|Jem was woken by a slight sound in the next room. Glancing at the clock, he saw that it was half past four in the morning. He heard the sound again and realised it was coming from Jack’s room. Rising quietly, Jem slipped into the corridor and saw a chink of light underneath the door. Out here, he could clearly hear Jack pacing up and down the length of the room. He wondered whether to go in, but, decided against it, suspecting that Jack wouldn’t appreciate his intrusion. He returned silently to his room and was soon sleeping once more.|
Jack was pacing about in an effort to tire himself into oblivion. The thoughts which had surfaced during the afternoon were continuing to haunt him and he wished there was a way he could escape them. He never heard Jem’s door softly open and close, so deep in his despair was he. Eventually, he picked up his coat and crept downstairs, exiting the chalet by the front door.
The moon was high in the sky and Jack could see his way quite clearly once his eyes had adjusted to the dimness of the night. He walked down the drive and turned along the road which followed the edge of the Görnetz Platz. He walked quickly in the chill air, not wishing to stop as that would allow his thoughts back in and he wanted to avoid them. He soon reached the railway and noted a small path going down alongside the tracks. He decided to follow it and see where it led. The dawn was approaching rapidly now and Jack could see the way much more clearly.
The path led downhill for a short while before turning sharply left and along the edge of a smaller shelf below where the Sanatorium was situated. Jack continued along until the path forked. He woke up to the fact that he had no exact idea of where he was and that he may end up lost if he continued in the aimless way he was currently walking. He sat down on a convenient boulder to stop himself and to regain his breath as he hadn’t realised quite how tired he was. The lack of sleep was beginning to catch up with him.
Footsteps approached Jack from behind as he looked out at the vista before him. A young man came past walking with an air of purpose. He looked curiously at Jack perched on the boulder and raised his hat in salutation, wishing him “Grüezi” as he passed by. Jack automatically replied and then looked after him, a small frown on his face. The features had looked vaguely familiar in the half-light. Shaking his head, Jack decided he must be imagining things. He rose and turned back the way he had come, walking more slowly this time.
When he reached the station, Jack turned towards the Sanatorium. It was still early but, he knew that those notes in the spare office needed his attention. He could spend an hour at them and then return in time for breakfast.
Three hours later, Jem peered through the glass on the door of the small office to see Jack engrossed in the reports from the English branch of the Sanatorium. He noted that Jack looked tired and suspected that he hadn’t eaten yet that morning. Jem went in search of Matron Graves to request breakfast and coffee before returning to see if he could answer the long list of questions, he knew Jack would have for him. This time Jem knocked heartily on the door and entered before Jack had time to answer.
“So, this is where you got to. Gisela missed you at breakfast this morning.” Jem crossed the room and cleared the spare chair of papers. “I’ve ordered Frühstück for you and then you can start on that list of questions you have.”
“Thanks.” Jack spoke almost absent-mindedly, before becoming engrossed once more in the report he was reading. Jem, used to his friend’s ways, just moved the chair and sat down to patiently wait until Jack should realise that he was there. Luckily, Frühstück arrived not long afterwards and Jem was able to gain Jack’s attention by the simple means of placing the tray right in front of him and over the notes he was reading. At this, Jack finally looked up and acknowledged Jem’s presence.
“How long have you been here?”
“Not long. Since you missed breakfast at Gottfried and Gisela’s, I ordered some for you here.”
“Thanks.” Jack looked down at the tray and picked up one of the croissants. “I could do with some coffee.” Jem poured a mugful from the pot and handed it to Jack, who nodded in acknowledgement.
“What time did you come in this morning?”
“About six, I think. I couldn’t sleep any longer.”
“Did you sleep at all, last night? I heard you moving about in the early hours.”
“I didn’t wake you, did I?”
“No.” Jem had his answer, proving his suspicions that Jack was battling insomnia again. He changed the subject. “How far through have you got?”
“Just one more to read.”
“How many questions do I need to answer?” Jem knew that Jack had a habit of questioning small things, so he was fully expecting to spend the next few hours attempting to answer obscure questions. He wasn’t wrong. Jack produced a notebook with many pages covered in his scrawl and passed it over for Jem to begin while he finished his breakfast.
When Gottfried knocked on the door just after midday, Jem had just finished discussing what was wanted from Jack at the board meeting. He smiled up at his colleague, thankful for the interruption.
“I thought you might like a break from this for a while. Why don’t you both join me for Mittagessen in the canteen? I’m going on duty at one o’clock, so it will only be a quick meal.”
“Thank you. I’m ready for a break. Coming, Jack?” Jack would have refused, but, he recognised that he needed a break, too. He nodded his agreement, though the thought of a meal in the Sanatorium canteen didn’t appeal to him. Picking up his jacket, he followed the others out of the office and towards the canteen.
After the meal, which Jack had eaten in silence, he looked across at Gottfried.
“Where does the path down the side of the railway lead to, Gottfried? I spotted it this morning, but didn’t go further than where it forks.”
“If you stay to the right at the fork, you’ll reach the Auberge a couple of kilometres further on. The left fork takes you on to Ste Cecilie. It is a much nicer walk than along the road. Both are fairly easy paths and it would be hard to lose yourself on them.”
“I may find the Auberge this afternoon. I could do with some fresh air.”
“Abendessen is at twenty o’clock tonight.” Gottfried glanced down at his watch before standing. “I must go. I start my shift in twenty minutes. I’ll see you at Abendessen, Jack. What do you plan to do this afternoon, Jem?”
“I need to catch up with the accounts, so I’ll borrow the office Jack’s been using if I may?”
“I’ll clear you a space.” Jack rose as well. The three of them walked back to their offices, Gottfried leaving the two Englishmen at the door of theirs. Jack quickly cleared the detritus from the desk and dumped it on the coffee table in the corner. Jem, who liked organisation, shuddered inwardly at the papers scattered anyhow. He knew that Jack preferred the organised chaos which had covered the desk only moments ago, and that he would be able to produce a required paper from one of the numerous piles without effort if asked.
“Shall I meet you back at Gottfried’s house this evening?” Jem asked.
“Yes. I shouldn’t be too late. From the sounds of it, the path is only about three kilometres long. It should give me enough distance to stretch my legs and hopefully tire me out.”
“Jack, if you need something to help you sleep….” Jem left the rest of the sentence unspoken. He didn’t want to push his friend if he wasn’t willing to speak. Jack just nodded, avoiding Jem’s searching gaze.
“I know. Thanks, Jem.” Jack picked up his coat and slipped out, closing the door softly behind him. Jem dropped into the chair behind the desk and sighed. He hoped that Jack would sleep tonight, or ask for something. He couldn’t last on no sleep without consequences.
Author's Chapter Notes:
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