One night, at around 7:00, a nurse and an orderly brought a patient from the Emergency Room to her floor. The ER nurse explained to Maggie that the young man had been in a bad road accident. The doctors had done what they could, but after working on him for two hours, they shook their heads, hooked him up to a morphine drip, and sent him to Maggie’s floor. The nurse said that he had been muttering in a foreign language that no one recognized. She handed Maggie the report and left.
Maggie saw that the patient was just a boy, around twenty-four years old or so, her own age. He was tall and slim, with fair hair and a handsome face. As she gazed down on him, his blue eyes opened and fixed on her.
Maggie smiled her nurse’s smile, competent and compassionate. By then, the morphine had worked its magic, and he didn’t seem to be in too much pain. He watched her as she adjusted his pillow and blanket, his eyes searching her face for an answer.
As she took his pulse, he turned his wrist and clasped her hand. Maggie spoke a few gentle words of comfort and was surprised when he answered in English. He thanked her and asked her name. He told her he was from Finland. That he had wanted to see the United States and had found work driving trucks for a transport company. He smiled when he said it was the best way to see such a big country. He soon became fatigued and closed his eyes.
Maggie was concerned about her other patients, but each time she tried to leave, he opened his eyes and tightened the hold on her hand.
When Maggie told him she had to check on her patients, he became agitated and a look of fear filled his eyes. He said he didn’t want to be alone. Maggie smiled and promised him she would be right back.
She went out and spoke briefly to the other nurse on duty and explained that she needed to sit with the new patient. The nurse assured her that the other patients were either resting quietly or sleeping, and that she would answer any calls or lights.
Maggie was thankful that the night was slow. She couldn’t leave him alone. There was no hope for him, and she guessed that he knew. She took a deep breath and returned to his bedside.
The sun was beginning to set and the room was slowly growing darker. She turned on the nightlight above his bed. As soon as she sat down, he opened his hand for hers. It seemed that he wanted to talk.
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