Dr Lake held his surgery in the village hall, with a temporary partition separating his 'consulting room' at one end from the 'waiting room' at the other. The doctor's receptionist had set up a radio to broadcast at a volume loud enough to deter all but the most dedicated of eavesdroppers. Nonetheless Linda was relieved to find that she had been booked into the last appointment of the afternoon.
Kate had been right in her assessment that Linda was in no fit state to go back to work, even if she had been going back to a desk job with the council rather than to the far more stressful work of a DI in a busy police force, and with a new boss to get used to as well. Her big worry however was the impact of the expected diagnosis on her future career plans, already in jeopardy now that her affair with Paul was out in the open. What if the doctor wanted her to take valium – or whatever the nerve drug of the day happened to be – how would that reflect on her diminishing prospects for promotion?
She wouldn't take it, anyway, even if it were prescribed for her. She wanted to find out what had happened to Julia, and she needed to keep a clear head about her if she were to make any progress on the case.
Linda heard a soft cough, and looked up to see the receptionist indicating that it was her turn to go behind the partition.
"Ah, Miss Jenkins! Do come in, and sit down." Dr Lake was younger than Linda had expected, younger than herself she estimated. He looked as if he had played a great deal of rugby while at university, had broken his nose more than once, and still played the occasional weekend game.
"It's Smith, actually." She sat down. "Linda Smith."
"Very well, Miss Smith." Dr Lake seemed unperturbed by patients who changed their identity upon entering his consulting room. "And what seems to be the problem?"
Linda poured out her concerns, slowly at first, but gathering speed until at last Dr Lake had to warn her to slow down and allow his note-taking to catch up. She told him about Dad's death, about her failing relationship with Keith, her stresses at work as related to both the job itself and her affair with Paul. Then she told him about Paul's death, about the nightmares she had suffered since, and about the terror she felt every time she imagined going back to work.
She took a breath, wondering if she should mention her concerns about Julia – about her worries whether her concerns about Julia had any grounding in reality or were simply a reflection of her own state of mind.
"So, it's your back." Dr Lake beamed at her. "Slipped a disc scrambling up all those hills in unsuitable footwear. He pulled an official-looking pad across his desk and began to write on it. "I think we'll give it two weeks, then reassess."
"But – I just said – "
"No need for any pills and potions," Dr Lake continued. "Lots of fresh air, indulge yourself in any non-strenuous hobbies you might have, and maybe take a glass of brandy before bed. Or whisky, but most of my patients seem to prefer brandy." He scribbled a signature at the bottom of the form, tore it off the pad, and handed it, folded in half, to Linda.
"How long have you worked in your current job?" he said thoughtfully. "Ever thought about taking a sabbatical? If you're no better by the end of next week, then it might be worth considering – would save us having to have this conversation too often when we both need that your problem will go away in its own good time."
A sabbatical: Linda liked the sound of that, although she also wondered just how extensive an influence Kate had over the local medical profession. She thanked the doctor profusely, then hurried out to find an envelope and a first class stamp before the afternoon's postal collection departed.
Today I need to find the time to write more actual plot.