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Hospital

by BP | Score: 6400

Carla hated the night shift. It had been fine when she first started out. Darting from room to room, reading charts, checking up on her patients. Inexperience had filled the night with purpose and possibilities. Now that she'd been a nurse for over fifteen years and could run her floor with her eyes closed, the silence took on a wholly different element.

"Trish," the sharpness of her own voice startled her. The way it seemed cut the silence, crash down the empty halls. She didn't need to ask the desk nurse anything. The patients were sleeping. The nurses all had their assignments. She just needed to hear something.

"Yeah?"

Trish looked up from her computer. Like Carla she'd been a nurse for over a decade. Little got to her. And when things did get to her, it was the slow, almost imperceptible accumulation of pains and sorrows and frustrations that came with the job. A healthy patient taking a turn; a beloved grandparent, having held on hoping to catch the birth of the first great grandchild or the wedding of their favorite grandchild--few admitted to having favorites but in those desperate moments when the silence crept in and hospital beds began to feel more like coffins, it was easy to tell but which children they told the most stories about--a brash young doctor who hadn't realized how little he knew, yet insisted on acting like he owned the hospital; a brash old doctor who, because he'd been there the day they invented the stethoscope, believed he truly owned the hospital and acted accordingly; sick mothers; sick fathers; too many sick kids. Being a nurse didn't mean shutting off what it felt like to witness all that. Carla had tried that approach. 

It was near the end of her first year of residency. Like all nursing students she'd been cutting her teeth in the rehab ward, sitting up with recovering addicts. She still remembered his name. Billy Hamptons. Stacey, her friend and fellow first year, joked that maybe his family owned the Hamptons. Maybe after they helped him get better, after they'd sat through his fights where he'd spit on them, kick them, scratch their arms, he'd finally break through the haze of detox, fully recovered, and emerge a sort of prince. Remembering his proper upbringing, he'd apologize, buy them whatever they wanted then shower them with a month's stay at one of his family's many mansions.

Billy, as it turned out, was not the heir to some vast, ancient American plunder. He was just a drunk who didn't pay child support. And how, Carla remembered, could be particularly cruel whenever the fits hit. Verbally as well as physically abusive. On that night Carla had been checking the bite marks on her wrist. He hadn't broken skin, thank god, but the indentations felt like they went all the way to the bone. She recalled rubbing the spot, hoping against all knowledge that it would smooth the skin out like putty and remove the marks. It didn't of course, but back then she'd gladly deal with the occasional scar than listening to the bile that sprung from his mouth. Sexist remarks. Racist comments. A frantic, sputtering stream of vile nonsense, unfocused and incoherent but no less frightening.

Carla thought of that accumulated weight. Like a trash heap where every day a new bag was tossed on top, it could get so unwieldly. And in those early years it felt like the barge that kept it all afloat, that kept it from capsizing in sinking down into her, polluting who she was, was so much smaller. At times, when he patients lashed out physically, she found herself thinking, "I'd rather they just say something." Then, others, when they'd lie down, strapped to their beds, uttering their comments, slow and cold, like every word was a well aimed dagger, she'd think, "just scratch me. Just shut your god damn mouth and grab my uniform and pull."

Balance. That was what she needed. Too much of one would unbalance the barge and it would all go tumbling into the sea. Balance, that's what she needed.

Trish was staring at her. She'd forgotten she said anything at all. "Sorry," she said. "Tired. How you doing?"

"Fine."

"You still seeing that guy?"

Trish rolled her eyes.

"That bad, huh?"

Trish had been seeing a guy, Blake. Younger than her, she had found it exciting at first. She'd come into work talking about her twenty-five man like she'd found the fountain of youth. Nights out at clubs, swank restaurants, good sex. After her divorce two years earlier, none of those things seemed possible. Especially the sex. But Blake with his designer jeans and hats that looked cleaner than either of their best dresses had changed all of that. It wasn't until they were three months in that she realized the reason he could afford all those things.

Trish and Carla had had similar upbringings. Curfews, doting, over protective fathers, religious mothers. They used to joke they could switch places for a night and the only adjustment they'd have to make was dietary and getting used to hearing swears in different languages. But Spanish and Italian were close enough. So really it was only the food they'd have to get used to.

So when Trish found out that Blake made his money from book keeping with a little pot dealing on the side, she nearly ended up on the bed in one of the wards. Since then the relationship had limped along.

But Blake knew what he was doing, and Carla had told Trish as much. He knew how he cam 

Completed challenges

The following challenges were completed during the writing exercise:

Begin Start typing to begin
Letter Use the letter T
Words Reach 50 words
Location A hospital
Event Silence
Words Reach 100 words
Words Reach 200 words
Words Reach 300 words
Words Reach 400 words
Words Reach 500 words
Words Reach 600 words
Words Reach 700 words
Words Reach 800 words
Words Reach 900 words
Character A stupid gamekeeper

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