by Mari Phillips
At 4pm she drove into the car park and the security man waved her through. Everyone knew it was her last day. She picked up her Louis Vuitton bag, her weakness, and headed to the ward area to clear her locker. She noticed the closed office door and a huddle of staff in the sluice. As she approached them, the whispering stopped, and they averted their eyes.
‘Afternoon all’ she called, but there was no response.
It only took 10 minutes to sort her belongings. Personal items, comfy work shoes, spare tights, deodorant, and the debris of the last few shifts. Nothing worth keeping. She swept everything into a black bin bag and placed it ready for collection. She kept the thank you cards from grateful relatives.
‘Ah Sheila, can we have a word?’
The new young matron, Sheila didn’t really know her, didn’t want to, appeared in the office doorway. Sheila turned, her mouth filled with sandpaper and throat constricted. When she walked into the room, she saw Colette in the corner, ashen faced, one consultant and another nameless man in a suit.
‘Sheila, Nurse Rigton, we seem to have a problem with our drugs.’
The sentence hung heavy in the air.
‘I’m not sure what you mean,’ Sheila’s heart thumped as if jackboots were trying to get out of her chest and she tried to pull her fuzzy thoughts into order.
The matron continued, but her voice seemed distant and echoed around Sheila’s brain.
‘There are discrepancies in the morphine supplies in the drugs cupboard…’
‘I’m sorry, I must have forgotten to check them last night’ Sheila stammered; she couldn’t think fast enough.
There was a moment of silence and she felt the acid bile rise from her stomach.
‘Nurse Rigton, Mrs Duerden, in bed 4 died this morning. We are undertaking a full investigation…’