Picture it and write: Nightingale

by joetwo

Hi there! This is my offering for this week’s picture it and write by Ermilia’s blog here. Once again the picture is not mine, I only use it for inspiration. Anyway, enjoy!

Nightingale

Debbie had been warned about this countless times during training. “Do not get attached!” they would say “They are only patients to you!” But here she was flirting like a schoolgirl with Jack. She hadn’t even seen his face, it had been covered in bandages as long as she had been working there, admittedly not that long.

She could remember the first time he had spoken to her. She was working a night shift and was walking the rounds when she heard a voice call from behind the mass of bandages. “You’re new, aren’t you?” Debbie had been flummoxed by the statement from a man who obviously couldn’t see her. He took her silence as it being necessary to elaborate “It’s your perfume; lavender with a hint of rose oil. Most of the other nurses don’t bother. It is good to smell something nice for a change.” She would readily admit that she blushed scarlet-red at that one.

From then on Debbie would make it a point to spend a minute or two talking to Jack. He was always charming, pointing out something about her that his still active senses could read. like her soft voice, delicate footsteps, or feather-touch. He never seemed to have any visitors when she was around and non of the other nurses could recall seeing any either. He didn’t act like he felt sorry for himself though. He was always perfectly cheerful. Enough so that Debbie did check one day if he was on anything.

Since he was in an open ward, Jack was not allowed to have a radio blaring so one of the doctors had arranged a pair of headphones for him. He told Debbie that he had loads of things to listen to, classical music mostly, but that he was getting into audio books in a big way. That gave Debbie an idea and the next day she brought in one of her own books and offered to read it to Jack from time to time. It was a piece of chick-lit not really of much value but Jack seemed entranced. Maybe the idea of another human being, a voice so close, was what attracted him.

Sometimes Debbie would just sit beside Jack, when she wasn’t needed elsewhere and listen to him talk. He knew an awful lot, was a writer of some sort, there was certainly plenty going on under the bandages. In fact the only thing that he refused to discuss was why he was there in the first place. It wasn’t unheard of for that to occur, patients often had bad associations with the memories of accidents. She never asked about it again.

So far Jack and Debbie had been little more than close friends and companions; their relationship just cordial business. It changed late one evening when Jack was telling a particularly long and complicated Joke. Debbie laughed joyfully and placed her hand on Jack’s, keeping it there longer than was necessary. Jack went silent and pulled back his hand “I’m sorry Debbie” he said “Is that really how you think things are going? I am a patient, your patient. You must know that is not allowed. Besides I have never seen your face, or you mine. I like you Debbie, but not that way.”

Debbie was shocked, all the connection that she thought she had made with this man felt like a sham, she felt ashamed, used even. She didn’t talk to him again that night and for several afterwards. In time her anger reduced to a simmering resentment. She had heard of Nightingale syndrome, were patients fall for their nurses, why did she have to be one of the few were it went the other way? What could she do about it?

In the end she realised, nothing. Only be a good nurse and friend to Jack. Maybe in time he’d see. She started to visit him again. He seemed genuinely happy to hear her voice again. His cheerful disposition in no way reduced or tempered by what had happened. Debbie considered that promising. She endeavoured to not touch or in any way get too close to Jack again. Just to be there, whenever she was needed, for him.

About a month later Jack dropped a bombshell. The doctor had been talking to him. His bandages were coming off within a few days. “It will be nice to see again” Jack mused “I especially want to put a face to your voice Debbie. I have been wondering what you really look like.”

As soon as she could get away from Jack, Debbie set to work. She checked in with the ward office to find at what time exactly Jack was getting his bandages off. She then went to every nurse working in the hospital and begged and pleaded to get her shifts transferred to that time. The others knew exactly what she was planning, they weren’t stupid, and while they wanted nothing to do with it Debbie was persistent enough that eventually one relented and gave her the slot.

The night before was a strange one for Debbie. Every possible scenario ran through her head from Jack’s wife suddenly appearing to him looking like Quasimodo’s stunt-double passed through her dreams. It was maddening.

When she arrived for that fateful shift Debbie was dressed to impress. She had full make-up on and her Auburn Tresses were coiffed to perfection. She had also borrowed a uniform that was half a size too small, just right to accentuate her figure. The porters definitely approved, she got some wolf-whistles while walking in.

As the hour approached Debbie made sure that she was around Jack’s ward, regularly coming over to chat to him. He seemed distant as if preparing for what was to come but friendly, glad for a familiar voice. Two doctors entered the ward and headed straight to Jack’s bed, they spent ten minutes briefing him during which time Debbie inched her way across the ward. One of the doctor drew the blind of the windows while the other started to slowly unravel the bandages, layer after layer gradually coming off. Until parts of the face previously hidden came into view.

Debbie found herself getting closer, breathless with excitement. This moment had been in her thoughts for months. He was literally the man of her dreams and how she would get to see him. What Jack’s face looked like almost didn’t matter anymore, the anticipation made the moment for Debbie. She hadn’t a clue what was about to happen; but she would soon find out.

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