I nearly cursed every living creature on the planet.
My apology, you must been wondering who the hell I was and thinking I was terribly rude. Even I thought I was pretty damn rude myself. It just that I was not in a really good mood this particular morning. It all started last week when a colleague of mine, Elaine, asked me to do her shift this week so she could prepare for her final exam. This was all fine if only she really was preparing for her exam. I had only found out during the weekend that her exam had already finished last Monday and she was off to Melbourne with her beloved boyfriend!! The cheek of her! All my generosity going down the drain!
Now, unfortunately my exam hasn’t finished yet. I had to do double shifts and find some time to do my study. If this wasn’t bad enough, this morning I actually found I was very late for my last exam and there was no way I was able to rush across the town in 15 minutes.
Hence the curse.
Okay, I thought I owed you a proper introduction of myself. My name is Isabella Aki De Baton. I was in my second year at a nursing school. Second year students need to work in the hospital for a year, you see. To apply all theories into the reality etc… that sort of thing. So I was also working part time at Auckland Hospital.
I didn’t grow up in Auckland, which some of you probably reckoned it was not a pretty big deal, a lot of people in Auckland wasn’t born here these days. I was born in Tokyo, Japan. However, I wasn’t exactly Japanese, either. My mother is Chinese-Japanese and my father…………I don’t even knew where he’s from. All I knew was he was a sailor and left my mum before I could even remembered him. When I was three, she met a nice Australian and decided to married him all the way to the other side of the globe. So we moved to Sydney and lived there till I am 18. At age 18, I met my boyfriend, Carl. He was a New Zealander and we were madly in love. So when he asked me to come back to New Zealand with him, how could I refuse? We can barely be apart for one night! I dropped everything, including my angry parents, to come here with him.
Not I was really complaining, I thought Carl and I were coming to the end soon. No, I wasn’t saying I no longer loved him. As the matter of fact, I still did. It just that our love had changed to something else before we had noticed it. Our love had become…. let’s put it this way, we started talked about everything. You would probably think it’s okay. But when a guy tells you everything, eg, what he thought about some silly clothes trend or a nice looking girl he met at the pub he thought he had a crush on (and I was not even having a slight jealousy whatsoever), that basically means he no longer views you as his girlfriend.
Now, that’s pretty much how my life had been so far.
Let’s back to my little exam problem, shall we?
I thought I still have to rush to this goddamn exam and try to finish it under whatever goddamn time I had left after I arrived there. I dressed, do all morning routine and finished my brekkie in 5 minutes (very impressed with myself). In no time at all I was rushing out of the door and jump into my car and shoot out of my driveway like one of those boy racers.
Surprisingly enough, the traffic on the road wasn’t too bad. When I finally reached the lecture theatre, I joyfully found out I still have good 1 hour left to do my exam. After the exam, I returned to my car, found out by miracle my car was parking on no parking zone and no police had actually issued me any ticket.
My guardian angel or whatever thing was looking after me from the top must have back from his/her tea break.
Maybe my luck had changed.
I headed to the hospital. Today I have to do Elaine’s afternoon shift.
“Isabella! Why are you here?” senior nurse Joanne raised her head and took one shot at me as I strolled through the door: “Get out of here! That stupid Elaine the cow can come back from OZ to do her shift!!!!” Her loudspeaker voice nearly turned everyone’s heads towards us.
“I would love to, put I need money.” No you didn’t, you big softie. But there was no need to explain this to her, the damage had been done and if I didn’t do it at the end it would be me who was getting into trouble.
Joanne gave me an oh-don’t-lie-to-me-I-know-every-thing look before turning her attention back to the computer screen. I quickly rushed to my locker to get changed. By the time I remerged from the changing room, I noticed Doctor Owen is standing at the counter with the small cluster of medical students gathering around him.
I quickly fetched my note and pen and joined.
It’s a routine everyday doctors here will take the first year meds and nurses to check his patients. Something would be better to just show it to you instead of explaining them graphically on the textbook. Today it was Doctor Owen’s turn.
Doctor Eddie Owen.
I suspected he had a crush on me.
No I was not being one of those bitches who thinks they are more superior to others and they should always be popular so all men should fall under their feet. As the matter of fact I reckoned I was rather shy, no confidence kind of women. I wasn’t even pretty! Brown hair (not even silky black, this is one of the disadvantages of Eurasians, i.e., mix-blood), lots of freckles on the tip of my nose and cheek, and slightly chubby body to modern day standard (in Victoria days this would be perfect), the only part of myself that reached my own pity satisfactory levels were my even skin tone (if you just ignored the freckles that is). No man on this planet would be so dumb to fall under my feet… all right! Carl was the exception. But the reason he fell in love with me back then was still a mystery to me to this date.
Seriously, I really thought Doctor Owen had a crush on me.
He never looked into my eyes when he talked to me, and always had a flush as red as monkey’s bum on his face. There were once or twice I caught him peeking on me. If you think I was over reacting. I had my friend ZoŽ, another senior nurse here to back me up. She was once asked by Doctor Owen if I was seeing someone.
Now I had to say Doctor Owen was very nice looking. A lot of women liked him. He had this puppy look that women couldn’t help themselves not to fell in love with. And he had this soft platinum blond hair that ZoŽ once described as “an angel hair”. But he was not really my cup of tea, to be honest with you. I respected him as a doctor and I might treat him as a friend if it came to term (so far he had been so shy to talk to me more than some patients’ status). But as a love interest? Nah.
Doctor Owen led us through a few patients and described their symptoms. Occasionally, he asked us a couple of related question and answered some medical enquiries from the group. Usually my job was helping ZoŽ checking the patients while the doctors giving the group some sort introduction.
“Psss! Are you sure you are not fancy Doctor Owen at all?” ZoŽ whispered at me when Doctor Owen was listening one of med’s inquiries
“No, you’ve asked me about a million times now, young lady!!” I gave her an oh-you-are-nosy-to-the-core look: “I told you he is not my kind of person. You seem to forget I am with Carl at the moment.”
“I thought you said you and Carl may be finished.”
“Now I wish I never told you that. Carl and I hadn’t finished, officially. ” I threw my eyes heavenwards: “ Why are you so interested me fancy Doctor Owen thingy?”
“Coz I am nosy to the core.” She winked.
I rolled my eyes.
Today we managed to move to the ICU, Intensive Care Unit. There were some special cases here. The hospital was huge, not everyday we had the opportunity to visit this part of the building. A few people began to show some signs of excitement, elbowing each other and grasped their clipboard tightly.
“We got someone just transfer from Ascort Hospital last week,” Doctor Owen took a look at his file: “this is a rather unusual case and it may be the first time all of you can see it outside of textbook.”
We all entered the room.
For a moment I thought I lost my breath.
This was the nicest looking man I had ever seen. Dark-brown-hair, well-build (even though he looked rather closer to skeletal build at the moment, the clothe on his body looked actually better if they were hanging on a clothe hangers), and has very nice looking fingers.
I used to think Carl was nice looking. No, to be fair to say, Carl was really nice looking and charming. Otherwise I wouldn’t fell in love with him and crossed the ditch for him. But now compared to this man, Carl was really normal.
This man was deliciously gorgeous.
He was more like Greek god than a human.
Have you ever heard of the story of Endymion?
Endymion was a Sheppard. One clear and calm evening he fell asleep while he was caring for the sheep, he was spotted by Diana, the moon goddess, sister of Apollo. She immediately fell in love with this most handsome looking man in the world. She came down to him and kissed him. He looked so beautiful when sleeping; Diana didn’t want him to wake up. So she made him forever in sleep, to preserve his looks, so she could admire him whenever she’s pleased.
Now I saw one right in front of me.
Obviously I was not the only one. I notice other women in the group gasped. Even Zoe whistled quietly.
“Yum-yum.” She mumbled.
“This man has Meningococcal Septicaemia.” Doctor Owen cleared his throat: “A very deadly disease. It progress so rapidly, in some cases the patients only have notice some headache and cold syndromes before they collapse. The bacteria are spread mainly through intimate kissing, sneezing, coughed, or sharing a drink. In the most severe cases, the patient could die within hours after the first symptom was shown. Our very unfortunate patent only had some migraine and fatigue, went home to have some sleep and never woke up. He’s still alive, but the blood poisoning had caused the circulation to stop, resulting in gangrene. His body had shut down – except for his heart – causing damage to all of his organs. We’ve amputated his legs; he no longer has the use of his hands (the nerves were killed); his lungs aren’t functioning properly; his kidneys have failed; and his liver, eyes and teeth have been damaged to some degree, we can only know when he’s awake. He’s been lying like this for two months now. No one knows when he will ever wake up. His family believed that he will receive better care if he is in bigger hospital, so they transferred him here.”
Most of meds here had heard about the disease. But they still seems having quite a bit of a shock. Who wouldn’t? This fine looking man here had such a horrible disease, he might as well never wake up.
I looked at the file in ZoŽ’s hand.
Alex McCarfferty Simpson.
Endymion has a name.
* * *
ZoŽ and I went for a drink that evening.
We couldn’t help ourselves discussing about Alex the Endymion.
“Sad, isn’t it? A perfect life ruined out of the blue.”
“Life isn’t really fair sometimes.” I commented: “I wonder what his partner will think.”
“How do you know he has a partner?”
“A fine man like that doesn’t have the partner?” I looked at ZoŽ: “Are we all blind?”
ZoŽ thought of it for a moment, then nodded.
We all went quiet for a while.
“…….hey! Isn’t that your man Carl over there?” ZoŽ suddenly pointed at the direction of the door.
I turned my head around; saw Carl standing at the door entrance.
“Funny that, he said he has to work overtime today.” I murmured, and was about to raise my hand to call him over.
Then I realised he’s not along.
He’s with someone.
I couldn’t bloody believe it.
His friend was a tall, slim, and very sweet looking brunette.
Now let me tell you, I knew I’ve been telling you Carl and I were coming to the end. But to sense this was one thing, to actually seeing this was totally different.
You know what I mean.
By the looks of it, they’ve been seeing each other for quite a long time; by the looks of it, she was that girl Carl had told me he had a crush on; by the looks of it, the relationship had been moved from “just a crush” to the next level.
I felt like being running over by a car, no, a van, no, a 40” container truck.
Carl obviously didn’t notice me; his attention was all on the brunette.
I waited for them to leave, and told ZoŽ I was going home.
ZoŽ said nothing.
I walked home. Luckily the flat Carl and I shared wasn’t very far away. Because judging by the amount of drink I’ve been drinking so far and the emotional state I was at the moment, I didn’t think I was able to drive home safely.
I had to think about my relationship with Carl through. Looked like this end thingy had come more quickly than I thought. There was no doubt something between us had changed, there was no way we could just talk about it then we cuddled and kissed and life resumed as normal like nothing had ever happened. I still loved Carl, I believe so was he, and I thought if one of us were breaking up with another, it would still cause a lot of damage.
What should I do? Waiting for things taking its cause? Then I probably would die of high blood pressure before we even got there.
This was difficult.
I arrived home and threw myself in bed. Next thing I knew was my room was bright and sunny and Carl’s humming voice drifting in from the kitchen.
I looked at the clock.
I couldn’t believe I actually fell asleep.
I half-dazedly drifted into the kitchen.
“Morning! Some cereal?” Carl seemed to be in a very good mood.
“Oh…. What time did you get home?”
“About three-ish. Seems like you got home earlier than I did. Thought you and ZoŽ were going for a drink?”
“We did.” I pulsed for a second, decided not to confront Carl I saw him with the brunette thing: “But I felt tired, so I decided to go home early.”
“Well, Miss Softie. I hate to say I told you so. When is Elaine coming back anyway?” Carl scooped a full spoon of cereal into his mouth.
“Good stuff! So you don’t have to do any of her stupid shifts after that?”
“Her shift finished last night anyway.” I pulled some milk into my bowl: “The rest are all my shifts this week.”
“Yes?” He was sipping coffee, humming songs.
“…….How’s your crush thing with that girl going?” Couldn’t help myself to ask.
“Oh that!!” Carl grinned over the table: “I asked her out about a week ago.”
I couldn’t believe he actually honesty told me!!!!!
I thought he will say something like: “Oh, nothing much happening, you know. I am too chicken to do anything” or “Nothing……pass me the cereal box, will you?” I couldn’t believe he would tell me without trying to hide it. Wait a minute, something truly seriously wrong with our relationship here. Carl, my boyfriend, was telling me he is going out with another girl without even lying or trying to lie?
“But you’ve known that,” some little voice inside my head told me: “you’ve known Carl had treated you more like his sister than a girlfriend. You’ve sensed this long time ago. What’s the fuss? Why are you behaving like a big drama queen?”
“But I....I love him.” I defended weakly: “We are still in this relationship here. Shouldn’t we do something about this one before starting another one first?”
“Oh and you can bear that?” Little evil voice fought back.
No I couldn’t.
“Really!!?” I heard myself faking to be cheerful and anxious: “And what happened?”
Carl’s face coloured, he didn’t notice I didn’t sound all that sincere: “It turned out that she also had fancied me for quite a while. So we decided to give it a go.”
“Far-out!!! That’s really awesome!!” I looked at the clock: “I am really happy for you. You should introduced us sometimes………Hey! Aren’t you meant to be in the city for a meeting at 7.40 am? It’s 7:26 now.”
“Oh shit!!” Carl quickly finished his coffee: “Got to fly! Catch you later eh?”
“See ya!”I waved and sent him off with a cheery smile.
As soon as his car disappeared at the end of the driveway I burst into tears. I couldn’t bear this, I couldn’t’ bear this at all. I knew pretty well the spark was long gone, it was I who encouraged Carl it was bloody okay to pursuit another relationship, it was I who listened to his story with full enthusiasm, it was I who keep telling myself our relationship was no longer like lovers.
But why on Earth I still crying like mad?
I cried literarily whole day. By the time I turned up at the nurse station in the Hospital at 5:00 pm, my eyes were as puff as mallowpuff.
“Jesus!!!” ZoŽ had a bit of a shock when she saw me: “What the hell happened to you? Come over here; let me get you some ice bag, darling. Don’t you march about like this, as if our ER department isn’t busy enough!!”
“Carl told me he is going out with that woman!!” I told ZoŽ.
“No, ZoŽ! He’s not even trying to lie about it. About a week ago he told me he had a crush on one of the girl at work. So I suspected it was the girl we saw at the pub last night. When I asked him what happened to that girl this morning, he told me straight up he is going out with her!!!!”
“Oh… but……….. I thought you’ve known that already. …have you?”
“Yeah….but it doesn’t mean it’s not hurt!!” God damn it!! I started crying again.
“Oh Christ!! Come here sweetie! Give me a hug.” ZoŽ hug me: “I know it’s been hard. But since there is nothing we can do about it. I reckon it would be better off for you try not to think about at the moment. Now, you have job to do. Remember?”
“I am not gonna let you go into those patients’ room like this. There!” She pressed me a stack of files: “you are going to the ICU today. Go change some medicine and have a joy ride. At least they are too weak to have a fright when they see your face.”
I tried to squeeze a smile to ZoŽ before I head off to the ICU. ICU isn’t much better then the ordinary room. Families and relatives of the patients were gathering here and there. Some of them were weeping in tears; some of them pacing up and down the corridor, looked frustrated; some of them just sit there, pale, with emptiness in their eyes. There were bigger worries here, compare to mine. It’s the matter of live or death. I slowly pushed the trolley, went to one room after another. Before I noticed, I was standing in front of the room of Alex the Endymion.
Like yesterday, there was no one else in the room.
I quietly pushed the trolley in.
“Hi,” I smiled at the person lying in bed, Alex the Endymion, knowing that he was not going to heard me anyway, but there was no harm for just being polite: “I am Isabella. Your medicine nurse this evening.”
I checked the monitor and medicine. All were well.
“You seem to be quite well today, my friend.” I was literally talking to myself: “despite you still snuggle up in bed when you are not suppose to. There are a lot of things you will need to deal with asap. Such as your girlfriend, I assume you have one here; your career, I assume you have that one, too; your parents? I believe they are worrying sick about you.” I replaced the fluid on the drip: “So stop being such a slacker, eh?” I packed up my trolley: “Well, better leave you alone to think about it, should I?” I pushed the trolley towards the door, and I paused.
I really need someone to talk to; someone was not going to give me any opinion about it. Someone has time to listen to me.
Don’t get me wrong, ZoŽ was really nice. But she was a happily engaged girl (to her one and only boyfriend she had ever had in her life), I just wouldn’t think she will ever fully understand.
I sat on the chair next to his bed.
Well, he’s not going wake up anytime soon, so he would do.
“You know what? My boyfriend just told me he’s going out with another girl today.” I looked at my finger: “Isn’t that funny? I thought my feeling towards him had faded over the years, just like his. But last night when I saw him with his new date, I actually felt jealous. I had no idea why I feel that. Now I am in a very big trouble here, I can’t bear the thought of end this with him, but I can’t stand stay and see them together, either. Some kind of dilemma, aye?” I gave him a wry smile: “Life is ironic, isn’t it? Now you had a headache one day, went home and had a nap, ended up you are lying here with your leg chopped off. I came to New Zealand with my boyfriend, only sadly found out today he had moved on and non of us knows how to end our relationship. Oh well!” I stood up: “I really have to go now. Otherwise other nurses will start suspecting I am wondering off somewhere to have a break!” I laughed, grabbed the trolley and heading towards and door: “Nice to chat with you anyway…see you…I suppose”
Then I paused.
No, I was not stopped because I want to tell him more about my life.
I stopped because I heard something.
No, seriously, I could swear I heard something.
I turned my head around and held my breath. Out of my shocking horror I saw Alex the Endymion’s eye wide open and looked straight at me.
Very clear, piercing blue eyes.
And then he smiled.
“Hi, Can you tell me what am I doing in the hospital?”