Fridays have always been least exciting of all other work days for me; it was the only day of the week that I did night shifts. I would have spent the lonesome hours with Agnes, the dark-complexioned nurse with the voluptuous bust which to me was out of proportion with her tiny frame.
Something came up with the child she was still nursing, she explained breathlessly on the phone, apologizing profusely while the child’s screams pierced the background.
“She has been crying since afternoon and sulking, refusing to stop,” she said and I imagined the tiny child’s mouth on the mother’s nipple, it’s face buried by the lumps of those huge breasts.
I put down my phone and sighed out loud. That means, I was stuck here alone for the night.
Agnes might not be the best of companions, but I would choose staying the night listening to her endless tales than being stuck here alone with only moaning, immobile patients for company.
I would have killed for a hot cup of coffee to refresh my system but I couldn’t drink it black and also can’t bring myself to use the chalky soybean milk served here in the hospital.
I am not a patient, I am a nurse.
The night was far spent when the ambulance sped in through the gates, blaring. “Good,” I thought, “there would be little excitement tonight.”
I pressed the bridge of my nose to the glass window panes and stretched my neck, watching with devilish fascination as two nurse aides ran out with a stretcher.
I was spared the excitement of all the night thanks to the orders of the resident doctor who insisted that I should tend to two paralyzed patients who were too stuffed with drugs to know the difference between my presence and absence.
Morning finally came and I was ready to hand over to the next nurse. l rushed home to my bed and sleep the morning away.
I was applying a layer of lipstick when one of the junior nurses rushed in.
“Nurse Susan, the doctor would like to see you.”
“Which of the doctors?” I asked, even though I knew that it was only the resident doctor that would be out to spoil my day.
I cursed and picked up my bag, following the nurse with quickening steps to the doctor’s office.
“Good morning doctor,” I greeted with as much politeness as I could manage.
“Morning dear, how was the night duty?” he asked.
“Oh! As pleasurable as a night in a five-star hotel,” I replied.
“No need to be sarcastic about it Susan. It is what we are called to do,” he reprimanded.
“I’m not complaining,” I said cutting him off before he would start a sermon.
“We had an emergency last night as you know. This sixteen-year old was caught in a domestic fire accident, suffered many third degree burns and fewer second degrees. Kid don’t have much days, would probably expire in a week or so.”
“And where do I come in?” I asked impatiently, glancing at my wristwatch.
“I discussed with the other doctors and we would like you to be with her till she goes. Everyone knows you to be the most beautiful and compassionate nurse in the hospital,” he said with a wink.
“Thank you, but I’m not swallowing it, I’ve a busy schedule this week,” I answered.
“Please Susan, this girl doesn’t have much days, stay with her, she could be your younger sister you know and…”
He was about to say more when I raised my left hand and he fell silent, settling back in his rocking chair to watch me.
I groaned, muttered something unintelligible and took a deep breath.
“Fine, I’ll do it,” I said.
“Thank you Susan, I’ll ask Nurse Agnes to take over care of your patients.”
I nodded and reached out for my handbag and left.
And that was how I met Cassandra Jones.