2 in Stepping into Psycho

  • June 25, 2022, 7:30 p.m.
  • |
  • Public

The memories were slow to return but return they did. Every terrifying moment leading up to the accident. Carissa was as stunned to learn that she was now forty-nine years old as she was horrified to learn that Leyton and Carrabelle hadn’t survived the crash.

To make matters worse, her parents, Italian immigrants that had her late in life after settling in New York and then eventually in Ohio, were now deceased. She had no siblings and what extended family she had were virtual strangers to her. Other friends she’d had would have no doubt gotten on with their lives a long time ago and probably wouldn’t even remember her name.

All Carissa could do was cry. She had a whole lot of nothing. No family. No friends. No past. No future. No nothing. She’d been a lab technician before the accident and couldn’t imagine what kind of job she could possibly get so late in life after all she had been through and after she endured a ton of physical therapy just to get strong enough to work in the first place. It may not be too late for her to settle down with someone, but it was definitely too late for her to have a family of her own. What she couldn’t ever hope to have broke her heart almost as much as what she had lost. If it wasn’t for Nurse Flora’s comforting touch and cheery gaze, she might have cracked up completely.

While Dr. Bates had only worked at the hospital for seven years, she learned that Flora was a veteran who had been at the hospital for nearly thirty years and remembered Carissa from when she had first been brought in. She had been by her side ever since. Carissa’s eyes stung with tears of gratitude when Flora revealed this to her. To know this one person had cared for her all these years really helped to keep her from giving up completely. Every time she thought of killing herself when she got the physical strength to do it somehow, somewhere, she would think of Flora. Thoughts of Flora helped to pull her out of the darkness, even if she may never again stand in any real sunshine. She knew there were various agencies and institutions that would provide for her and assist her in various ways since she would always be somewhat disabled, but that would mean going to live with strangers in some kind of facility somewhere and she didn’t know that she wanted to live like that for the rest of her life or even that she could. To her, there wasn’t a gap in time. She’d simply gone from having a wonderful and promising life full of an endless supply of adventures and possibilities to being disabled and alone. Well, almost alone. She still had Flora, but that was only while she was still in the hospital. Sooner or later she would be discharged and it wouldn’t be to her parents’ house, to her boyfriend’s condo, or even to an apartment of her own. She wouldn’t have a job to wake up to in the mornings either that would pay the bills. She would have to live somewhere for the disabled and someone would have to make her decisions for her. She would probably get to the point where she could bathe herself and cook for herself, but that was a long way off. Her muscles had atrophied over the years and she looked like a shriveled-up existence of her former self. No amount of physical therapy done on her while she was comatose could make up for the real thing that would be her actually going through the motions on her own. Not other people working her limbs for her.

She also went through all those pointless “if only’s.” If only it hadn’t been her birthday. If only they hadn’t gone out that night. If only she’d drunk less and been the one to drive. If only she could see her parents one more time.

“Hi, cutie,” said Flora when she entered the room one day at the start of her shift. Flora, always cheerful, always encouraging, always referring to her as cute and beautiful. Carissa assumed she was just trying to cheer her up and get her to smile by calling her such flattering names. Although… the tall slender nurse really did seem to like her. If her fondness for her wasn’t genuine then she sure was doing a good job of making it seem like it was.

Flora dragged a plastic chair up to the bed, sat down in it, leaned against the guardrail and said, “How is my lovely Italian patient doing today?”

Carissa’s brown eyes met Flora’s caring blue ones.

“Okay?” Flora asked, brows knotting in concern as she brushed a few black strands of hair from Carissa’s forehead.

Carissa hated to sound like a whiner who was always so miserable but she couldn’t lie either. “It’s the usual sorrows and worries I have. I miss my friends and family all the time and the uncertainty of the future eats at me as well. I can still barely walk for more than a few minutes. The act of brushing my teeth alone makes me so tired you would think I ran a mile. We both know I’m going to regain only so much of my strength back. What semblance of independence could I ever possibly have? Worst of all is the thought of having to go live with a bunch of people I don’t even know. We may all be disabled, but we’d be strangers at least until we got to know each other.”

Nurse Flora flashed her brilliant white, even smile that was calming, reassuring and even sexy. “You could come live with me. I’m not a stranger.”

Carissa was definitely caught off guard and taken by surprise with Flora’s offer. So much so that she wondered if she was joking at first. That was a hell of a seriously huge offer she was making and Carissa was speechless at first.

“You would have to be somewhere during the daytime while I was working, but you wouldn’t have to live there.”

“Wow,” was all Carissa could mutter at first. “That’s an incredible offer. Just totally an awesome and wonderful thing for you to do, Flora, but I don’t know if I would want to put you out like that.”

“You wouldn’t be putting me out at all, honey,” she said massaging Carissa’s arm with assurance. “I would love to have your company. I’ve lived alone for too long now that my daughter has long since flown the nest. You would be doing me a favor just as much if not more than I would be doing you a favor.”

Carissa eyed her gratefully for a moment and then she raised weak arms to hug her. Flora took her in her long slender arms and hugged her in a tight warm embrace before she had to go make her rounds, letting her know she’d always been special to her.

Most of the times that Flora came around, they got to know each other a little better. Carissa just adored Flora. Flora really had a way of putting her at ease. She felt like she’d known her forever. Then again, she’d sort of known her for a few decades, hadn’t she? Or at least Flora had known her.

She asked her about when she had first arrived at the hospital.

“Oh, yes,” said Flora, clearly remembering that day well. “I was only about twenty-three years old. You were quite a mess at first. But even with you being is banged up as you were with what seemed like a million cuts and bruises, you were still a cutie.”

Carissa smiled with flattery. “The doctor said it was amazing I didn’t have any broken bones other than the fracture to my skull.”

“It sure was. The accident was pretty serious from what I heard.”

A pang of sorrow and regret stabbed at Carissa’s heart at the memory and loss of Leyton and Clarabelle.

Flora took a seat by her bed once again later on as she did a few times during her shift.

“So the hospital has no problem with you taking me in if they can ever release me someday?”

A smile. “You’ll be released soon enough, and no, they don’t have a problem, not that that matters. I don’t need permission to take you or anything like that.”

Flora momentarily removed her glasses to wipe the lenses on her sleeve.

“Those frameless glasses are rather stylish,” said Carissa.

“They’re progressives.”

“Progressives? What’s that?”

Flora gave a slight laugh. “That’s right. You slept through the introduction of that one. Look.”

The nurse handed her the glasses and Carissa slipped them on.

“See how the prescription changes and how you don’t see a bubble or a line like with traditional bifocals?”

“Oh, yeah. That’s pretty neat, even though it’s blurry no matter where I look out of the lenses. I guess I’m fortunate enough to still have good vision.”

“That’s only because your very long nap helped preserve the shape of your eyeballs which helped preserve your vision. More than likely they will soon begin to decline rapidly.

“I can’t wait,” Carissa said with a touch of sarcasm as she rolled her eyes.

Flora laughed and she rose from her chair, playfully patted her on the nose, and then it was off to make another set of rounds.

Alone once again with her thoughts, Carissa tried to turn them off and focus on reading the mystery novel that another nurse had given her. But her mind kept wandering to Flora. Flora was an ordinary-looking woman who appeared beautiful because of her addicting personality and addicting it was. Carissa couldn’t get enough of her company. She loved being around the bubbly nurse who always seemed to have a positive outlook on life. When Carissa would get depressed about the past and worried about the future, everything was better as soon as Flora took one step into the room. It was like flicking a switch.

The closer she felt to the nurse, the more she wanted to know about her. She’d learned a bit over the few weeks since she’d awakened from her coma. Flora had lived in Columbus all her life. Her parents were also gone but she had a brother and a daughter. The daughter, married and working in a law firm, was a few years older than Carissa had been at the time of the accident.

In many ways, Carissa still saw herself as in her twenties and a lot younger than Flora, even though she was only a few years younger. She figured this was to be expected in her case. Even when she looked in the mirror, she looked weak and haggard, but she didn’t look like she was in her late forties. To be totally honest with herself, she appeared to be in her early to mid-thirties.

She was so relieved that the nurse had offered to take her. It was scary to think of what may become of her otherwise. How lucky she was! In fact, her luck really had a way of bouncing back and forth. She’d started off lucky, then she became very unlucky. Now luck was on her side once again. She just had to hope it wouldn’t once again swing the other way until her number was up and it was time to sleep forever.

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