Almost Home


Annalise glared at the clock. She had five minutes left on her shift. Her feet were killing her, her shoulders were screaming, and she had already agreed to another twelve hour shift tomorrow. For the past week people were calling in sick constantly leaving them shorthanded. As it stood there were only six employees that hadn’t called out, and two of them looked like death warmed over. She got out of working yet another double by picking up three overnight shifts in a row.

Whatever was spreading among the staff was knocking out the residents at an alarming rate. Working at a long term care facility as a nursing assistant usually meant caring for at least one sick resident, but every single one was ill, and it all looked like the same cold. She was incredibly glad she had decided to take the summer semester off; nursing school on top of this load would have been insane.

“Anna,” Maggie, the nurse on duty tapped her on the shoulder.

Maggie was about three inches shorter than Annalise and made her athletic form look anorexic with a figure that demanded to be on the side of World War Two bombers rather than draped in cheap patterned scrubs.

“Mrs. Brackeman passed,” she didn’t have enough energy left to be sad. “Can you do The Care?”

“Yeah,” Annalise stretched her arms as she walked down the hall.

The Care was what they called End of Life Care, the procedure to clean up a resident and arrange their room for viewing. It would take longer than five minutes but Mrs. Brackeman was one of the good ones. She deserved some extra attention. Death, unfortunately, was a regular part of her job, but it seemed like the nice residents went faster. The cranky, curmudgeons held on another day to be a pain in the ass.

Annalise paused at the doorway to take in the room. Mrs. Brackeman’s room was a solo suite, which made things easier. Having a roommate sit dejectedly in the corner and watch as she prepared a former friend was rather unnerving. There was a smattering of family photos mixed in with more recent ones. A small collection colored glass in shape of pigs. She made a mental note as she gloved up that she would need to bring in a few chairs for the family.  Her eyes finally made their way to the bed.

It was empty.

Mrs. Brackerman had been bedbound for the past three days. The covers were dangling over the side onto the floor exposing the curved depression in the bed where the body had been lying recently.

“Maggie,” Annalise called back down the hallway. “Where is she?”

“In bed,” the nurse had made it back to her desk and was working on the paperwork. “Why?”

“She’s not there.”

“What do you mean?”

“She’s not in bed,” she pointed into the room. “Who found her?”

“I did,” Maggie walked briskly back down the hall. “I just came in to do vitals and then went to find you.” She poked her head in the room. “What in the hell? Where is she?”

“I trust you’ll find her,” Annalise looked up at the clock with a dreamy smile. “My shift ended one whole minute ago.”



1 Comment

Filed under Science Fiction, Short Fiction, Writing

One response to “Almost Home

  1. I think a secret of anyone who does this kind of care is finding the bed empty! It’s a tough part of the job but I always considered my last sign of respect and comfort for my patient.

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