On Writing

The Sweet Girl

Mixing it up with the Writer Gal Letters are short stories that I experiment with, for form, for storytelling, for exploring the darkest, most heinous side of human nature. And, because my MA lit prof once told me I could never write a short story.

The Sweet Girl is part two of a short titled ‘Remorseless Beauty.’ I hope you enjoy it.

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She was a sweet girl, that one.

Never complaining every time, someone came to prod her or poke her. Took her meds on time and didn’t have a hissy fit like some seventeen-year-olds I’ve seen in my time. It was nice to know that there were some children who still understood the good values their parents had instilled in them. Ooh, instilled. That was for the crossword. I wrote it down in my special notepad, where I stored such words for future use.

My own special dictionary, I pat it affectionately I slipped it back into my pocket. I straightened my sweater, and swallowing the last bit of coffee I allowed myself on the six-hour long shift. I left my desk at the nurses’ station. Time to check on my favorite patient of the day.

“How are you, sweetheart?” I read the patient’s chart and checked her vitals on the monitor that beeped continuously.

The patient smiled. “Am feeling better. Less doped up. Miss the morphine, through. My hair hurts like crazy, and I look a complete mess, I am sure.”

I felt very maternal towards this small slip of a girl. Poor thing, to be stuck like this. For weeks on end, it wasn’t fair. Thank god, at least the poor girl had survived her terrible ordeal.

“You want me to wash it for you? I could do that, if you like.” I offer instantly, adjusting the sheets on the girl’s bed. Her mother was working this week too.

“Would you? I’d be soooo grateful.” The girl smiled some more through the cannula stuck to her nose. Such a sweet and innocent girl. Would have been a shame if she had died.

“Oh, sweetheart. No need to be grateful and all that. It’s my duty to keep you nice and comfortable. No trouble at all.” I fussed with the pillows until they were just so and then stood back and watched the whole effect. Oh yes, the girl was comfortable enough.

“Now how’s that boyfriend of yours treating you? He doesn’t overtax you, does he? Physical rehab at this stage is so important. You be sure to tell him that.” I removed my pad and added Overtax to the page.

“Noah’s a sweetheart, don’t worry. Anywho, you’ve been amazing to me, Ginger. I swear I’d go nuts here if it wasn’t for you. So I did something for you. Get me my laptop, will you?”

The girl grinned with such promise that I did not have the heart to deny her. Although, the doctors had forbidden her to use the computer for long stretches of time, but what was a soul to do? People did not read books like they used to, and there was only so much sleep a body could take without slipping into a coma.

Sharp smart girl like her needed to use that brain of hers, I reasoned, as I dragged the lightweight laptop from its hiding place in her medicine cabinet. Since no one else administered her meds, our secret was safe. Placing it on the bed, I closed the door to make sure no one would interrupt our secret time, and then went back to her little pad of words.

Someday, when I saved up enough money, and my daughter was in college, I would buy myself one of these nifty machines and solve as many crosswords as I wanted to.

The laptop powered and my patient quickly tapped in a few keys. Turned the screen around to face me. I gasped.

It was me! In some very fancy clothes, but it was my face, certainly. And there was my Delilah, my fourteen-year-old daughter, next to me. It was Delilah’s prom picture, airbrushed to perfection. The prom my baby could not attend because we didn’t have the money for the dress. I am dazzled. “How did you..”

“You remember that picture of yours and Del’s that I asked for. Well, now, you have a better picture to hang in its place. And a great memory to go with. I hope you like it.”

I blink back tears. How like a mom! “Thank you. Thank you so much for this gift, baby girl,” I whisper. The girl tapped a few more keys and a CD slid out from the drive.

“Here.” She handed me the CD. “Drop this off at Kinko’s and you’ll have a sweet print. You can even blow it up to poster size if you want to.”

“Oh, dear, sweet girl,” Ginger whispered fervently. Only the girl knew how much trouble Delilah was in. With the drugs and the boyfriends and the…I suppress a shudder. Doubly grateful I know of at least one seventeen-year-old girl who was not into drugs and inappropriate boys. I squeezed the girl’s shoulder and taking the CD, wiped one hand over my eyes as I walked out.

Now if only Delilah would learn some sense from this one here…

To Be Continued…

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