“Expected” by Sarah England
Sam Sweet is a failed psychiatric nurse from a sink estate in Weston Super mare (UK). Her mother’s husband ran off with another woman 20 years ago – although you’d think it happened only yesterday – and the dragon mother’s one ambition is to be a grandmother.
But Sam is terrified of giving birth. She is easily traumatised and has no ambition to return to the sink estate and have dozens of children. She just wants a chance to do something with her life first, to fall in love, to see a bit of the world. Alas, in a drunken stupor she meets Simon – the psychopathic surgeon, who promises her a wonderful life and she believes him – because she is a dingbat and has a lot to learn.
In addition to this, her latest job is injecting facial fillers and clients are suing because it’s going lumpy. Making matters even worse, her best friend, also her boss, is sexually jealous to the point of blind rage because her boyfriend fancies Sam and does little to hide it. Sam is coping – by shopping and over eating chocolate. She piles on weight and sinks deeply into debt, at which point Simon the surgeon starts playing serious mind games; and by the time it dawns on Sam just what a horrific mess she’s in – well might as well pass her the JCB because she keeps on digging.
Then as the company spirals downwards and all knives are out for survival – a new MD is brought in from the states – Joel – WOWEE – Madison! Sam and he instantly fall for each other but…her mother is now going bonkers – has booked the wedding….with the psychopathic surgeon….oh it’s getting worse…….fireworks? You bet….but that would be telling……
Chapter 1 (tease)
I have a needle stuck in Mrs. Devine’s face.
“Is it working, Sam?” she asks.
“Oh, um, definitely. Yes.”
Truthfully? Nothing is coming out of the syringe, and the harder I press the plunger the more my hand shakes and the needle bends. This is what is going to happen next—the needle snaps off before speeding along the venous highway like a tiny dart toward Mrs. Devine’s heart. Either that, or the whole thing suddenly gives way, and I rip a hole through her head. Sweat surfaces all over my body. I must have the flu or a nasty virus. Might even faint while still holding a syringe with a client attached to it.
Damn. Cellafiller is supposed to be the best thing since Collagen, but really, it’s nearly impossible to squeeze this stuff out, let alone artfully sculpt it beneath tissue-thin skin. I don’t remember it being so difficult during training, but now I’m on my own, well . . . let’s just say it isn’t a happy situation being in a back-street beauty salon with a bunch of women expecting great things.
Mrs. Devine, my model, and something big in local amateur dramatics, is lying on the clinic couch in full make-up, coral lips stretched into her performance smile as I try in vain to fill the ravine between her eyebrows. She doesn’t have a frown line through her glabella muscle so much as a grand canyon.
The small crowd of potential customers straining for a glimpse of this miraculous demonstration is visibly shrinking back. You can almost hear the hissing recoil. I don’t need to glance up to see the sharp downturn of glossed lips and the widening of black-rimmed eyes. Mrs. Devine’s grand canyon is oozing fresh blood. I’ve got the needle fully inserted now, retracting the syringe oh-so-slowly the way I’ve been taught, while my furiously vibrating thumb tries in vain to inject treacle-thick product. Should have taken minutes, and then ta-da! But the harder the plunger is depressed, the more blood oozes out, lying darkly now in a swelling puddle of glistening, ruby red.
Hot nausea tides over me. I feel terrible, by the way, just in case you’re wondering; this poor woman had a long, squiggly frown line, and now she’s got what looks like a botched lobotomy. All eyes focus on my trembling hands as I withdraw the syringe, mop up the debris, and declare the job done. I’ve seen less blood-soaked gauze following open-heart surgery.
“There we are,” I trill, as lightly as if I just served up a plate of lasagna. “And in a couple of days, the line will be gone.”
Ignoring the horrified faces, particularly mine in the mirror opposite—so white against my red hair I look like Elizabeth the First after a nasty shock—I snap off my latex gloves, and return to its box the still full syringe with its severely weakened, bent needle. I cannot look at Mrs. Devine as she hops off the couch with blood pouring from her head. To be honest, I could cry. Mrs. Devine owns the clinic and had it gone well, there would have been a list of new clients for our new product. Instead, it’s a major screw-up. Another one. In time, she will have a scar, and that will no doubt take her mind off the ravine. But long before that, there will be that call—the one about having spoken to her lawyer.
My name is Sam Sweet, and I’m in total control; just because every decision I have never made was made by someone else does not mean I am not in control of my life now. Of course I am. Oh, God. Look, I’m doing my best. What else could I have done back there? Oh, God.
The phone rings when I’m halfway down the M5, bolting for home. Minnie. Oh, wonderful, wonderful Minnie. Thank the Lord and all his angels. Minnie will know what to do. You have to know about Minnie, because you’ll like her—really, you will. She’s funny and outrageous—you know, like that girl at school who’d poke you in the back to make you laugh when you were being told off, who pulls silly faces and says outrageous things that no one else dares say. Minnie will cheer me up and tell me she’s having the same problem but a thousand times worse and not to worry.
The thing is, though, Minnie’s been having a rough time lately too—a complaint has been made about her, but she doesn’t know who by or what it is. Our slime-ball boss, Arnie, is going to talk to her about it today. I’d forgotten about that. But the minute her name flashes on my phone screen, it puts all my own problems into perspective. Obviously, she’s going to need to let off steam, and I’m here for her.
“Minnie, hi – it’s me!” I screech into the hands-free set. And be assured, I’m shouting like a market trader because of the road noise. “How did you get on with the fat-arsed twat, then?”
“Sam!” Minnie screams. “Stop! He’s in the car with me.”
There’s a malignant pause, then, “Good afternoon, Samantha.”
Arnie’s voice is of the high-pitched and half-strangled variety, quite unpleasant in a man, I find. Very Mr. Bean, but coming out of a swarthy, fat man with a hairy back (saw it once in a swimming pool, thought it was a grizzly bear and screamed), it’s positively creepy. This is the man who interviewed me for three gruelling hours in a hotel foyer. I thought this was normal procedure until I found out everyone else had twenty minutes.
Now, there is a loaded silence while we all absorb the impact of what I’ve just said.
“Are you still there, Samantha?” says Arnie, every syllable loaded with menace and misogynistic contempt.
Still here but so not functioning.
“Er, hello, hello, hello? Sorry, can’t hear anything, you’re breaking up.”
Breaking up! Oh please . . . . He’ll never swallow that, but I’ve done it now. A fresh band of sweat breaks over me in a sickening wave, while useless, incoherent thoughts clamber around my brain like blind, mewing kittens under a furry blanket. Lorries are overtaking and I’m still in the fast lane, swerving about to a cacophony of blasting horns. I have to get off the planet. Now. A service station. Anywhere.
The phone rings again, but I let it go through to the messaging service. Minnie. Oh, Minnie—I can’t speak . . . not after that! I wonder what it was she wanted, though? I mean, why would she ring with the fat controller still in the car with her? Why? Maybe it was something I should know about . . . something important. I could worry for England. Give me nothing to worry about and I’ll worry about it.
But now I’m really worried.
**A little bit about the author, Sarah England:
‘Expected’ is my debut comedy, but I also have a book of thrillers out, called ‘3am and Wide Awake’ with Alfie Dog Fiction, and have many short stories published in national magazines. Both books are available on amazon as ebooks and paperbacks.