(The big plant sale is this weekend. I have no real time to think about the story, so this will have to be it for several days.)
Hilary was assigned to Mrs. Drake, an 83 year old woman who had been admitted to the general ward three nights before with complaints of abdominal pain. Appendicitis had been ruled out as she had it removed 40 years prior. A rolling enema had been ordered and it was Hilary’s responsibility to administer it. No one suspected that Mrs. Drake’s colon cancer had progressed to the point that the introduction of a significant amount of fluid introduced to the large intestine would rupture said organ. After watching her linger on for two more days, Mrs. Drake was not dead more than 20 minutes before Hilary called the evening supervising nurse and gave notice at 2145, an hour and fifteen minutes before her shift ended. No one tried to talk her out of it and she was out the door before the funeral home had been notified.
Hilary was quite aware of the fact that her coworkers did not care for her and thought her nursing skills lacking. Yet, she did not know why they felt this way. She never had complaints from patients, and in fact, many patients came back to the floor after their discharge just to see her. She even received thank you notes and flowers from past patients. An outsider might see that these reciprocated acts of kindness and gratitude might be enough to alienate her from a group who largely feels overworked, underappreciated and therefore underpaid. Such a simple explanation would seem to have no literary merit were it not so pervasive. Morale was low at Memorial, which made room for personality conflicts and trivial distractions to sometimes supercede patient care. So, it may not come as a surprise that people took a certain perverse pleasure in Mrs. Drake’s misfortune, for it came at the young woman’s expense.
Hilary was upset to such a degree that she did not consider what she would do now that she had quit the hospital. What would she tell her parents? It had not crossed her mind. Had she given up entirely on the medical profession? That question did not occur to her until she reached her car in the hospital parking lot. When she opened her car door and the dome light came on, her biology and organic chemistry textbooks on the passenger seat reminded her of her career path. Hilary was a diligent student and her grades at Hawthorn Valley Community College reflected her efforts. Yet, she was overcome with an urge to throw the books in the nearest garbage can and looked around the lot for such a receptacle. It was then she saw the intern Dr. Campeneau’s car in the last row, and she could see someone in the driver’s seat. Campeneau had also been assigned to Mrs. Drake, so she assumed he must have been called in. She considered waiting for him to get out of his car. She didn’t know what she would say to him, and then decided she had nothing to say and got into her car, started the engine and drove. As she passed the doctor’s car she saw a second head briefly pop up and then disappear on the passenger side. Had she not been so disgusted and heartbroken over the events of the last two days, she would have been more than curious. Instead, her heart sunk a bit lower, for just three days earlier she thought she detected a hint of interest from the good doctor.
Hilary still lived at home with her parents. She did so primarily for economic reasons; yet, as one might imagine, in a house of people whose livelihood was the well-being of others, they co-existed quite well, and there was no pressure for her to move out any time soon. Curfew was no longer an issue, and Hilary came and went as she pleased. If she was going to be gone overnight, she informed her parents that would be the case, yet did not need to give an accounting.
Hilary turned out of the hospital parking lot as if she was going home, just as she did most nights when she left work. Yet, she did not go home. She drove out of town, passed her road, turned up her radio and headed for the city.