was about as enjoyable as being slapped with a dead fish,” sighed Enid Kibbler.
She was the recently-hired news anchor with CNN, and she was clearly irritated
with the interviewee that had just stepped away from the camera’s viewpoint.
She shuffled her papers on her desk for a moment before looking back to the
camera, adding, “Anywho, in other news—I’ve always wanted to use that line—the
terribly tragic automobile accident of Robert Brown still haunts the town
today, folks. It was twenty years ago that…”
what happened twenty years ago never reached Bailey’s ears. She already knew
what had happened, and it was bollocks, so she not only switched the television
to mute, but hit the power button for good measure. It was five o’clock, a
Friday evening, and she was home alone. She was always home alone, but that
didn’t bother her. Tonight though, she was bored to tears.
slumped deeper into her couch with a vague huff. She glanced down at her feet,
propped up on the only pouf she ever owned and would ever own. Her white socks
were growing holey. She could just barely see the pink of her toes through the
cotton. The pouf was starting to fray around the edges. She’d have to get that
tailored. She couldn’t let the pouf get too bad; Grandmother would never have
allowed that, and she was probably flipping over in her grave with the state of
it now. Bailey’s eyes drifted past the tatters and rested on the throw rug
underneath the pouf. It still had that spaghetti stain, but at least it had
faded a little. She never did have any care for cleaning. The stain was just a
new addition to the already colorfully old rug. She didn’t mind it much.
up straighter, Bailey rubbed her temples, leaning her elbows on her thighs.
She’d have to check on that patient with the burns on Monday. He seemed to be
doing better, but he was still in the coma Doctor Mathews put him in. That was
definitely best for him right now. Bailey stood and walked past the island and
into her kitchen. The poor guy would be screaming if he could feel how injured
he really was. Shuddering, Bailey opened her refrigerator. After a quick scan
of the basically-empty shelves, she heaved a sigh and closed it, leaning
against the door. She’d have to go to the store tonight. Another cup of that
insta-noodles thing and her arteries would clog up for good.
life was straightforwardly one of the most boring she’s ever seen. It was
always come home, eat dinner on the couch, take a shower, head to bed. The routine
would start all over again in the morning with work just added into the mix.
She rarely did any housework, and there weren’t any roommates to worry about. She
was free to live in her moderately-priced, upscale dump in peace. Bailey lived
in the pricier part of the neighborhood, the one that attracted all the
There were ritzy neighborhoods dotted all
around her own. When she began looking for a place of her own, she decided that
the only thing she could afford was an apartment. It didn’t bother her, the fact that sports cars flashed by
her window all the time. She liked her apartment.
ran a hand through the skimpy bangs that had fallen out of her tight bun. She
should probably get out of her work clothes. She looked down at her light
turquoise scrubs; they had a few stains on them, and not a lot of that was
food. Shaking her head, Bailey reached up and shook her blond hair out of the
elastic, making sure to put it on her wrist. She began tugging off her shirt as
she walked past the island again and into the living room. She tossed the shirt
on the floor behind the couch and hopped on one foot, slipping her pants off
one leg at a time. Bailey bent down and grabbed her shirt, slung her pants over
her arm, and disappeared into her bedroom.
was deeper into the night than she realized when Bailey awoke. She’d had a
good, long, hot, relaxing shower that
wasted much more water than was necessary, but she honestly couldn’t care less.
The water had relaxed her muscles in just the right way and she didn’t bother
to dry her hair before climbing into bed. Well, she climbed onto her bed. The
day at work had been so arduous that she couldn’t believe she hadn’t eaten
right away after coming home. She must have been in a funk. She didn’t normally
turn the tube on until there was food in front of her.
rolled over and stretched, scratched her semi-wet head and sat up. Her ankles
cracked when they took her weight as she stood, but it didn’t bother her. That
had been happening since she was eight. She’d left her dirty clothes on the
floor at the entrance to her bathroom and she walked by them just in the same
manner as she had dropped them.
again, Bailey realized that her fridge was empty. She heaved a sigh. She should
probably get dressed if she was going to go out. She chuckled as she looked down at her naked body. Bailey always slept naked.
She didn’t have anyone to worry about seeing her. So she traipsed back to her
bedroom and dug around in her dresser for a few minutes until she found an
outfit that was suitable for a nighttime supply run. A lightly colored jogging
suit. It was comfortable and easy. Nodding in satisfaction, Bailey tugged on
her sneakers, grabbed her keys and wallet from the bowl on her dresser, and
turned all the lights out in the apartment except the bathroom. She’d need that
light when she came back.
with bags of chips, frozen vegetables, eggs, sandwich meat and cheese, and a
gallon of milk, Bailey staggered through her front door and over to the island.
She carefully placed the bags on the ground. The eggs were the first to go into
the fridge, as well as the milk. And then the cheese and meat; the veggies were
tossed into the freezer. The chips she kept out, munching on them as she
crumpled up the plastic bags and tossed them, one by one, into the trash can
from over the top of the couch. She missed all but one, and she left them where
they fell on the ground, knowing she’d throw them away eventually.
sat on her couch in the dim light from the bathroom, crunching mildly on the
chips. They weren’t half bad, she noted, crunching on another one. What were
they? She turned the bag over. She really hadn’t noticed what she’d picked up;
she just knew she wanted something snacky when she got home. They were Lay’s,
but they were the biscuits and gravy kind. Bailey grunted in a kind of
had been crazy. Not the crazy that needed a sedative, crazy, but crazy as in
holy-hell-why-isn’t-today-over-I-need-a-drink, crazy. Bailey dug out another
chip and popped it into her mouth. The burn guy had come in early, so the day
hadn’t been too bad to begin with. There were gashes that needed stitches and
blood vials that needed to be drawn, the usual stuff.
Patients passed out and stayed in their
rooms well after they were discharged because they couldn’t stop puking. That meant there was a shortage of
examination rooms. It left a confusion among the staff. The amount of puking
patients wasn’t normal, however, so the staff almost ran out of the medication
that stopped the sickness. Bailey’s day was frustrating, to say the least.
She did get to peek at a few of
the files that were passed from resident to attending to nurse, before handing
them over to the lab technicians, though. Which technically wasn’t allowed. She had
been doing errands for the lazy residents, after all. But she wasn’t going to
hold her breath. The residents didn’t take any issues with the nurses, and they
even shouldered the blame for some of the nurses’ mistakes. She basically owed
the residents just for watching her and her fellows.
chomped on another chip, decided she was done with the bag, and rolled the top
down after she squeezed out the air. Then she grabbed the tube remote and
clicked the TV on.
muted CNN channel was still broadcasting, since she hadn’t unmuted it or
changed the channel before turning the television off. Not really wanting to
watch anything but interested in the background noise, Bailey turned the volume
up and walked back to the island in her kitchen with the potato chip bag. She
dumped it on the counter next to the refrigerator.
very popular this time of year,” rattled the new anchor. “The warm weather
always brings visitors from many different regions, all searching for the
beauty of Stowe.”
leaned on the counter, looking at the screen but not really paying attention to
what the news lady was saying. She absentmindedly twirled a strand of blond
hair around her finger.
warm weather also brings a sadness to the town,” Bailey’s finger twitched but
didn’t stop twirling the piece of hair, “as the date nears that of the
anniversary,” Bailey’s finger stopped twirling, “of Robert Brown’s accident on
Upper Pinnacle Road, in the heart of town.”
hand dropped to the countertop. They were still talking about it. She stepped
away from the island almost mechanically. Walked over to the couch again. She
thought that would’ve been over by now. She looked away from the television,
pointing the remote in its direction. She heard the news anchor get cut off
with audible silence.
sat on the couch, her eyes unfocused. That was something she hadn’t needed
reminder of tonight. She had been mildly enjoying her time at home. She had
been relaxed, at ease, even, after a hectic day at the hospital. She’d taken
care of herself—showered and napped—and even ate some food. It was more than
she could say of a few years ago. She was getting there. She had her friends at
work. They were always reminding her that she could lean on them if she needed
them, that she’d be right as rain soon enough, and Bailey hadn’t needed them in
quite some time.
snorted, standing. That sounded harsh. She had lunch with Charlie and Sam every
other day in the cafeteria, and went for a walk on break with James on the
others. Bailey made her way to her bedroom, flipping the light switch down in
the bathroom on her way. Her friends didn’t even ask how she was anymore. She
stripped her clothes off and they fell to the floor. Her friends just assumed
she was better. Bailey pulled back her sheets and slid into them, covering
herself up to her chin.
she wasn’t better. Not really. She’d never be better. Things just…didn’t hurt
as much. They stung numbly every once in a while, sure, and she still had this
pit in her chest that she fell into occasionally, but Bailey knew how to keep
going. She rolled over onto her side.
had been plugging away dutifully since she was eight. She closed her eyes. Things weren’t as bad as
they were back then, but—a quiet tear rolled down the side of her face
unnoticed—she was still sad about it sometimes.