Saturday Story: Nurse Morgan’s Watch

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Nobody remembers who hired Nurse Morgan. She showed up one day, dressed in a neat white uniform with a steel-grey perm. She was so efficient that nobody minded much. She took on the grimmest tasks with a motherly smile and cheery hum, collecting and laundering soiled sheets. “It’s no problem dearie,” she would say sweetly. “All in a day’s work for me.”

Hospitals are known for their strange noises, the moans of patients are absorbed into the walls and few experienced nurses notice them. One night I heard a noise that whittled my soul. A thin keening, a howling high wind, needle sharp.

It drew me to a private ward, a young man lay seriously ill with terminal cancer. Glancing in around the corner, I caught my glimpse. Only a glimpse of a luminous woman, pale green eyes fixed upon the young man, long silver hair hanging loose over fingers that stroked his face.

“Oh, hello dearie,” Nurse Morgan turned to greet me. The image flickered away, a mirage, just an imagining from an overtired nurse’s brain. “I don’t think this poor dear is long for this world. I’ll sit with him and call the doctor when it’s time.”

I nodded, dry mouthed, retreated swiftly. She smiled at me when I saw her later, bearing away the covers from the young man’s bed. She hummed her little tune to herself. Somewhere on the wind, I heard an echo of a thin keening. A high howling wind. Needle sharp.

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