[Continued from Part 6]
Casey drifted in and out of sleep. Her IV kept her hydrated. The medications kept her calm and drowsy. She no longer cared about remaining conscious. At one point she awoke to find that both legs were gone and her left arm was missing as well. She was in another room now. Room 432 it said on the plaque by the door. She expected this must be somewhere in the “psych ward” of the hospital. Nurses buzzed in and out like bees. She ate but did not taste food. Her consciousness seemed to blur and time melted into something unrecognizable. What woke her was the sound of music. A nurse was standing next to her changing her IV bag. From across the room Casey heard a familiar tune.
“Ding dong the Witch is dead, the wicked old Witch is dead…”
It took Casey a moment to realize through the fog in her mind what it was. Suddenly she was awake. Her mind was clear. That song was the ringtone she had for her mother. It meant that her mother was calling her. She looked at the nurse and almost shouted “My phone! Can you grab my phone please?”
The nurse looked at Casey for a moment and then turned and walked to a small upright closet. She opened the door and the music got louder. She reached down into the closet and hauled out a phone that was blaring the popular song from “The Wizard of Oz”. The nurse slid her finger across the bottom of the screen and put the phone to her ear.
“Hello?” she answered.
There was a pause. Casey could barely make out the sound of another voice on her phone.
“My name is Gretchen,” the woman replied. “I’m a nurse at St. Anthony’s Memorial Hospital. May I ask who’s calling?”
The nurse paused as she listened to the voice on the other end. She nodded and said “Ok, just one minute.”
The nurse walked to Casey. “The woman on the phone says she’s your mother. Would you like to speak with her?”
Casey’s lower lip trembled. For a moment she was unable to reply. She thought perhaps that this was just a dream and that at the last moment she would wake up to find there was no phone call. When she saw the nurse just staring at her, she decided to take a chance that this was really happening. She nodded her response. The nurse held the phone up to her ear as Casey had no arms or hands in which to hold a phone.
“Mom?” she asked quietly.
“Casey? Oh my God, Casey, what’s going on? I spoke with your brother and he told me he got a call from you yesterday but for some reason, he doesn’t remember who you are? Can you believe that?” said Casey’s mother excitedly.
“Mom…” Casey began.
“What’s happening dear? Where are you? Why did a nurse answer your phone? Are you in the hospital? Are you hurt? My God honey, what’s going on?” Her mother rattled off questions like a machine gun.
“Mom I…” Casey started again. She didn’t know how to continue. How do you explain something to someone else when you can’t understand it yourself? “Mom… I love you.”
“Wha… Oh Casey, I love you too. Please tell me what has happened to you. Do you need me to come out there?” her mother sounded scared.
“No mom, I’m fine,” said Casey calmly. “No need for you to be worried. Just came down with a flu bug and got dehydrated. I should be home tomorrow.”
“Oh… Oh that’s good dear. For a minute I thought it was something serious. You really had me worried,” said her mother. “But still… I don’t understand what is going on with your brother. I thought he was joking at first but he got angry with me and insisted that he had no sister. Did you two have a fight?”
“Yeah mom. Todd and I had a fight. He’s just mad at me right now. Don’t mind him. Everything will be ok soon. Don’t worry about a thing,” said Casey softly.
“Well, that’s good news. Honestly, you two will be the death of me yet. You’ll see. When you have kids of your own, you’ll understand what it’s like. And speaking of that… have you met anyone recently?” Casey’s mother asked with a hint of excitement in her voice.
“Mom, I’m sorry, I have to go now. The nurses have to take my vitals. I’ll call you later, ok?” Casey said, cutting her mother short.
“Well… ok, that’s fine. It’s been so long since we’ve talked. I miss it sometimes, you know,” said Casey’s mother sadly.
“Yeah, I miss that too. More than you know,” said Casey as a single tear ran down her cheek.
“Alright dear. You take care. I love you. Bye,” said Casey’s mother.
“Love you too mom,” Casey paused and then finished “Good-bye.”
The nurse pulled the phone away from Casey’s ear and disconnected the call. She smiled at Casey and returned the phone to the closet. The nurse then left Casey alone in her room. Casey stared at the wall. She smiled for a moment and then closed her eyes for the last time.
Don Billings pushed the large rolling hospital bed along the corridor. He’d been a patient care tech for St. Anthony’s for almost six months now. He knew it was not a glamorous job but he enjoyed feeling like he was helping people. The patient in the bed had come into the ER high on some new designer drug and the white coats wanted to keep him for observation to see if there was any kind of permanent cognitive damage. Don wheeled the young man to the nurse’s station.
“Got one for room 427, Nancy,” said Don.
“Oh, no you can’t put him in there, Don,” said the nurse behind the counter. That room is full already. Let’s see… um… try room 432. That one’s been open for over a day. Hmm… I wonder why? Seems strange that we’d keep that empty for so long.”
“Whatever you say. You’re the boss,” said Don.
“And don’t you forget it!” chimed Nancy laughingly.
Bill Butterworth was running late and wanted to get home for dinner but he had to finish showing this college student the apartment. The building was filled with students from the university. The rooms were one and two bedrooms, low rent and near the campus.
“Ok, here we are. Apartment 506. One bedroom,” said Bill as he looked at his clipboard.
He flipped through a number of keys and selected the correct one. He then inserted it into the lock and opened the door. Ushering in the young man he returned to the information he’d written down about the apartment. Walking over to the long drapes covering the windows in the living room, he pulled them back to reveal a terrific view of the busy street below.
“Five floors up gives you a great view,” he said gesturing outward.
“So who lived here last?” asked the young man.
Bill flipped through the pages on his clipboard. “Uh… says here it was a fellow by the name of Bradford. He lived here… wow, over a year ago. Huh, that’s strange. Not sure why it’s been vacant for so long,” said Bill.
“The name on the mailbox downstairs said ‘C. Warner,'” said the young man.
“Must be on old label,” said Bill. “That name doesn’t ring a bell.”
The two men walked all around the apartment. As they approached the door Bill pointed out the triple lock system. “See, you have the door lock, dead bolt and chain for added security. Not that you really need all that, mind you. This is a pretty safe neighborhood,” Bill said with a laugh.
“Well it looks good. I think I’d like it,” said the young man.
“Great,” said Bill, pleased that he would be getting home soon. “Let me give you these forms to complete and you can get those back to me later.”
Both men walked out the door. The shadows of the dying light draped themselves across the living room, almost looking like they were alive. The door closed leaving the apartment empty.