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Wisp of a Woman

by PamFord Davis  
9/05/2014 / Short Stories


Lee shuffles awkward winter boots out her front door, right-left, and right-left

The walking movements that most people take for granted are a daunting challenge she continues to surmount. A victim of a stroke in her late twenties, she suffers lifelong damage to one side of her body. Casual observers would never guess that she is legally blind, enduring pain every waking hour of her busy days. Her physician poetically says she is a wisp of a woman.

Unable to drive due to the visual impairment, Lee depends upon public transportation or on rare occasions, she hires a cab. In general, she walks. A single mom with her brood now out of the nest, she holds down a full time job within housekeeping of the city hospital. Reaching a busy intersection, she looks right and left before stepping down from the icy curb and walking across the Upstate NY street.

With lake-effect snow warnings in effect, only the stout hearted or stupid are on the roads. Lee is not certain which category she falls under, only that she clocks in at 2pm and has no time to waste. Pulling the toboggan cap down over her ears with numbing gloved hands she eyes the hospital ER entrance light and hopes it will be a quiet night. Her mind flashes back to a Christmas Eve horrific traffic accident and a trauma team working feverishly.

Working her way in through the lobby revolving doors, she stops to catch her breath.

"Lee, I've been worrying about you!" says the security guard. "Why don't you just stay home when weather's this bad?"

"Another day, another dollar," Lee quips. "Besides you know they can't run this place without me!"

The guard shakes his head and watches in admiration as his friend makes her way to the staff cloakroom. Once inside, Lee pulls off ice-covered gloves, unzips her down lined parka, hangs it in her locker and steps out of her slush-covered boots.

It's no wonder snow birds are in FL. If I had a lick of sense

Sniffling, after she punches the clock, Lee detours to the ladies' room to blow her runny nose. With sanitizing a must, she lathers her hands under hot running water and relishes the warmth.

Okay, time to hustle. Where do I start? Scanning the Lysol scented hallway, Lee looks right and left

Usually work my way down the right side. Think I'll start on the left

She unlocks the supply room and steps inside. After filling a water bucket at the utility sink, Lee ads Lysol, grabs a mop and returns to the hallway. Spotting an administrator heading her way, she smiles before turning to the work at hand.

"Lee, I was hoping to run into you. Skeleton crew tomorrow, Christmas Day, people want to be with their familiesWondering if you could run the switchboard from 7-to-7."

"Sure. I don't have any plans. None of my kids are coming, be glad to do it."

"Good." He turns and walks away without as much as Merry Christmas.

Lee cleans room after room, visiting with lonely patients as much as time permits. Hours tick by slowly as she works systematically, making her way toward the morgue. It's a dreaded duty but someone has to do it. A crew of doctors stands chatting by the entrance and briefly looks in her direction. Chuck, an orderly, steps toward her and lays a tender hand on her slumping shoulder.

"Lee, there's a new one inside. Just wanted ya' ta' know before ya' go in."

Removing his hand, he steps aside and opens the double doors for her. Maneuvering her bucket and cleaning supplies inside, she steps back to close the doors. Pivoting, she acclimates herself to the surroundings.

Will never get used to the cold of this roomor the smell of death.

She eerily gazes upon a long gurney in the center of the morgue. A high-intensity light illuminates the table. Lee beholds the frame of a young child under a starched hospital sheet. Heaving a sigh, tears well up in her eyes. Stifling a heartfelt sob, Lee notices two tiny feet protruding out from under the covering.

The deceased wears boys' crew socks right and left, but they don't match. Each is a striped sock, yet bears a different color. She feels faint as she remembers happier days when her grown sons were carefree little boys. At times, they would don mismatched socks.

It's just not fair. Why, God? Why?

* Note: creative non-fiction (The name has been changed.)

Devotionals are her first love in writing. Published articles in Mature Living Magazine, Devotions for the Deaf, The Secret Place, Light from the Word, Coosa Journal, With God Daily, Mary Hollingsworth's The One Year Devotional of Joy and Laughter. http://www.pamforddavis.com
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