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A fine state of affairs, part 4 by Marieke Vink


Just before going in to the hospital, Abby went to her own place to change her clothes. Wearing something clean would make her feel more confident she decided. Kim had called Maggie to let her know Abby wasn’t going to be home the night before and Abby wanted to check on her mother. But when she walked in through the door, Maggie was nowhere to be found. On the kitchen table was a note:

“Dear Abby, don’t worry about me. I have gone out for the day. I will be back later but I probably won’t be in time for dinner. I hope you and Kim had a nice evening together. Could you please tell her that I would like to make an appointment with her soon. I need a new prescription for Depakote. Love, your mother.”

Abby looked at the note. “your mother”. Abby always referred to her as Maggie. Never as mother. As if somehow that would put a greater distance between her and the bi-polar lunatic she frequently thought her mother to be. For years she had tried to distance herself from Maggie and suddenly last month she had come back in to her life by simply showing up in the ER and handing out bagels to the staff. It had all been a deja-vu for Abby. Two years ago she had done the exact same thing and that had been a disaster. Kim had helped Maggie get back on her feet and in between the intensive therapy sessions, she and Abby had become close friends. Abby had hated Kim first for relentlessly pointing out her weaknesses with regard to her mother. But eventually Abby had learned to see Kim was right in most cases: She was using her mother as an excuse not to have to deal with her own problems. She blamed Maggie for her drinking, for her failed marriage, for not being in med school anymore. When Maggie had left last year to live in Florida, Abby knew she wouldn’t last long. And when Maggie had showed up last week, Abby had just opened the door, stood aside and let her walk back in to her life.

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“Malucci, weak and dizzy in exam 4 and a headlac in sutures, Jing-mai, fractured hand in exam 2, Carter, kid with stomach ache in curtain 3. Abby, you’re with me. 17 year old kid in premature labor. OK people, let’s get to work!!”

Kerry waved at Abby to follow her in to trauma 2. The girl on the gurney was in obvious pain. Abby routinely started her on an IV and grabbed the ultrasound. Kerry was talking softly to the girl, trying to relax her.

“What’s your name sweetie?”

“Melissa.”

“Melissa, we are going to give you something to stop the contractions OK? Don’t push when you feel one coming. How far along are you?”

“27 weeks. That means my baby has a chance yes?”

“It’s too early to tell but there is a good chance we might be able to save your baby. Abby, get her on Nitro, Ampiciline and Gentamycine. Get some Celestone. Membranes still intact but dilated 6 centimeters. Call OB tell them we are bringing her up. Don’t worry Melissa, we are doing everything we can to save your baby. Just try to relax and whatever you do, don’t push.”

Abby sped off to the phone and warned OB that they were sending Melissa up. When she hung up the phone, she turned around and noticed Kerry stroking Melissa’s hair while softly talking to her. Abby was struck by the intimacy of the scene. No matter how much Kerry tried to put forward this image of Tough-as-Nails-Chief, when it came to patients, she had so much compassion to give. Abby wondered if Kerry would ever show something like that towards other people. Kim must have been on the receiving end of all that at some point. It was as if Kerry was putting all her love in to her patients because she didn’t ever expect to find someone to give it to outside the workplace again.

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It wasn’t as if Kerry didn’t notice Abby was staring at her. But she was busy trying to console Melissa. In fact, Kerry had caught Abby staring at her a number of times in the past 2 months. She had assumed it had to do with Abby being in need of a friend. With Maggie being back, life wasn’t easy for the young nurse. Kerry had offered Abby a few days off but she had refused them, not wanting to spend more time than absolutely necessary at home with her mother. They had lunch at Doc Magoo’s a few times but with all the work going on, they had not managed to get past conversations about patients. It had bothered Kerry that Abby’s standards had slipped somewhat since Maggie had come back. Abby had been late a couple of times and Kerry had been forced to tell her she needed to pick up her standard of work if she wanted to stay on as an ER nurse. Abby had looked hurt. Kerry hated seeing her that way. One more reason not to make friends with people you have authority over.

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As the elevator doors opened, Kim nearly got run over by a passing gurney. Two GSW from a high school shooting. Never a dull moment in the ER. She looked to find Abby. In her hand two bags with fresh bagels. She wanted to get Abby away for a minute, see how she was coping after that morning’s revelation. She looked around and saw Kerry talking to Randi.

“.....and tell them we are NOT responsible for transport of their patients. If the nursing home brings them here, they can pick them up too.”

Kim shook her head. The scene was very close to the one she had witnessed the first time she ever saw Kerry. She had immediately fallen for the feisty redhead. And still, even though they were now friends and their relationship was long behind them, Kim felt a deep love and respect for Kerry and wanted nothing more than see her happy. Kim had been one of the few to see the warmth, humor and desire that lay behind the facade and she wished for Kerry that someone else could see it soon too. And if they couldn’t be together, she thought with a sadness that surprised her, then Abby wouldn’t be a bad candidate.

Kerry turned around and crutched towards the elevator. She spotted Kim and mouthed “We still on for dinner?” A small nod from Kim and both women went away on their own business. Abby was in the drug lockup, doing an inventory of the pharmacy.

“Hi Shorty? How’s life today?”

“Not too bad actually. I am enjoying my day so far. Had a preemie that went upstairs and seems to be doing fine, kid with throat infection and a gorgeous little girl who had cut her finger while trying to give her Barbie doll a crew cut. I reckon she is a dyke in the making.”

“Brought you a bagel. Wanno go outside? You can smoke.”

“Oh well duh, I am sorry that you have to eat while I am smoking. I shall try not to take offence at you doing that.” Abby punched Kim in the stomach and walked out of the lockup.

“Ker...........Doctor Weaver, I am taking your nurse for lunch, she’ll be right outside.” Kerry’s head turned instantly and she gave Kim a courteous nod. What kind of look was that, Kim wondered. Jealousy? For Abby or Kim? This whole Match Game might be easier than she thought, she chuckled to herself.

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Lunch.....with Kim? Abby had told her this morning that she had spent the night at Kim’s after going out together the evening before. Why did that bother her? She agreed Kim had to go on with her life too, they were past the jealousy stage now so what was that knot she felt forming in her stomach?

A fine state of affairs, part 5