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20 3 ~ Emily I had to swing by the office after leaving Pippa. Anticipating our first meeting had flustered me so badly that I forgot to restock my supply bag. Marge despised poor planning but luckily her office was dark. I opened my backpack on the table in the empty supply closet, glad that no one could see the jumbled mess I made in Pippa’s living room. When I started working at the agency, the nurses all carried blue canvas bags. After we switched from paper charts to laptops, my shoulders ached every night. So I bought a wheeled backpack. At first the other nurses made jokes and rolled their eyes. Andy drew a cartoon on the message board of a geeky nurse with a giraffe neck pulling a humongous rolling bag. Everyone could tell it was me, but he was Marge’s snitch, so no one liked him much. Besides, the comfort tradeoff was worth the occasional snide comment. Since then, other nurses had started using rolling packs. My friend Gina was the first. “Nurses on a roll.” Gina’s musical Jamaican accent perked up even an offhand comment. When Andy snickered, Gina turned her back on him. I emptied the clutter from my bag, and repacked the standard items: waterless hand wash, stethoscope and blood pressure cuff, alcohol wipes, sterile gauze pads, disposable dressing sets, sterile saline, syringes. The red bag with blood-drawing equipment and the needle disposal box fit neatly into the bottom corner between the portable scale and the laptop. If you took the time, everything would fit just so, even the roll of paper towels. That made me think about Marge’s rules and Pippa’s comment. My cheeks burned. Marge had never liked me. It had gotten much worse the week before when I found Mrs. Newman in the hallway of her apartment building, naked except for a wide-brimmed straw sunhat, searching for her key in non-existent pockets. I reported to Marge that the old woman wasn’t safe living on her own anymore, even Ellen Meeropol ~ 21 with maximum hours of nursing and homemaker support. Marge snapped at me, said those were administrative decisions. Her job, not mine. But yesterday I saw Mrs. Newman again and Marge hadn’t done anything. So I gave Gina a statement; she was our union steward. When Marge heard about that, she would really be pissed off at me. I collected the supplies for my regular Wednesday patients. Suture removal kit and sterile gloves for Mrs. Grover’s post-op incision. Absorbent dressing made from seaweed for Mr. Stanisewski’s foot ulcer. Sterile swabs and hydrogen peroxide for Josué’s pin site care. Thinking about the little guy made me smile. I slipped the tiny yellow school bus from my pocket, and scratched off the price tag with my fingernail . The toy tucked perfectly into the front zipper pocket of the pack. Once a week I tried to bring Josué some small gift, even though Marge had a strict policy about not getting personally involved with our patients. I knew I wasn’t the only one who brought a toy, a piece of sugar-free candy, a bunch of grocery-store flowers to brighten a kitchen table. Before leaving the office, I checked my phone for messages and found a Post-it note in Gina’s looping scrawl stuck to the receiver. “Late lunch? Two-ish?” I checked my watch; if I hurried I could see my three patients, meet Gina for a late lunch, and still get home to meet Zoe’s bus. The moment I handed Josué the toy bus, I cringed. How could I have forgotten that it was a school bus that clobbered him? On the second day of kindergarten, right in the crosswalk while the guard in her orange apron stretched her hand out for the driver to stop. But Josué grinned and stuck the tip of his tongue through the double gap in his front teeth. He didn’t remember anything before waking up with stainlesssteel pins sticking through his leg, pins attached to circular metal rods that held the bones while they healed. I first met Josué at the children’s hospital, two days after his accident. He taught me how to pronounce his name. “Hoe-sway,” he enunciated carefully. “Remember that.” I remembered, and Josué had gotten used to me cleaning the pin sites with sterile swabs, but it still hurt. We sang his favorite...


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MARC Record
Launched on MUSE
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