The Mechanical Nurse [personal]

I’m not gonna cry. I’m not gonna cry. I’m not gonna cry.

I chanted these words over and over to myself as I took her vitals.

We had to pry her hands from the blanket, and blessedly she was too weak to shiver or protest.

I’m not gonna cry. My eyes watered anyway. My throat closed up.

“88/54. Pulse 119.” I should get an Oscar.

“Here,” Pat said, thrusting the thermometer at me. “You get it to work.”

We didn’t make eye contact. I pretended not to notice the quiver in her voice as she did with me.

“Mama,” the daughter said. She held the other hand. A frail thing, bones grown too brittle, and the skin stretched wane over the tendons.

I’m not gonna cry. I’m not gonna cry.

“Is there anything you need?” I asked the daughter. She looks more like a ghost than her mother. “Can I get you coffee?”

She pauses, possibly considering doing it herself, but unwilling to tear herself from her mother. I decided to get her coffee anyway.

I hurry out of the room, my head throbbing from holding back my tears.

I’m not gonna cry! I stepped off the hallway to open the back door. Cold air blasts my feverish cheeks. The headache dulls. My breaths come in quick gasps.

I get her some coffee, and I try not to cry.


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