The Old Nurse

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    One night I woke up choking. No matter how hard I tried to cough I couldn't get it up. Panicked, my fingers fluttered for the call light. My muscles went floppy like they had no gristle in them. The old nurse arrived and she tilted my chin up. Cold metal brushed my throat. "It's a plug," she said, dropping it into a basin. Stale air got sucked back down into my aching lungs. Unable to voice my thanks, I fell back asleep with her sitting beside the bed rubbing my head.

    I blame my ghost story on a dog named Hootie.

    After the accident, I had no pain, but thought I might die. I wasn't scared, and some odd things seemed pretty cool. Like, I'd catch glimpses of sky in a lime-green color like my favorite popsicle.

    Sure every once in a while I'd hear my mother scream, but not get the words.

    Her grief didn't penetrate the shock egg. Okay, it's not an egg like one you'd eat, but more like being inside a blister. I heard pretty music and it released rainbow-like swirls inside the car. I looked for Tinker Bell and her magic wand, but never saw her.

    Momma shouted, "She's slipping away."

    I'd heard the expression used for dead people. And well, anger rushed over me like the hives do. C'mon, I'm only ten.

    There was no way I'd slip away before riding a horse. Suddenly, I'm galloping on an electrical horse, his coat a mixture of lavender, black and green with a white mane that whipped against my face in the wind. We raced along a circular road leading up to a cloud palace. I remember feeling sun kissed and throwing my head back to laugh. The perfect first ride--even the sunflowers along the roadside winked at me. The horse high got interrupted by the coming home sensation I always felt after being away on a long vacation.

    "Not fair," I muttered, "this isn't a real horse." The music stopped and I slid off. The hoof beats faded and I returned to the stuffy car.

    A motorcycle cop pulled us over, and when the driver rolled down the window the color swirls floated out and unraveled. And there she stood, a nun I thought, waving the color ribbons away from her face like they were love bugs. She tapped on the back seat passenger window with her lips bunched up like a guppy. The window fogged. My mother rolled it down.

    The old nun frowned at me and said, "Not very smart to get off when you're bleeding out."

    I didn't know what bleeding out meant, but I felt dizzy like everyone in the car except for me and the nun were on a different clock time. Her eyes glowed; a disturbing sight for sure, if I weren't snug in the blister. "I prayed for a real horse not a magical horse."

    "You felt cheated?" She raised thin eyebrows at me. "Better to pray for other people than for yourself." She offered a frail hand with a map on the top etched with blue veins and wrinkles, "I'm not a nun; I'm a nurse."

    I took her hand and awoke in a large white room. I could see a clock--either noon or midnight. To my right a cotton-haired woman looked frozen and tubes sprouted from her mouth and nose. The old nurse flipped a metal chart shut saying, "You're in recovery."

    At some point they moved me to a room on the pediatric floor. A scary place. I can say with certainty the pediatric nurses hated me. When I had to have a shot, two or three came in and they held me down. As soon as I saw them, I'd hurl my legions of stuffed animals at them because I couldn't talk. They always won and shots hurt.

    One night I woke up choking. No matter how hard I tried to cough I couldn't get it up. Panicked, my fingers fluttered for the call light. My muscles went floppy like they had no gristle in them.

    The old nurse arrived and she tilted my chin up. Cold metal brushed my throat. "It's a plug," she said, dropping it into a basin. Stale air got sucked back down into my aching lungs. Unable to voice my thanks, I fell back asleep with her sitting beside the bed rubbing my head.

    The next morning the surgeon came and noticed the stinky plug and the metal thing that pulled it out. I wrote out what happened. He sucked in his lips and turned red. I'm not really sure what happened between my nurses and him, but a nurse parade filed into my room. He asked me to point her out. All were younger and their nursing caps didn't match.

    The nurses became nicer. They brought me ice cream when I didn't ask for it or comic books to read. Every morning they asked if my guardian angel had come to visit, and I'd ignore them. Something in their tone bothered me like when a parent tells you monsters aren't real, but you know they are.

    Momma would get upset when I tried to tell her about the old nurse. She'd hiss, "Ghosts aren't real; you almost died." Until then, I never thought of her as a ghost. The old nurse didn't hurt me and her hands didn't pass right through me. As I got better, I saw her less and less.

    One day I had to go to x-ray. The orderly turned down a side corridor to avoid construction. He rolled me through a maze of hallways in the old wing. A yellowed and crumbling newspaper picture captured between plastic and bolted on a door caught me eye. Other kids had seen her. I waved my hands to stop.

    The orderly dropped a hand on the notebook page. "Heard your momma warn you not to talk about her. She's right 'cause it scares people that can't see and they treat you funny. Old timers say she shows up to help future nurses. I say she helps kids that can see her."

    The next year I got a real horse; and to my surprise, I later became a nurse.
    Last edit by Joe V on Oct 10, '11 : Reason: formatting for easier reading
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    GerberaDaisy, tcvnurse, NJayne17, and 13 others like this.

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  2. Visit  Rodoon profile page

    About Rodoon

    Retired nurse and longtime reader of AllNurses. I'm hoping for a second career writing fiction. I began my career as a ED nurse and ended a clinical research nurse.

    Rodoon has '29' year(s) of experience and specializes in 'CC, MS, ED, Clinical Research'. From 'Mobile, AL, US'; Joined May '11; Posts: 125; Likes: 194.

    Read My Articles

    10 Comments so far...

  3. Visit  VivaLasViejas profile page
    2
    What a cool ghost story! Thanks for sharing
    Rodoon and MaryAnn_RN like this.
  4. Visit  Rodoon profile page
    0
    VLViegas,

    Thank you. I'm a fan of your blog and love your sense of humor.
  5. Visit  Brewer,RN profile page
    1
    Very nice short story!
    Rodoon likes this.
  6. Visit  Rodoon profile page
    0
    Brewer RN,

    Thank you so much for reading it.
  7. Visit  lou12 profile page
    0
    Enjoyed your story, hope your writing career is successful-good luck!
  8. Visit  Rodoon profile page
    0
    Thank you Lou12. I appreciate you taking the time to comment.
  9. Visit  Rodoon profile page
    0
    Thank you lou12 for reading my story.
  10. Visit  nrsjo60 profile page
    0
    Written beautifully
  11. Visit  Rodoon profile page
    0
    nrsjo60,

    Thank you for reading it and taking the time to comment.
  12. Visit  Trekfan profile page
    0
    Wow about 11 years ago I was staying in a dorm at the old blind school i had a room to myself and one night I became very,very sick with a fever ,and ear infition I fell out of bed on to the floor and begain crying I was cold . I remeder a woman in a old looking long wite dress with hat standing over me and being covered up .

    The next morning I woke up still on the floor and found my door still locked from the inside . I keep telling every one about the woman that came to me in the night and later I was told oh yes that's (sorry forgot her name ) she was the nurse back in 1903
    At that time this bilding was the boys dorm and a little fell down the steps and died (in 2000 they where still bad)
    She was so upset they she killed herself and sence then she has been seen lots of
    Times it seems she never left the bilding .


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