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Death of a Ballerina – Part 11 –

For more installments see the novel index. All posts and pages on this blog are the exclusive property of Citystreams; Copyright 2006-2008; All rights reserved.

The employee lounge behind the nurses’ desk had been painted a dusky rose over a decade ago. The faded floral wallpaper that had been added beneath the chair rail did little to give the room any cheer. Everything else in the room seemed to be gray. Clary sank into a stiff plastic chair near the coffee pot. Above her a newscaster was wrapping up the evening program. He seemed to be summarizing the two major stories from the day.

A freak hail storm had ruined several Labor Day parades in the county earlier in the morning. Images of demolished floats flashed across the screen. Clary vaguely remembered hail stones bouncing off of her umbrella when she arrived to work. It seemed like it had happened a month ago.

The newscaster leaned forward with urgency as he moved to his final topic for the broadcast. Clary recognized the sequence of the images on the screen. The same scenes had been flashing overhead while Mrs. Armitage lay convulsing in her hospital bed only an hour earlier.  She sighed and rubbed her eyes.

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Rose set the phone down and beamed at her daughter. “How does pizza sound for dinner?”

Megan was shoveling cookies into various containers with a metal spatula. She raised her eyebrows and smirked at her mom. “I don’t know. Is your boyfriend going to deliver it?”

Rose moved to the sink and started scrubbing some of the plates stacked to the side. It bothered her that Megan referred to Ben as her boyfriend. She knew that her daughter got pleasure from annoying her with the term so she let it go. She lifted a dripping plate towards the dishwasher and said, “Yes. He picked up a movie and some pizza and he’ll be here in twenty minutes.”

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Tanjia stood in the doorway watching Clary. The young doctor exuded exhaustion. Her hair looked frazzled and her face had paled throughout the day’s events. Out of habit, Tanjia took a pull of hand sanitizing foam from the canister on the wall. The scent of rubbing alcohol followed her as she moved to sit at the tiny gray table next to Clary.

“So, how’d it go after I left this morning?” Tanjia only needed to look at Clary to see that the day had been difficult. She’d heard bits and pieces of the daily gossip from other nurses as they left for the day.  Still, she sat back in the chair and waited expectantly for the full report.

Clary lifted her eyes to meet Tanjia’s. “Well, how much do you want to know?” She lifted her feet into a nearby chair and groaned in happiness.

Tanjia lifted one corner of her mouth in a half grin. “Tell me everything. Starting with that handsome detective you were talking to when I left. How did I get stuck with the greasy old bald guy?”

“Well for starters, he’s my brother. We haven’t really talked much since he eloped in March. I haven’t even met his wife.” She paused and Tanjia raised her eyebrows. Her mouth puckered but she said nothing. “He stuck around investigating the scene until around lunch time. That’s when the police officer showed up to take the Armitage’s missing person report. Their daughter had disappeared in the night after attending a dance recital.” Clary stopped to watch as the nurse made the connection. “Mrs. Armitage had been admitted for pre-eclampsia and all the stress caused her blood pressure to soar. We induced her, but she didn’t respond very quickly. Around five, Donna came charging down the hall. We didn’t know it at the time, but apparently Honey and Ronnie had been watching the five o’clock news. They saw the reporters that were camped out in front of the hospital because,” Clary made quotation marks in the air, “’a local teenager’ had been found murdered here. I guess Ronnie jumped up and ran downstairs to find them. Honey stared at the screen for a minute or two, I guess, before she started seizing. When Donna found her she was completely unresponsive. “ Clary stared above at the dry erase board hanging on the wall. Her eyes moved to the clock. Her shift had ended two hours earlier, but the Armitage case had kept her too busy to leave. “Dr. Johnson arrived in record time. We performed the c-section and it was messy. Everyone was tense. Ronnie came back upstairs and panicked when he found his wife’s room empty. The nurses on the floor almost had to page another doctor to sedate him. It was a nightmare.” Clary wiped her forehead.

Tanjia said, “I heard that the little boy’s Apgar scores were high and that he’s breathing on his own. How are the parents doing now?”

Clary shrugged her shoulders. “Honey is in the recovery room. I think Dr. Johnson intends to keep her sedated through the night. She’s been through a lot. Ronnie calmed down and seems to be handling things better now.”

Tanjia nodded thoughtfully. “I suppose he will stay up tonight with the baby.”

Clary stood and rubbed the back of her neck. “Probably. He followed the nurse down to the NICU but I don’t think that the baby will stay there for longer than one night.” She took a step towards the door. “I better finish my notes. Feels like I’ve been here forever.”