"It’s their little secret, their sexy little secret, that they are in love"
The doctor at the hospital is in love with the nurse, but if anyone finds out there will be trouble. She loves that nurse so much. She loves the way his butt looks in those scrubs, how she can feel his eyes on her when she is in there, cracking skulls, cutting up brains, like a fuckin’ champion, and, God, when he holds out her tools, and it’s their little secret, their sexy little secret, that they are in love, and it’s this secret that they pass back and forth using only their bodies, their hearts, their minds, and, I mean, holy shit, if anyone knew about this secret and its being passed back and forth between them using only their bodies, their hearts, their minds, a single bit of warmth burrowing into each of them and tying them together slowly for all time, I mean, Jesus Christ, can you imagine?
He’d get fired, his union would sue, she’d be called in to see the President of the Hospital and he’d say, Was it worth it, Doctor? And she’d be like, I love him so much, what was I supposed to do?, and the President of the Hospital, he’d say, A hospital is no place for love, everyone knows this, we exist to make money and serve the shareholders, the shareholders have no interest in love, and the doctor would stand up and say, I save LIVES! What do you do all day?, and the President of the Hospital, he will weep, and the doctor, she will weep, for no hospital will have her, because of the scandal.
Her hands are all up in a guy’s brain; he is a star cellist, his work is playing softly, from her phone, in the corner, as she fixes that brain of his right up. There is blood everywhere that it’s supposed to be. It’s on her hands and it’s in her heart, it’s pumping through our veins, every last one of us. Healed by her hands, the star cellist sends two tickets to his next show. She and the nurse fuck quickly in the supply closet, just like everyone else. He whispers, I love you, as he comes and she says it right back. They can’t help it. How else are you supposed to celebrate the victories, large and small, every single day, of life over death? It’s like this: every day, you wake up, and you haven’t died; every night, you go to sleep, and you haven’t died; one day this’ll end! So, to celebrate that it hasn’t, you take your heart and you bury it inside another person. You shudder and you shake, the room fills with light, and, for an instant, the whole world is built from love. Meanwhile, the hospital sees all. The cameras are everywhere, because of the lawsuits. The conversations go exactly like you’d think they’d go, except then it comes out about the video.
At the union meeting, the union asks the nurse if the nurse was exploited. The nurse says, No, we’re in love, and the fact that it was secret, listen, it was incredibly hot, to know we shouldn’t do this, every moment was charged with a desperate urgency, our lives, her career, they could be completely annihilated if anyone ever saw us, and now, and here his voice breaks a bit, Now, he says, We have to see what our love is without that. Once, says the nurse, We went on a vacation. We sat on either side of the bed, staring, I think, at the floor, I was staring at the floor, at my hands, which lay open on my thighs, we had a reservation for dinner later. Nobody knew us there. (In the room, it’s cold, upstate, in late fall. The wood is white, the windows are huge, the floor is raw concrete with beautiful rugs, it’s heated, the doctor paid for the room, the union is good, but a union cannot compare to a doctor, everyone knows this, the nurse is terrified, he doesn’t think she can love him outside of the hospital, he worries he can’t love her outside the hospital, but of course he can, he sits there, his love for her grows and grows, tears fall down his cheeks, he smiles, his back’s been to her this whole time. What was she doing, the doctor, as she faced the window, and the nurse faced the door? She wanted to fuck the nurse! Here! Outside of the hospital, where nobody knew them, where trouble could never touch them! It felt as alive with him here as it did when their lives could end at any moment, like enemy agents in a foreign land! She thought about how she could hide her money so nobody but the nurse could ever find it, and they could run away, and trouble would never find them. Imagine that! Of course they didn’t tell each other about this! It is so hard to tell another person just how special they are to you! It’s one of the hardest things there is! Isn’t that stupid? Isn’t that just stupid? It’s as stupid as the fed raising interest rates to fight inflation so that people can’t borrow money for their businesses and wages go down and their whole lives are fucked, because the best economy is the one where people can’t afford things! Why are we like this??????) But here we are. (The union meeting is in the union hall, and it’s such a beautiful building. The room is lit softly. Warm neon leans low against the walls. A skylight lets in the moon, which looms, overhead.) The union gathers around the nurse. They place their hands upon him. In their hearts beats a song and the song is full of hope. When the union hears about the hospital filming its employees, secretly, at all times, even when they’re on break, well. Outside, night has fallen, in ever so many fucking ways. Back at the hospital, the moon looms. The parking garage is a mystery we can never hope to solve. The administrators have all slunk home to houses paid for by the insurance companies for whose profits we all toil. Tonight, the hospital is not for them. Tonight, the hospital is for the night nurses, the doctors sleeping standing up between vending machines, for the dead, the dying, the doomed, the broken, the uninsured and the insured alike, those for whom the bill will come due, and the curtain will drop.
Over at the Hospital Board, there is an uproar. Love! LOVE! What does the Hospital Board know about love? It’s a great question, they’ll get back to us later.
Out there, in the cold, under the moon, the doctor dreams of having her hands all up in those brains, slowly peeling back the skin, cracking the skull, the brain suddenly perfect and wondrous, smooth as a baby, free of all troubles, the skull fitting together perfectly, like it was always meant to be this way, the skin folding back, creases smoothed, the patient a wonder, a miracle, a testament. The nurse dreams of his doctor’s tender hands, and a house in the mountains between the woods and the lake. Meanwhile, the members of the Hospital Board lay in their beds. They are visited in the night by angels. As it’s a Friday night, it’s two angels. What happens with the two angels on a Friday night, why two candles are lit to welcome them, is that if you have bent your heart toward love, this news is carried up to heaven. If you have bent your heart away from love, something else happens entirely. God moves in mysterious ways. Ahead of us, always, is light. The doctor and her nurse move toward it how they can, carrying in their hearts more love than they could ever bear.
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