Yesterday morning Delphine couldn’t walk. A day later she was raring to go back to her dance intensive.

‘Are you sure?’ I said. ‘We have a long way to go through London. Two buses and two trains.’

‘I know. We just need to re-strap my bandage.’

Her foot was definitely less swollen than the day before. We’d isolated her injury to the inside of her left foot. It seemed it was going to be an impressive bruise. But she was lucky. It definitely could have been worse. Her ankle was ok.

I slowly unwrapped, tightened and re-wrapped the bandage. Delphine winced for a second. Steadied herself. Next were the shoes. I put the left one on loosely and then the right. Now for the test.

‘Can you walk?’

More wincing. One step. Two steps. Up to get her coat. 

So, me, Chloe, my mum and Delph set off. Some things changed from the pre-injury journey. This time, when the train was full, we made sure Delph didn’t stand. My mum went straight to the priority seat and cleared it faster than if the seat was on fire. And this time, Delphine didn’t complain and refuse to sit down on her own. She sat.

When there was an available, working lift, this time we took it. The London Underground is generally a civilised experience, but there are always exceptions. No difference this time. Delph got bumped. Overtaken. Huffed at. Me, Chloe and Mum wrapped ourselves around her. 

Osterley Station on the Piccadilly Line to Canada Water on the Jubilee Line. Blue to grey – the Tube is so cleverly colour-coded. This time we missed out the stripy-green DLR and took the bus. The first aider told me to do it since the 188 goes all the way to the Laban building from Canada Water. Perfect. Quicker since we didn’t have to walk from Greenwich High Street. 

The dance troupe had sent Delph a get-well message the night before. Once we walked through the Laban building, everyone surrounded her. 

‘So glad to see you!’

‘Welcome back Delph!’

‘Come and give me a hug!’

That was it. Delph went upstairs with her dance troupe. Chloe, my mum and I sat down in the cafe and chatted to the wonderful dance mums. Chloe and I even went for a walk around Greenwich after lunch. We saw the Cutty Sark and hung out in Waterstones bookstore. We went back just in time for Delph to finish. 

As the clock chimed 3pm, the dancers came downstairs. Including Delphine – who was crying. Again.

‘What happened this time?’

Bitten lip. Wobbly chin. ‘Nothing.’

Ten-year-old Chloe turned straight to the teacher. ‘Why is Delphine crying?’ 

The teacher shrugged. ‘I don’t know.’ She looked at me. Her eyes said something different. 

I stared at her, weighing it all up. Meanwhile, Delph was already in her way out. 

The teacher shrugged at me. I sighed. If this doesn’t kill me, I’ll be grateful. I shrugged back. 

What happened to Delphine? Turned out she slipped on the stairs coming from the studio. Smacked her back on the way down. And she’s very clear. She’s going back tomorrow. 




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