Doris winds wool and cotton thread around a framework of sticks which she has picked up on her walk around the garden.
‘Come on Doris,’ says the girl. Doris looks up. The girl is new. They are always having new staff and this one is even younger than the rest. She carries on winding.
‘It’s time for tea.’ The girl offers a hand to ease Doris from the seat in the bay window. ‘It’s your favourite. Chicken supreme.’
Doris contemplates the idea of chicken supreme. There was a time, back in her student days, when she thought that chicken supreme was posh, on a par with that Vesta curry that Margot used to buy from the new supermarket on the high street. But that was a long time ago. Before. Before what, she’s not quite sure.
She ties off the length of thread and holds the dreamcatcher up to the light. Yes, dreamcatcher, that’s what it’s called. There’s a girl standing by her chair and she’s looking at Doris as if she’s expecting her to do something.
‘Pretty, isn’t it?’ says Doris. She turns the dreamcatcher one way and then another. One of the wools has got gold thread twisted into it and glints in the afternoon sunlight.
‘Lovely,’ says the girl. ‘Now it’s time to put it down and come through to the dining room. Your tea will be going cold.’ She looks over her shoulder, towards the door. ‘Please Doris.’ she says, her voice dropping to a whisper. She looks like she’s going to cry.
‘Are you hungry?’ Doris asks, sensing the girl is unhappy. ‘Only they do a nice tea here if you are.’ She places the wool and stick thing on the table. She pushes herself to her feet and takes the girl’s hand. ‘This way, my dear.’
The girl brightens, the frown disappearing from her face as Doris takes her hand and leads her to the dining room. She is obviously half-starved, poor girl.
The matron is standing by the door. She smiles.
‘Well done,’ the matron says to the girl. ‘It usually takes two of us to shift her.’
Doris shakes her head.
‘Oh no,’ Doris says. ‘She was hungry. She was quite happy to come with me.’