DG Hear, MistressLynn and myself are doing a mini writing invitational. We are each picking one song from Ray Price and using it as the basis for a story. I've picked "City Lights," DG Hear, "For the Good Times," and MistressLynn (aka MissLynn), "That's All That Matters." I will also be doing "A Girl in the Night."
We hope you enjoy the stories — Jake Rivers
As he lay in a hospital bed, his wounded body trying to heal, Clay let his mind drift. It had been two weeks since the last surgery to repair his shattered legs. The doctors had told him right from the start that it would be a lengthy process. Never did it cross his mind it would be five long, lonely months, waiting to go home.
His boss had offered him the chance to go to England for three months to work with an affiliate and update their security system. The job paid a hefty bonus if he finished on time but the allure of England made him accept the assignment. At thirty-nine, Clay had few obligations to keep him from traveling. His marriage had ended several years ago when his wife decided she wanted more excitement.
"Good morning," the cheerful voice called from the doorway.
"What's so good about it?" Clay asked.
"The sun is shining, for one," his nurse replied.
"It doesn't do me much good in here now, does it?" Clay grunted.
Shelby DaValle was on duty the day the handsome patient arrived. Since then he had been in her care many times. The sarcastic remarks began shortly after this last surgery. To Shelby, it was something she ignored, accustomed to the outbursts of patients. She knew it was a combination of the injury, pain, and medication, not the individual.
"Your chart says you slept through the night," Shelby remarked.
"Do I get a gold star for it?"
"No, I only give gold stars to patients that smile," she told him as she wrote in his chart.
Clay sighed as she went about her duties. He knew he should apologize for his rudeness. The way he behaved was so unlike him he shuddered.
"Are you cold?" Shelby asked.
"I'm sorry, I shouldn't take my frustration out on you," Clay said.
"Who else is here, Clay? Under the circumstances, you've been a stellar patient. It's too bad you don't have more outside communication," Shelby remarked.
"I wasn't here to make friends," Clay reminded her.
Shelby stopped at the door when she was finished and turned back towards Clay. The handsome American always looked so lonesome to her. Not knowing anybody was one of the downfalls of being in a foreign country.
Clay closed his eyes and thought about his life. In the last years he had traveled to so many places, he wasn't sure he could remember them all. The attraction was wearing off and he knew it. This freak accident here in England gave him plenty time to think. Soon the medications began to work and he fell into a light sleep.
The feel of a hand across his arm hours later gradually brought him awake.
"Getting more beauty rest?" Shelby teased.
"Last time I looked into a mirror it hadn't helped," Clay replied.
Shelby grinned as she went about checking Clay's vitals.
"According to the other nurses, you only need one thing to make you perfect," Shelby said.
"One of them on your arm," she answered.
Clay laughed even though he tried not to. Most of the nurses that cared for him were quite young.
"They're young, Shelby. The day I have a woman at my side she'll be confident and strong," he explained.
"Sorry, I'm already taken," she winked.
"Just my luck, too," he smiled.
Shelby added a few notes on the chart as she spoke. "Do you need anything before my shift ends?"
"A couple legs would be great," Clay responded.
"I think dinner is fish tonight, so you're out of luck there, too," she quipped.
They groaned at the silliness and Clay felt his bad mood lift.
"See you in a couple days, Clay. I have off tomorrow. Be sure to ring for the nurse if you need something tonight."
The evening dragged for Clay. He flipped through the channels on the television but nothing held his interest. He didn't feel like reading a book and all the magazines were old. Soon he decided to go to sleep.
During the night, the nurses stopped in to check him, but Clay was so used to it he didn't even wake up. When he finally did open his eyes, it was morning, and his breakfast was on his side table. Picking at the food, he listened to the sounds in the hallway, thinking about what he would be doing if he were home. One of the nurses came by to take his tray a bit later and said she would be back to help him clean up soon.
Clay sat back in bed and sighed. Needing someone to help him wash up had been humiliating in the beginning. It took only a few days to accept his limitations. Now it was just a part of his day here.
The voice caught Clay's attention the second he heard it. He knew most of the people that worked in this unit but this was a new one to him. Sweet, soft and lyrical, it sent a shiver down his spine. Maneuvering in his bed, trying to see around the partially closed door, Clay looked for someone new standing nearby. Disappointed to see only the usual staff, he sat back, listening again for the voice.
"Good morning, Clay," his nurse greeted.
"Who is the new woman out there?" Clay demanded.
"Excuse me? There's no one new on the unit today," the young man replied.
"I heard her," Clay explained.
"Let's get your bath completed, and change your bedding. Maybe you were dreaming," he told Clay.
With the door shut, and the curtain pulled, Clay only heard muted sounds from the hallway. The nurse helped him clean up, changed his bedding, and checked to be sure that he was comfortable before he finally left.
"Leave the door open please," Clay asked as the nurse left.
"You got it. Let me know if you need something else, Clay."
Clay laid back and closed his eyes. He hated that he was so weak yet. Considering everything he'd been through, all the trauma to his body, the doctors continually reminded him he was doing better than they expected. Day after day stuck in a bed didn't keep him in shape though, he told them.
The day went on like all others. Clay had become used to the routine after all this time. Lunch came and went, nurses stopped in to see if he was comfortable, dinnertime passed by, and soon another day was over. A restless night left Clay groggy the next morning. When he heard that same soft voice, he jerked awake, scrambling to sit.
He heard the woman laugh as she talked to others outside his door. They stood to the side of the opening where he couldn't see them. Clay felt the compassion in her words as she spoke. Who was she though, why didn't she see if he needed anything, he wondered as the door opened all the way.
"Oh, it's you," Clay said as Shelby walked in.
"Thanks, it's good to see you too, Clay," she smiled.
"Who is she? The woman with the soft voice that I heard," Clay demanded.
"She was outside my door, talking to someone, laughing," he said.
"There are visitors out there all the time, Clay, you know that," Shelby explained.
"I heard her yesterday too, Shelby. She isn't a visitor. I know she isn't. Help me find her, please, help me," Clay implored.
Shelby stopped and looked at the man she had taken care of for so many days. She discovered several things about him, both from their talks and from her observations, and one thing she knew without a doubt. He didn't ask for help often.
"You're serious about this, aren't you, Clay?" Shelby clarified.
"The first time I heard her, I sensed she was special. Don't ask me how, without seeing her, but I just know. Help me find who she is," Clay whispered.
Clay closed his eyes as he lay back in his bed. The depth of emotion he felt about this unknown woman should scare him. Instead, he felt drawn to her, to the comfort her voice offered.
"I'll see what I can find, Clay," Shelby said as she left the room.
The minutes crawled as Clay waited for Shelby to return. He strained to hear through the now closed door. It occurred to him he might be losing his mind. So many days here, left alone, so much time to think, his imagination running wild. It was simple, he told himself. He had dreamt the voice. He was lonely and his subconscious made it all up. Yet in his soul, he knew she was real, that she would play some role in his life.
Shelby opened the door almost an hour later and walked over to the side of his bed. She saw the anxious look on his face as he waited for her to speak.
"There's a volunteer that just started this week. From what I can find out, she visits the patients here, reading, or just listening to them," she began.
"It's her, I know it is. Her voice is full of patience and understanding. A volunteer would need that, Shelby. Can you bring her to me?"
Clay looked up at the nurse that had become almost a friend to him in all these months. He begged with his eyes for her to help him.
"I'll ask. That's all I can promise. Now let's get you bathed and into a clean gown," she said.
With his bed bath complete, Shelby straightened up his room, and soon was on her way out. Clay rested from the exertion of moving around in the small bed with both legs in casts. His medications began to work and he nodded off. The smell of spice tickled his senses a short while later. He turned without thinking and moaned as pain shot up his legs.
"I didn't mean to disturb you. I'll leave."
.... There is more of this story ...