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Rated: E · Draft · Family · #2061349
Practicing dialogue and introspection. Is this believable, worth expanding?
Ring! Ring! Shi rolled her eyes and pressed her head to her shoulder to activate the earpiece for her phone. The nurse looked at her in alarm, pulling back the scalpel Shi had asked for.

“Oh, stop it, Joyce,” Shi snapped, grabbing the instrument from her. “You know I’m fine. Hello?” Her eyes went back to the patient on the table as she made the next incision.

“Well, hello, little sister,” her brother said. Shi groaned.

“Jack,” she greeted flatly. “What do you want? I’m a little preoccupied.” She heard him chuckle.

“I got engaged, my dear,” he informed her cheerfully. “I’m inviting you to the wedding in May. Will you come?” Pleasure and anger warred within the young woman.

“How about I just don’t say no right now? Where is it going to be? And who in the world would marry you? Cauterizer.” Joyce took the scalpel and handed her the cauterizer silently, obviously angry.

“You’re in surgery?!” Jack exclaimed in shock. “Why did you answer?” Shi kept her eyes fixed on the patient’s offending section of intestine.

“Because I can carry a conversation in my head while my eyes and hands are occupied,” she remarked sarcastically. “Scalpel.” Joyce switched instruments again.

“I’m not going to respond to that right now, but if you kill your patient it’s not my fault,” Jack snapped through the phone. “Her name is Laura and we’re getting married in our church here in—!”

A church wedding?” Shi shrieked. “Not you too! First Sarah, then Dan, now you?! You’re the most adamant atheist I’ve ever known, Jack! Forceps, please.” Joyce obeyed her.

“Yes, Shi,” Jack replied, a hint of bitterness in his voice. “Had you answered my calls two years ago, this would not be a surprise. Wait, you knew Sarah had converted?” Shi began excising a damaged part of intestinal tubing.

“Of course I knew,” she answered. “We all did. She asked that we keep it from you because of how you are. She didn’t want you to think she was weak or whatever. Lot of good it did her.” Shi fell silent, ignoring the growl from the other end as she remembered her only sister. It still hurt to think about her, let alone talk about her. The woman still didn’t know why she’d been too scared to go to the funeral. It had been years since she’d seen her brothers, and while they weren’t on speaking terms, it would have been bad form to fight under the circumstances.

“Call me when you’re out of surgery,” Jack grumbled, then hung up. Shi cursed under her breath before bringing her focus back to the patient before her.

“Dr. Cox…” Joyce began.

“Shut up, Joyce,” Shi snapped. She sighed. “I’m sorry, Joyce. Greg is out of town, I was hoping it was him calling. Had I known it was Jack, I’d have ignored it. That looks like the last of the damaged area… Here we are. One two-inch section of small intestine. Amazing what havoc such a small thing can wreak on the human body, no?” She put the tissue in the bowl. “Sutures.” Joyce handed her the needle. “Thank you, dear.” She quickly sewed shut the holes she’d cut, making sure there were no leaking blood vessels on her way out of the abdomen. She handed back the forceps and took a moment to admire her perfect stitches. “Well, that wasn’t so bad. Mr. Rodriguez should recover nicely in a few days.” The orderlies wheeled the man out after disconnecting all the tubes and wires while Shi walked to the washbasin to clean, wanting to get the blood off of her.

“Dr. Cox,” Joyce tried again. “That was dangerous. If you answer the phone in surgery again, I’ll have to report you. You should know better!” Shi looked at the forty-something dumpy woman, watched her face maintain a concerned and angry expression. She decided a submissive response was best.

“You’re right,” She told her. “I’m sorry. It was foolish and I risked the patient’s life, not to mention the careers of everyone in the room, including my own. It won’t happen again. I’m sorry I snapped at you in there. You had every right to speak up, and really you probably should have stopped the procedure from moving forward the moment I answered the phone. I appreciate your assistance, and your discretion in this matter has not gone unnoticed. Thank you.” Joyce seemed satisfied with the response and left.

On her way home, Shi remembered Jack’s parting demand with an emphatic groan. She called him, running through all the things he could say. The phone rang three times.

“You should be fired and stripped of your medical license.” Jack’s flat tone made her wince. Clearly he was still upset with her.

“I was informed of such already,” she said. “You wanted to continue this conversation or not? I don’t need to talk to you.” Her temper was rising.

“I’m going to skip the Sarah conversation for when you’re willing to have it,” Jack replied gently, much to her relief. “But the marriage one is more immediate. You’ve several months’ notice. I want you to be here. Laura wants to meet her future sister-in-law, too. You’d like her.” Shi didn’t believe him.

“I kinda doubt I’d like her,” she ventured. “You and I are very different people.” She realized too late it came out much meaner than she meant it to.

“You’re wrong,” Jack argued cheerfully, unfazed by her implied insult. “She’s an angel. Smart as a whip, too, Shi. She’d give you a run for your money, I bet. And she’s got just enough spunk to keep me on my toes. You’ve got to at least meet her.” The woman drove in silence for a long moment.

“Jack,” she began, voice strained. “I’m glad you’ve found happiness. You want a place in my life. I know you do. Don’t….” A sigh escaped her lips. “Don’t force it. The fact that I called you back needs to be enough for today. Can we do that? Can today be enough for now? I told you before I’m not saying no, but that’s the best I can give you. Call me another day if you want to. If I’m up to it I’ll answer. I’m going home now and I’m not answering anymore phone calls. Have a good day.” She hung up before he could argue with her and pulled over.

Why is he calling me? Why is he inviting me to a wedding? Why does he want to talk to me? Shi covered her face with her hands and screamed. He hates me! He destroyed me growing up! How can he act like nothing happened? How can he just move on without any closure?! She growled, punching the passenger seat repeatedly. It occurred to her that this might be his way of closing their past, offering her a chance to see the start of a new page in his life.

“I don’t want to be near you, though!” She shouted. She took a deep breath and held it for as long as she could, then blew out slowly to calm herself. She pulled back into traffic and continued home, a persistent feeling of I-should-call-him-back hanging in the back of her mind.
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