Bailey woke with a flail of her arms. She was in her bed in her apartment, and she’d been dreaming. She wiped the sheen of sweat from her forehand with a shaking hand. Holy hell, she thought, that was insane. Bailey sat up. She pulled back her covers.
Still breathing heavy, Bailey walked slowly to her bathroom. She flicked the lights on, blinking in the brightness. Her mirror reflected a sad image. The woman standing in front of it had red and swollen eyes that were slightly frazzled. They looked confused and frightened. Her face was streaked with tears. There was a smudge of dried drool at the corner of her mouth. Her hair was messy.
Bailey splashed some water on her face and decided that her hair could wait until the morning. She returned to her bedroom, squinting at the small red numbers on her alarm clock next to her bed. It was four in the morning. She groaned. Her head hit the pillow. When Bailey awoke again, blinking against the sunlight streaming through her window, she couldn’t believe she’d slept without another nightmare.
Another day at the hospital brought another boring day of rounds for Bailey. It was only nearing the end of her shift that Bailey was called into room A13 by Doctor Mathews.
“I see you dropped his morphine like the chart said,” Mathews commented as Bailey walked into the room and closed the door.
“Yes,” Bailey answered. The man was asleep. “I haven’t had a chance to look at his chart in some time, though.”
“He seemed to be in a good amount of pain today, so we upped his morphine,” Mathews replied. He glanced down at the chart in his hands before closing it.
“He didn’t object?”
Mathews looked back at Bailey. “What makes you say that he didn’t?”
“When he came in,” Bailey said, “he really didn’t want to stay on the morphine. Why would he let you put him under again?”
“He was in pain,” Mathews said. “We don’t want him in any more pain than is necessary. He told us he wanted to drop the morphine until he was off it, but I can’t have him in so much pain that it stresses him out and makes it harder for his body to heal.”
Bailey nodded. She wanted to say what was on her mind, but knew she couldn’t. She wanted to say that Doctor Mathews had forced the man to take more morphine. She wanted him to tell him that what he had done was wrong.
Bailey rounded to the other side of the bed opposite Mathews. “His wife came in yesterday,” she told him instead, gazing down into the man’s peaceful face.
“Ah, yes,” Mathews said. “I saw her walking out of the room when I was on my way to another surgery.”
“She seemed a little... She seemed like she didn’t want him to know she was there.” Bailey had to keep Mathews talking. She didn’t know why she felt this way. She just knew that there was something wrong in the way Mathews was looking at her.
“That’s not really our business,” Mathews said with a shrug of his shoulders. “We’ll let them figure it out once he wakes up.”
Bailey nodded again but this time, as she looked back to the sleeping patient, it was as if he were grimacing just the slightest bit. Bailey looked back to Mathews, who was studying her intently. “Sir?”
“Yes?” His eyes did something of a sparkle.
Bailey resisted the urge to shudder. Was it from the pain that the man was grimacing? Or was it because they were talking about him and his wife making up? Could he hear them? “Why exactly did you call me? I have other rounds that I should be—”
“As I recall,” Mathews interrupted silkily, “you’re off in ten minutes.”
Bailey flicked her gaze back to Mathews after the smallest of glances to the clock above the door. “Ah, right,” she said quietly. He had moved closer to her quite swiftly, and Bailey moved a step back as innocently as she could. She didn’t want Mathews to become upset with her; she didn’t want to lose all the good surgeries she’d been getting lately.
But that was a side note. Bailey didn’t feel at all comfortable with the doctor at the present moment.
Mathews reached towards her and Bailey held her breath as he did so. But all he did was click a button on the EKG machine so that the man’s vitals printed out on a long sheet of paper. Mathews tore it off and smiled at Bailey. “I just wanted to let you know I appreciate you checking up on my patient as often as you do,” he said.
He stepped away from her. Bailey let out a soft sigh of relief when Mathews had backed out of the door with the EKG and shut it behind him. Reflexively, Bailey glanced down at the man in the bed. His eyes were open, and he was staring at her.