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Some say the eyes are the window to the soul. How naïve they must be, for it is not the eyes which reveal to you one’s true demeanor, oh no. The eyes, crafty and wicked as they are, spin tales of deception, all the while assuring you that they are to be trusted. It is not the eyes, no, but the hands, the hands are what your gaze should light upon. The hands, susceptible as they are, broadcast every flicker of thought that drifts through one’s mind. They are beautiful really, hands. His hands especially, they were beautiful.
They were so soft, so pale that first night. He came in quietly, his little feet padding beside his mother’s. Her eyes looked loving, but her hands, they spoke the truth. The grip on his palm gave her away, too tight for his delicate flesh. She didn’t love him, not really, not like I could.
I swept in then, as a mother bird to her fledgling, rescuing him from his poor excuse of a mother. He peered over the counter to me, bruises dotting the length of his arms. His hands illustrated his discomfort, his need for me. I assigned myself to him then, letting one of the other ER nurses take over the front desk. I smiled down at him and him up to me, and so began the primal stage of our relationship. Feeling his gratitude through the grip of his hand, I led him to the nearest examining room, letting his mother trail behind.
Naturally, the doctor dismissed me on his arrival; how was he to know that the boy’s mother was unfit? However, every word in that room reached my ears still. Stethoscopes work on more than hearts, you see.
“Name?” the doctor asked.
“Thomas Scott Davis,” the mother sniffled.
“He’s bruised,” she sputtered, her voice choked with tears, “everywhere! And his stomach has been hurting…”
“Hmm…I’ll run a biopsy and some blood tests,” the doctor murmured as he got to his feet, “but it sounds like leukemia. I’ll have someone take him to his room.”
Shocked as I was, I barely had the sense to drop my things to the ground, so as to not look suspect. The irresponsibility of that wretched woman vexed me; she let her own child get leukemia! How lucky it was that I was there to save him. Thanks to a beautiful twist of fate, or even destiny, as one might call it, I was the nurse entrusted with little Thomas. He preferred me to his mother I’m sure; his hands would recoil at her touch. I cared for him. While his mother stayed with him for only days at a time, I watched him always.
After weeks of chemo, my little Thomas finally began to respond. Once again I could breathe. Only one thought clung to the back of my mind; when he fully recovered, how would I be able to care for him? As his mother was so obviously incapable, it was up to me to keep her from him. It seemed to me there was only one way to do so permanently. And so I began to plot.
Thomas gained enough strength back to go home, and on his last night at the hospital, my plan set into action. Syringe in hand, I moved silently down the corridor. At last, I arrived at his room. Pushing the door open, I saw sweet Thomas asleep in his bed. Hand over his face, beckoning me to kill his mother. I crept to the armchair where I was sure to find Mrs. Davis sleeping, as this was her wont. My arm was high, poised to make the attack. Thomas’s breath filled the room, egging me on. My breathing grew heavy and quick with every step. Anticipation filled my every cell, oozing out of my pores. However, when I reached the armchair, Mrs. Davis was not to be found!
I felt my airway tighten as if a noose was placed around it, my last chance to save Thomas, and I had failed! I could not keep his mother from him without her dead. I began to panic, and then abruptly I began to feel calm again. I could not keep Thomas’s mother from him, no, but I could keep Thomas from his mother. Turning to a potted plant, I dissipated the botulinum within it. Withdrawing the syringe, I watched as it filled with air. Reaching for the IV, I saw his hands clench, affirming my decision. I plunged the syringe into the IV line and watched as the air bubble formed and began to inch towards his radial artery.
Knowing I had only seconds, I clamped my hand to his mouth. I felt his body jerk as his eyes snapped open. It was all I could do not to laugh, for as helpless those eyes seemed, I saw the truth in his flinching fingers. Eyes roving madly, poor Thomas suffered a few minutes more. At last his eyes closed, and with one final gesticulation of his phalanges, he was gone.
I looked out the window, and seeing that it was dawn, I removed my gloves and put on fresh scrubs. Thomas was dear to me, yes, but there were many other children who needed my assistance as well. Tucking the gloves and syringe into my pocket, I made my way to the front desk. Seeing a small girl with a broken arm, I smiled:
“Hi sweetheart, what’s your name?”