Plague Life – Part II

Continued from Plague Life – Part I 

In the kitchen Megan could hear the water running in the shower. Her heart had settled, and she was breathing almost normally again. What the hell was that? She smiled widely as the pan heated and she pulled the bread from the freezer and um, cheddar, she decided, from the fridge. She dropped two slices into the toaster but waited to drop them. When the oil in the pan was just shy of shimmering, she poured in the egg whites and over filled a glass of Chablis.

In the shower Joyce was still shaking her head not quite believing what she’d just done but smiling at the thought of it. She’d apologize, of course. What the hell was she thinking? But that’s as far as she got before starting to giggle again. She was thorough under the hot stream but fast. She wanted to get out to the kitchen. She turned the water off.

Megan put the cheese on the eggs and folded the omelet, smacking her lips at the tartness of the wine. The bread went down and she pulled a robin’s egg blue Fiesta Ware plate from the cabinet knowing how good it would look with the white omelet. Would she have cared about the presentation of a midnight omelet an hour ago?

When she heard the door open to the mudroom Megan pulled her mask, which had been hanging around her neck, up over her mouth and nose. The kitchen was spacious and wide open, but they’d been cautious. Joyce came in, her short auburn hair damply cupping her face.  The towel she had covered with earlier was around her neck and she was wearing a clean set of green scrubs. Seeing without looking Megan could tell she wasn’t wearing a bra. Probably no underwear either but impossible to tell. Megan mentally slapped herself in the head for thinking about that, but it had been a weird evening.

“Yessss…” Joyce said, sipping an offered glass of wine as she sat. She also ooohed and ahhhed at the omelet but didn’t spend too much time admiring it. She didn’t realize how hungry she was until she began eating. She worked around the crisp edges of the eggs and wolfed down half a piece of buttered toast. “This is wonderful…Thank you.”

“Easily done…”

“…About earlier….”

“What?” said Megan innocently, using her eyes to compensate for the smile the mask was covering.

“I was tired…giddy, I guess…”

“Stop it…”

“No! Really. And I’m not a modest person…”

“Obviously…”

“I can’t be. Not now. That was my fourth shower today. We’re all the time in locker rooms, underwear, bare-assed changing clothes. I shouldn’t have…”

“Here. Can I do something?” Megan asked. Without really waiting for permission she slipped behind Joyce and put her hands on her shoulders.

“Wait…” Joyce protested.

Megan said nothing, just began kneading Joyce’s shoulders and neck.

“Don’t…”

“Oh Shush!” She continued to knead her shoulders ignoring Joyce’s words and instead following the lead of her head lolling from side to side. They’d been in close quarters for over a month-essentially quarantined together so while this could have been seen as risky, neither was immediately willing to stop.

“I warn you”, said Joyce, “I might cry. It wouldn’t be the first time today.”

“You also laughed, so it’s been a big day.” She left a hole in the conversation in case Joyce wanted to fill it. When she didn’t, “You should do whatever you want. This is your home-this is your safe place. You want to cry, cry. You want to laugh, laugh.”

“What about mooning the babysitter?”

“By all means”, she said giving her a firmer squeeze.

“Does feel good.”

“I audited a kinesiology class.”

“Really?”

“I didn’t finish. There was a guy, then there wasn’t. But I learned a little of this.”

“You have a gift.”

“You’re sweet. And beat. What are you doing tomorrow?”

Joyce wasn’t due at the hospital till six tomorrow evening, so she was planning a day of nothing. Vegging with Tommy. They talked softly as Joyce ate and Megan continued to work the knots out of her shoulders. She’d be over at five to help get her off and ease the separation that Tommy always felt. It was their routine but there might have been another layer to it now. Joyce felt it as did Megan. And neither regretted it.

Dinner over and the massage finished, Megan moved toward the door. “I’ll be working in the garage all day tomorrow. Refinishing a trunk that I found in a shop a couple months ago, before the world changed. I’m available. If you need me before five, just text.”

“I’ll be fine”, said Joyce. “See you tomorrow…”

“Yep”, then pausing with a smile behind the mask, “Thanks for the bum shot.”

“Get out of here.”

She left and Joyce sat, nursing the wine and rubbing her shoulder where Megan’s hands had just been. It felt like they were the first hands on her in months.

Continued here Plague Life – Part III

Plague Life – Part I

She turned the music down as she rolled up on the house. Sometimes after a shift like she’d just had, she needed it loud to keep her awake. But not tonight. Tonight, she was angry enough, frustrated enough to stay awake and drive to the coast if necessary. The concept, the idea, the thought of “enough” had been with her most of the day. Not the job. Joyce Maple was the chief of critical care at Swansea Health, a 250-bed hospital that served most of the county.

The virus cases had stabilized here, and she was back to her normal three 12 hour shifts and two overnights. They had a full staff-all healthy-and were finally fully stocked with what they needed to fight this freaking plague.

What she didn’t need however was her fucking husband-she still wasn’t thinking of him as “ex”-texting her between patients making demands about child visitation and his car. Which she was paying for, by the way. It was true that trying times reveal the true character of people. Happily, those she was surrounded with at work and in her tiny society at home have proven strong and positive. That turd, not so much.

She pulled into the drive automatically staying on her side until she hit the button above the visor to open the wide door into the empty two car garage. There was no “his and her” side anymore. Four months ago, she’d have been coming home to a husband and six-year old son. It wasn’t the largest or, truth be told, happiest family but it was what it was. It was a port in a storm-a place to hide from the world, a place to just BE. Which is what she needed right now. Which is why she was crying in the linen closet at work earlier. The first time that had happened. She was just tired and…fucking enough already.

Now she was coming home to her son Tommy, who would be asleep, and Megan Crockett, his babysitter. A blessing that one. Tommy had known her since he was a baby and since her university was on hiatus, she was back at home in the neighborhood with nothing besides online classes and art projects to do. They kept the proper distances and protocols, the girl even had her own masks because she worked with spray paint, so at least Joyce had someone in her life she could count on for something.

At home they had honed a routine that worked for them so far. When the garage door closed, Joyce got out of the car, kicked off her sneakers, stepped around to the laundry area and stripped. Her scrubs, top then bottom, and tonight her bra and panties went into a pile on the floor. She swore that she spent more time dressing and undressing at work than she did in front of patients. She wore no jewelry, no watch, nothing else. She bent and picked up the bundle to put in the washer surprised to find it empty. Megan must have done them. Sweet. And she knew better than to touch them before they were washed, so that was fine.

But she was distracted and moving slowly, more thoughtfully than usual as she tried to get the day out of her head. By now she should have been wearing the old robe or have moved to the bathroom for a shower but instead was standing in her altogether thinking about laundry when the door from the mud room opened and she heard Megan say, “Hi Joyce! I did…” They both froze for a moment, Joyce leaning naked over the washer and Megan with her hand on the doorknob.

“Shit!” said Joyce reaching quickly to snatch a bath towel off the stack on her folding table. She hadn’t been facing the house door either way-it was a full side view was all. No biggie. A side boob tops. “I’m sorry Megan…You should have knocked…” Joyce, holding a towel over her breasts that fell to her knees took a deep breath and closed her eyes hard for a second to reset. She opened them with a wry smile. “I’m sorry Megan. It was my fault…”

“I shouldn’t have just barged in.” Megan said.

“It’s okay. I’m sorry.”

“Don’t apologize”, Megan said. “You’re beautiful.”

“Hah!” Joyce barked lightly. “But, thank you.”

“No problem. If I looked like you, I’d never wear clothes.”

“Stop”, said Joyce still smiling but blushing, nonetheless.

“I separated some eggs”, said Megan. “Was going to make you an egg white omelet. Cheddar or Swiss?”

“Megs”, she said using the nickname she called her ten years earlier when she was one of the neighborhood kids, “Like I’ve told you, you don’t have to cook for me.”

“Doctor Maple”, Megan said seriously, “I’ve eaten your cooking. So yes, yes I do.” Joyce’s eyes widened at being teased. “The county is depending on me.”

“You brat! If I had a free hand, I’d throw something at you.”

“Cheddar or Swiss?”

“Surprise me. But it’s really not necessary.”

“Of course it’s not ‘necessary’. A lot of things aren’t necessary. But would you like it?”

“Sure I’d like it.”

“And I opened that Chablis that was in the fridge…”

“Ah, THAT is necessary.”

“Figured since you weren’t going in till late shift tomorrow.”

“You remembered that…” Joyce said.

“Of course. Your schedule is my schedule.”

That simple statement caught Joyce in a way that surprised her. Of course, her babysitter would know her schedule. Since the dick had moved out and all this shit hit the fan, Megan had been her only constant relationship outside of work besides Tommy. Which was fine-who had time for anything else at this point. Her job was to keep everyone in her orbit safe. She had enough to worry about.

“Helloooo? Earth calling Doctor Maple. Doctor Joyce Maple.”

“Sorry”, Joyce said. “I’m in a bit of a fog tonight.”

“No wonder. That’s fine. Are you out of wheat bread?”

“No. The last is hidden in the freezer behind the ice cream.”

“Oh”, said Megan keeping a teasing tone, “Secret hiding places now?”

Joyce smiled wanly and shrugged indicating the towel covering herself. “I guess I have no secrets from you anymore…”

“Oh, I think you do…” Joyce cocked an eyelid. “I’m a butt gal. At best, I got a hip shot.”

Joyce gasped then coughed as a deep laugh rolled through her chest. It was an infectious tumbling laugh that Megan had no choice but to join. “Butt Gal”, she laughed as her shoulders heaved. “A new super hero!”

“We’ll make T-Shirts!” Megan laughed.

They cackled together from across the garage until Joyce ran out of breath. She swiped the corner of the towel across her eyes.

“I can’t remember the last time I heard you laugh.”

“Yeah”, said Joyce breathing normally again. “It’s been a minute.”

“Sounds good.”

Again, the conversation wound down with neither seeming to be in a hurry to finish it until Megan finally spoke up, “Go. Take your shower. I’ll have the food ready when you are.”

“Don’t forget the wine.”

“I definitely won’t.”

Megan had turned and was on the way to leaving and closing the door behind her when Joyce called to her, “Hey Megs…”

When Megan turned, Joyce turned her back to her, her bare back uncovered from shoulders to ankles, and walked slowly into the bathroom, giggling like a girl.

Continued here Plague Life – Part II

Nurse Kimani

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(Continued from The Party )

Having made their entrance into the full glow of the fire and been viewed and admired, he released them from their collars and lay the staffs aside. Someone else would surely find a use for them before the evening was out.

“I’m going to find Duke”, he told them. “Go mingle.” Then, to Gennie, “Have fun”, with a light smack on her rump as he passed toward the house.

They wandered past the still smoking hulk of the motorcycle. “I can’t believe you did that…” she whispered into Chelsea’s ear. “Collateral damage”, the blond winked back. “A bonus. Very cool though.” The girls each grabbed a glass of wine from an angel with a black halo of wires circling her head. The woman’s hair was shaved tight on the sides with a floppy blue mohawk falling to the left. “You sure you’re an angel?” flirted Chelsea eyeing the woman’s ink-a blue web that crawled up her neck. “The devil began life as an angel, love”, she answered coolly. Chelsea, fully on the prowl, raised her glass in salute and allowed Gennie to pull her away.

They walked slowly past the toy table and Gennie slipped to the other side of Chelsea as if being too close to a paddle or crop might give someone ideas.  But it was hard to imagine people hear didn’t have the ideas already. Just over there-leaning against the mantle that she’d help deliver was the bare bottomed kitten that had met them when they arrived. The tail was gone but she was happily displaying two bright red welts running across her white cheeks. When had that happened? Where had that happened? Just seeing the marked bottom set Gennie’s stomach roiling.

Hors d’oeuvres that the villains had scattered to paddle Beth had been replaced. Chelsea went for the bacon-wrapped dates. “Famished! Waging war stokes a girl’s appetite.” Her eyes aflame, Chelsea scanned the scene looking for likely singles, doubles, whatever. As Gennie’s doors tightened at the prospect of public play, Chelsea’s opened like flood gates.  “Let’s go inside”, she said popping the last date whole into her mouth.

They moved through the foyer and into a high-ceilinged hub of a hall that spoked to a number of rooms, some dimly lighted by candles and a fire’s glow, a couple brighter with lamps and hanging bulbs. There seemed to be at least as many people inside as there were out.

“Where’d they all come from?” Gennie wondered.

“Party people gonna party”, Chelsea answered moving forward.

Gennie froze at the sound of a swat; the unmistakable song of wood on bare skin accompanied by an “owwww” and laughter. “Not that way!” she said pulling at Chelsea’s arm away from the sound. “Okay…” said Chelsea allowing herself to be led away. “But we’ve got some work to do with you girl.”

They slipped into a sitting room and were drawn to a small group standing around a couch. The circle opened for them as they pressed inward and Gennie caught the eye of a sandy haired boy-well, not really a boy, probably Gennie’s age-but impossibly cute in a slight blondish way. She couldn’t tell how tall he might be as he was currently lying across the lap of a statuesque beauty, the color of burnished mahogany in a blue nurse’s outfit. The boy’s pants were down to his thighs and a thermometer, a tad large for the task at hand, protruded from is tight upturned bottom. Why had she punked on being a nurse?

He smiled at her and the edge of his mouth twitched only the slightest when the nurse extracted the thermometer. Gennie noticed that his bottom was brushed the sweetest hue of pink. The nurse, with the name tag “Kimani” sewn onto her lush breast, went through the motions of reading the instrument. “You’re fine, Tommy”, she said patting his butt. “Just fine. See all that ruckus for nothing.” Her voice was strong and melodious with a hint of the islands tinkling just below the surface.

Kimani followed the tilt of his head and locked eyes with Gennie. “Well, hello there my green-eyed sister.” It was true, the nurse had green eyes, but not as bright as Gennie’s; more the muted, smoky color of martini olives. “I don’t know”, she said clinically, “You being a zombie and all, might be beyond my help. But maybe a little medical workup would serve you well.” She dropped the thermometer she had used into a bag at her feet and extracted a new one from her pocket.

Heat rose in Gennie’s cheeks and she gulped audibly, eliciting giggles from those close enough to hear.  “You’re scaring the girl Kimmie.” Gennie leaned away meaning to bolt, but Chelsea was at her back solid as a fence post blocking a simple escape. Gennie looked pleading into her eyes, “Please Chel…” she whispered. Chelsea held her there just long enough before smiling and stepping out of her way. “Maybe later, Nurse Kim”, she said. “We have to get some alcohol in her first.”

As Gennie slipped past, Chelsea grabbed her bottom gently and squeezed. “The longer you wait”, she whispered in her ear, “The worse it’s going to seem…” But as she walked away she felt something more than the nerves and gut-churning fear of being exposed to strangers. She would deny it out loud but there was something in the naughtiness of this whole evening that was beginning to buzz, so far quietly, inside her. She wished Chelsea would have kept her hand on her bottom.

(Continuing…)

And you are…?

Liked it better when they all wore white.

Coats or smocks, didn’t matter. But white.

Seeing nurses in colors set him off a little.

Like nuns in jeans, an order was upset.

Whoever said blue or plum were less stressful didn’t account for this one

With a smart patterned blouse and bright red nails.

And you had…she looked at the laptop she carried lovingly in the crook of her arm…

Rectal bleeding, was it?

What? No! I didn’t…

It says here that you did.

I would remember.

But…she squinted at the screen…

You are Delores Sierra are you not?

No. I’m Raymond Dugan.

Birthdate?

3-19-62.

No, that’s not right.

It’s my birthday. I would know.

You’d be surprised, she said.

He stared holes into the side of the face

Staring at the screen for answers.

My old man would have slapped her by now and walked out, he thought.

Or, closer to the end, pissed on her desk or shit himself;

Just to show her.

Which would have been wrong.

Definitely wrong.

If you’ll give me a moment Mrs. Sierra…

But still…