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119 21 ~ Emily I woke up to the squeak of shoes on the tile floor. The day shift nurse was trying to check Zoe’s bandages without disturbing Sam and Anna, both still half-sprawled across the hospital bed. The nurse extricated Zoe’s right hand from Anna’s clasp to check the IV site, then replaced it. I tried to consider our domestic tableau through her eyes. We probably looked like a typical family: mother, father, and aunt or something . Stop daydreaming, I told myself. Five hours wasn’t enough sleep, but it was after ten a.m. and we had a lot to do. I woke Sam and Anna and we took turns driving home for a quick shower and change of clothes before Thanksgiving dinner. “Look at Dr. Fred.” Zoe pointed at her neurosurgeon as we gathered with other patients and families for the holiday meal. “Usually he doesn’t wear that silly hat.” Instead of the light blue cap that covered his balding head in the operating room, he sported a tall white chef’s hat. Instead of a scalpel, he flourished an electric knife to carve the biggest turkey I had ever seen. He balanced each slice of turkey on the flat side of the knife for its brief flight to the huge platters that the staff carried around to the patients and families. The patient atrium was transformed for the holiday. Wheelchairs and stretchers were crowded around tables positioned among the polar bears and giraffes and lions. Centerpieces of painted cardboard turkeys cut from the outlines of the children’s hands jockeyed for space on the white tablecloth with bowls of mashed potatoes and butternut squash and stuffing and green peas dotted with little white onions. Zoe was still sleepy from the anesthesia. She took miniscule bites of mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie. Mostly she sat in Anna’s lap and watched the activity. Sam and I watched Zoe. From time to time, I leaned over to look into her face, to make sure that her pupils were equal and her eyes were bright. • 120 ~ House Arrest The next morning, I arrived at work earlier than usual. Marge was waiting for me, pacing up and down the staff room. “I hope you’re satisfied. Mrs. Newman was transferred to assisted living.” Her voice and eyebrows climbed the fury scale together, exploding on the last two words. “It’s better for her.” My voice squeaked a little, but I got the words out. “She wasn’t safe at home.” “It’s a lot of lost income to this agency. That’s what it is.” She shook her finger at me. “I don’t know exactly what happened, but I’m sure you had something to do with it. The only thing that saved your job is the very nice check her son sent to thank us for taking such good care of his mother.” She cleared her throat. “You’d better follow the letter of the law, Ms. Klein. You’re on probation.” Trembling, I cradled the telephone receiver between my shoulder and ear, and punched in the code to listen to my voicemail messages. The first one jolted me; it was Marge’s voice, presumably before she got the word about Mrs. Newman. After a perfunctory condolence about Grandpa Ivan, she left curt instructions. “I assigned you range of motion exercises on Friday with Josué. I know it’s not precisely your job, but I can’t get a physical therapist until Monday. No big deal, right? You do it all the time with your niece. Besides,” she said, her voice brittle, “his mother asked for you.” I clicked on my daily schedule on the computer and saw Josué scheduled for the ten o’clock slot, between Mr. Stanisewski’s dressing change and Mrs. Grover’s antibiotic infusion. The next message was from Terrell Grover. His mother had been admitted to the medical center on Wednesday with a high fever and mental confusion. I copied down the phone number in her hospital room, trying to picture Mrs. Grover’s incision. Did I miss signs of infection at my last visit? Nan Malloy had called late Wednesday afternoon. “Give me a buzz when you hear this. There’s been a development in the Glenning case and I want to give you a heads up.” I wrote her number on the list and underlined it twice. The last message was from Pippa. “Are you back from...


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MARC Record
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