi’s bare right foot, which it struck with a CRASH! Bobbi yelled out at the top of her voice, tried to hop on her already plastered foot, and finally collapsed in a clattering mess of arms, legs, cast and crutches. Princess had disappeared.
“Oh…!” squealed Annie, jumping about in a panic. “Bobbi…? Ros!?”
Bobbi swore, and Ros moaned. “You’d better get an ambulance…!” Bobbi eventually managed to say.
“Yes. Ambulance. Yes. Right” Annie found herself saying. She didn’t have her mobile on her, but knew there was a telephone in the hallway. She dashed as fast as her injured toes would allow, out of the dark room, through the passage way, and along the landing. Unfortunately, either because she was running too fast, or she was in too much of a panic, she didn’t notice the kink in the rug at the top of the stairs. Her sore foot caught the fold just as she was about to run down the stairs, and she felt herself overbalance. The last thing she saw was Princess, sitting with her eyes half closed, staring at Annie as she tripped head-first down the stairs.
Annie tried to wake up. There was a bright light. Headache. Sleep.
An unknown time later, she tried again. Still bright light. Ache all over. Hangover? Car crash?! It will be better in the morning. Sleep.
Gradually she became aware she couldn’t move easily. Come to think of it, she couldn’t move at all! Then she remembered. Ros’s house. The stairs. The fall…!
As if on cue, various pains started and magnified all over her body. She moaned and stirred as best she could. She heard a familiar, cheerful voice:
“Hey, looks like she’s waking up!”
With a huge effort, Annie opened her eyes. She saw she was in hospital, but this didn’t come as a shock to her. What did come as a shock was the sight of Bobbi, sitting in a wheelchair, with her feet propped up in front of her. She was in a black t-shirt and skirt, with a cast covering each leg from her knees down. Her small toes were exposed, but the plaster rose up to encase the big toes of each foot, exaggerating their size to almost comic proportions.
Behind her stood Ros, leaning on the wheelchair. Ros was wrapped up in a foam collar, with her left arm in a sling. The cast that had been on her leg had been replaced with one that stretched right up under her skirt, but she appeared to be able to stand on it.
“Hey, how are ya?” asked Bobbi.
“Yeah, I’m….” Annie suddenly stopped, and stared at herself. She couldn’t move her neck, as it was held in place with a plastic brace, but she could see enough to leave her speechless. She wasn’t wearing any clothes, but there was no need too. Only a sheet obscured her middle. One huge cast covered her abdomen and torso. It extended all the way down her right leg, continuing up past the tips of her toes, which were held securely in the plaster. It also extended upwards over her left shoulder and arm, which was held out sideways by a rope suspended from the ceiling. Her right arm was resting by her side, in a long arm cast similar to the one she had been in last year. Her left leg was also in plaster, from the top of her thigh down to her foot, and held up in the air by another rope and pulley system, attached to a weight. However, where she expected to she her poor bent toes poking out the end, she saw a mass of splints, bandages, and sticking tape. She tried to speak, bout couldn’t.
“Um…yeah…you broke quite a lot I’m afraid. And your toes, they…ah….hadn’t healed properly, so the docs re-set them…” Annie lay back, closed her eyes, and groaned!
“Well….I’ll let you go back to sleep if you like…” said Bobbi. She started to wheel herself past the bed, but Ros stopped her.
“Oh we almost forgot!” she said. She took a blue marker pen out from her bag, and hobbled toward Annie’s hanging casted left leg.
ALL THE BEST HOPE YOU MEND SOON LUV ROS
“There you go…” she started to say, but her hand caught in the ropes attached to the cast, and as she jerked it free, the mechanism fell apart. Annie’s leg flopped onto the bed, and the large weight, with nothing to counter it now, started to fall. Annie squealed, but was unable to move. She opened her eyes wide, and watched in horror, as if in slow motion, the weight fell, sickeningly and inevitably, onto her poor twisted, bandaged, and recently re-set left toes!!!