The phone rang and it was late. I flew out of bed and tripped trying to find my cell phone. It rang again and there it was sitting in one of my shoes. I was so disoriented. When I answered the phone the person on the other end wasn’t making any sense. All I remember saying was call 911. And I fell back into bed.
I slept late the next morning. Somehow I ended up on the floor. I crawled around until I found my robe. I just couldn’t wake up. Why am I not sleeping? I wanted to go back to bed but knew I couldn’t. I was changing rotations at work to day shift. I needed to stay up.
The doorbell rang and there was all this pounding on the door. What the heck? My head was splitting. When I got to the door it was my friend Lou. Why haven’t you answered your phone? I’ve been calling all morning. It’s Meg. She’s in ICU. That’s all I know.
Meg. ICU. What?! I just spent my last shift there. I threw on my scrubs and grabbed my keys and followed Lou out the door. We rode together in silence. My stomach was in knots.
When I stepped off the elevator the waiting room was empty except for an elderly man with blood on his shoes and pants.
Matt saw me first. “Ally, it’s so bad. We don’t know if she’s going to live.”
Wait. What? I still hadn’t gotten the download. My heart was pounding so hard my chest hurt. I felt light headed. Matt said something about wild dogs. I responded, “In the city?”
Lou and I walked into her room together. Lou had a death grip on my arm. She started to cry. I stood there looking at my best friend. Her arms were almost gone. Her feet and lower legs too. She had lost a lot blood. And her face was no longer Meg.
I started to feel really hot. I needed air. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. I backed my way out of the room and stood in the hall. Numb. I hadn’t been trained for this. I couldn’t think. Somebody told me to go to the waiting room.
Mr. Martin was sitting in a chair. He told me that Meg had taken her trash out and there were a pack of dogs digging in his trash. He was trying to shoo them away but the dogs were getting angry. They were jumping all over him. Meg grabbed a stick trying to get them to stop and the dogs turned on her. There were three of them. They must have been starving because they were so vicious. I called 911 and stayed in my house.
Then who called me? I hadn’t bothered to check. Oh my God, it was Meg.
Mr. Martin was a fragile old man. It was obvious why Meg tried to help him.
His eyes were sad. “Miss Meg. She’ll be all right?” I didn’t know what to tell him. “I don’t think so Mr. Martin. Do you have someone to take you home?”
I knew Meg wasn’t going to be all right. Not this side of heaven.
This short story is based on actual events. Names and details have been altered for privacy.