Raised by an unfeeling mother, Victoria finds solace in her loving nanny, Shirley, until her unfortunate death. .
Nursing cancer patients is Victoria’s passion, seeded by caring for Shirley during her battle with the disease. But the hospital no longer gives Victoria the spark it once did after a muddled affair with a doctor, fueling hatred her colleagues already have for her, so she applies for and is granted a job in home health care.
To her surprise and delight, Victoria already knows her first patient. But soon it becomes a convoluted mess when lines are crossed and she has to make a choice whether to end the care for this particular patient, or end her job in its infancy.
After a tragic accident, Victoria finds herself as the patient, precariously clinging to life as her family prays for her. The lies that have been told to Victoria soon come into light when her own mother refuses to give blood, even if it means saving her daughter. Why does her mother seem to hate her? Thankfully Shirley has left behind ways to tell Victoria the truth. But will she learn the truth before it’s too late?
The room was cold, it felt eerie. As if she was already dead. Bleach smell wafted through the linens, as did the scent of medicine and old wood.
I heard a strange noise, like a gasp, and looked over.
She reached for me, “Nothing is as it seems Victoria,” Shirley’s hands were ice.
My hands enveloped hers, trying to warm them.
“It’s okay Shirley, just rest.” I said, stroking her face.
A noise in her throat made my heart skip a beat, “I’ve always loved you.” she croaked.
“I love you too. Just rest.”
I knew it wouldn’t be long.
“You need to know. Before it’s too late.” Shirley said, fighting to keep her eyes open.
I inched closer to her, “I’m listening. What is it?” I whispered.
“I’m here……I don’t understand.” I said. My face scrunching.
“Nothing is…..as it…….. seems.” she said.
Her grip loosened and then went limp.
I looked at her, as if I didn’t expect her to die. Nothing could’ve prepared me for that moment.
“No! Shirley no! This can’t be the end!” I cried.
My head was buried in her chest. A phantom heartbeat remained.
Her voice echoed, “Nothing is as it seems Victoria. Nothing…is….as it seems…..Nothing….Noth-“
I could feel the sweat beading down my back as my body awakened from unrest.
BLEEP! BLEEP! BLEEP! BLEEP! Slamming my fist down on the alarm clock I said a curse under my breath. I rubbed the sleep out of my eyes, yawned and stretched, wishing the nightmare hadn’t awakened me. It was so warm inside my bed. The thought that summer would be over soon was depressing.
After showering, I opened my creaking closet door. Clothes were lined up on hangers like soldiers and organized into work scrubs, weekend wear and ‘mom approved’ outfits-below the knee skirts, button-up blouses and the kind of dress pants a librarian would wear. I grabbed my work scrubs and reached for the radio. The song ‘Careless Whisper’ came on, reminding me of Shirley-my old nanny. She was completely in love with George Michael. She wanted to bear his children. I never had the heart to tell her he was gay, and she never suspected.
Shirley died of cancer not long ago. After caring for her at my parents’ place, it occurred to me that that was my calling. Nursing has been what I expected, but part of me wishes there was more to it. It would be somewhat inappropriate to kiss your patient’s boo-boos or to cry with them over their pain, but that’s what my heart tells me to do.
Most people would think I’m crazy to walk home after a long shift at the hospital, but to me it’s invigorating. My car is a beat up old Honda Civic, it needs to be replaced but my transportation requirements are minimal, so it spends a lot of time parked in my garage. After completing another day of training at the hospital, my feet began their trek back home. As I was walking, I noticed there was a dog following me.
The poor dog was practically starving to death. Dog’s have a sixth sense with me. At first I thought she was with the family behind me, but I turned around and realized the family had disappeared.
Bending down to the dog’s level, my hand slowly traced the circumference of her neck and I was disappointed to find no trace of a tag or a collar. The nearest veterinary clinic was just a few blocks away. Still bent over, I gently took her scruff and began walking. I could have passed for a veterinary assistant since I was still in scrubs.
Her back legs started to shake just as we approached the hospital. Trying to stabilize her with my balancing hand was no use, as she was a large dog; a Labrador Retriever mix. Her coat was blonde; she had the long shaggy tail of a Retriever but the face of a Labrador, except her snout was longer. She collapsed; mere feet from the clinic. On my knees, hands flailing about in the air, the receptionist caught a glimpse of the spectacle.