"I brought Lydia for you," Samantha said, trying to smile. "You can keep her until you're out of here." I thought Samantha was doing a very good job of staying brave. She was more upset then any of us about Nellie being hurt, and we all kind of knew that she thought it was her fault, although she didn't say anything.
"How are you doing in here?" Lindsay asked.
"I... I'm alright. Everybody's very friendly." Nellie looked a little distant.
"How much longer do you have to stay?" I asked.
"Well... I... They say quite a bit longer," Nellie said slowly.
"How much?" asked Lindsay.
"They... They say they don't know..."
"But why?" Samantha said, sounding very concerned. "Is something wrong?"
Nellie took her glance away from us.
"Wh - what is it?" Samantha asked, sounding almost tearful.
"I... It's... They say... the break in my leg isn't going to heal normally."
"What?" we all said in shock.
"What does that mean?" Lindsay asked.
"It - it won't heal with just the cast," she said. "They're going to take it off... And, they have t-to operate."
"Oh, Nellie!" Lindsay said.
"Is it a safe operation?" I asked.
"Yes... it's safe for me... but... they say it might not work."
"A-and... what..." Samantha gulped. I could see she was shaking. "Wh-what would that mean?"
"They... they say if it doesn't work I won't walk again," she murmured.
We were all horrified.
"Oh... Nellie..." Samantha whispered shakily, her eyes filling with tears. She bent over and hugged her.
"It - It's not your fault, Samantha," she said, tears beginning to roll down her cheeks. "It was mine... I just slipped.You could never have done anything about it. It wasn't your fault. I promise you it wasn't... Please don't think it was."
Samantha slowly stood up.
"But...but I could have stopped you falling..." she said.
"No, you couldn't... I promise you, Samantha, it wasn't you fault."
"But now this is happening to you, and -"
"It's not hopeless. They're going to try the operation, and it may well work."
"But what if it doesn't?"
"Don't think about that... It'll be okay. I promise," Nellie said, trying to stay strong.
No one said anything for a moment.
"It hasn't been scheduled yet, but they say it will be a few weeks."
"Will you be okay?" Lindsay asked.
"Yes, I'll be fine." Nellie tried to smile.
"We'll come and visit you again," I said.
"Yes," said Samantha and Lindsay.
I looked at the clock on the wall. "We have to go now," I said. "I'm sorry..."
"It's okay," said Nellie. "I'll see you again soon."
"Yes, see you again," said Lindsay.
"Goodbye," said Samantha.
"Goodbye... I promise you I'll be okay."
Samantha nodded, and soon we walked out and went home.
"She must be okay..." I said suddenly. "Surely..."
Lindsay glanced over but then turned away again. "I'm sure she will be..." she said slowly.
Suddenly Samantha flopped down across the bed and burst into tears. We turned in surprise.
Lindsay and I looked on, uncertain of what to do. After a few seconds Lindsay got up and sat down next to Samantha.
"It was..." Samantha sobbed.
"It wasn't. Sam, if you'd been able to stop her from falling, you would have, wouldn't you?"
"Yes..." Samantha murmured, slowly sitting up.
"Then you couldn't have done anything about it, because if you could you would have."
"But I tried..." she said. "I tried to get a hold on her arm, but I couldn't."
"The thing is, you couldn't. You tried. You did everything you could. Nothing is your fault."
"But it wasn't Nellie's either..."
"It wasn't yours."
"It wasn't anybody's," I said. "It was purely an accident, and no one could have stopped it... But there's only a chance of the operation failing, and it's probably a small chance... Nellie is almost certain to be perfectly fine..."
Samantha nodded, with a sniff, and tried to stop the tears falling.
"Everything's going to be okay," Lindsay said, but she sounded sad.