Janice took off her gloves and walked toward the desk at the front of the ward. She was falling asleep on her feet. They had gotten three new patients today. She would leave her job in a heartbeat if she could but she would miss the kids and their families. She always asked herself what she would do, what she would be like, if it was her child in here.
They were an endless source of entertaining stories. Families from different backgrounds, all brought here for the same reason. Many of the stories, absorbed in the middle a hectic work day, would be forgotten. There were always a few that stayed with her. There were tales of pets, favorite places, recipes, recommendations for books and movies, not to mention more political opinions than she needed to hear. On some days the stories and the people who told them were the only thing keeping her going. She spent as much time with them as she did with her own daughter.
She got to the desk and clocked out. She waved good bye to Rita, the HUC. Rita held up her hand to stop Janice. “Janice, you’ve got a phone call.”
“Who is it?”
“Your daughter. Take it in the conference room.”
“OK, She better be glad I’m ready to leave anyway.”
“When are you coming home?”
“You called me at work to ask me that!”
“No, can you bring home some food?”
“What have I said about eating out. The answer is no.” Janice signed.
“It’s Friday and I pretty well on my math test, plus we didn’t get food last Friday.”
“I told you we could a movie and eat the lasagna Krissy made the other day.”
“No, I want pizza.”
“Rachel, do not fight me about this right now. We’ve had a hard day here.”
“I don’t understand why we can’t have pizza when no one’s around. I get left alone all day.”
“Rachel, you are not alone all day. You had school, and Krissy is going to take you to the park, right?”
“I don’t want to go.”
“I know you’re just saying that because you didn’t get your way about pizza. I’m done discussing this right now. Why don’t you take your book to the park.”
“I would if I had anything to read.”
“Come on, you always have something to read. I’m going to hang up.”
“I have too much homework.”
“Well, there you go, take some of that with you if you’re going to complain about it. Did Krissy take it out and look at it?”
“It figures. Well, at least it’s Friday and it doesn’t have to be done tomorrow.”
“Mom, why does Krissy have to come?”
“What have I told you? She helps me out when I can’t be there. You know you can’t be at home by yourself. Look, if you don’t want to take your homework fine, take Jane Eyre and we’ll pick up where you leave off tonight. It’s a beautiful day. Why are you sitting in the house calling me?”
” I don’t know.”
“I need to go Ray. The sooner I leave the sooner I’ll be home.”
‘Bye, I love you.”
“Love you too.”
“Ray, what movie do you want, Never Ending Story?”
“No, I think I want Coneheads.”
“OK.” Janice hung up, worried as usual, about Rachel, knowing the movie request would make her coworkers laugh.