The alarm blared and jerked Megan from a dream she wished hadn’t ended. During the night, she had found him, the perfect man for her. Though she hadn’t seen his face, his hair was dark and his eyes were hazel. She sighed. She’d had this dream before but her dreams never came true. She sat up and touched her toes. Prince Charming had vanished like mist as had the three men she had recently dated. Their attitudes and aspirations had told her they weren’t right. She rubbed her eyes, slid from the bed and dashed to the bathroom to begin her morning routine.
Fifteen minutes later, she sat at the kitchen table and turned a coffee mug in circles. One gulp of the aromatic brew did nothing to jump start her enthusiasm for the day ahead. A long sigh escaped.
Every day for months, her eagerness to head across the street to the hospital had lessened. A year ago when she’d started to work on the Oncology unit, she had welcomed the challenge. Since that day, twenty of her favorite patients had died. The past week had been the worst of her career. Two of her patients had died. With dread, she waited for the third. These days she felt as though a sinkhole had opened beneath her leaving her dangling with no way to escape.
Move. Time to go. She had never been late to work a day in her life. Not happening today. With a sigh, she stuffed a pen holder, her keys and money in the pocket of her pink scrubs. While pulling on her sheepskin lined jacket, she rode the elevator to the ground floor. The town clock chimed the quarter hour. She would make the seven AM start.
As she trudged across the street, the brisk breeze of the February morning made her shiver. A pale sun shone through clusters of gathering clouds. She pulled open the door of the employees’ entrance and paused at the time clock to punch in.
Suzanna Winstone, her friend, dashed inside and grabbed her card. “Megan, guess what?” Her voice rang with excitement.
“You’re pregnant.” Just like three others of the Grantley Gang.
Suzanna smacked Megan’s arm. “Are you crazy? I’ve only been married for weeks.”
“I figured with Jenessa, Cate and Lauren ready to increase
Suzanna laughed. “Caleb and I found a house. Lauren’s place is waiting for you.”
“Don’t expect me to move in. I’m happy in my apartment.” She rang for the elevator. Lauren’s house had seen four of the six members of the Grantley Gang finding love while living there. Wouldn’t work for her. No man perfect for her existed other than in her dreams. She stepped into the elevator.
Suzanna followed. “Lunch?”
“I’ll let you know.”
When Megan reached the unit, she checked the assignment sheet before cornering the night nurse for report on her four patients. Then she began rounds and started care. Death hovered in her thoughts. Who? When? Mr. Phelps was going home. Though not cured, he had gone into remission. Then on to Mrs. Gray and Mrs. Brown. She quickly completed their morning care and treatments. Both responded favorably toward their chemotherapy.
Megan entered the room of her favorite patient and rubbed her arms to chase a sudden chill. The five year old girl looked so tiny and frail. Leukemia of a virulent type had drained the child rapidly. The little girl’s color nearly matched the white sheets. Megan drew a deep breath. Though the night nurse had assessed Bonnie’s condition as stable, Megan knew the woman had been optimistic.
Not today. Please. As certainty entered her thoughts, her stomach lurched.
“Morning, Button.” She waited for the child to open her eyes and make her usual response. The little girl’s eyes remained closed. She didn’t speak. Megan cleared her throat and tried again, hoping to hear “Not Button. I Bonnie.”
The child’s eyelids fluttered open exposing her dark eyes. Bonnie seemed to stare at a point in the distance. Slowly, she focused on Megan. “Tell…Mama…Not be …sad…Hurt gone.”
The whispery voice brought a cold shiver. Megan checked Bonnie’s pulse. An erratic beat bounded against her fingers. Shallow breaths were interrupted by long pauses. Megan’s fears deepened. She pulled her cell phone free and dialed the number taped to the bedside stand.