A Gentle Touch (3)
Jamie's head hurt. He opened his eyes. The light hurt his eyes at first. He began to make out a face. It was the face of a woman. She was smiling at him. His eyes became more used to the light and he could see that the woman was a nurse. She had a nice face, a beautiful face. It seemed familiar.
'How are you feeling, Mr Russell?' the nurse asked.
'I feel awful,' said Jamie. 'My back hurts.'
'I'll get you something for the pain, Mr Russell. Just wait a moment.'
'No!' Jamie said with more force than he had intended. 'I don't need any drugs; just give me a minute.'
Only then did Jamie realize that he could not move his arms or legs. No matter how hard he tried to move, they remained still. He felt confused, sick and afraid.
'Please, Mr Russell, relax. I'll take care of things,' said the nurse as she dried the sweat on his forehead. As she leaned over, Jamie saw from the badge she was wearing that her name was Angie Lee. Her hand was cool and her touch was light. She smiled at him. Then he remembered her - she was the pretty woman from the Tai Chi class who had helped the injured lorry driver! He managed to smile back.
'What happened, nurse? How did I get here?'
'Here is Doctor Sim. He'll tell you all you need to know, Mr Russell.'
Doctor Sim was a young man, younger than Jamie, but he spoke with the calm authority of a professional.
'A man hit a heavy chair against your backbone, Mr Russell. He injured your back and would have done more damage if the police hadn't arrived to stop him. It seems you got into a fight and put four of his friends into hospital before he did the same to you. Witnesses say the men started the trouble and you were trying to protect yourself. Rather well, too, until that chair hit you.'
'But I can't move my arms or legs!' cried Jamie.
'We don't want you to, Mr Russell; we have to keep your back still while it mends,' said Doctor Sim.
Jamie now realized that his whole body was being held still. Even his head was being held by something.
Doctor Sim continued: 'If you were to move now you could be damaged forever.'
'Forever!' Jamie heard the word but it did not seem real to him. Be calm, he told himself, be in control.
'Will I... will I get better?' he asked.
'Indeed you will,' said Doctor Sim. 'Providing you remain absolutely still for at least two months. We have to make sure your back mends fully before we can consider allowing you to move. But you should have made a full recovery by then, so don't worry. Enjoy the rest!'
Doctor Sim went on to his next patient.
Jamie felt that life had played a cruel trick on him. All that time spent on perfecting his body and his mind, and now he couldn't even get out of bed! He felt foolish and rather sorry for himself.
At that moment Nurse Angie Lee returned with some medicine for Jamie. He needed it.
After a few days he was allowed to see visitors. Adrian and Master Tong came to see him. Adrian talked about college and said how much Jamie was missed while Master Tong sat and said nothing. Adrian, after a nod from his uncle, then said goodbye and left.
Master Tong remained sitting by Jamie's bed, looking at him. Jamie wondered what he was thinking about but did not want to ask him. Finally, Master Tong spoke.
'I have been speaking to a friend of mine about you. He knows you well.'
'Yes? Who is that?'
'Mr Lo. He is concerned about you. You were his student once, I understand.'
'Why is he concerned?' asked Jamie. But he had a feeling he already knew.
'He could see something was happening to you. I could see it myself. I had hoped that the gentle side of your chi would correct the imbalance.'
'Yes,' said Master Tong. 'The power of your chi was rising up like a snake. You were losing control of it, upsetting the balance. Why else do you think you got into that ridiculous fight with those men? You have skill, but no wisdom. Why do you think it takes a lifetime to learn these things, eh? You want to know everything all at once! You think you can do everything by yourself! We could see that. But you are young. You can still learn. If you don't kill yourself first!'
And Master Tong laughed.
'I know you won't be able to move for a while, but they tell me you will make a good recovery. And if you use your chi you should recover even faster. Enjoy your rest. Now you have a chance to examine your mistakes, look at your life and consider how to balance your chi properly.'
Just then Nurse Angie Lee arrived and waited respectfully while Master Tong was speaking.
'And not all teachers are old men!' Master Tong continued. 'Your lessons begin now. I expect to see you back at my classes when you leave this place!'
Master Tong walked away. Jamie's eyes followed him as he walked through the door. Could Master Tong be right?
'Are you ready, Jamie?' said Nurse Angie. It was time for her to wash him. Jamie liked Nurse Angie's cheerful company. She seemed to like him. He knew he liked her. He liked her very much. She smiled at him and he smiled back.
Jamie closed his eyes and relaxed. Maybe Master Tong was right. Maybe his lessons were only just beginning.
He felt Angie's touch and it was cool and gentle.
Gentle as a feather.
- THE END -