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DO NO HARM
Excerpt of the first few chapters as contained in Our Urban Utopia
A NOVEL BY Cassandra DeBrown.
© Cassandra DeBrown 2012.
It was quiet on the female medical ward that night. All the medications had been served and the on-call doctors had retired to the on duty room. All the visitors had gone home and staff nurse Beatrice Trope was doing the rounds to make sure that all the patients were resting comfortably and all was well on the floor.
It had been a pleasant week on the ward so far and Beatrice was looking forward to the weekend. She looked at the clock. The weekend will officially start in a couple of hours she thought to herself and as usual, I am here. She didn’t mind though. She had spent a large portion of her life training to become a nurse and it was something she loved doing. Some people said they would do something else if they had to do their lives over. Beatrice could not imagine being anything else but a nurse. From a tender age she’d always been the one putting plasters on people and making ice packs for friends and family when needed. Nursing was in her blood and she liked it being there. Besides, if being a nurse was just a job, she’d have left it long ago. The pay did not make up for the unsocial hours and the stress of the job.
As she walked from booth to booth she thought she heard a noise like a soft thud but could not identify where it had come from. She gestured for one of the wards’ health care assistant at the nurses’ station to come closer.
“Lizzie, did you hear that noise?”
“What noise sister?” Lizzie asked.
“I heard something a minute ago but I can’t seem to place it”.
“What did it sound like?” Lizzie asked
“I don’t know, just an odd thud or something.”
She listened intently for a few more moments but she couldn’t hear anything out of the ordinary. Only the hum of the specialised hospital machinery that was being used to monitor everything from the patients’ blood pressure to the amount of oxygen currently being pumped through their systems.
“Oh never mind, it was probably one of the doors shutting or something. Have you finished serving the night time refreshments”?
“Yes sister. And everyone seems to be doing fine”.
“Good. Good. It’s a quiet night tonight”, she remarked cheerfully.
“Oh don’t say that sister, you jinx it, and then we will not have another peaceful moment till morning” Lizzie exclaimed, only half joking. It had happened before. Especially to her. It was on those nights, at the precise moment when you let your guard down that…. BAM! Something went wrong in a big way. She prayed to the Sainted Virgin every day before she came to this job. She wanted nothing more than for the night to end with no hassles so she could go home to Pedro and Miguel, her two young sons and know that she had survived another night. The hours were terrible but she needed the money and to be fair, it wasn’t a half bad job, you merely had to be on your toes and alert for anything odd. An at least she got to be home during the day with her children so her partner could work days as well. It saved them a bundle on child care fees.
“Ok. I’ll hold my peace. Let me finish my round all the same”.
Beatrice was looking forward to having a little bit of a sit down and a warm drink. She had been up and about since she came on shift. She looked at the time – 2.15 a.m. She was to go on break shortly and would welcome a little down time.
As she approached berth 4D she noticed that one of the lady’s legs was dangling off the bed and that the kidney dish that had been left on her bedside cabinet was on the floor. That was probably the noise I heard she thought to herself.
Harriet Richardson had been admitted six days ago and was due for discharge in the morning, once the doctors had finished their rounds. The poor dear had been itching to go home, bless her and would have gone home much sooner if she had had her way.
“Harriet darling, were you trying to sneak out of bed”? She asked, smiling. “Morning will come soon enough if you have had too much of us and then you can go home”. She had grown fond of the old lady with her crusty ways and smart mouth. Though she was getting on in age “she was not doddery, no, doddery she was not!!” And she liked to let everyone know it as well.
As Beatrice got closer to the bed, her years of experience as a nurse kicked in and she got an inkling that something was not quite right.
The leg hanging off looked very pale and was tinged with blue. She rushed to the bedside. “Mrs Richardson? Mrs Richardson?” she called out. She pressed the panic button built into the bed head but she knew in her heart it was already too late. She reached out to shake her, to touch her and her body flopped over lifelessly. Her eyes were staring straight ahead and her mouth was opened wide.
Sometime in the past one hour, the dear old lady had breathed her last and would definitely not be going home in the morning after all.
Sure enough the on call doctor certified her dead at 2.30 am that morning. Lizzie shook her head at Beatrice in a disapproving manner. “I told you not to say it was quiet” she muttered darkly under her breath. Beatrice could only look at her mutely. She couldn’t understand how someone who was so fit and lively at start of shift, who was supposed to be heading home with a clean bill of health in less than 12 hours’ time had suddenly died on the ward with no warning. One thing was sure though. Lizzie was right. I should have kept my big mouth shut. It’s definitely no longer a quiet night.
It had been a glorious night for Carla. For the first time in six weeks she was not on call on the weekend and she was definitely making the most of it. She had been swimming early that morning at her local health club, soaking for an hour afterwards in the hot tub, simply letting the kinks in her mind and body melt away. She then headed to the beauty salon where her hairdresser, Mario, had whipped up a soothing facial to go with the hair treatments and pedicure that were all she usually had time for. After being pampered to the tips of her toes, she went for a dine- in at Marks and Spencer, enjoying a three course meal before setting of for the best part of her day yet- retail therapy.
As she walked through the huge shopping mall with the dense crowds and beautiful shop displays she reflected that the thing about shopping wasn’t that she felt deprived, it was purely that a girl was never happy unless she could afford to spend money on something she didn’t actually need at all but wanted at that time.
“That’s the main reason why one works anyway ”, she said to herself. Not to supply the basic needs of life because let’s face how likely was she to starve for real even if she was unemployed. It was to be able to spoil oneself once in a while without feeling beholden to anyone.
She stopped outside a window display. That cat suit would really do wonders for her figure and guess what it was in her colour too. Talk about luck. Red was absolutely her favourite colour. No matter what article of clothing it was, a splash of red was guaranteed to lift her mood and brighten her outlook.