3 in Stepping into Psycho

  • June 25, 2022, 2:31 p.m.
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  • Public

Nurse Flora had a bounce in her step she hadn’t had in a long time. People asked her if she met anyone recently.

“Oh, no,” she told a fellow nurse named Arabella whom she had worked with for a long time. “I’m just so excited that Carissa is finally awake. You know, little Carissa Nacario?”

The younger Hispanic nurse nodded knowingly. “It’s amazing after so long. Never seen you get this excited about a patient before either.”

Flora smiled. “Yeah, she’s kind of special. She’s going to be coming to live with me soon, too.”

Arabella’s perfectly tweeze eyebrows raised in surprise. “Really?”

Flora nodded, still smiling.

“Wow. When do you think the doctor is going to let her go?”

“Few more weeks or so. Those muscles of hers have slept for a really long time so they still need more strengthening. She’s getting there, though.”

The two nurses chatted for a few more minutes and then parted ways, Flora still with a smile on her face and a bounce in her gait. She thought back to when she first saw Carissa. Sleeping Beauty, which she referred to her as in her mind, had been cleaned up a bit after she’d first been brought in. She still looked pretty banged up upon being placed in the room she would spend many long years in. Her face was puffy and bruised. Despite the horrible condition she was in, that didn’t stop the girl’s dark and adorable looks from shining through.

She had met her parents and a few other friends and family members. She wasn’t really surprised when her friends and the extended family eventually stopped coming around, but she was rather perplexed when she realized it had been a while since she’d seen the parents visiting. With it becoming easier to get information online, she decided to look up their names. That’s when she learned that they had passed on.

Flora felt horrible for Carissa. Even though Carissa had no sense of awareness as far as anyone could tell, she felt her abandonment. It was almost as if she could feel what Carissa would have felt if she were able to. She felt so bad for her that she made sure to go out of her way to pay extra attention to her. Every now and then coma patients have been able to recall snippets of conversation around them while in their coma. Therefore, just in case there was any chance that Carissa may be aware of her surroundings at times, she made a point of chatting with her. It was usually generic things like the weather, but she always made a point of talking to her, especially when she would bathe her and do her hair. This wasn’t done as often and as thoroughly as people did these things in their regular daily lives, but they still had to be done nonetheless.

Flora’s sadness for the girl eventually morphed into adoration. In some ways, Carissa was like one big doll she was caring for. She’d often gaze at her closed eyes, willing them to open. The more she grew attached to the sleeping beauty, the more she looked forward to going to work so she could see her, even though no one held out much hope of her ever waking up. But then one day she did. She did! Her heart leaped with such joy. Now she could look into her eyes and hear her voice. Now Carissa could see her as well, the person who had cared for her when all others saw her as simply another patient or gave up on her as if she’d died.

Knowing she would be coming to live with her only intensified her happiness and excitement. She’d been alone far too long. She had divorced nearly ten years ago, and then a little over five years ago her daughter Braelyn had moved out. She had a handful of good friends, but life was still lonely for her. She never could get used to living alone and she hated it. She made attempts to date a few guys, including a woman at one time along the way, but any flame that might have sparked was quickly snuffed out. But now she wouldn’t be alone anymore. Now she would have someone by her side. Someone that couldn’t simply up and leave over something mundane and stupid if they wanted to. No, Carissa was going to stick with her and she would stick by her as well. They would be a team. A strong team. Unbreakable. Committed. Forever.

Anything Carissa could possibly want, all she had to do was say the word and if it was within her means to provide it, then provide it she would. She would give Carissa absolutely no reason to want to leave. Besides, Carissa would probably never be able to work more than part-time if even that, and she couldn’t live nearly as comfortably on disability as she could with her. She was also getting older. As beautiful as she still was, she wasn’t exactly up for the dating game. Therefore, having Carissa all to herself should be simple enough.

Flora’s thoughts flicked to her own deceased parents. She hated when that happened. They were the last people she wanted to remember. Then she thought of her brother Kenneth. She had kept his secret, well, their secret to be exact, for longer than Carissa had been in a coma. Kenneth was still alive, though, and he also wasn’t very bright. She was just as worried now about him opening his mouth as she had always been. One slight slip to the wrong person that was more perceptive than he may give them credit for and they could be screwed. Big time. She had to handle him with kid gloves and pretend to overlook all kinds of things, like the not so secret business he was running from his home on the dark web.

She looked impatiently at her watch. Yes! It was time to make those rounds once again, always saving the best for last.

She went from room to room trying not to hurry, then nearly twenty minutes later she entered Sleeping Beauty’s room. “Hello, gorgeous.”

Carissa looked up from the book she was reading. “Hi, Flora.”

“How ya doin’ today?”

“Okay, I guess.”

“You guess?”

“Well, they’re really getting pretty aggressive with the physical therapy. I get that it’s good for me and important but sometimes it leaves me sore afterward.”

“Yeah, I’m sure it does. It’ll get easier with time.”

Flora took her vitals.

“It must be nice being able to eat real food now, even if it’s not the greatest.”

“It sure is.”

“I’d bring you something better but it’s against policy.”

“Oh, I totally understand and I would never want you to do anything you shouldn’t be doing. But thanks for the thought.”

Flora gazed into her dark eyes and said, “You just wait, girl. As soon as you get out of here I’m going to spoil you with all kinds of goodness.”

Carissa laughed. “I’m sure you will, Nurse Flora.”

On her final round of the day, Carissa surprised her by asking more about her. She appreciated the interest but she knew she had to be careful what she said, even to Carissa.

“I know you’re a great nurse and a fantastic lady, but I don’t know much else about the person I’ll soon be living with.”

Flora smiled and pulled up the chair. “I poison people, cut them up into tiny little pieces, then hide them in my freezer.”

Giggles erupted from Carissa.

“Seriously, I’m 5‘8” tall and 115 pounds.”

Carissa laughed heartily.

“Honestly,” said Flora, trying not to sound overly vague, “I’m just an ordinary person with an ordinary life. I’ve had my share of ups and downs just like anyone else.”

“What are some of the ups?”

“My daughter, my cat, my job, you.”

Carissa flashed a lovely smile. “And the downs?”

“I’m divorced, unlucky in love, and I lost my parents rather young. I was eighteen to be exact and my brother was sixteen.”

“Oh, I’m so sorry to hear that,” Carissa said, empathy shining in her eyes.

The nurse gave a tight smile. She could tell that Carissa wanted to know more, but she believed that the less people knew, the better.

She scribbled a few things on Carissa’s chart and said her goodbyes, giving the woman who still seemed like a girl a quick kiss on the head.

Not much time later, Flora pulled into her garage, grabbed her mail, and stepped into her lonely house. But it was now okay that the only thing inside it was her five-year-old cat. Things were going to be changing soon.

The orange and white tabby brushed her leg as she scooped a can of cat food into a small bowl.

Flora fixed herself some pot roast for dinner and then she delved into the day’s catch. Removing her smartphone from her handbag, she listened to a recording she had made of her conversation with Carissa earlier in the day. Kicked back on the couch, a smile spread across her lips as she listened to the girl’s melodious voice. She didn’t just like to hear her voice but she also wanted to make sure she remembered their conversations. She figured it would help make it easier to keep track of what she told her and therefore what she knew. Sometimes, hearing something a second time around gave you a different perspective on things when you really listened to the person’s tone of voice and the way they said certain things.

Then she pulled up her favorite thing of all; the photos she’d taken of Carissa. Carissa knew about the ones she’d taken when she was awake since there really wasn’t any way to take her picture secretly when she was awake. The only secret photos she had taken were when she was asleep.

Flora shuffled through her growing collection, the smile never leaving her face, plans forming in her mind.

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