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Curvy and the Beast
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Harlem, New York 2017
“I just don’t understand why you have to work there, Addison. You graduated at the top of your class in nursing school. You could have gone to work for any of the hospital’s here in the city. Why you chose…”
I roll my eyes as I listen to my mom go on and on about how she doesn’t want me working at the twenty-four-hour urgent care clinic here in Harlem. I know she means well, but she doesn’t understand what it’s like for some of the people in this part of the city. My parents come from old money, so they’ve never had to go without the basics, like food and water, or being cared for by an honest doctor that can get them the medication they so desperately need and normally wouldn’t be able to afford. My mother hoped that once I had finished my internship here and had graduated, I would have gone to work somewhere safer. I told her over and over that wasn’t what I wanted, but she blissfully ignored me and hoped for the best.
You see, when I was a little girl growing up on the Upper East Side, I was very fortunate to have what I did, and I knew this from a young age. I didn’t understand why so many people had to suffer on the streets while I lived a life of luxury. As I got older, I began to understand the cruelties of the world, and my desire to help them grew. Going to school to be a nurse was challenging but getting to help patients and take care of them has made it all worth it. In a small way, it feels like I’m doing my part to help.
“Mom, my break is over. I have to go.”
“Alright, dear. Your father and I love you very much, I hope you know that.”
“I do mom, and I love you both too.”
“We just worry about you. A young single woman as beautiful as you are, is bound to get taken advantage of. The last thing we want is to see you get hurt.”
“I know, and I’m being careful. I took those self-defense classes you insisted on, and I carry my mace when walking to my car. I’ll see you on Sunday for dinner, okay?”
I hang up the phone and slide it into the front pocket of my scrubs. I’m about to go back inside when I see two men walking up to the building, one standing upright and walking the other slumped over in my direction. The nurse in me comes out in full force, and I jump into action.
“What’s his name?”
“Can you tell me what’s wrong?” I ask as I huddle under the guy’s other side, wrapping my arm around his back and doing my best to shoulder his weight and help the man carrying Crews inside.
“Linda, open that door for me, will you?” I ask our front desk, receptionist. She hits the button, and the door swings open to the hallway that leads to our patient rooms. “Thank you,” I say as I pass her.
“This way,” I tell the man and quirk my head to the left walking us into an empty patient room. He gets Crews onto the exam table and is about to walk out of the door.
“Wait! Can you tell me what’s wrong with your friend before you leave him?”
“First, Crews isn’t my friend, he isn’t anyone’s friend. I guy like him keeps to himself. I only brought him in because I didn’t want it to get back to his boss that I let him die and did nothing to help. I don’t need that shit on me.” He says before heading for the door again.
I step in front of the open door and cross my arms, staring at him and not letting him pass.
“What the fuck do you want? Get out of my way!” He shouts, throwing his hands up in the air.
I flinch but stand there wanting to get whatever information I can from him. “What is wrong with him?”
He glares at me, but after a minute of us both staring each other down, he caves. “Crews stumbled into my cab ten minutes ago. When he couldn’t tell me where he was going, I tried pulling him out of my cab, but then I realized who he was and brought him here hoping you all could do something for him.”
Who he was? Who the hell is he?
“And what is your name?”
He shakes his head and walks out of the patient room. “Thanks for all of your help,” I mutter.
Just then, the guy who looks like he could be dead, if not for his labored breathing, groans. Going to his side, I brush dark hair out of his eyes and see the most handsome man I’ve ever laid eyes on. For a few moments, I can’t get my feet or hands to work, too caught up in the man before me. Finally, I get to work checking his airway, breathing, and pulse. Then I check his extremities and notice blood seeping onto the paper sheet under him on the bed. Pulling his shirt up, I see a six-inch laceration to his side that is bleeding. How did I not notice this at first?