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The Last Shift
I worked because I needed the money.
That was my only reason.
Who else would want to work the holiday(s)?
No one, surely not anyone.
My first job as caretaker, taught me…
everything I needed to know, but never…
leaned until my shift.
The old people were quiet, most of them.
Not all of them. Some of them.
Room six was sadly coughing. It seemingly would not stop.
Room seven had taken a bad fall and was sleeping fitfully.
Down the hall there was Ms. Burner, “Is that you Henry?” weeping…
I thought I was going to die. No one told me what to expect.
What things were really like.
I prayed, “Lord, get me through until the sun comes up.”
The music was very low, and far away. Christmas…
How nice? The director, had put up a Charlie Brown tree,
and a few cards were sparsely placed about at the entry desk.
My job… to walk the isle, check the board, and make sure…
Down the hall I walked. Nervous, my first day on the job, even if it was a night.
A beeping far away. Then water running. A rush of wind.
The smell of a storm, mixed with flowers?
My heart thought to call out, but I did not.
The night went well.
There were cheerful smiles in the morning, as if someone had switched a light…on.
Six had stopped coughing. She got better in the weeks that followed and went home.
Seven, had no break at all. At the next doctor visit they could not find any injury no matter what test they gave her.
Ms. Burner. She died that first night I was on duty. The angels came. She was not crying.
She was laughing and smiling…
Now I work all the holidays.
I also pray every night, “Lord, get me through until the sun comes up.”
as I believe he was listening very closely.
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