In Part 3, Kathy has left the Cottages and has grown accustomed to her life as a carer. Although some carers find their lives lonely after the sociability of life at Hailsham or the Cottages or elsewhere, Kathy has learned to value long drives. Other carers can live with the solitude, but many are demoralized if one of their donors has a bad operation. Kathy has learned to deal with such losses. Another carer from Hailsham, Laura, has not.
Laura left the Cottages after Kathy did, and she is surprised to learn that Kathy and Ruth have not kept in touch. Laura and Ruth were never very close, and she admits that they parted on cold terms, though they were not necessarily hostile. After Kathy left, Laura explains, Ruth became more overbearing at the Cottages, so Laura just learned to avoid her. Now rumors about Ruth have begun to surface. More than one source has reported that Ruth has had a difficult donation and that she is struggling to recover. Upon learning that Kathy is now able to sometimes choose the donors she works with, Laura urges her to seek Ruth out and become her carer.
Laura and Kathy also discuss Hailsham. The latest news is that the school has closed. Kathy asks what will happen to all of the students, and Laura mistakes her concern for the students who are currently enrolled at Hailsham. However, Kathy is thinking of her own cohort, which has already drifted so far apart. Kathy realizes that there are things she has always thought she would find time to do, but the closure of Hailsham convinces her to act.
Kathy becomes Ruth’s carer; Ruth is recovering in Dover. The two old friends try to be friendly toward one another, but Kathy admits that their conversations often stagnate. Kathy explains how she would try to show up at Ruth’s with biscuits, but the experiment never worked. In fact, one time when she showed up early and caught Ruth coming out of the shower in a towel, Kathy is surprised to see a look of alarm on her friend’s face, as though
she’d been waiting and waiting for me to do something to her, and she thought the time had now come.
However, just as things appear about to break for good between them, they change again.
Ruth explains that some of the other donors have recently been going to see a nearby boat. She mentions it several times. Kathy finally explains that the trip would take several hours. Ruth objects that she never requested to go, though it would certainly do her some good to get out of the clinic. Kathy suggests that the real motive for the trip would be to see Tommy, who is a donor in a clinic along the way. Ruth admits that she has not seen or heard from Tommy since she left the Cottages and that she would like to see him. Kathy makes plans for them to see Tommy.