Flash Fiction Chronicles, 30 March 2013: Another Friday

As “Chances Are” plays on the phonograph, Blanche applies her rouge and lipstick carefully. She checks herself in the mirror, hoping that her pin-curl is still as tight as it should be; it is Friday, the unofficial start of the weekend, and so there is no harm in the extra drop of rose water behind each ear. A sharp pinch to each upper cheek and her face is awash with a girlish glow as she prepares to go out on the veranda, where she charms and woos all the gentlemen; there is one in particular who comes by on his bicycle, a puppet in her hands. He tips his hat as she smiles demurely; it is a ritual they enact every Friday. She gives a glance up as the last rays of the day’s sun sparkle on the cirrus clouds to the south.

I think about putting all that in my daily patient log, but figure I’ll get in trouble. I take the page, fold it, and put it in my notebook with all the others. I pull out the log book and make my real notes for Ms. Dolores: minimal response all day, mechanical soft diet fed for all three meals, no visitors. After working in the hospice unit for so long, I use writing to cheer myself up. My shift supervisor is quick to chastise me for—as he puts it—wasting time and making up stories about the patients in between events on the floor, but he can’t complain too much because I always change the names.

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