“Hi,” the man said. He grinned politely.
Bailey’s eyebrows rose. “You were awake,” she said. She sat on the bed next to him.
“It takes a lot of morphine to knock me out,” he told her. For some reason, he looked guilty. When Bailey didn’t say anything, he elaborated with, “I’ve been in and out of the hospital a lot since I was a kid.”
“I’m sorry,” Bailey said. She didn’t really know why he was telling her this; she hadn’t asked. Maybe he was just as relieved as she was that Mathews had gone.
The man waved the apology away. “I was a stupid kid,” he laughed weakly. “I had an interesting group of friends back home.”
Bailey bit her lip. His accent and the fact that she couldn’t place it was still nagging at her for some reason. “I hope you don’t mind me asking…” she began, “but where are you from?”
The man’s eyes crinkled in pleasure. “Belfast.”
Bailey’s face lit up. “I knew it was somewhere in the UK!” she said triumphantly. “It had been bugging me that I couldn’t figure it out.”
The man smiled warmly now. Then his eyes rose to the clock above the door. “Don’t you have somewhere to go?”
Bailey didn’t spare the clock a glance. “Not really,” she told him. “I’m just off. Ready to go home.” She didn’t move from her seat on the bed.
Again, the man smiled weakly. “Thank you for sitting with me. You really don’t have to,” he said.
Bailey’s mouth twitched against a frown. She wanted to tell him that his wife should have stayed for longer than she did yesterday. She wanted to tell him that he had someone who cared. Someone besides her that cared.
“My wife will come back,” he said, reading Bailey’s mind. “She’ll come back, and I’ll pretend to be asleep.” He thought for a moment, gazing at her steadily. Then he said, “I can see that you want to ask why.”
Bailey shook her head. “It’s not my place to ask.” She stood and walked over to the door.
“Sure it is,” the man persuaded. Bailey looked over her shoulder at him. “You’re my nurse. Aren’t nurses supposed to know all the dirty details about their patients?”
That made Bailey smile. “Have a good night, Mr. Owens,” she said. He winked at her before she closed the door.
Bailey made her way to the employee locker room. There she opened her locker and unhooked her purse from inside. She shook her hair out of its elastic and sat on the bench behind her. Her purse fell off the bench and landed on the floor by her feet; she didn’t pick it up.
Ace was pretending to be asleep when his wife was visiting. She barely visited. Bailey had wanted to talk to Mathews about going on a date, even if it had been just a little bit, but now she felt weirded out by him. And Bailey was the only one Ace seemed to talk to.
It was all very befuddling. Bailey put her head in her hands. She didn’t know why she was wasting so much energy on wondering about all this. Bailey peeked through her fingers at the gray locker in front of her. She’d had patients before that opened up to her alone. The other nurses figured it was because Bailey was blond and in good shape. They even said that about the female patients that took a liking to her.
Her hands fell limply into her lap. Bailey was a just good listener, they’d decided. She grew up with her mother, after all. When Bailey was younger, her mother was always spouting about how hard it was to live without her husband, how hard it was to live as a single mother, how hard it was to not be afraid of the road. Bailey had listened. Bailey had been there to hold her mother when she cried about those things.
Those patients—the ones who had clammed up for everyone else—must have felt that somehow. Bailey stretched her arms above her head. The nurses and doctors on those cases sometimes kept Bailey on specifically for the purpose of getting the patients to explain to her what was wrong. Bailey bent down and grabbed her purse from the floor. She never did understand the patients’ reasoning behind telling her and only her what was wrong, especially since she wasn’t even a practicing doctor. She was just a nurse.
Bailey stood and closed her locker. Sam walked through the door then and Bailey couldn’t help but laugh at how frazzled her friend looked.
“Don’t start,” Sam snapped. She opened her locked and slammed the door against the others. “My car didn’t start this morning, I had a completely shitty day, and now Dane called and said our water isn’t working.” She grabbed the door of the locker and shook it roughly.
Bailey held back her laugh this time. “I thought he wasn’t home till later?” she asked Sam.
Sam rolled her eyes dramatically. “Apparently,” she said, “our neighbor saw water pouring from out of nowhere, somewhere on the side of our house.”
“Did Dane figure out what was wrong?”
Sam gave Bailey a look of contempt. “There was water pouring out of the side of our house,” she repeated. She sighed tightly. “He had to go home early to meet the plumber, and he said that one of the pipes burst because there was a blockage. That’s just great,” she said, more to herself than to Bailey, “because I just wanted to go home and have a glass of wine. Well, now I’ll have to have the whole damn bottle!”
She slammed the door to her locker closed. Bailey wanted to tell her that she hadn’t actually taken anything out of the locker, but after a minute of just looking at the metal door, Sam opened it again, more gently this time.
“What happened today?” Bailey asked, more to distract Sam from the problems at home than to really hear what had happened. She knew that once Sam got started there was no stopping her. Bailey just figured they’d get all the ranting out of the way all at once; it would make Sam feel better later.
“I don’t want to talk about it,” Sam muttered. She took her windbreaker from the hook and her backpack from the bottom of the locker. Without looking at Bailey—whose mouth was slightly open—she closed the door again.
“A’right,” Bailey said softly. “At least you have the weekend to sort it out.”
Sam turned and walked to the door. She said with her back to Bailey, “I’ll see you on Monday, unless you have to work the weekend like I do?”