TITLE: A Flick of the Switch
GENRE: Women's commercial fiction
I have to stand by while a baby dies.
It’s lunchtime and the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit is buzzing with activity. If I grab a bite in the cafeteria, some overly friendly staffer is sure to try to talk to me, the newcomer. Not like I could eat today anyway. I duck into the bathroom instead.
Thick shoes clop on linoleum outside the door.
The door opens. I slide into a stall and sit. There's not enough time to lift my feet before someone recognizes my cheap brown loafers.
“Emily, is that you?”
It's Rosy, my only friend here at the hospital. We worked together at Memorial Hospital across town for years.
“Yeah, it’s me.” I curse the fact that I wear the same ugly shoes every day.
“I've been looking for you," she says. “Did you see all the protesters out front?”
“Yeah. Took fifteen minutes to find a parking spot.”
I flush the clean toilet. I can’t hide forever.
Rosy follows me to the sink. “Honey, you look greener than your scrubs.” She touches the side of my cheek. “And these bags—you’re still not sleeping. Makeup?”
“In my locker.” I avoid meeting her eyes.
Rosy rifles through her purse and hands me some powder, which I dab around the darkened corners of my eyes. She touches my shoulder. “You know, you don't have to be in with Baby M. I can go instead.”
“No. I’ve cared for him every day he’s been alive, with barely a visit from his so-called mother.”