The Virus (Chapter 1)



She could hear the clock ticking. Tick, tock. Tick, tock. Each second seemed to pass slowly. Each second, an eternity. She balled her hand into a fist, then relaxed again. She did this over and over again, afraid of what would happen if she stopped. The oxygen mask on her face was only second in discomfort to the needle in her hand, drawing her blood for more tests. Is this ever going to end? She thought.


She envisioned her children, her grandchildren. They weren’t allowed to visit. Not yet. The doctor said maybe in a few days, until they knew what they were dealing with. She didn’t want to wait. She needed them now. Tick, tock. Tick tock. The clock was like an alarm in her brain. Her time was almost up. She could feel it. Just a little more blood, then she could rest. Only a few more drops.


A nurse came into her room and checked the IV tubes. “All done.” She said cheerfully.


“Great.”


“Cheer up.” The nurse responded. “The doctor is considering letting you go home.”


A ray of hope. Maybe she wasn’t going to die at all. “I get to see my family?”


“Yes, but I’ll let the doctor tell you more about that.” The nurse gathered her sample and retreated from the room.


As she began to daydream about seeing her grandchildren again, the doctor came into the room. There was a small bounce in his step that gave her hope. “I’m sending you home, Margorie.”


“Really?”


“Yes, but it won’t be for another couple of days, just to make sure.”


“Okay.”


“I’ve also allowed for a short visit from your family, if you’re up for it.”


“I am.” Margorie could barely contain her excitement.


The doctor smiled. “Okay. How about tomorrow? I’ll give them a call this afternoon to let them know.”


Margorie felt as though she could jump around the room. “I can’t tell you how much this means to me.”


“I know, Margorie. It’s my pleasure.”


The day passed in a blur. Margorie couldn’t think of anything but seeing her family as she thought about the visit they were going to have.


*


The nurse helped Margorie into a clean hospital gown. Margorie smoothed the perpetually wrinkled fabric as best she could as she heard her grandson run down the hall toward her room. As he entered, Margorie extended her arms, ready to scoop him up for all the kisses she could give him. He didn’t disappoint as he ran right into her arms.


Margorie’s son, Daniel, and his wife, Melissa, followed behind with their ten-year-old son, Matthew. Matthew hung behind with his mother as Daniel hugged Margorie. Margorie’s youngest grandson, two-year-old Michael, was still in her lap.


“Margorie, I’m so glad we’re finally able to visit!” Melissa’s voice was loaded with fakery as she crossed the room and gave Margorie a cold peck on the cheek.


“Me too, dear.” Margorie’s words were just as cold as the kiss.


Daniel ignored them both. “Matthew, give your grandmother a hug.”


With a put-out sigh, Matthew obeyed. “Hey, grandma.”


“Hey, you.” Margorie replied, a smile filling her face.


As the family visited, Margorie learned what her grandsons were doing, and what Melissa did all day when Daniel was at work. Margorie thought that Melissa had it pretty easy, while it looked as though her son were about to pull his hair out. It doesn’t matter. Margorie thought. I’ll be able to help them soon.


“Hello, everyone.” The doctor strode in.


“Doctor.” Daniel greeted him.


“Okay. Margorie’s doing well. Her tests have come back negative for the virus. It looks like she took well to the new medication and her body did the rest. You can pick her up tomorrow morning.”


“That’s great news! You can stay with us until you’re well enough to go back to the house.”


That was exactly what Margorie was hoping Daniel would say.


*


The nurse went into Margorie’s room at 8am, expecting Margorie to already be up and dressed, ready to go home to her family. But when the nurse saw Margorie was still sleeping, she shook her head.


“Margorie, your son is here to pick you up.” The nurse called out as she crossed the room to turn on the light over Margorie’s bed in an attempt to rouse the woman.


There was no response.


“Margorie. It’s time to go, you’re late.” The nurse continued to talk loudly as she flipped the light switch.


As light flooded the bed, the nurse sighed as she looked down at Margorie. The nurse lifted the woman’s wrist, waited a few beats, then put it gently back on the bed.



What the nurse thought was particularly sad was that no one had realized that Margorie had died nearly two hours ago.

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