Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Where Angels Fear to Tread (not about the book) (09/08/11)
TITLE: Cleaning Conversation
By Sara Harricharan
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â€œThat bad?â€ Tilly peered over the counter to see out the wide front lobby windows. â€œHuh. How can you tell?â€
â€œWhenever sheâ€™s awake, her mouth canâ€™t stay shut.â€ Madge returned her attention to the cleaning cart. â€œUgh. I wish theyâ€™d hurry up and hire a new janitor. This is too much work. I was hired as an aide, not a maid.â€
â€œCutbacks are setbacks.â€ Tilly returned to her task of desk-clearing and organizing. â€œFinished yet?â€
â€œAlmost. Call light on again?â€
â€œNoâ€”thank goodness. If I have to wash my hands again between now and the next five minutes just because someone wants their pillow rearranged-â€
â€œWe should take turns.â€ Madge interrupted. â€œThat way itâ€™s less of an issue.â€
â€œArenâ€™t we taking turns anyway?â€
The red light near the phone set began to flash and flicker.
â€œOn second thought,â€ Tilly muttered. â€œNever mind me.â€ She checked the light and then the corresponding number. â€œYouâ€™re right, itâ€™s her.â€
Madge shrugged in apology. â€œYou go first, Iâ€™ll cover you on the next.â€
Her friend snorted. â€œAs if. Some nurse you are.â€ Tilly crossed the hall to duck into the womenâ€™s bathroom to wash her hands before continuing on.
Old Mrs. Petersen was famous for her mile-long list of grievances on everything from the color of socks she wore to the scent of the air she breathed. The new personal alert system allowed the elderly patient to take advantage of the nurses on shift. Madge scowled, watching the interaction between ailing patient and nurse. Tilly had more patience than her, sheâ€™d give her that. Madge wrinkled her nose at Tillyâ€™s white-gold halo of hair and wondered if her own silver tresses would hold a decent hair dye.
Maybe sheâ€™d look into it.
Maybe sheâ€™d ask Tilly.
Her friend returned, the fake smile melting off her face within seconds. She dropped into her desk chair with an undisguised groan of relief. â€œAbsolutely horrible.â€ She announced, running one nervous hand through her thinned curls. â€œThat woman is something else!â€
Madge hid a smile. â€œAnd you thought my half of the wing was easy?â€ She smirked. â€œ Weâ€™re taking turns. Iâ€™m not doing this alone.â€
â€œI donâ€™t think I could handle turns. Sheâ€™s arguing about rosewater soap this time and how the vinegar on the pickled-â€
â€œAfternoon!â€ Kiraâ€™s greeting interrupted the chat as the young woman breezed by. â€œBe back in a sec.â€
The two older women watched her go.
â€œThereâ€™s another one I canâ€™t stand.â€ Madge huffed. â€œAlways acting so perky and-â€
â€œDonâ€™t get me started on that.â€ Tilly yawned. â€œWe ought to make her do the cleaning.â€
â€œNot the cleaning, she can help that dear old witch.â€ Madge grinned. â€œItâ€™s good practice for her, donâ€™t you think?â€
Kira returned minutes later and stood at the counter dressed in her nursesâ€™ uniform, scanning the posted work schedule. â€œJust cleaning today?â€
â€œActually, weâ€™re doing the cleaning.â€ Madge faked a smile. â€œItâ€™s best that someoneâ€™s free to help the patients, so you can-â€
â€œWonderful. Whoâ€™s out today?â€ The red light flashed on the phone set again. Kiraâ€™s head snapped up and she trotted over to see. â€œSo Iâ€™ll take this one?â€ There were no objections.
The cheery nurse disappeared through the lobby doors and headed straight for the curly-haired woman in the wheelchair.
â€œWhere angels fear to treadâ€ Tilly quoted. â€œSheâ€™s got to be taking something you know. No one can be that idiotically happy every moment of the day.â€
â€œProbably.â€ Madge allowed. â€œAt least we donâ€™t have to deal with that old-â€
â€œShe likes Kira, I think.â€ Tilly mused. â€œIs always happy to see her.â€
â€œHappy? She canâ€™t do happy. If she could laugh, Iâ€™d be pickled and salted. That old crone canâ€™t evenâ€
â€œHey, easy now. Weâ€™re up in the same years.â€ Tilly teased. â€œEh, itâ€™s part of the job.â€
The sound of laughter floated through the private clinicâ€™s lobby. Kira giggled as she tried to answer something in a mix of French and Spanish. Mrs. Petersenâ€™s wrinkled face lit up and she responded in a fluent stream of gibberish.
Madge glowered as the pair cruised past. â€œWhere angels feared to tread, men stood and stared in awe.â€ She turned away, pushing the cleaning cart. â€œWhere next?â€
Tilly sighed. â€œShe is your daughter, you know.â€
â€œAdopted.â€ Madge reminded. â€œAdopted. Why on earth did she choose to be a nurse?â€
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