toss some mundane there
I actually don’t leave, I sit in the cafeteria and think about everything that he said and finally make a decision. I walk away and go to the reception. I kindly ask for nurse Charlie. An older woman in her mid-sixties asks me which Charlie do I mean. I say “the only male one in the coop”. She gives me a stern expression at first but then it turns into a crooked smile.
So another one infatuated with ‘Mr. blue eyes’?
Nope, I need him for other purposes.
The words seem to amuse the woman and she actually gives a genuine smile while fixing her glasses at the same time. I look at her white, curly hair, pinned up high on her head, and the wrinkles that appear when she smiles.
And what would that be?
Just patient care, and private annoyance that I cause him.
Alright, dear. I will call his pager, and we will see if he has the time.
That’s okay. I will just sit here and wait.
This could take a long while.
Not a problem. Time is all I got right now.
Suit yourself, dear.
I gaze at her for some time, while she moves along very efficiently, and notice how tired she looks. I stand up with nothing else better to do and go to a vending machine that sells coffee. I stare at it and notice there is also tea or hot chocolate option to choose from. I pick tea and get two cups of it. I also take 3 packets of sugar (2 for me) and some plastic sticks to stir it later. I walk back to her and leave the tea and sugar on her desk and sit down without saying anything. She looks up from her papers and lifts an eyebrow. I shrug my shoulders.
I hear tea is good for you.
She stares funny at the paper cup but then looks up and silently says ‘thank you’. She seems grateful for the little gift. I sip my hot tea slowly and my stomach grumbles again. I pat it with my right hand and sigh. Ugh, seriously? After all that food in the cafeteria? Well, hearing voices sure did work well for the appetite and my metabolism... Or maybe it was the fact that I hardly ever ate these days.
Hey, you. Miss stalker...
I raise my eyes and stare surprised at the woman behind the counter.
She adjusts her glasses and nods her head impatiently.
Yes you, dear. Come over here.
I stand up and walk up to her. I think I already liked her. I stare as she pulls up a basket of muffins and pushes it my way. Oh, I definitely liked her.
It’s for the nursers but I don’t think they would even notice if you took one.
How about two?
Go ahead. Some of us need to lose weight anyway, and you sure could use some extra pounds on you.
I can almost feel my too loose jeans slip down slightly, under her drilling eyes. I grin and take the offering.
Thanks - I look at her name tag - Oh, and Susan...? The stalker girl’s name is Eleonore.
She doesn’t look up from the papers but I still see her lips twitch a bit. Hours pass and we don’t really talk much to each other. However, I watch her fascinated when my mind isn’t occupied by all the dark thoughts that I have. Honestly, I think that woman is a robot. She handles so many things at once, juggling her responsibilities like a real pro. I can’t get enough of her. Like watching one of those shows How it’s made* on the Discovery Channel. Apparently, today’s episode was about nurses and bionic parts that they hide from the world.
Finally, when things seem to slow down for a moment, she looks around suspiciously and takes out a crossword puzzle from under her desk station. I lift an eyebrow but don’t say anything. Instead, I look through another old glossy magazine and read about how to fit into a gown before the New Year’s Eve... 2012. I smirk, oh well. Didn’t make for that in time but 2018 was all mine. The main theme of the party will be “Hellhole celebration”. I rub my wrists against the scented pages and start to bitch around in my head, about make-up and sequins, when I hear a low noise. I look up at Susan and notice her tapping a pencil against the desk. She points it at me almost accusingly.
An optimist by another name...
She stares at me for a moment and sends me an almost wicked smile.
Oh, look at that. The circus is back in town. Let’s try again. The same question. Seven letters.
I sigh and she nods satisfied.
Good, I’ve got another one for you. “In Greek mythology, a place under the earth where the spirits of the dead go”.
My eyes widen, yet I don’t comment. How very convenient in this situation. Susan seems to get impatient.
Hades. Both the land of the dead and the god who rules there.
It fits. Alright, the most common...
What is going on around here?
I turn my head and see Charlie staring at both me and Susan, very baffled by what he sees. I try to keep a straight face. I put down the magazine and walk to the desk. I glance at Susan and it seems that she has the same guilty expression that I do. But it just lasts a second. She looks up at Charlie’s tall frame and seems to grow a couple of inches as well, getting all professional... while discreetly putting away the crossword puzzle.
What is this nonsense, dear? I do believe that you have seen a patient before in a hospital? Haven’t you now, Mr. Evans?
Charlie shakes his head as if something isn’t adding up here. Like a normal, everyday situation has been turned by 360 degrees. His eyes wander slowly from her to me, and back again. Somehow he reminds me of a white rabbit, searching for lost time. I narrow my eyebrows. Why am I thinking about such a thing? I restrain myself from looking at the nurse again, in fear that I might see the White Queen as well. Because she certainly fit the part.
Second name basis, Mrs. Cormeum? Because you are not fooling anyone with that strategy.
Oh, hush boy and take care of that girl, she has been sitting here for over two hours. Mind getting her out of here before she eats all of the muffins left? Ah, that reminds me. Feed her as well, she is simply skin and bones, and she can’t possibly keep stalking you in this state.
I can feel a blush spreading over my pale cheeks and I try not to snort again. I felt both embarrassed and amused. I cross my arms and look at him questioningly.
Is your shift over?
Almost... I still need to fill out some reports and patients cards and set new drug dozes for... Ehm, yes, almost over. Why?
I am inviting you to coffee. It seems that you wanted to find out some information, regarding my current state.
So will you find some spare time for me? I don’t have all the info you want, but it will be a start.
He stares at me, knowing exactly what I meant by that. He seems indecisive somehow. He drills his eyes into mine, just like nurse Cormeum before, then nods his head once, making up his mind.
Yeah, I’ve got a couple minutes to spare.
I hear Susan snort loudly and then quickly going through some papers, making a lot of noise with it. Charlie’s eyes narrow but he doesn’t comment. I keep my face muscles at bay, while I answer him.
Good, I will wait for you outside. Bye, Susan. The food was great.
You’re welcome Eleonore, and the tea was... drinkable, I will give you that.
I head for the main doors, and from the corner of my eye, I notice Charlie’s bewildered expression caused by our little exchange. As I leave, I can still faintly hear his words.
What did just happen here? Susan, did your husband bake the ‘magic muffins’ again...
His voice trails off and my lips still twitch as I wait for him outside. Just when I think my life can’t get any more bizarre, something like this happens. I close my eyes for a moment. Maybe it was the late hour? I feel the chill of Autumn days on my skin, the cold going under my thin jacket and making me shiver. I glance at the electronic clock above the main entrance and grimace. 5:43 a.m. Yes, that could be it. I look up at the cloudy sky while the darkness starts to slowly fade into a gloomy shade of grey. It was time to prepare for another day.
*“How It’s Made” is a documentary television series that premiered on January 6, 2001, on the Discovery Channel in Canada, and Science in the United States. It shows how common, everyday items are manufactured.