#28 “Doc Martin” FanFiction – “Easier Said than Done”

This story takes place during the first series of “Doc Martin.” It imagines what might have happened between Martin and Louisa during the early days of their acquaintance. The Coast Path, following some beautiful, unspoiled sections of coast, runs nearly twelve miles between Port Isaac and Padstow, providing hikers with long and short scenic options.

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by Karen Gilleland © 2015

Louisa zipped up her blue, lightweight jacket as she walked toward the harbor. The twilight sky was beginning to twinkle with stars, and a breeze played with her bangs and ponytail. She noticed P.C. Mark Mylow, handsome in a red pullover and black slacks, sipping beer at a table at the inn.

“Evening, Mark. Lovely weather.”

“’Another beautiful day in paradise,’ as the saying goes, although our new ‘Doc’ would probably disagree.”

“Why do you say that?”

“He was down this way a while ago. Seems to carry a black cloud about with him. Peggy Benton, Mrs. Willard’s daughter, asked when her mother could be released from hospital. All he said was, ‘I’m not in the office, am I? Make an appointment.’”

Tipping his glass toward her, Mark added, “He’s hard to figure. People are grumbling that we should have brought in a friendlier doctor.”

Louisa grimaced. She’d been on the committee that had chosen Martin Ellingham and had voiced a similar opinion at the time. Now that he was here, she felt obliged to defend him.

“He’s used to the big city. He needs time to adjust to village life. Don’t take his attitude personally.”

“Yes, but–” Mark kept his eyes on the table.

Feeling uneasy, Louisa said, “I’d better go. I’m about to walk a little ways up the Coast Path.” Pointing toward the top of the rise jutting out over the harbor, she added, “I want to get back while it’s still light.”

She waved and started up the hill. When she reached the surgery, Martin was walking down the steps.

“Hello, Martin.”

“Louisa.” He started to walk off, but stopped and turned. “Were you coming to see me for a medical complaint?”

“No, I’m just walking the hill.”

“Ah, I was about to do the same thing.”

“Would you like company?”

He hesitated, finally said, “I walk pretty fast.”

Louisa felt her face flush, and she said quickly. “You go on then. I take it slow and easy.”

Martin nodded and strode off. She took a deep breath and reminded herself of what she’d said to Mark. Don’t take his attitude personally.

 But she did take it personally and felt rebuffed. She walked much more slowly than she’d intended so that she wouldn’t catch up to him if he stopped.

Passing other hikers on their way back to the village, she greeted them with a smile, butport isaac the feeling of rejection still rankled. At one of the overlooks, she sat down on a bench and gazed at the harbor, at last relaxing and enjoying the quiet.

She sat there longer than she realized. By the time she stood up to leave, lights were flickering on in the houses below. I should have brought a torch, she thought as she picked her way down the dark path.

Suddenly she stumbled on the uneven surface, skidding down on her hands and knees. She stood up, but the sharp pain in her ankle caused her to cry out. Ouch! She stepped gingerly on her left foot and exclaimed again.

Light from a torch flooded over her. “Are you all right?” asked Martin.

“No,” she snapped.

“What happened?”

“I tripped. I think I sprained my ankle.”

“Here, lean on me. I’ll check you out at the surgery.” He took her arm, and she limped along beside him, feeling like a child on the way to the principal’s office.

They didn’t speak until they were inside the building. He helped her up on the couch and took off her shoe. “Nasty sprain,” he said and wrapped her ankle in an elastic bandage. He took out a pair of crutches from the closet.

Still feeling resentful, Louisa slid off the couch and murmured, “Thank you.”

Martin handed her the crutches and went to the cabinet. “Here’s something for the pain. Take one tablet every four hours. You’ll need to keep your leg elevated for several days.”

He walked outside with her and said, “I’ll drive you home.”

Louisa wanted to refuse, but her ankle throbbed. She slipped into the front seat grudgingly. When Martin stopped the car at her house, she saw his hands tighten around the steering wheel. He sat still, looking out the window. Finally he spoke. “It was kind of you to offer to walk the hill with me.”

Surprised by the words and the softness of his voice, she didn’t say anything.

“I didn’t mean to offend you.” He seemed to be struggling with his thoughts.

“During all the years when I was a surgeon in London, I never had a patient die during an operation. I saw each patient only once after surgery, for a post-op exam. It was important to maintain an objective distance.”

He paused, still looking out the window. “Life here is very personal. I treat patients all day long. I run into them at the harbor, when I’m shopping,” he turned toward her, “or out walking.”

Pushing open the car door, he continued, “Occasionally, I know there’s nothing that I, nor anyone else in the medical profession, can do to save a person’s life. Yet I run into that person or his family in the village.”

His words sent a pang of guilt through her, and she shivered. “That must weigh terribly on you.”

Glancing over at her, he shrugged and stretched his leg out of the car. “It’s the reason why I sometimes need to walk things off, alone.”

Before she could respond, he stepped out of the car, walked around and opened her door. His words lingered in the air, touching her heart. As he leaned in, his face close to hers, she whispered, “I understand.”

His eyes held hers a moment, and then he helped her out of the car. Taking her keys, he opened the door, and she stepped inside.

“Would you care for a cup of tea?” she asked.

“No, thanks.” He started to leave, but turned backed. “Would you like me to fix you a cup?”

“I don’t think so. I’ll go to bed and read. The doctor told me to keep my ankle elevated.”

She smiled and thought his eyes twinkled as he said good night.

Obeying doctor’s orders, Louisa kept off her feet. She was grateful to her friends for bringing in meals and shopping for her. After four days’ rest, she declared herself well enough to walk outside.

As she hobbled down the road, Mark Mylow, in the police car, hailed her. “Louisa, can I give you a lift?”

“Thanks, but I seem to be doing okay.”

“Did you hear about Mrs. Willard?”

“No, what?”

“She passed away last night, I’m sorry to say.”

“Oh, dear. What happened?” Louisa pictured the petite, white-haired woman who used to sell homemade jams.

“She went to see the ‘Doc’ Monday, the day you sprained your ankle, in fact. He put her in the hospital. Nothing they could do. I’m on my way over to see the family.”

“I’m sorry. Please pass along my condolences and let me know about the funeral.”

Mark nodded, waved and drove off.

Louisa sat down on a bench and closed her eyes. Thoughts crammed her mind. Mrs. Willard dropping off a jar of her delicious strawberry-lime jam. Martin confiding how hard it was to practice in the small village. Her eyes began to tear. She wasn’t sure if she was crying for Mrs. Willard or for Martin.

Around six the next afternoon, she decided her ankle was healed enough to return the crutches. She used them one final time, walking up to the surgery. The door was locked, and she walked around to the kitchen and knocked.

“Louisa, come in. How’s your ankle? You shouldn’t have walked this far.”

“My ankle is much better. I wanted to return the crutches. Someone else may actually need them.”

“Take a seat. I’ll put them away.”

When he returned and sat down at the table, she said, “I heard about Mrs. Willard. I’m sorry.”

“Well, she was eighty-one. She told me she’d had a good inning.”

He stood up and said, “I’ve just made tea. Would you like a cup?”

“Thank you. That would be nice. White, please, one sugar.”

Pouring the tea, he asked how she’d been managing.

“My bottom got a good work out,” she said, describing how she had to sit to go down the stairs. He looked so uncomfortable at her remark that she laughed at him, and his face flushed.

The telephone rang, and he went into the surgery to answer.

“Sorry,” he said, coming back into the room. “Emergency. I have to leave. I’ll drop you off at your house.”

Instinctively she knew it would be a long time before they would again share such a companionable moment, and the deep feeling of disappointment stirring within her jarred her spirit. She managed to smile and say she understood.

He picked up his bag and followed her out to the car. At her house, he reached for her keys and unlocked the door.

“Thanks for bringing back the crutches. I’m glad you don’t need them any more.”

She was about to tiptoe up to kiss him on the cheek, but he turned quickly and hustled into the car. She stood at the doorway, watching the car drive away. For a long moment, she wondered why she felt such closeness to this man who never made any move to show his feelings toward her.

I need to forget about Martin, she told herself, resolved. As she entered the house, the voice in her head taunted, Easier said than done.

— THE END —

 “Doc Martin” is owned by Buffalo Pictures.

To read all articles and FanFiction, go to the front page of karengilleland.wordpress.com

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#27 “Doc Martin” FanFiction – “All that Glitters”

This story features the “Doc” and Wanda Jean Blanchett (#10 “Dead Handsome” and #24 “Unwrapped Christmas Gifts”). It also recalls Dan Swanson (#3 “Dignity and Courage”) and Trenton Collingsworth (#20, “Badge of Honor”). I like writing about Wanda because she’s the only villager who can rattle the “Doc.” Should you visit London, be sure to tour the incredible, new Globe Theater, brainchild of American film director, Sam Wanamaker.

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 by Karen Gilleland © 2015

Martin looked up from his desk, surprised to see the teenager, dark, curly hair cropped close around her face, brown knit sweater wrapping her tall, frail frame.

“Wanda Jean, what’s wrong?”

“I’m fine, ‘Doc.’ Our class is going to London to see a Shakespeare play at the Globe Theater.”

“Nice.”

“My teacher’s asked for a medical release, because I’ve been absent so much.”

Martin stood up and walked toward the door. “I’ll get your notes.”

He came back, reading her file. “Sit on the couch, please.”

Listening to her heart, he said, “Your heartbeat is weak, but no more than usual.” He put the stethoscope away and sat down. “How are you coping with the pain from the fibromyalgia?”

She shook her head. “Been worse lately.”

“Hmm. I’ll look into some different medicine.”

“Whatever.” She hopped off the couch and took a seat across the desk from him.

He pulled out his prescription pad. “I don’t see any reason why you can’t go to London. I’ll write you a note.”

“Doubt if a note will make any difference.”

“Why do you say that?”

“I don’t think much of Mr. Crenshaw, and I’m not exactly bashful about saying what I think.”

Amen to that, he thought.

“Besides, who wants to see ‘The Merchant of Venice’ anyway?”

“A production at the Globe Theater is special. You’ll enjoy the play.”

“We have to stay overnight. That means sharing a room with three other girls,” she snapped back. “There aren’t three other girls in the class I want to share with.”

Fiddling with the prescription pad, Martin said, “That’s not a medical condition, is it?”

“Mr. Crenshaw wants a guarantee I won’t get ill.”

“Ridiculous. You can’t be serious.”

She sat up straight in the chair, glaring at him, spitting out the words, “Don’t call me ridiculous.”

Screen Shot 2014-02-18 at 12.56.36 PMSurprised by her anger and perplexed by the feeling that he had let her down, Martin sat silent. Finally, he pushed the pad away and said, “Come back tomorrow. I’ll have something sorted.”

“Fine,” she snarled, stood up and stalked out.

Martin dialed a hospital in London. “Mr. Dan Swanson, please.” Several minutes passed before he heard a voice.

“Swanson here.”

“Martin Ellingham, in Portwenn. Need a favor, Dan.”

“What can I do?”

“A teenage patient is supposed to go to London with her class. She suffers from fibromyalgia, but that’s in hand, sort of. The bigger problem is her weak heart, caused by rheumatic fever. Her teacher is afraid to take her along.”

“Where do I come in?”

“I’d like to assure him that, should Wanda become ill, you will go wherever necessary and treat her immediately.”

“Martin—“

“Dan, as I recall, your student, Trenton Collingsworth, followed me around for an entire week. Chances are, the girl won’t need any help at all, but, as insurance—“

“How confident are you that she won’t need help?” Dan cut in.

“Umm, maybe seventy-five percent.”

“Not confident at all, then. Well, I do owe you. Collingsworth came back with a different attitude after that week with you. Fill me in on her condition.”

The two men talked awhile. When they finished, Martin typed out a letter on the computer, slipped it into an envelope and handed it to Morwenna. “Give this to Wanda Jean when she comes in.”

On Saturday, the sun sheltered behind a steel sky at the harbor. Martin noticed the girl on a bench, bundled in a heavy coat, knit cap pulled over her hair.

“Wanda Jean, is everything sorted about London, then?

“No.” Her eyes stayed on the boats drifting in the gloomy harbor.

“Why not?”

“Mr. Crenshaw says he can’t take responsibility for my safety.”

“But I guaranteed him that you would receive immediate treatment, if needed.”

She shrugged.

Martin stared at her, struck by the truth. She’s built up walls to protect herself against disappointment. He should have known. He’d built walls himself, but he’d kept his emotions inside them. She lashes out. Her fury wasn’t aimed at her parents, as his was, but at her illness.

“It was all rubbish about not wanting to share a room or see the play, wasn’t it?”

Her eyes stayed on the boats. “Can’t fool you, can I, ‘Doc’?” she said, dripping sarcasm.

“I’ll talk to Mr. Crenshaw.”

“No! Please!” She jumped up. “Don’t make waves for me, ‘Doc.’ Promise.”

He lowered his head, knew he couldn’t step on her dignity. “All right, I promise.” He turned and trudged up the hill.

Back in his office, eyes closed, thinking about the girl’s predicament, he heard Louisa come in. “Martin, we need to leave for the social in Truro soon.”

He opened his eyes, looked at his diary, saw the note. “Remind me what it’s about.”

“It’s a mixer for staff in our school district. Spouses are invited. I’ve arranged for a sitter to take care of James. You are still coming, aren’t you?”

He heard her sigh, and he nodded. “Yes, what time do we need to leave?”

“About six,” and she glanced at her watch. “One hour.”

Wearing a blue dress with white and yellow flowers on the full skirt, Louisa tucked her arm into Martin’s as they entered the hall. Soft music was playing, and people were talking, laughing, drinking wine. Louisa nudged Martin toward a group near the wall.

“Louisa, nice to see you,” said a curvy, blond woman in a clinging, purple dress, and the others joined in the welcome.

“This is my husband, Doctor Martin Ellingham,” she said, introducing him around the circle.

Hearing the name Brian Crenshaw, Martin’s eyes widened. Louisa’s hand still on his arm, he edged into the space next to the slim man in tan shirt, sporting a tie with an image of Shakespeare.

“Mr. Crenshaw, I believe I wrote you about a student recently.”

“Ah, Doctor Ellingham, I didn’t make the connection.” He leaned into Martin and confided softly, “Yes, Wanda Jean. I’m afraid I can’t shoulder responsibility for an overnight trip.” He shook his head, shrugged. “I’m sure you understand.”

Martin stifled his anger. No waves, he reminded himself. “Of course, but as I explained, a colleague in London promises to be on call should any emergency arise.”

A waiter carrying a tray approached. Louisa accepted a glass of white wine, but Martin shook his head and turned his attention back to Mr. Crenshaw, who was saying, “Is it fair to the other students who attend class regularly to allow someone who is absent so frequently to enjoy the same privileges?”

Martin’s body tensed, thinking of the pain the girl endured everyday. He felt Louisa’s fingers dig into his arm, took a deep breath, smiled. “You’re probably right. I suppose she prefers other activities anyway — sports, ballet, horseback riding?”

“No, no, I doubt it. Much too strenuous, in my opinion.”

“Really? What a shame, then, that she’ll miss out on the play, one activity that doesn’t require physical prowess.” Martin’s eyes beamed innocently at Mr. Crenshaw.

The man shifted his feet. “I suppose the risk wouldn’t be too great, with, as you say, a doctor standing by.”

Martin patted the teacher’s back heartily, before he had a chance to reconsider. “I applaud your spirit. I’m sure Wanda Jean will be very grateful.”

Turning to Louisa, he said, “I’ll get you another glass of wine, shall I?” and snatched her half-empty glass and walked over to the bar, squelching the urge to strangle Mr. Crenshaw.

Two weeks later, Wanda Jean came into his office, looking even taller in the long, denim dress, with a bright red-and-orange scarf loose around her neck. “Got a minute, ‘Doc’?”

“Yes,” he said, putting down his pen. “How was London?”

“Awesome, and we didn’t need to call your doctor friend.”

“Good.” He felt a sense of relief and knew by her smirk that Wanda picked up on it.

She tossed her hair and began talking. “The performance was magical.” Words tumbled out, one thought after another, hardly a breath in between. He felt the energy behind her excitement, even when he missed the words.

“. . . and the theater! They rebuilt the Globe exactly as it was in Shakespeare’s time. NoGlobe Theater electric lights. That’s why they performed in the afternoons. No toilets. That’s why—actually that was disgusting. They have toilets now. Did you know the term ‘auditorium’ came from the fact that plays were written for people to hear more than to see, and actors catered to people in the pricier seats at the side of the stage—“

She stopped. “Of course, you know all that.”

A smile crossed Martin’s face, and she laughed. “Like I said, ‘Doc,’ when you smile, you are dead handsome.”

He coughed and looked down at some paperwork.

She put her hands on the edge of the desk and leaned over. “I have a gift for you.”

“No, not necessary,” he said quickly.

“Shush. I wasn’t very nice to you, and I’d like to make it up.”

“Fine,” he said, recalling what it had cost him to be polite to her teacher.

“Thank you.” Standing straight, shoulders back, chin lifted, she began speaking with great feeling, gesturing with her scarf:

“’Tarry a little; there is something else.

This bond doth give thee here no jot of blood;

The words expressly are ‘a pound of flesh’”

Her voice, clear and ringing, continued through the passionate speech. When she stopped speaking, her eyes crinkled.

Martin drew a deep breath. “Portia. The court scene.” Beautiful, he thought, impressed by her talented recital.

“Knew you’d be surprised,” she grinned, “but I didn’t realize I was that good.”

He raised his eyebrows, thinking how easily she pulled his thoughts out of the air. “So long, Portia.”

She laughed and turned to leave, tossing out another quote from the play: “’All that glitters is not gold.’”

She stopped and met his eyes, her voice quiet. “Not sure what you said to Mr. Crenshaw, but thank you. Glitter or no, ‘Doc,’ you are pure gold.” She floated out the door, trailing the scarf in her dramatic exit.

Martin leaned back in his chair, pleased by her happiness, thinking of another of Portia’s lines: “How far that little candle throws his beams! So shines a good deed in a naughty world.”

— THE END —

 “Doc Martin” is owned by Buffalo Pictures.

To read all articles and FanFiction, go to the front page of karengilleland.wordpress.com

 

#26 “Doc Martin” FanFiction — “Cornwall’s Got Talent”

In the 1990s, Caroline Catz (Louisa) sang with the band, Monoland. The song in this story refers to the lovely “If You Say My Eyes Are Beautiful” by Jermaine Jackson and Whitney Houston, from Jermaine’s “Precious Moments” album (1986), written by Elliot Willensky. The song is also included in “Whitney: The Greatest Hits” (May 2000).

Happy Birthday to my daughter!

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 by Karen Gilleland © 2015

 Louisa heard the tinkling sound of piano scales when she entered the music room. “It’s so kind of you to practice with me,” she said to Roger Fenn, who stopped playing and pushed his unruly hair away from his eyes.

“My pleasure, Louisa. You have a gifted voice. I’m surprised you haven’t sung in our talent show before.”

“I wouldn’t have signed up this time, but your wife caught me singing to the children and twisted my arm. Maureen assured me she’d be in the program herself. I was nearly scared off when I found out performers were coming from as far away as Penzance.”

“Blame Bert Large. He insisted on promoting the show in the Cornish Guardian.” Roger slid his fingers across the keys. “Let’s get to work.”

Screen Shot 2014-02-13 at 1.36.39 PMThe song was still running through her head later that evening when she tapped at the office door and stepped inside, James in her arms. Martin swiveled around from the computer.

“Would you look after James while I clean up in the kitchen?”

Reaching for the infant, he said, “Come on, James, you can watch this heart transplant video with me.”

“Wouldn’t want you to miss that program, would we, Sweetie?” she smiled at the baby, who was waving his arms, and handed him to Martin.

About to turn away, she stopped and picked up the empty cup on his desk. “I’ll bring you some tea.”

“Thank you.” Martin snapped his fingers. “Oh, I ran into Roger Fenn at the harbor. He said something about a talent show tomorrow night. I don’t see a notation in my diary.”

“I know how busy you are with the taskforce,” she said, starting to turn away again.

“What time is it?” he asked, glancing at his diary and picking up his pen.

“Seven. It’s going to be a rather long program. Performers are coming from all around Cornwall. It could be a waste of your time.”

She noticed his eyebrows arch and knew he was puzzled by her coolness. “Would you rather I didn’t come?” he asked. “I’m not crazy about the idea, but you keep telling me we need to do things as a family.”

The baby began fussing, and Martin jiggled him and pointed at the monitor. “Okay, here we go. See, the surgeon is making the first incision.”

Louisa rolled her eyes, but left quickly, thankful for the interruption.

The sky was a washed-out blue as she strolled down to the harbor in the morning. “James, if Daddy comes to the talent show tonight, I’m afraid I’ll be too nervous to sing.”

“Ga-ga-ga.”

“I’ve never performed in front of an audience.”

“Ga-ga-ga.”

“And people from across Cornwall are coming, not only the locals.

“Ga-ga-ga.”

“I knew you’d understand, Sweetness,” she said, stooping down to hug him, and flinching at the sharp twinge in her knees.

In the afternoon, Louisa sliced asparagus, zucchini, bell peppers and onions, tossed them with oil, and set the pan in the oven. When the vegetables were nearly ready, she added the fish and set the table. By the time dinner was ready, she felt herself relax and the stiffness in her joints ease.

While they were eating, Martin asked about the concert, “Did you find someone to mind James this evening?”

“No need,” she answered, fiddling with her fork. “The ladies set up a child-minding service at the hall.”

The telephone rang, and Martin went into the office to answer it. He came out with his bag and said he had to go and see Mrs. Farraday. “I won’t be able to go to the concert with you.”

“Oh,” she gasped, surprised by the sudden pinch in her shoulders.

Martin squinted, tilted his head. “I didn’t think you’d mind.”

“No, no, it’s fine,” she said, but her eyes widened. “Give my best wishes to Patrice.”

He nodded and hurried out the door.

“James, what’s the matter with me? I didn’t want Daddy to come, but–”

The baby’s eyes crinkled in a smile, causing her to laugh.

“You’re right. We’d better hurry and dress.”

The sun was lowering over the bay when she and James arrived at the center. Lifting him out of the stroller, she glanced into the crowded hall. An usher handed her a program, and her throat tightened when she found her name first on the program.

She looked at James. “I’m not going to panic,” she whispered, gaining confidence from the expression in her son’s eyes, which reminded her of Martin. She carried him into the adjoining room, kissed him and left him with one of the mothers in charge.

Scanning the audience, Louisa spotted Maureen Fenn in the front row and walked over to her.

“Louisa, I’ve saved you a seat. Look at this packed house!”

Louisa turned and noticed Roger, mobile phone in hand, sidling past people near the door and heading in their direction. “Janice Carter has a sore throat,” he whispered. “She was to be our closer with the aria from ‘Madame Butterfly.’ I’m switching you to her spot, Louisa. That means you’ll be first, Sweetheart.” He kissed Maureen lightly, went on stage and sat down at the piano.

“Whew,” said Louisa. “I was terrified of going first.”

“Now I’ve got the jitters,” said her friend, but smiled and added, “at least Roger’s here for me if I bomb.” She stood up and walked toward the stage steps. Louisa looked at the empty seat and sighed, wishing Martin were sitting beside her.

Bert Large, elegant in tuxedo, introduced Maureen, who did a rousing rendition of “A Wonderful World.” The audience sang and clapped along. As she came back to her seat, Louisa stood up and gave her a hug. “You were terrific!”

The next performer, Cadan Chenoweth, played the banjo and sang the Cornish rebel song, “Trelawny,” again to enthusiastic applause. Louisa felt her pulse quicken. I’ll never measure up to these performers.

One after another, the talented singers and dancers continued to please the audience. She glanced at the program. Only one singer ahead of her. Her hands felt clammy, and she struggled to catch her breath.

As Kayna Grenville, in traditional bonnet and apron, walked on stage, Louisa noticed Maureen slip out of her seat, walk over to the entrance. Martin, she breathed. Maureen spoke to him and pointed to the chair. He bent low, came over and sat down.

“You came,” she said, grasping his hand.

“You’re flushed.” He felt her wrist and said, “Take deep breaths.”

Kayna, playing the guitar and singing “Lamorna,” a Cornish folk tune, finished and took a bow, Louisa said, “I have something to tell you—“ But before she could say more, she heard her name being announced.

Martin squeezed her hand, whispered, “Deep breaths. Swallow.”

She felt her feet taking her up onto the stage. Her breathing ragged, she looked out at the audience, heard the opening notes of the piano. Her eyes locked onto Martin. Somehow she found her voice. She began softly, built to a powerful crescendo, then faded again as gently as a shadow.

“If you say my eyes are beautiful

It’s because they’re looking at you

And if you could only see yourself

You would feel the same way too . . .”

When the last, lingering note dropped from her lips with the softness of a sigh, and the whispering keys of the piano stilled, the room fell into a hushed silence. Then a low rumble, rolling across the room, swelled into a roar, as the audience burst into cheers, jumped to their feet. Louisa’s eyes stayed on Martin, who sat motionless, eyes fastened on her.

She felt Bert Large catch her arm, and she looked at him in surprise.

“Ladies and Gentlemen,” he said, “this year, we invited all of Cornwall to join us and added a bit of spice by making the show a competition. You saw and heard fabulous acts all evening.”

The audience responded with wild applause. “Our judges,” and he gestured to two men and a woman in the corner, “have signaled me that the winner of tonight’s competition is Portwenn’s own Louisa Ellingham.” He handed her a trophy and kissed her cheek. “Congratulations, Louisa.”

“Thank you. I’m honored,” she said, her voice trembling, her eyes glossy. As she stepped down, Martin rose, walked over, wrapped his arms around her. They stood in a close embrace, unaware of the applause and the people swirling about them with congratulations.

Louisa and Martin collected James and slipped out of the hall. The car was parked in the driveway since he had come directly from Mrs. Farraday’s. They drove home in silence, Louisa soaking in the energy of the evening.

She sat down on the sofa with James. Martin went into the kitchen, came back and handed her a glass of wine. “I’ll put James to bed,” he said and took the baby upstairs.

Louisa was leaning back, eyes closed, when he returned and sat beside her.

Tilting her head to the side, she asked, “Did you know I was going to be in the program?”

“Not until I arrived.”

“What made you come?” she asked, sitting up straight. “You hate these things, and you had a perfect excuse to stay away.”

He set his elbow on the arm of the couch and propped his chin on his hand before answering, “The terror in your eyes when I said I couldn’t make it. I’m no stranger to panic, remember.”

She laughed, slipped her hand into his. “I wasn’t sure I could go on stage with you there. As it turned out, I don’t think I could have managed without you. When I was singing, I wasn’t aware of anyone else in the room but you.”

Nuzzling the back of her hands against his lips, he sighed. “I’ll remember the look in your eyes, the sound of your voice, the words of that song for the rest of my life.”

Louisa heard again the thunderous applause, then realized it was the sound of her own heart thumping.

— THE END –

“Doc Martin” is owned by Buffalo Pictures.

To read all articles and “Doc Martin” FanFiction, go to the front page of karengilleland.wordpress.com

#25 “Doc Martin” FanFiction — “A Flicker of Love Ignites the Soul”

1365870483

 Happy Valentine’s Day! 

May your Valentine’s Day be touched by romance — or chocolate.

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by Karen Gilleland © 2015

Closing the kitchen door with her hip, Louisa dropped her purse and book bag onto the table and walked into the reception area. She found Morwenna speaking on the telephone and James in the playpen.

“What’s going on, Morwenna?” Louisa asked after the girl had hung up. “Martin said he would mind James this afternoon.”

“’Doc’ was called over to Bodmin on an emergency fifteen minutes ago. He asked me to take care of James until you came,” she said, standing up and heading for the door. “See you Monday. Happy Valentine’s Day.”

Louisa watched the girl walk out, dressed in a flowered, off-the-shoulders top, short shorts, pink tights, and large feathered earrings. Oh, to be twenty again, she thought.

Picking up James, Louisa walked into the kitchen. “Happy Valentine’s Day, darling,” she said, hugging him close. “Would you like to see the Valentines the children gave me?”

She sat down at the table and turned her book bag upside down. The colorful cards tumbled out, and James grabbed hold of one with a red heart and picture of a puppy. He put the card into his mouth, but Louisa exchanged the Valentine for a teething biscuit and set him in the highchair.

valentineShe pulled over a chair close to her son and let him study each card before she read the  verse. James’ eyes crinkled up at the cartoon drawings and stayed on her face as she spoke.

“You’re a peach of a teach!”

“Teacher, you’re the reason school is so cool.

“Roses are red, violets are blue. I’m lucky to have a teacher like you.”

When she had read the last of the cards, she shuffled them into one stack and put a rubber band around it with a slip of paper noting the year. Louisa often asked herself why she kept the cards for two years. “Your daddy would roll his eyes and call me sentimental,” she said, crossing her eyes and sticking out her tongue. The baby laughed and patted his hands.

An hour later, she fed James a dinner of creamed rice and corn, topped off with pears, his favorite dessert. She mixed up a ground beef casserole and popped it into the oven, hoping Martin would be home soon. But by seven o’clock he hadn’t arrived, and Louisa decided to go ahead and eat. Afterwards, she took the baby upstairs and settled him in his crib for the night.

Tidying up, she caught sight of Martin’s gray bathrobe hanging on the hook. Those Valentines really are making me feel sentimental, she thought, and she slipped the gray robe on over her red dress, rolling up the sleeves and hitching up the robe with the belt so she wouldn’t trip.

I look like Dopey in “Snow White,” she chuckled as she glanced in the mirror.

Louisa padded down to Martin’s office and leaned back in his chair. She smiled when she saw the Valentine she’d given him propped up against his computer. She touched the desk gently with the palms of her hands.

The corner of a yellow tablet stuck out from the pile of folders at the edge of the desk, and she pulled the pad over in front of her. Not interested in the medical jargon, Louisa turned the pages slowly, looking at the handwriting, running her hands over the sheets, enjoying a sense of closeness with her absent husband.

As she turned over a page, her own name jumped out at her. She stopped, caught her breath, read the words.

“Louisa”

I existed in a world of gray.

Comfortable, smug, content alone.

I trod through life with weighted step,

Adorned with learning, heart of stone.

 

At flowers I never glanced.

To music I never danced.

How did it happen, then, that moment, when,

Per chance, I touched your face.

 

A firestorm of color – brightest yellows, burning blues,
sensuous reds —

Burst upon me, springing me into a lacy world of love and lust,

Terrifying me  —

I knew not how to live in that enchanted world, stoked with passion, grace and trust.

 

Like a pouncing tiger, I spit out cool reason and feasted on hot jealousy.

I clawed at the tempestuous colors, trampling them back into powdered dust.

 

But to my world of gray, I could ne’er return.

My heart of stone, now cracked, was compelled to learn,

When a flicker of love ignites the soul,

The flame burns on, redeems the fool–

The words ended, as if the pen had suddenly refused to move. Heart pounding, Louisa read the words again. She didn’t hear the door open or Martin’s footsteps until he came into the office. She looked over at him, her eyes brimming with tears.

“Louisa, what’s happened?” He set down his medical bag and walked over to her.

She shuddered, drew a deep breath and touched the yellow tablet. Martin looked at the page she was reading.

“Oh,” he paused, forehead furrowed.

“You wrote me a poem,” she said, her voice shaky.

“I didn’t think it was that bad,” he said, pulling the stool over and sitting down by her.

“You know it isn’t bad. It’s beautiful.”

“Why are you crying?”

“You were never going to show me the poem, were you?” She looked in his eyes and saw the truth of her statement.

Martin put his hand on hers, but she shifted away. He frowned and said, “It’s not finished.”

Louisa shook her head. “You never intended to finish it.”

“No.”

“Why!” she exclaimed.

He sat quiet, as though trying to understand himself. “I’m not sure.”

“That’s rubbish, Martin.” She stood up quickly and tripped over the robe, which had slipped loose. She grabbed onto his arms.

“You’re wearing my robe,” he said, holding her until she caught her balance.

“Is that all you can say?” Louisa pulled up the robe, retied the belt and started past him. “I ask you about a poem, and all you can say is that I’m wearing your robe.”

“I’m not sure what it is you want me to say.”

“If you don’t know, there’s no point in my telling you,” she said, walking away. She halted at the doorway, softening the harsh words. “I’ve left supper for you in the oven. Good night.”

Upstairs, Louisa hung up the gray robe, got ready for bed, snapped off the lamp. Martin, she sighed, will we ever live in the same world?

She lay in bed, eyes open. Light from downstairs cast a soft glow in the darkened bedroom. Half-an-hour passed before blackness blanketed the room. She heard Martin’s light tread on the stairs. After a while, she felt him slip into bed.

“Are you awake?” he whispered.

“Yes.”

“Tell me why you’re angry.”

“I’m not angry any more. I just feel sad.”

“You have to tell me why, because I truly don’t understand.”

Louisa pushed herself up and sat back against the pillows, drawing a deep breath. “The reason I was hurt when I read those beautiful words is that I’ve lived in a world where I thought you were incapable of expressing tenderness and love. Then I find that you are eloquent, passionate even, but you never share your thoughts with me.”

She stopped, but he didn’t speak. “I’m your wife, and I need to hear the words.”

Flinging back the covers, Martin sat up on the edge of the bed, his back to Louisa. “Why are words so hard for me to say?” he began, frustration in his voice. “In my head, I tell you all the time that I love you. That you mean the world to me. That life wouldn’t be worth living without you.”

Louisa inhaled sharply, taken aback by the fervor of his words, at the same time, knowing she had to be honest about her own feelings. “Martin, I love you. I understand that sharing your feelings is difficult. But we have a son, and we have to set an example, so he will know how to express his feelings one day, when he falls in love.”

“Our son, in love,” he echoed, seemingly awed by the notion.

Silence stretched in the darkness. She sensed his struggle, waited, giving him time, aware that his response would have a lasting impact on their relationship.

He slid over near her, and finally the passing moments melted into words. “When I wrote that poem, I’d been thinking about the mistakes I’d made, how foolishly I’d treated you, how I nearly let you walk out of my life. I was embarrassed by my failures.”

Louisa slipped down under the covers, shivering, the tension draining away.

Martin wrapped an arm around her and said, “Even in my blackest moment, I felt certain that your love would never desert me. I want you to feel that certainty, to know that you can always count on my love.”

Tears stung her eyes, words caught in her throat. When the flood of emotions ebbed, she said, “Your poem stirred me to the very depths of my soul.”

Martin stroked her hair, spoke, caressing her with his voice. “’At flowers I never glanced. To music I never danced. How did it happen, then, that moment, when, Per chance, I touched your face.’” His voice faded as he brushed her cheek, kissed her lips.

— THE END –

“Doc Martin” is owned by Buffalo Pictures.

To read all articles and FanFiction, go to the front page of karengilleland.wordpress.com

#24 “Doc Martin” FanFiction — “Bony Pony 2”

by Karen Gilleland © 2014

This story is based on true events that happened to my niece many years ago, when she was six years old.

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 Screen Shot 2014-12-25 at 1.33.56 PM“Doctor Ellingham!”

Walking down the hospital corridor, Martin was passing the pediatrics unit when he heard the shout. He stopped in front of an attractive, blond-haired woman wearing jeans and a plaid work shirt. Suddenly she began sobbing and shaking.

Martin’s eyes widened, and he took hold of the woman’s arms, his memory fighting for her name. “You’re Mrs. Barker, right?”

“Banks, Kerra,” she sniffed.

“What’s happened?”

“Our little girl, Linda. She’s dying, and the doctors tell us there’s nothing they can do. They say she may not make it through the night. Father Michaels is giving her last rites.”

The woman’s voice gave way to violent sobbing, and Martin put his arms around her shoulders. After a few moments, he eased out of the awkward embrace and assisted Kerra into a chair; then he strode over to the nurse’s station.

“Doctor Ellingham,” he said, “I’m Linda Banks’ GP, and I’d like to see her attending physician.”

The nurse sent a sympathetic glance toward Mrs. Banks, and said, “Doctor Carstairs is looking after Linda.”

“Page him, please. Which room is Linda’s?”

The nurse gestured toward a closed door, which opened as they spoke. A white-haired priest emerged, pain visible on his face. The priest walked over and sat down beside Mrs. Banks.

Martin pushed open the door to Linda’s room and saw a girl, about six years old, long, blond hair like her mother’s. The child’s face was chalk white. One hand rested beside a brown, cloth pony. Martin picked up her other hand and felt the faint pulse.

Gently laying the girl’s hand back down, Martin snatched up the clipboard at the foot of the bed and skimmed the notes, frowning as he saw nothing conclusive.

Martin noticed Linda’s eyes flicker, and he sat down next to the bed. “Hello, Linda. I’m Doctor Ellingham. Do you hurt anywhere?”

The girl didn’t speak, but her fingers tapped her right leg.

A young man opened the door, introduced himself as Doctor Carstairs, and invited Martin to his office. “I don’t see your name on record as Linda’s GP, Doctor Ellingham, so I’m afraid—“

Martin raised a hand, lowered his head, and said, “No time. What is wrong with Linda Banks?”

“We don’t know,” the man answered. “Her white blood count is up, indicating infection, but we can’t identify the strain.”

“What do you plan to do?”

“Nothing more we can do. We’ve told her parents Linda’s condition is so aggressive that we could lose her at any time.”

Martin’s mouth opened, but he held himself in check and asked, “Antibiotics?”

“Yes, we’re treating her with general antibiotics,” said Carstairs, riffling through papers on his desk, “but not anything specific for her condition.”

“I asked Linda if she was in pain,” said Martin, “and she touched her leg. Have you tested her for osteomyelitis?”

“No, not specifically.”

“Then schedule an X-ray, MRI and bone biopsy immediately.”

“The blood work doesn’t indicate osteomyelitis,” said Carstairs, who looked at his watch and started to rise.

Screen Shot 2014-12-26 at 11.05.40 AM“Osteomyelitis is nearly impossible to diagnose without the tests I’ve mentioned,” pressed Martin, eye fixed on the young physician. “As her GP, I insist you order the tests. You’ll find me in Linda’s room,” and Martin turned his back on the young man, who was muttering about verifying that Martin was indeed Linda’s GP.

When Martin returned to Linda’s room, he picked up the clipboard and was scrutinizing the notes when two medical attendants arrived, a bald-headed man and a heavy-set woman. They lifted Linda onto a gurney and started to wheel her out of the room.

“Wait!” called Martin. “Take her horse.”

The woman narrowed her eyes and kept going, but the bald-headed man stopped. “Whatever you say, Doctor Ellingham.” He picked up the toy and tucked it under Linda’s blanket.

“Mind you don’t forget it when—“

“Yes, Doctor Ellingham,” said the man, nodding to the woman. “Let’s go.”

Martin walked out to the waiting area as the priest was saying good-bye to Mrs. Banks. Martin explained what was happening. Kerra lifted her shoulders as she took in the news. “So there’s hope?”

“Possibly.” Martin paused and asked, “Why did you not bring your daughter to see me when her symptoms began?”

Mrs. Banks shrugged. “Linda started vomiting two nights ago. We put her in the car and drove straight here. I was so flustered I didn’t list you as GP, so you weren’t notified. Nurse just asked me to sign a form. Sorry, Doctor.”

Martin nodded.

“I’m a bit knackered because I’ve been here ever since we came in,” Kerra said. “We have sheep and horses, so my husband can only come at night.”

Realizing the woman was near collapse, Martin said, “These tests will take several hours. It might be a good idea for you to take a taxi and go home and rest. I’ll stay with Linda.”

The woman hesitated, but finally said, her voice weary, “Thank you, Doctor. That’s very kind.”

Afternoon was fading when Doctor Carstairs told Martin, “The X-ray wasn’t conclusive, but the MRI showed a mass in Linda’s right leg. We performed a biopsy and are awaiting results. Linda’s on her way back to the room.” He stopped talking, took a deep breath and said, “She’s slipped into a light coma.”

“Oh, God,” said Martin, thinking, the girl could die before we even diagnose her.

An hour later, Doctor Carstairs entered the room, where Martin sat by the unconscious girl. “We’ve confirmed osteomyelitis in her tibia and have isolated the bacteria strain,” Carstairs said. “We’re about to start a new course of antibiotics to stop the infection from spreading.”

Martin sighed. “God help us it’s not too late.”

Head bowed, the doctor walked to the door, but turned back. “Thank you for your help, Doctor Ellingham,” he said, lifted his head and gave Martin a thumbs-up sign. Martin acknowledged the gesture and sat back to wait, thinking that even the horse had a forlorn look in its eyes.

Martin was writing a note on the clipboard when Kerra and her husband came into the room. Ted Banks, tall, thin, sandy haired, looked at Martin with raised eyebrow.

Answering the unspoken question, Martin said, “Your daughter has osteomyelitis, an infection in a bone in her leg.”

“Will she live?” asked the man, gripping Kerra’s arm.

“Linda’s being treated with a different course of antibiotics.” Martin looked down at the child and said, “She’s not out of the woods. She’s in a light coma, and we’re waiting for her to wake up.” As he spoke the words, the girl sighed and moved her hand slightly.

“Linda, baby girl,” breathed her mother, sitting down on the other side of the bed. Linda’s father pulled a chair next to Kerra, picked up the girl’s hands, but Linda made no other response. The parents looked at each other, and Martin saw the fear in their eyes.

Reaching into the crib, Martin picked up the horse. “This fellow has seen a lot of wear,” he said, hoping to ease the tension, and he set the toy back down next to the girl.

Kerra smiled. “Three years ago, when our mare had a foal, Linda looked at its skinny legs and said, ‘Bony Pony.’ We gave her this toy, and it became, ‘Bony Pony 2.’ She carries it everywhere.” Kerra brushed her hand over the horse, and tears filled her eyes.

Martin walked to the door and asked the nurse to send in a coffee tray. As he, Kerra and Ted sipped coffee, Martin answered questions, but his eyes captured every blip on the monitors. About nine o’clock, he noticed that Linda had begun sweating, and he motioned to the parents. “Her fever’s broken,” he said. “That’s a good sign.”

Minutes later, Linda opened her eyes. Her parents let out a squeal of joy. Martin didn’t speak, but pressed the button for the nurse.

Soon, the night doctor and three nurses surrounded Linda’s bed, changing the IV, checking the girl’s temperature, taking blood samples. The team finished and left. Nearly an hour later, the doctor returned and announced, “The blood tests show the antibiotics are working, so I’m cautiously optimistic that Linda has passed the crisis point.”

The words spilled like tonic into the room, and Martin said, “Why don’t you two go home. Linda will have to stay in hospital several weeks. She may even need surgery, so you’ll be spending a lot of time here. I’ll keep watch until morning.”

“I don’t know how we can ever thank you, Doctor Ellingham,” said Ted Banks, rising to shake Martin’s hand. “We’d lost hope,” and Martin saw the man’s eyes flicker to catch back tears.

Kerra walked over and hugged Martin, her head on his chest. “I’ve never been so scared,” she whispered. “Thank you for saving our darling angel.”

Martin nodded and watched the couple leave. He sat down beside the girl, who had fallen into a natural sleep, her arm around Bony Pony 2. Early in the morning, Mrs. Banks returned. Martin reassured her that Linda’s condition was stable, and he took his leave.

Patients were sitting in reception when Martin walked into his surgery. He stepped past them into the kitchen, where Louisa was eating cereal. “Martin,” she said, “how is Linda Banks?”

“She has a bone infection, but it’s in hand.”

“How are you?”

Martin merely shrugged, poured himself an expresso and went into his office to see the first patient.

Shortly after dinner that evening, Martin sat slumped at his desk reading lab reports when Louisa came in and said, “I’ve drawn you a hot bath. Go upstairs. Now.”

Martin looked at her, nodded and pushed the papers aside. “Thank you,” he answered, and he plodded up the steps.

Relaxing in the hot tub, water up to his neck, Martin leaned back and sipped the whiskey that Louisa had brought up and insisted he drink.

Afterwards, about to drop into bed, Martin stopped, visions of a small girl fighting for her life filling his mind. He turned, walked into James’ bedroom and lifted up the sleeping infant, along with the stuffed bear scrunched under his legs. Martin carried the two into the other room, slipped under the covers, wrapped an arm around his son and fell into a deep sleep.

— THE END –

“Doc Martin” is owned by Buffalo Pictures.

To read all articles and FanFiction, go to the front page of karengilleland.wordpress.com

#23 “Doc Martin” FanFiction – “Unwrapped Christmas Gifts”

by Karen Gilleland © 2014

I’d like to extend warm wishes to all of you “Doc Martin” fans that you may be blessed with the gifts of love, joy and peace during this Christmas season. This story is my “unwrapped Christmas Gift” to all of you.

Notes: It’s been exactly a year since I wrote my first FanFiction, “Christmas Memories,” which took place on Christmas eve. This story takes place the next day. You may remember Wanda Jean Blanchett from FanFiction #10, “Dead Handsome,” and there’s an echo of a theme from #16, “Close Encounters.” 

Enjoy the story and the season.

 ————————————-***————————————-

Church bells chiming. Crisp air stirring on a cloudless Christmas morning. Louisa, in a red, woolen dress, wearing the gold heart Martin had given her, linked arms with her husband as he carried James out of the church.

“This is nice, isn’t it, Martin, attending Christmas service as a family. Spending our first Christmas day together.”

“Umm,” said Martin.

The church-goers gathered in front of tables set with pasties and coffee. “Morning, Louisa, ‘Doc,’” said Bert Large, as he and Jennifer nudged through the crowd and stopped to chat. Martin nodded, but after a few minutes, he slipped away with James to a secluded spot by a tree.

The baby dozed, and Martin let his gaze follow the villagers. He wondered if Mrs. Harvey’s sinus infection had cleared up. Tommy Sutton was coughing. He should be in bed, thought Martin. Mr. Mitchell hobbled over to a bench and sat beside two white-haired women. He looks good for his age, but I’d like to take a look at that leg of his.

Engaged in these thoughts, Martin stiffened at the sound of an unexpected voice. “Hi ‘Doc,’ I know what you’re doing,” said Wanda Jean Blanchett.

“What do you mean?” he asked, looking at the teenager, huddled in a dark brown coat, hair stuffed into a knit cap.

“I’ve been watching you. You’re diagnosing the villagers. No need to worry about Mr. Mitchell. They’ll have to shoot him on Judgment Day.”

“You’re sure about that, are you?”

“Yes, the one you should worry about is Miss Hocking.”

Glancing about the crowd, Martin asked, “Which one is she?”

“She’s not here. That’s the problem. She never misses Christmas service.”

“Could be any number of reasons why she hasn’t turned up.”

“No, ‘Doc,’ if she isn’t here, she’s ill,” insisted Wanda Jean, hands on her hips, eyes locked on Martin’s.

“Umm,” said Martin, shifting James in his arms and wondering why he felt compelled to pay attention to this young woman’s conjectures. “Where does Miss Hocking live?”

“Bodmin Moor. She’s elderly and she lives alone. I called, but no answer.”

Martin stood quiet for a full minute, weighing his plans to spend Christmas day with his family against going on some wild goose chase, but he couldn’t shake the unease Wanda had implanted in his mind. “All right, I’ll go and check on Miss Hocking.”

“Knew you’d do the right thing, ‘Doc.’ I already wrote down the directions.” Wanda grinned and handed him a slip of paper.

Martin walked over to Louisa. “May I have a word?” he whispered.

Louisa stepped away from the group, raised an eyebrow and said, “What is it, Martin?”

“Miss Hocking wasn’t at the service, and Wanda Jean thinks she must be ill. I promised to drive out and check.”

“Martin, you promised me –” Cutting off the sentence, Louisa shrugged and said, “Never mind. Go.”

“I’m sorry.” He handed the baby to Louisa. “I’ll be back as quick as I can.”

Martin hurried to surgery for his medical bag and headed out. After driving some distance, he worried that he’d passed the place, until rounding a curve, he spotted the sign announcing Rose Lane. He stepped on the brake, made a sharp turn into the lane and saw the two-story, stone house, set amid a beautifully kept garden.

Knocking at the door, Martin listened for footsteps, but heard nothing. He jiggled the knob and peered in the front window. Nothing. As I thought, a wild goose chase. Nevertheless, he walked around to the back, where he found the kitchen door unlocked. He stepped inside and shouted, “Hello, it’s Doctor Ellingham. Anybody here?”

No response. He ventured into the front room, where dozens of splashy, flowering plants caused him to sneeze. He held his handkerchief over his nose and mouth to fend off the heady fragrance.

Martin called out again as he climbed the stairs. Miss Hocking, dressed in a burgundy suit, was lying on the floor. He dashed over to her, took hold of her wrist and let out a sigh of relief, although her pulse was very weak. He noticed a lump on her forehead and a bluish cast to her fingernails. He held smelling salts under her nose, and she blinked.

“Miss Hocking,” he said in a loud voice, “what happened?”

“Dizzy,” she murmured. “Passed out. Head hurts.”

“I think you hit your head against the wall. I’ll call an ambulance.” Martin checked vital signs and managed to keep the woman awake until the ambulance arrived and he’d given the paramedics a report of his examination.

Driving away from the house, Martin puzzled over something he’d noticed, but couldn’t bring into focus. As he passed a nearby house with flowers in the window, the missing piece clicked in his brain. Flowers, the bluish cast to her fingernails. Plant-food poisoning.

Martin swerved into a wide spot, turned toward Truro and tromped on the accelerator. When he arrived at hospital, he jumped out and caught the paramedics as they were wheeling the patient down the hall.

“Wait a moment,” Martin shouted. He leaned over the woman and asked, “Miss Hocking, were you feeding your plants this morning?”

She nodded.

“I think you may have inhaled fertilizer, creating a condition known as methemoglobinemia, which means your blood cells aren’t getting enough oxygen.”

Doctor Sharma, the physician on call, met the medical team in the hallway. Martin explained his suspicions, and Doctor Sharma ordered blood tests.  The results confirmed Martin’s diagnosis, and the two doctors discussed treatment. Satisfied that Miss Hocking was in good hands, Martin took his leave.

Before pulling out of the parking lot, Martin looked at a phone number on the slip of paper he’d put in his pocket. He tapped out the number and grimaced as a child screeched into the mouthpiece, “Wanda Jean! Telephone!”

When Wanda’s voice came on the line, Martin said, “I wanted you to know that Miss Hocking did need help. She’s at hospital, but she’ll be all right.”

Wanda chided him in her cheeky manner, “Gosh, ‘Doc,’ don’t go giving me a swelled head. Next thing, you’ll be saying I saved her life.”

Shaking his head at the girl’s uncanny ability to pull his thoughts out of the air, Martin said, “Merry Christmas, Wanda Jean,” and clicked off.

It was after six o’clock when Martin walked through the kitchen door and heard squeals from the sitting room. He stepped quietly to the doorway. Christmas tree lights glowed in the darkening room, and holiday music played softly on the radio.

James was propped up in his infant seat, and Louisa, in jeans and a tee, was sprawled on the floor blowing a balloon at the baby, making silly noises. James batted at the balloon and squealed.

“Martin, you’re home,” said Louisa, twisting to look at him, a frown on her face, “at last.”

“I’m sorry. Miss Hocking was in bad shape. I went to hospital to make sure she was diagnosed properly.”

Louisa sat up, crossed-legged, still tapping the balloon back and forth. “Sorry, I thought you were making excuses to avoid playtime with James.”

Martin shrugged. “I admit I’m more comfortable attending patients than playing with babies.”

“Martin, that’s going to change. James took a long nap, and he’s ready to party. Take off your jacket and tie and come sit on the floor. It’s time to get down and dirty.”

“Me, on the floor?”

“Yes, you.”

Guilty about missing Christmas day with Louisa and James, Martin threw his hands up and said, “Yes, Ma’am.”

He hung his jacket on the back of a chair, took off his tie and lay down in front of James. Louisa handed him the balloon, and he flicked it toward the baby, who sat still, lower lip quivering.

See, I’m no good at play. He wants you,” complained Martin, about to stand up, thinking he was off the hook.

“You have to make faces and noises,” Louisa said, catching his arm.

“You’re not serious.”

“Dead serious. James won’t have fun unless you have fun yourself.”

Martin tilted his head, made a face and clicked, “Gggg, James, coo-coo-coo.” The baby laughed, and Martin tapped the balloon over to him.

Louisa stood up and said, “You two have fun. I’ll fix dinner.” She set a pile of toys nearby. “When he tires of the balloon, try the train. He likes the sound of the choo-choo.”

A while later, Louisa came in to find Martin, lying on his back, bouncing James up and down. “You and James can wash up now,” said Louisa. “It’s time for James to settle down.”

“You heard Mum, James. Bath, bottle, book, bed. Sound good?” The baby laughed, and Martin said, “I’ll take that as an affirmative,” and he carried James upstairs.

Holding his son in his arms, Martin read The Snowman, a story about a boy named James who built a snowman that came to life. As Martin’s voice became softer and softer, the baby fell fast asleep.

Martin and Louisa enjoyed a quiet meal; and a little later, the two, yawning, were ready to turn in. “Merry Christmas, Martin,” said Louisa, switching off the light.

“Merry Christmas,” he answered. After a moment, he looked at her and said, “Thank you for the gifts.”

“The pajamas?”

“No, er, I mean, yes, thanks for these pajamas — but what I meant was — thanks for tonight — I mean — for James — for giving me back my childhood – I mean — for helping me to understand what childhood should be like.” He closed his eyes, feeling helpless, but managed to add, “Fun.”

Louisa rolled over close to Martin and traced her finger around his lips. “I always knew there was a fun guy underneath that suit.”

“Is that so?” Martin kissed her fingertips and whispered, “Well, I’m not wearing a suit now.”

— THE END —

“Doc Martin” is owned by Buffalo Pictures.

To read all articles and FanFiction, go to the front page of karengilleland.wordpress.com

#22 “Doc Martin” FanFiction – “Winter Ball”

by Karen Gilleland © 2014

This story hints of romantic stirrings between Morwenna and Trenton Collingsworth, the med student from FanFiction #20, “Badge of Honor.”

In “Doc Martin” Series 4, we learned that Martin had wanted to marry Edith Montgomery, played brilliantly in the series by Lia Williams. Curious as to how Martin might have proposed to Edith, I’ve imagined a scene that I think best fits his character.

I’ve written about Edith previously: FanFiction #3, “Dignity and Courage.” 

Happy Thanksgiving to those of you in the United States.

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At five-thirty, Martin walked into the reception area to find Morwenna atScreen Shot 2014-11-13 at 2.39.29 PM her desk. “Why are you still here?” he asked, looking at his watch.

“Trenton Collingsworth just telephoned,” she answered.

“That student who shadowed me for a week? Why didn’t you put him through to the office?”

“He was calling me, actually.”

Morwenna dropped her phone into her bag and straightened papers before saying, “Trenton’s invited me to the Winter Ball at Imperial College.”

“I see,” said Martin, covering his surprise by walking over to the filing cabinet.

“When Trenton was here, we ate lunch together, socialized a bit at the Crab & Lobster. I suppose he was lonely,” she said, playing with a pen.

Shifting to look at Martin, she said, “He’s intense. I guess all med students are.” Morwenna raised her eyebrows, but Martin ignored her questioning look. She continued, as though arguing with herself. “Trenton has a different sense of humor. He keeps you off balance. At the same time, he has such a hearty laugh, you can’t help laughing with him.”

“Can’t say I noticed,” murmured Martin, pulling out two patient files and closing the drawer.

“I expect if Granddad had heard him laugh, he would have chuckled and said Trenton was full of the devil. Granddad enjoyed people who made him laugh.”

Martin turned to walk away, but Morwenna spoke quickly, “I’ve only been to London once, on a school trip. Trenton said I could stay with his sister, Marigold. She has a flat in Chelsea. Still, I don’t know.”

Martin stood quiet, head lowered over the note cards, thinking, Please don’t ask me. I am no good at this kind of advice.

“’Doc,’ do you think I should go?”

He looked at Morwenna and sighed, remembering that she had no family to talk things over with. “Come into the office.”

When she was seated across the desk from him, Martin said, “The Winter Ball at Imperial is a grand event. It’s a compliment to be invited. Why are you hesitant about going?”

Morwenna shrugged, her hands turned up. “I like Trenton well enough, but I don’t really know him. What if he’s inviting me just to make some other girl jealous?”

Rubbing his eyes, Martin said, “I can’t believe Trenton would go to so much trouble to make a girl jealous. He could invite any number of girls in London if that were his intention.”

“You’re probably right. He is smart and handsome, and he does have that killer smile.”

Martin hunched his shoulders, squirmed in his chair, and finally pushed the words out, “Are you afraid Trenton might try to take advantage of you?”

“No, no, nothing like that,” Morwenna’s eyes twinkled. “I actually won’t see him except at the dance. He’s on deadline for an assignment and can’t take time off. I’ll spend most of the time with Marigold.”

“Sounds sensible. What’s the problem?”

“There is Al–” she broke off, biting her lip.

Martin filled the silence by asking, “What about Al? Are you two going together?”

“Not really, but–”

“If you and Al don’t have an understanding, you’re free to date anybody you like.”

“Yes, I know you’re right,” but her voice contradicted her words.

The front door opened, and Martin called out, “Who is it? Surgery is closed.”

“Hi, ‘Doc,’” said Al, coming to the consulting room. “I was looking for Morwenna.” He spotted her and said, “There you are. We’ll be late if we don’t hurry.” He turned to Martin, “We’re going to a movie in Delabole.”

Glancing at the flush on Morwenna’s face, Martin wondered if she cared more for Al than she admitted. He looked at the smile on Al’s face and agreed that Al would not like her going to a dance with Trenton in London. Not my concern, he told himself and waved a hand, “Enjoy the movie.”

Martin stayed at his desk, chin resting on his tented fingers. The Winter Ball triggered vivid pictures in his mind. He and Edith. They’d been going out together since the first year of med school. She’d been the mover and shaker in the relationship, the one with the plans, the ideas about what they should do in their free time. He’d been happy to fall in with her plans.

Of course, neither one had much free time. Most often, he and Edith studied together, worked on projects together, occasionally, he admitted, spent time in her bedroom together. They had never discussed marriage. He’d just assumed they would marry after graduation and work in London.

Screen Shot 2014-11-13 at 2.03.48 PMTaking a deep breath, Martin looked at a lab report on his desk, but the memories flooded back, and he pushed the report aside and closed his eyes.

Scenes of their last Winter Ball flashed behind his eyelids, like a painting by Toulouse-Lautrec. Edith in a tight-fitting, black gown, sparkly shoes, red hair smelling of orange blossoms, eyes smiling up at him, body pressing against him as they danced.

When the orchestra took a break, he had guided her back to their small table in the corner. A candle flickering in the centerpiece. Slices of Battenberg cake set on gold-rimmed dessert plates. He and Edith sipping sparkling cider and toasting a bright future.

His shoulders shuddered as he recalled how he’d pulled a package from his pocket, opened the box and took out the ring. Before any words had been spoken, Edith’s eyes had widened in horror. She’d reached over and covered the ring with her hand, shaking her head.

“Ellingham, please don’t take this personally,” she’d said. “If I were going to marry anyone, it would be you. But I don’t plan to marry. I’ve accepted a post at McGill, and I’ll leave for Canada the week after graduation.”

He’d felt embarrassed, confused, and words had tumbled out, “You never said–” “I thought we’d–” “Why didn’t you tell me–”

Edith had smiled, held up her hands, palms toward him, and said in her breezy manner, “I didn’t want to spoil our final weeks together.”

And that was that. He’d returned the ring to Hatton Garden and studiously avoided contact with Edith. The only person he’d confided in was Auntie Joan, when she attended his graduation. Odd, he thought, as he looked back, he couldn’t recall any feelings of sadness or regret.

Martin pulled his mind back abruptly when Louisa came to the office door, carrying James, who was screaming and tugging at his ear. “Martin, James feels hot to me. Will you examine him?”

Martin stood up, took out a thermometer and checked James’ temperature. “Yes, he is feverish. I think he may have an ear infection.” Martin picked up his otoscope and confirmed his diagnosis.

“I’ll pick up antibiotics at the chemist’s,” he said, turning toward the door. “While I’m gone, you might give James a cool bath.”

Walking down the hill, Martin heard country music floating in the air from Bert Large’s restaurant. Bar-b-que night, he remembered. He walked past, but the strains of Garth Brook’s “Unanswered Prayers” stuck in his head. He knew why. The song had been Edith’s favorite.

Next morning, Martin was fixing coffee when Louisa brought the baby into the kitchen. “James seems quite cool now,” she told Martin.

“Yes, I checked his temperature before I came down. He’s fine, but he’ll need antibiotics for the next three days.”

“Handy being married to a doctor, isn’t it, James?” Louisa cooed to the baby.

Martin looked at the two of them and shrugged. “So that’s why you married me?”

Louisa put James into the highchair and walked over to Martin. “Amongst other things,” she said, kissing his cheek.

Martin heard the front door open, and Morwenna came into the kitchen.

“Morning, ‘Doc,’ Louisa, James,” she said, tickling James’ chin. She poured herself a cup of coffee and followed Martin into his office.

Morwenna sat down across from Martin, “I told Al I was going to the dance with Trenton in London. Al wasn’t happy.”

“Umm.”

“Did I make a mistake?”

“Morwenna, if Al and Trenton were standing here together, which one would you choose to go out with?”

She didn’t speak for several seconds. “I’m not sure,” Morwenna answered, frowning.

“In that case, I’d advise you to go to the dance in London and continue to see Al here in Portwenn. You’re very young. You have worlds of time to fall in love. In the meantime, date lots of young men until you meet the person you would choose over anyone else in the world.”

Morwenna sat back in the chair, eyes wide. “You are amazing, ‘Doc.’ You’re absolutely right. Thank you.” She slid out of the chair, smiled at him and walked out of the office.

Not so amazing, thought Martin, images flittering through his mind. Edith in the hotel room in Exeter. Louisa, pregnant, suitcase in hand, walking down the hill, away from him. He’d known at that moment, with absolute certainty, he would choose Louisa over any other woman in the world.

Sometimes I do thank God for unanswered prayers, he said to himself, discarding thoughts of his ill-fated proposal to Edith.

— THE END —

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