|A Moment of Anger|
Jo swept the papers from the desk onto the floor. These were swiftly followed by the sheets on the shelf. Her anger and frustration was getting the better of her and she needed to go and walk it off. Unfortunately, the rain was pouring down and showed no signs of stopping any time soon. This only added fuel to the fire already raging within her and Jo turned to the next shelf and swept the contents on top of the mess she had already made. She was about to do the same to the last shelf when Jack slipped into the room, closing the door softly behind him.
He took in the destruction and that Jo was in a thorough rage even as he crossed the room to stop her from adding anything else to the chaos. He wondered what had made her so angry, something he had rarely seen in her. Even as he grabbed her arm, Jo began to sweep the contents along the shelf.
“Let me go!”
“Jo, stop this. What’s happened? Sit down and talk to me.” Jo ignored him as she wrenched her arm free to continue her destruction of the study. “Jo!” Jack grasped her more firmly and swung her round to face him. He saw her eyes were sparkling with supressed fury and she was only just holding onto her self control.
“Let me go, Jack and go away.”
“No.” It was spoken quietly, but in such a tone that meant he wasn’t intending to go anywhere until he’d gotten to the bottom of her problem. He kept hold of her as he guided her to the chair behind the desk and made her sit down on it. He perched himself on the now empty desk and watched her closely.
Jo’s anger fizzled at this calm way of stopping her wholesale destruction and all that was left was emptiness inside. She was still on edge and Jack knew that the wrong words could soon bring her rage back to the surface.
“Tell me what’s happened, Jo.”
“Everything,” was the unsatisfactory answer. He waited, hoping she might elaborate, but no more was forthcoming.
“That’s not very informative. Tell me and let me help. Wrecking the study isn’t going to sort out whatever it is, however satisfying it is just now.”
“I know.” Jo surveyed the confusion of papers, ornaments, books and pens littering the floor. She was still reluctant to say what had angered her to the extent of causing the devastation, amongst which they were now sitting. Jack sighed. He could see that he was unlikely to get any sort of an answer from Jo. He watched her as he tried to work out what she had been doing over the previous few days. He had seen her anger simmering below the surface but had thought she would calm down of her own accord. Something had happened today which had caused it to boil over.
They had been living in their new home for just over two months, now. Jack had taken up the post as Head of the new Sanatorium which had just opened in Switzerland and he had brought his wife and family out to the Gornetz Platz to live. Jo had spent a rather busy few months packing up the contents of their old cottage in the Welsh borders and travelling across Europe with their young family. She had had plenty to keep her busy once they’d arrived, as the new house needed arranging and her family had needed her attention, too. Jack realised that Jo was tired. The need to be active constantly had diminished as they’d finished sorting the rooms and Jo suddenly had nothing to keep her fully occupied. Three days ago, the weather had also taken a turn for the worse and she’d been tied to the house. Jack had been getting a thorough soaking each time he’d dashed to the car to go to work, so he’d forbidden Jo to go out until the rain finally stopped.
Jack still worried about his wife. Jo had been battling with tuberculosis since she was eighteen. She was so much better, now and the move to Switzerland with its healthy atmosphere was helping her enormously. She still had to be careful, but Jack was confident that she would beat it in the end. As she was only having annual check-ups, it had been decided that she would continue to travel to the Sanatorium in England, and visit her brother and sister at the same time. Jem had offered to pass Jo’s file onto the Swiss branch, but Jack had refused, stating that he was too close and it wasn’t fair to Jo. Jem had agreed and they’d arranged that Jo would only attend the Swiss Sanatorium if she was unable to travel for any reason.
As he watched Jo, Jack remembered that she had had a letter that morning from Jem. He hastily worked out in his head that her appointment was due around now. He wondered if it had anything to do with her present anger.
“What did Jem have to say in his letter?”
“I have an appointment in a month’s time.”
“A month? That’s not so bad. Gives us plenty of time to sort out travel arrangements and where you’ll be staying.”
“I’m not going. I’ve only just settled here and I have to traipse back over there for a week just for one appointment. Why can’t I just have it here?”
“Because I’d have to do it.”
“You’ve done it before.” Jo was still feeling argumentative and Jack sensed it.
“Yes, I have, and it wasn’t very pleasant experience for either of us, if you remember. Jem agreed to keep you on because of that. Surely that’s not the reason for all this?”
Jo stayed silent. The truth of the matter was that she was lonely. The school staff were busy with their own affairs and Jo felt as if she was intruding on them. It was the same with the Sanatorium staff and their families. She had none of her own friends living close by. Jo knew it was no excuse, but the loneliness was seeping into her and reminded her of the times when she had been a patient in the Sanatorium herself. She wrote frequent letters to her friends, but it wasn’t the same as having them close by where she call in for a drink and a chat.
Jem’s letter telling her of her next appointment had just brought things to a head and her loneliness had risen to the surface as anger. Anger at herself, for being unable to control her illness and the loneliness she was feeling. Anger at Jack for bringing her out here, and then being so busy setting up the new Sanatorium, that she barely saw him. Anger at her own irrationality. Thanks to the rain, she had been unable to get out and walk off her troubles, something which she would normally do when she felt things were getting too much for her, hence the destruction Jack had walked in on.
“What is it, Jo? Something else is obviously bothering you. Tell me and then we can see if we work out a solution together. I don’t like seeing you like this and I don’t think the study appreciates it either.” Jo didn’t smile and Jack was concerned. He knew Jo had phases when despair overwhelmed her, but he’d been too busy to notice it happening this time. The Sanatorium was taking up his every waking hour and when he did come home he was generally so exhausted he just went straight to bed. Today was a rare day off for him and now he had noticed something was amiss with Jo, he was determined to get to the bottom of it.
Jo continued to sit in the chair saying nothing. She didn’t know where to begin, even if she wanted to tell Jack everything. Guessing this, Jack slid off the desk and pulled Jo to her feet.
“Come on. Let’s go and make some coffee and sit in the Salon.” He guided her out into the hall and along to the kitchen, where she automatically turned the kettle on and Jack busied himself searching for some biscuits. Once they were ready, he sent Jo in front to open doors and carried the tray himself.
They drank their coffee in silence and once they were finished, Jack came to sit next to Jo, drawing her into his arms. Jo laid her head on his chest and closed her eyes. They stayed like that for a good while, until Jo finally pulled back to look at him.
“Thanks, Jack. I needed that, I think.”
“What’s gone wrong, Jo? It’s not like you to go off at the deep end. I know you have your moments, but you’ve never been quite as wholsesale as you have today.”
“I don’t know. I’m just…” Jo paused, unsure of exactly how she could put what she wanted to say into words. Jack stayed silent, giving her the space to think. “I’m lonely. I feel as if I’m intruding if I call into the school and I don’t really know anyone else who lives around here. I miss my friends. Jem’s letter today was the last thing I wanted. It just made me realise how far away from everyone we are, now. Then the rain meant that I couldn’t go out walking to get it out of my system and you’ve barely been at home since I got here. It’s as if I’ve been admitted again, but this time no one is coming to visit me at all.”
“Oh, Jo! I wish you’d said something earlier. I know I’ve not been around much, but there’s so much work to do setting up the new Sanatorium that I have to be there each day to make sure things are running smoothly and to iron out any teething problems. It’ll get better, and then I’ll have a little more time to spend at home with you. You knew that I could be called out at all hours when you married me and you’d lived in Jem’s house before that.”
“I know. It still doesn’t stop me from missing you, though.”
“As for feeling as if you’re intruding on the school, I think you’re wrong there. I’m sure Hilda and Nell and everyone would love to have you visit them sometimes. Why don’t you ask them to tea over here? I’m sure they’ll be more than happy to accept and spend some time out of their own environment. You’ve always been good friends with Rosalie and I’m sure she’d come over like a shot.”
“Maybe.” Jo sounded dubious, and Jack realised that it might take a little more persuasion before she would accept that she wasn’t encroaching on them.
“As for the others, I have a little bit of news for you. Hilary and Phoebe will both be moving out here in few weeks. Jem decided that we need specialists in other areas and has asked Phil and Frank if they’d come out here to establish departments.”
“It’s not going to be lonely for you much longer, Jo. I know Hilary and Phoebe aren’t Frieda, Marie and Simone, but at least they’re friends you know well.” Jack glanced out of the window and noticed the rain had finally stopped. The sun was beginning to shine and the paving slabs were rapidly drying. “Now, how about we get our coats and wellies on and go for a walk whilst the rain has stopped?”
“What about the study? I need to tidy up in there, first.”
“It can wait, Jo. Let’s get some fresh air and blow those cobwebs away. You’ve been stuck inside for too long. We’ll clean it up tomorrow.”
“Won’t you be at the Sanatorium?”
“No. I’ve taken the weekend off. Unless there’s an emergency, I’m spending it here with you.” Jo smiled as she heard this and Jack returned it. He was glad he had decided he needed to spend time at home, even if it did mean that he’d be helping Jo put the study back to rights after her outburst. He was relieved he’d been at home when she had gone storming in there, needing to release her anger on something. He realised that though her health was so much better, she was still quite vulnerable and would always need some reassurance and his unfailing support to get through life. He was determined he would be there for her whenever she might stumble.