Authors: Jayna Concepcion
Another day down and it felt like a life time. Ariel sighed deeply as she sat on the couch to take off her orthopedic mules that she had spent her day wearing. At only be 21 years old she thought the orthotics were a little sad, but, standing on your feet for ten hours a day, four days a week was enough to wear out pretty much anyone, no matter how young or in shape that person might be. Bruno and Saucy were still panting excitedly and rubbing against her in greeting. They growled and barked at each other jockeying for the position closest to her. Bruno was her 3 month old black Labrador retriever and Saucy was her roommate’s mutt of many breeds. He was a very adorable mutt, but mutt all the same. It was almost 2 am, she had stopped for food before coming home and now she was exhausted. Walking down the hall to her room she started unbuttoning her shirt and threw it in the hamper as soon as she reached the room. She felt dirty when she came home from working in the emergency room. Coming across bodily fluids and illness on a constant basis at work made her want to bathe pretty much the instant she could get in her front door. Ariel was a registration clerk at a busy hospital in Tampa and boy, did she ever see some things.
Tonight she had worked mai
nly in the Psychiatric intake unit of the ER, there the police and paramedics streamed in and out with various individuals who needed mental health attention. There were some who were frightened children and teenagers; they thought threatening suicide was the way to avoid jail. Others were regulars off of their meds or people who had taken drugs and were acting too oddly to go to jail. It was interesting, never dull and sometimes like being part of a circus sideshow. Ariel was a psychology major in college, so this was her calling and a good way to get in some work experience for her future career as a therapist. She learned the most from seeing the cases come through where there was an actual mental disease. Schizophrenics in the midst of a psychotic break, bi polar disorders on the verge of a complete break down or during a manic episode, it certainly wasn’t dull. This was the real world experience that made her chosen career path seem worthwhile, she knew that she could make a difference, and maybe it would help her understand her own problems.
Ariel was a social outcast. She always had been, and didn’t expect it to change anytime in the near future. She had a few close friends, but she wasn’t very good at making new ones. She had a
boyfriend in high school he had seemed to really understand her, but that illusion was broken when she found him in bed with one of her classmates when she came home from a break from school. Since then she had not dated. Tyler had been her only boyfriend and since she had such a strict religious upbringing the intimate side of the relationship had been moving much slower than he would have preferred. She guessed that was why he hadn’t been able to stay faithful to her for more than a few weeks after she moved. Her best friend Alyssa had told her that he would get tired of the occasional blow job and go looking for real sex, but she had always shrugged it off, Tyler told her that he loved her all the time. People in love did not cheat.
Putting on her pajamas, she tried
to encourage herself to forget about that. It wasn’t important and she needed to continue moving on, but moving on really sucked. It had been three years since that night and she hadn’t been interested in another man since. Tyler had been special and if someone she felt that strongly about was just going to hurt she certainly wasn’t going to try to have that happen to her again. Kicking off her socks she climbed into bed and settled before calling Bruno and Saucy up into bed to join her. Lucky she had a queen sized bed or this would be a tight fit. Within minutes she drifted off to sleep, the weariness of the day catching up with her.
The next morning the sun was shining through her windows and Bruno was whimpering near her face and licking her arm.
She knew it was earlier than she would have preferred waking. Why couldn’t these dogs sleep in? She heard her roommate moving around the kitchen and knew it had to be before 10 am, way too early. She walked out into the living room to see Sean sprawled across the couch. Her roommate was very tall and lanky. Seeing her he smiled and said good morning. It was too early to even talk. She lumbered through to the garage and let the dogs out the side door into the back yard. Once they finished their business she came back inside and sat on the other end of the sectional. Sean sat up and they chatted about last night at work.
Sean was also an
employee of the same hospital they both worked in the emergency room together. Ariel had met him her second week at work and within a few months they were roommates and now best friends. Sean was a really nice guy through and through. He was finishing up his certification to be an RN and right now was working as a LPN in the ER while he finished school. He had been working the main ER the night before while Ariel was in the Psych area. Sean had a girlfriend, Kim, who was only 19 but seemed to be the perfect girl for him and he was absolutely head over heels for her. Part of what made the roommate relationship work was that Ariel and Sean had easily and firmly established from the get go that they would be friends but never let things change into a different relationship that might one day cause tension in their happy living situation. For the past three years that had worked out perfectly. Kim and Ariel got along well and to be honest she and Sean were sort of like two ships passing in the night. He went to school on weekdays from 7am until 3 and worked 12 hour shifts at night Friday, Saturday and Sunday at the ER. Emma worked the swing shift from 2:30 till 1 am four nights a week. Their time at home together was limited but they did manage to have at least two dinners at home together each week with the occasional trip to the bowling alley or dog park sprinkled into the routine.
Emma explained that she really needed a few more hours of sleep and Sean agreed to handle the dogs while she napped before going
back into work. Another night like last night and she was going to need a vacation. For the past few weeks she had been volunteering to pick up extra shifts on her days off, she was now regretting that decision. The overtime always felt good when she saw her paycheck, but was it worth it? Lately all she had done was work and sleep. If it wasn’t for Bruno she would probably never leave the house to go and do anything else. Sean had come home with Bruno on her 21
birthday. He told her that she needed to stop being a loaner and have at least one constant companion to confide in, apparently he thought the best person for that job was a dog. Bruno was a terrible puppy. He was constantly eating shoes and getting into things. Ariel had invested in a crate and recently it seemed Bruno had started to enjoy his time in the crate. She climbed back into bed thinking about the little puppy that always knew how to make her smile and drive her nuts. He had been the perfect companion, now all she needed to do was train him not to eat her shoes and clothes. She slid her planner out of her purse and made a note to research dog training classes on her next day off. Just last week Bruno had eaten a pair of boots the day she brought them home from the store. He seemed to have a taste for leather. She sighed and blissfully fell back to sleep.
The next sound she heard was
the blaring of her alarm clock. Damn, alarm clocks were annoying. Reaching over to hit snooze she knocked the entire alarm clock off of her nightstand to the floor. Already this was not a great way to start the day. A few seconds later there was scratching at the door and she knew Bruno was waiting for her in the hallway. Saucy usually slept during the day with her master, Sean. Climbing out of bed she noticed Sean asleep on the sofa with Saucy at his feet. She let Bruno out, checking the floor for the telltale stains indicating Sean had left him out of his crate when he fell asleep and found two. She began spraying and wiping up the pee on the carpet. Potty training was terrible. It was like having a child, she was constantly cleaning up after this dog, but she just couldn’t resist his cuteness. Leave it to her to finally fall in love after 3 years and her new relationship is with a canine. One who didn’t even seem to appreciate her and all the work she did because of him.
Sean stirred on the c
ouch as Ariel went to take a shower. She knew he would be asleep in his room by the time she was finished getting ready for work. The situation that she and Sean had really worked for them, they were the best of friends, but also gave each other space, a perfect relationship. After showering Ariel brushed out her hair, dried and straightened it. She had dark brown hair that was a few inches past her shoulders and she was sweeping it up in a ponytail to keep it out of the way while she worked. Donning her orthotic shoes she grabbed her purse and keys racing for the door. Bruno was asleep in his crate and didn’t even stir as she dashed out the front door.
Work was hectic again. She sat in a small desk behind the ER counter where the doctors and nurses
placed orders in the computers and read patient x rays. It was a busy afternoon and it was raining outside so the evening and night were bound to be busy as well. Again, Ariel was working the Psych ER but in addition was also manning the trauma bays for the night. She would register any critical patient that was brought in. She stayed at her desk in the main part of the ER and watched for the police to bring in new Psych patients. She couldn’t help but to think how nice it would be to escape home to her warm bed and curl up with Bruno to listen to the rain. All of a sudden she felt a tapping on her shoulder. She looked up and it was one of the sheriff’s deputies smiling down at her. She must have missed him bringing someone in.
“Sorry.” She went to get up and he handed her the driver’s license and Medicaid card for the patient.
“No big deal, this one shouldn’t take you long, he’s been here at least two other times this year that I know of.”
Ariel quickly scanned the ID cards and handed them back to
the officer. She pulled up the patient and saw that he was a regular. She printed out the paperwork and got up to go and have the patient sign and confirm his information.
“I don’t think he’s going to be very helpful.” The officer said
grinning at her. “They had to strip him and restrain him to the bed. He’s wearing a spit mask right now and not feeling very cooperative.” He glanced at the paperwork in her hands. “I picked him up from his mother’s house, the same address as the one on your paperwork, so that’s up to date and she’s probably still his emergency contact person, even though he threatened to strangle her this evening. And he’s a Baker Act, so you don’t even need his signature. I can give you a copy of the Baker Act form as soon as I fill it out, do you mind if I sit in the other chair here do that?”
Ariel smiled up at him and pulled out the chair. She had seen this deputy before. He was tall and had reddish blonde hair with bright, alert blue eyes. She also knew that he drove a patrol c
ar marked as a K-9 unit because she sometimes saw him filling out paperwork in his car back in the ambulance bay when she walked outside to take her breaks. She filed some other papers while he finished up his paperwork.
“Ok, All done. Would you mind making three copies of this for me, you can have one for your records and I know that the doc will also want one for the chart. By the way, my name’s John. I know I’ve seen you working before, we both must be on the swing shift.”
“I’ve seen you too. My name is Ariel. I work from 2:30 till 1 am, definitely a swing shift.” She hopped up to make his copies and realized she was blushing a little. It had been a long time since anyone had made her blush or really feel much of anything to be honest.
When she returned to the desk John was waiting for her and seemed interested in making conversation. They spoke about the weather for a few minutes and Ariel decided to bring up a topic she was interested in.
“I’ve seen you outside doing paperwork in your patrol car, and I noticed that you have a police dog. I recently got a puppy, a Labrador retriever and I was wondering if you could suggest any good dog trainers in the area?”
“Well, my dog came pretty much trained already, I met with the trainer a few times and learned how to work with him and then I sort of became the trainer. We go to a park near my house a few times a week and work on keeping his skills up. Maybe I can help you with your dog?”
Ariel hesitated, this was not the response she had been expecti
ng, but she was surprised that she sort of liked this turn of events. He seemed like he was a kind and stable guy and he was quick to offer to help her. Plus, it might be good for her to get out and go to the park, Sean was always complaining that she needed to get out more.
“That would be good; I would appreciate your help. My dog is a bit of a mess though, I have to warn you.”
John laughed and it was a deep, warm laugh that made something inside of her feel warm and melty as well.
“No problem, do you want to meet up before work one day this week?”
“Sure that would be good.”
John pulled a card out of his wallet and wrote something on the back then handed it to Ariel.
“Why don’t we try Wednesday morning if that works for you? We can meet around 8 and spend an hour or so working with them.”