Note: This story is dedicated to an amazing person on here named Abigail Cross. Or as I like to call her, Abbie. As many of us have heard, she's gonna be leaving Reedsy soon, and I’d like to see this as a ‘see you later’ gift for her. I guess it’s time to get on with the story then.
And one more thing...the italicized words are meant to be sung. Look at my comment below to find the links to these songs if you don’t know them already. 😉
“A spoonful of sugar… Now you finish it, dear!”
“Keeps the medicine away,” a nurse “sings” in a grumpy and dispirited tone.
“But you didn’t sing it correctly. It’s supposed to be like this.” The bedridden old lady takes a deep breath, preparing for the next verse to demonstrate.
“Yeah, yeah just take your medicine and fish oil. It’ll help you get out of here sooner. And the sooner the better, so it can be quiet in this hospital ward again.” At the word ‘quiet’ the old nurse places her finger to her lips.
The patient in bed nods her head fiercely, like a little child. She zips her lips, locks the lock, and puts the key in an imaginary pocket on her thin white hospital shirt.
The lady had Alzheimer’s and the only thing she remembered was the lyrics to the “Mary Poppins” songs. Her attention span didn’t last long either and she was practically the human version of Dory from “Finding Nemo.”
Forgetting that her mouth was zipped, she blurts out, “Oh, oh! I think you’ll like this one then. Sing with me! Let’s go fly a kite, up to--,”
“What happened to your lips being shut?” The nurse intervenes with a bothered look on her face.
The young lady’s face changes from joy to utmost terror. At present, her facial expression is that of a puppy after they’ve been caught red-handed from attacking a couch pillow.
“I’m so sorry Nanna! Please, please don’t leave me.” Her voice is high strung and her eyes widen in fear at the thought of her Nanna abandoning her.
The nurse grunts, obviously used to this behavior, and purses her lips together in a thin line. “Remember, mouth stays shut.”
The lady in bed nods and, with her lips tightly closed, begins to hum the tune of “Let’s Go Fly a Kite.”
“Oh brother,” the nurse says.
Knowing that silencing the chirping bird is an impossible task, the old nurse exits the hospital room and waddles over to her small office next door. Her office isn’t much and only grants her access to the bare necessities.
Apparently, those include a desk, chair, lamp, metal cabinets, a Microsoft computer, and a window to let it fresh air. There's also a small succulent in a modern glass shaped sphere on her desk. One of her nurse friends gifted her that on her last birthday.
The nurse walks towards the metal drawers in a vigorous search for a particular file. The hospital kept records of their patients online and on paper because of the possibility of technology failing. The old nurse knew this but preferred to use the handwritten files to keep record of her patients.
She rummages through them until one catches her eye. The patient’s name reads Charlotte Lynden in her own wispy cursive handwriting. On this finding, the nurse returns to her desk.
A small, colorful picture of a cheerful woman in her late 60s is fastened on with a paperclip at the top right corner. She’s wearing a light baby blue summer dress and smiles up at the nurse. There’s even dimples on both her cheeks.
The woman’s vibrant blue eyes stand out most from the picture. Whenever the nurse moves the picture the eyes seem to follow her, reminding her of the “Mona Lisa.” It was eerily creepy. Loud singing resonates through the halls of the nursing home, disrupting the nurse’s scanning of the photo.
“Oh great. She’s at it again,” the nurse says wryly to herself. She’s secretly delighted at the noise, however, since she found pleasure in silencing her few patients that boarded in ward number nine.
Exerting the little power she possessed and helping others were the two main reasons why she liked being a nurse. She was very content with her chosen profession.
A certain lady who had Alzheimer’s enjoyed more than anything to spread her love of singing with others. Though the nurse often expressed how much she detested the songs, she appreciated the music. She never admitted that to anyone, of course. Life as a nurse grew dull and boring and the silence frequently “attacked her poor nerves.”
On entering the ward, the nurse isn’t too surprised to see the bedridden patients listening to the directions of a lady she knew very well. Today, she’s coaching them on the lyrics to another “Mary Poppins” song.
“Ok, let’s take it from the top people!” The all too familiar woman says, clapping her hands together like a director would to rally the people on-set. When she notices the nurse standing at the door with her hands on her hips, her entire face glows.
“I’m so glad you came, Nanna! We’re just about to rehearse our ‘Chim, Chim, Cher-ee’ song again. Be a dear and watch as our audience? Oh, and won’t you come closer? I promise I won’t bite.” She says while patting her hand invitingly on her hospital bed.
Not wanting to disappoint the sweet woman, the nurse walks down the aisle of beds and waits for the performance to begin.
“Well, go on Charlotte!” The nurse says when she catches a glimpse of uncertainty in the woman’s blue eyes. After that comment, the show begins.
With a flick of a button on the radio, instrumental music from the chosen song blares out through the speakers. When that’s on, Charlotte counts the singers in with a hearty, “Five, six, seven, eight!”
“Chim chimney, chim chimney, chim chim cher-ee!
A sweep is as lucky
As lucky can be.
Chim chimney, chim chimney, chim chim cher-oo!
Good luck will rub off when I shakes ‘ands with you,
Or blow me a kiss and that’s luck--”
A sharp knock raps on the door, abruptly ending Charlotte and her chorus mid-song. The nurse hastily gestures for the said lady to turn off the radio. Once done so, the person who knocked peeks her head through the door.
“Miss Anna, a word?”
“Of course Tina. (The nurse then turns her attention to the patients.) I’m sorry, but I’ll have to leave everyone for a minute. Keep on making this wonderful music!” Anna, the nurse, gets up to leave but Charlotte grabs her hand and pulls her back to the bed like an anchor.
“You’ll be back, though right?” Charlotte says with pure sorrow, her eyes slightly misting over.
“Yes dear, and until then keep rehearsing. I want a show when I get back!”
“Oh, ok Nanna! Don’t worry. We’ll keep practicing, right people?” Her chorus murmurs in agreements.
“Excellent!” Anna says.
The nurse makes her way toward the entrance of the room and once the door is closed, Tina begins speaking.
“One of your patients will be moved to another ward where a specialist will treat her, ma’am. This could be her only chance to restore her memory.”
The nurse listens carefully with both eyebrows furrowed. There was a special place in her heart for each and every one of her patients and parting with one of them (even with the short distance between them) would be difficult.
“Which patient will be transferred?” Anna asks, though she’s certain she knows the answer.
“Why, our very own Charlotte Lynden! You must be very happy about it since you always complain about Miss Charlotte’s racket, what with her singing and all.”
“I didn’t know she would be moving so soon. It’s only been six months since she got here last November. Is anything wrong?”
Tina’s a bit alarmed at Anna’s concerned tone since she’d expected her response to be more enthusiastic.
“No, everything’s fine with her. A space opened up for a specialist to see her and, well, you wanted to get Charlotte off your hands so we thought the opportunity was perfect.”
“I see. When will they move her?”
“Later today at six o’clock, I believe. Just after their dinner but before their bedtime. The timing couldn’t be better!” Tina exclaims.
Before Anna has time to reply Tina adds, “Here, you’ll need to fill out these papers. Please do so before she leaves or else the spot for the specialist will be taken.” Tina hands a clipboard with a couple sheets on paper on it to Anna.
“Thank you for your time Miss Anna,” Tina calls as she begins walking down the corridor to return to her appointed ward. Anna returns to her office in a frenzy, feeling quite dumbstruck by the news.
Her Charlotte...leaving...tonight! It was too much for the old nurse to bear but it was to be done. If there was the slightest chance to recover her memory, she would take it. The sacrifice she had to make for that chance to happen: hushed and lonesome days.
A gentle rap sounds on glass panes which causes Anna to glance at the window that was struck. A pair of jubilant crystal blue eyes peers up at the nurse which makes the uptight old woman’s heart melt like gold.
When the nurse enters the peaceful room, everyone starts to whisper. Anna’s face was grim and attempted to conceal her despondent mood with a half-smile. Everyone knew that something was up except for Charlotte who believed the fake smile. It was impossible for her to look past what she saw with her own two eyes which led to her being so gullible.
“I’m so happy you’re back, Nanna! What took you so long? Nevermind that, actually. While you were gone, we all came up with an idea that would involve you.”
“And what idea is that?”
Charlotte slyly looks around at her comrades, asking without words whether it’s alright to disclose the information to the nurse. Nods fill the balmy room.
“Will you sing with us?”
All the nurse heard was ‘will you sing with me?’ She didn’t want her reputation as a stern nurse to become broken but this might be the last time she would see, and hear, Charlotte again. Well, that might be an exaggeration but you get the point.
“Please?” Charlotte urges.
Anna stares into her ocean-like eyes. Until this day, Anna says that it was those eyes that made her do it.
A soft sigh and then, “Anything for you darling, but just this once.” And from that day forward, a smile replaced the nurse’s frequent frowns.