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Leaving Poplar

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"Try to get some rest when you can,” Nurse Phyllis Crane said. “I know it can be hard when you’ve already got two little ones, but even ten minutes with your feet up is better than nothing.”
“Thank you, nurse. I’ll do what I can,” the young woman replied. “Oh, will I see you again? They said down at the clinic you’re leaving soon.”

“It’s not for another two and a half weeks, so I’m expecting to meet the latest addition to your family before I leave,” Phyllis said with a smile.

The woman laughed. “That’s good. I’ll be seeing you then.”

Phyllis left the flat and walked down the stairs to where her car was parked. She opened the door, put her bag onto the passenger seat and started to drive back to Nonnatus House. As she drove, she looked around her, at all the little streets she’d come to know.

When she’d first moved to Poplar, she’d wondered whether she’d ever be able to find her way amongst the rabbit warren of streets, but now driving round them was second nature. Just as now, when up ahead she could see a delivery lorry blocking the road. So, she automatically turned into a side street, knowing she would be able to cut through and re-join the main road further up.

It wasn’t just the geography of the streets which she knew. So many of them held memories of mothers and babies, as well as older folk who had need of nursing. Over the past few days it felt as if everywhere she went brought back another memory.

She parked her car and went into Nonnatus House. It seemed strange to think she would soon be making her final visits, before she packed everything into her car and drove away, leaving behind so much of her life.

She wasn’t normally this sentimental, she thought ruefully. She recalled Sister Monica Joan’s remark, made when Phyllis was debating whether to accept the job offer. “If we wait for just the right time before we do anything, it will pass us by before we have even started to make a move.”

And it was a good job. One of the women she had trained with, and with whom she’d remained friendly, had contacted her to tell her about it. It would mean moving to south Devon, where she would spend part of her time as a community midwife and part teaching mothercraft classes. The area was rural, so, very different from what she was used to, but mothers and babies had the same wants and fears wherever you went. She could share the rent of a small cottage with her friend, and then, when the time came and she finally stopped nursing, she would be able to continue living there.

Phyllis was sure she’d made the right decision, but it wouldn’t make leaving Poplar any easier.