Tuesday, May 4, 2010

A Story A Week: A Nurse Named Dale

Kendra had been watching Michaela’s face, but now her eyes darted to the desperately bleeping monitor. The regular rolling hills of Michaela’s heartbeat were replaced by jagged cliffs and crevices.

“Don’t worry,” said the male nurse on the other side of the bed. “It’s just the meds. It’ll go back to normal in a minute.”

Kendra nodded, making circles with her finger on the back of Michaela’s soft hand.

“She’ll be fine,” he said.

“I know,” Kendra whispered. “She’s a trooper.”

Michaela cracked open her eyelids. “I am not a storm trooper.”

Kendra noticed the nurse’s amused smile. “Not a storm trooper, honey,” she said. “A trooper. Like, you keep trooping.”

“What’s trooping?” Michaela’s voice faded off, her eyelids sinking closed. Kendra reached to comb back a tendril of her daughter’s curly hair.

“It’s working,” the nurse said. His nametag read ‘Dale,’ but Kendra didn’t think he looked like a Dale. More like an Ethan or a Cole. Dale was a name for old men with glasses and beards, pot-bellies and pocket-protectors. This Dale wore his blue scrubs like a tux.

Kendra directed her gaze back to Michaela’s face where it belonged. Studying the nametags of the male nurse in the recovery room wasn’t exactly appropriate behavior.

“My tummy hurts,” Michaela whimpered.

“We gave you some medicine,” Dale said gently. He held her hand with the IV in it, a pink piece of binding wrapped around it to hold it in place. “It’ll help you feel better. Then we’ll take you up to the room, get you in a nice, comfy bed.”

Kendra glanced up at him gratefully, tears puddling behind her eyelids. Kindness always choked her up like this.

“She’s a good kid,” he said. She noticed the New Jersian edge to his accent.

“She’s been through a lot,” she said, fighting the temptation to reveal her struggles to a stranger.

Dale watched her massage the back of Michaela’s hand. Then he lifted his eyes, Chinese-porcelain blue. “Ruptured appendixes are tough.”

Kendra nodded, swallowing convulsively. “I know everything happens for a reason,” she said. Maybe the reason in this case was so she would meet Dale. She could get used to blue eyes, even get used to his name. He was so good with Michaela, so gentle. Maybe he’d come up to Michaela’s room later to see how they were doing. Maybe he’d ask for Kendra’s phone number. “It’s just that today was our sad-anniversary.” She kept her eyes down. If she looked up, she would lose her nerve. “Her daddy died in a car accident a year ago today. We were just going to keep it quiet, spend a day at home….”

“I’m sorry,” Dale said.

Kendra dashed away a stray tear with the hind of her hand. “I’m just glad she’s okay … She’s all I have left.”

“She’s okay.” He touched her forearm lightly. “You’re okay. You’re both storm troopers.”

Kendra allowed herself a smile. “Thanks.”

She glanced at his hand, nestled against the rough texture of her sweater. What kind of hand did a man named Dale have?

That’s when she spotted the dull gold of a wedding band.

A married hand, of course. Dang.

I hope you enjoyed this week's story. If you're wondering why I'm posting these every week, click here to read about my original A Story A Week Challenge.


  1. I liked Michaela's storm-trooper confusion:)

    And I think your story-a-week challenge is very admirable. Do you ever begrudge the time it takes away from your novels, though?

  2. Krista, YES! But I'm trying to look at the big picture. Since I think the challenge is helping me improve, I don't mind my novel blooming at a slower pace. :) But I do feel slightly stressed when I think about the novel deadline I have coming up. I'm sure I'll be burning the midnight oil to get my second draft done in time. :)


  3. Really nice, Amy! Nice job on the drug induced confusion. :)

  4. I love reading your short stories. It makes me want to write them though. I wondered if Dale was married.

  5. Thanks so much, Sharon! I'm glad you liked it.

    Myrna, You should do my challenge with me! No pressure, though. I won't pretend it's not hard and it does take away from novel-time. You should just write them whenever you feel like it. A 500-word story really doesn't take too long to get down on paper. I find it sort of refreshing, in an exhausting sort of way! :) It's like wind-sprints in between marathon training sessions.