Monday #FlashFiction: The Suitcase

 

 

*Note: This was taken from a prompt suggested on the DIY MFA website. To retrieve a prompt to ignite a story or poem in your mind click here

Here are what I had to work with:

Character: Night-shift nurse

Situation: Must face his or her worst fear

Prop: Suitcase

 

It was a quiet night as she walked the halls. Most of the patients slept as she carefully checked their monitors and IVs. In one room she paused to study the milky rays as they filtered through the thin curtains covering the wide archaic window. From the 16th floor of the aging building overlooking the city-that-never-sleeps, she could barely hear the sounds of the street life below.

She used to find comfort in these quiet moments but that was before the Suitcase Killer which she barely survived some ten years ago. Her body shuttered as the image of a hand reaching out of the suitcase she’d packed earlier in the day for her red-eye flight home. Other than that, she remembered nothing of the three-day ordeal with the sadistic monster (which her psychologist have labeled “Dissociative Amnesia ” ) but it left her infertile and with a mountain of medical bills.

Over the two-year span, there would be twelve victims before he was caught, tried in court and sentenced to death by lethal injection. The state invited her to witness his demise, but she didn’t attend. She couldn’t bring herself to look at his face again in fear of triggering the traumatic memories. Memories she just as soon forget, forever.

The execution took place two years earlier. With him gone from the earth, she’d thought she’d moved on with her life until she turned to check on the comatose patient.

Setting on top of a chair nearby was a suitcase.

Her breathing hitched and held.

It looked strangely familiar. No, it couldn’t be.

Can’t be.

She had it destroyed in an incinerator immediately after she was discharged from the hospital.

Her head began to spin as the darkness encased her.

Breathe. Don’t forget to breathe as she forced the air to move in and out of her burning lungs.

Her eyes fixated at its brown leather body until they zeroed on a flaw. The same flaw her suitcase possessed. A circular shaped white patch on the upper right corner. They said hers was damaged during the manufacturing process, and because of this, she got a steal of a deal on it.

What were the chances of finding another with the same damage?

Next to nothing?

She wanted to tear her eyes from the bag, but couldn’t. Her feet was rooted to the spot. Her skin felt frozen and yet she was sweating under the white uniform.

Pain radiated through her chest as she tried to slow her hysterical panting, but failing miserably.

The deafening roar in her head blurred  everything around her until the suitcase was all she saw.

Oh god, oh god.

Horrific images pricked somewhere from the deep recess of her mind as they threatened to explode into her conscious.

No, no!

“Nancy?”

The voice sounded so far away at first she’d thought she was imagining it. Then it repeated her name.

Blinking several times to clear the fog that seemed to have enveloped everything, a woman’s form came in view.

“Are you okay?” She was asking, in her hands a tray of carefully measured meds.

Nancy slowly shook her head and returned her attention to the object on the chair, and had to close her eyes for a moment before looking again.

The chair was empty. Void of luggage of any kind.

“Nancy, you’re scaring me,” the younger woman’s voice rose to a higher pitch.

Nancy forced herself to meet the woman’s wide-eyed expression with an unquivering smile, “No worries, Beatrice, he’s not here anymore,” and walked away.

 

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Monday Memoir: Marriage and Family Challenges

 

 

After Jay and I married, we moved to a small town near Buffalo.  There I worked in retail (cashier at a local grocery store) which was  just a short walking distance from our apartment.  I didn’t care for the job; however, I liked the fact that I could still get myself to and from work.  A year later, we moved back to the Ithaca area (in a hamlet just outside the town); the apartment we lived in was located on a bus route into Ithaca.  Handy for me 🙂   Jay worked for a short time at Cornell University, and I got a job in the banking industry (I felt I needed to get out of retail into something more “professional”).  I could have went back into the fitness/sports area, but I couldn’t find anything that wasn’t minimum wage or part-time.  I continued to run/bike when I could; but eventually gave up on them.  Jay kept fretting over me going out on my own and  insisted that he come and watch as I work out.  I became more and more limited to where I could go and such, so I just gave up altogether.

A few months later, Jay was laid off and couldn’t find work so he headed down to the Raleigh NC area to look for work.  I wasn’t too keen on the idea of moving out-of-state, and so far from my family; but if we couldn’t afford to make it then we needed to go to a place where we could.

The move enabled us to buy a home and some land (something we wouldn’t be able to do back in New York with taxes being so ridiculously high).  Those years here have been challenging to say the least.  I stayed in the banking industry; but Jay moved from one job to another (it seemed like he changed jobs once every three to four years).  I’ve wanted to make the move back to the fitness/sports industry, but the opportunity never came for me, or the transportation logistic was impossible for it to be feasible.  Our house was also far enough away from everything which made it not possible for me to come and go as I needed or wanted.  If I need to grocery shop, or anything, I relied on someone to get me there.  Even though I had my home, if anything were to happen to Jay, I’d be home-bound as a shut-in who’d be completely dependent on others.

I’m so fiercely independent, the mere thought of relying on others in order to meet my needs frustrated and scared me.  It seemed to grow worse the older I got.  This was a daily battle for me.  I’ve been left alone once when my first husband died.  A few years after we first moved down south, I nearly lost Jay.

 

 

Two months after we moved to our house, we learned I was expecting.  The pregnancy went without any issues…until the last two months.  I was almost 8-month pregnant when Jay began to have difficulty breathing.  He dropped me off at work one morning, and then went to see his doctor, Dr. Salerno.   It was mid-morning when I received a call from Dr. Salerno who calmly told me that Jay had been admitted to one of the local hospitals.   X-rays shown that there was fluid building up  around his heart-Pericarditis.  They couldn’t determine if it was bacterial or viral (if viral, he may fully recover; bacterial, he may need a heart transplant).  The immediate danger was that there was so much fluid around the heart, it had enlarged to at least twice its normal size.  They were in the process of prepping him for an emergency surgery to drain some of the fluid from the heart.  Before we hung up, she strongly recommended that I do not come to the ER until after the surgery because of the added stress since I was so far along with the pregnancy.  She would call me once Jay was out of surgery.  I said, okay.

I felt quite thankful to be working as it kept my mind from wandering too much to certain negative implications of Jay’s sudden illness.  I wasn’t completely alone in the city, thankfully, as I had my brother and his family nearby.  They picked me up after work (and once I received the “green light” from Dr. Salerno) and took me to the hospital.  Jay was in the recovery room, just coming out of being under anesthesia.  I was told that they managed to drain as much fluid as they could, but twice his heart stopped and they had to resuscitate him.  There was a hole left in his chest just under the sternum where a tube had been placed to continue to drain the fluid from the heart.  The doctors planned to aggressively treat him with various antibiotics in case the pericarditis was bacterial in hope to limit the damage to the heart while they ran multiple tests to determine whether this was truly bacterial or viral.

For the next week, we waited on the final result.  In the end, it was determined that Jay had the viral kind.  Thank goodness.

Jay remained in the hospital for a total of two weeks.  I spent some of the nights at the hospital (just so I could be near him), and other nights with my brother.  I worked every day throughout this ordeal just to keep myself from completely stressing out.  Finally, both he and I were able to go home.  Jay was quite weak so I had to help him dress, eat, and shower.  I was just thankful to have him back with me.

It wasn’t too long after he came home that I noticed my feet and hands were swollen.  The doctor kept tab of my blood pressure which stayed below the dangerous level; until my water broke two days past the due date.

After I was admitted to the hospital’s birthing center, the doctor quickly realized that I was showing signs of pre-eclampsia. My blood pressure was all over the place (soaring high then crashing and then soaring high again).  My contractions weren’t consistent as well.  They gave me an IV to control the blood pressure as well as to force the contractions.  I was not a happy camper.  Seventeen hours in, it was time to push.  I pushed for three hours but the baby couldn’t get beyond my pelvic area.  The doctor tried both the suction cup and clamps to no avail.  Then I began to hemorrhage.  By this point, I was so exhausted and barely lucid.  I remember the doctor pushing the baby back into the birthing canal, and then they literally ran me to the ER.  After that, everything went blank.

Karl was born over twenty hours after my water broke.  A beautiful, healthy boy.  Jay was there to hear him howl as they pulled him from my belly.  He told me it was the most precious sound he’d ever heard.  I woke up two hours later and then wheeled into a recovery room where I held my son for the first time.  I’d suffered severe blood loss, but they decided not to give me a blood transfusion.  My vision for the next few days were out of sync because of the blood loss.  When I looked at anything, in one eye it looked normal while in the other eye it was grossly enlarged and distorted.   By the time I was released (four days later), my vision improved.

For the next few months, Karl had two parents recovering from their hospital experiences.  Before my maternity leave ended though I learned that I lost my job with a particular bank.   During this time, I struggled as a mother and as a wife.  I grew more and more emotional (weepy), and uncontrollable anxiety seized me.  I literally felt like I was losing it.  Jay made me go to the doctor, and I was diagnosed with postpartum depression. Jay’s mother came and spent a few months with us to help me with taking care of Karl-bless her heart.  My condition slowly improved; it was even better when I was re-hired back to the same bank that previously laid me off.  I gladly accepted the offer as by this time I was quite ready to get out of the house!

To say that I was happy to see that year come to a close was a gross understatement!