Part 7. By Marivir Montebon, Mona Kuker, and Joyce Andes-David
This is the story of Eloisa, a Filipina, who works as a nurse at the Elmhurst Hospital, the epicenter of the COVID19 contagion in New York written by Story Weavers Ann Constantino Beck, DJ Chinita, Elizabeth Cueva, Grace Labaguis, Joyce Andes-David, Lara Gregory, Laura Garcia, Mona Kuker, Muriel Iturralde, Nieva Quezon-Burdick, Vanette Colmenares, Vivian Talambiras-Cruz, Cristina DC Pastor, and Marivir Montebon.
Marivir: Five a.m. The alarm clock on night table rang. Eloisa reached out to put it on quiet mode and buried her face on the pillow, wanting to sleep some more. But it’s time to get ready for her 7 a.m. shift. She showered fast and wore her purple scrubs and checked everything inside her back-up: water bottle, wallet, keys, Skyflakes, Chocnut, baby wipes, and the hand-sewn mask given to her by George.
She remembered, George said it was sewn by his mother. Eloisa sighed, went to the kitchen for her coffee and empanada breakfast. She sat thinking, how naive she’d been about George. What a suspicious character he is. Now staring at herself in the mirror, fair-skinned, skinny, and bedimpled, she has resolved to avoid him and focus on work.
Eloisa headed out of her apartment and found George at the hallway. “Eloisa, can we talk please? Stop avoiding me please. I can explain everything to you.”
“I have to go to work now. I am not going to see you anymore. We’re done, George,” Eloisa said as she hurriedly went out of the building.
Elmhurst Hospital is a 12-minute walk from Eloisa’s apartment. This time, she made it to the hospital in 7 minutes, as she had mixed feelings of doubt and anger.
During the routine huddle of nurses and their supervisor, Eloisa was assigned to handle eight cases of COVID-19 positive patients. Eight, tabang Lord!, she screamed silently. Supervisor Charlotte Smith assured them that they have enough N95 masks and gowns to use for their shift, this after the union pushed for adequate supplies following the death of a nurse supervisor on the 7th floor.
“Here, keep this,” said Michael, Eloisa’s half-Filipino, half-Italian nurse colleague, as he handed to him an N95 in a sealed plastic bag. “I have more than enough.” “Thanks, Michael. So thoughtful of you,” Eloisa said as she wore her gown and mask.
“Let’s have lunch later together, if that’s okay,” Michael said. “Ha? oh okay. Surely,” she said as she entered into the isolation room, dressed like an astronaut, to take care of her first patient for the day.
Mona: In Cafe Buunni near Elmhurst Hospital, Eloisa was sitting anxiously across George. She might lose this charming hunk guy that now she’s deeply falling in love. She needs to confront him, something that bothered her immensely.
After her friend Crystal told her eventually the incident in Barcelona Spain, she was appalled and disgusted. It looks like she is involved with a rich woman. Is he a boy toy? she thought. Trying to composed herself, she drank the latte to clear her throat, and she wished it is vodka instead.
She’s so depressed. After all, what had happened last Sunday when George and her had a few drinks in her apartment after dinner. George played a romantic music, held her hands and started dancing. They were both tipsy and getting silly, laughing, swinging, while George held her closer to him. Their eyes locked up like they were in a dream land.
Now George’s handsome face is one inch away from her. His face is pinkish and lips is so red from the wine they drink. She felt those tiny butterflies in her belly. Eloisa closed her eyes, she is too weak to refused and her knees trembling in excitement. They fell in the soft velvety red couch. There’s a fire between them and it’s unstoppable. It’s so intense, and they are lost in Nirvana.
Eloisa shook her head, trying to remove that beautiful memories last Sunday night. Now her tears fell on her cheeks. She couldn’t hold it anymore. George was rattled and confused seeing her crying. “What’s wrong honey? Please let me know.”He whispered and sat beside her. Eloisa took a deep breath and in between sobs she started telling George what Crystal witnessed in Gothic Quarter Barcelona a few years back. That Crystal saw him with the millionaire widow Elizabeth Klyde, romantically dancing and kissing.
George now held her hands tightly, and whispered. “That’s not me Eloisa. He must be my brother Brandon”. Eloisa looked at George’s eyes, trying to figure out if he’s lying. She doesn’t know what to say, but deep within her she hopes that George is telling the truth.
Joyce: George continued to explain their unique family situation and about his brother Brandon. Eloisa wanted to believe George. She wanted to give him another chance, but it was too much for Eloisa to comprehend. She was overwhelmed with so many emotions. Was she really that naive and gullible? Or was it simply because she’s fallen in love with George?
Meanwhile, Nurse Michael was watching all of this from afar. Eloisa had agreed to have lunch with him earlier. He wanted to get to know Eloisa because he found himself attracted to her. But, who was this man with Eloisa and why was she crying? He could see the hurt in Eloisa’s face and wanted desperately to intervene and rescue her.
Nurse Michael stood up with such confidence. “That’s it! I can’t just sit here and watch Eloisa like that”.
“Eloisa, is everything okay?” asked Nurse Michael.
Eloisa was startled to see Nurse Michael in front of her. She started to wipe away her tears and nodded her head.
“You don’t look okay. Is this man bothering you?” said Nurse Michael
Eloisa gave a fake smile to Michael and said “Yes, I’m okay. This is my friend George. He just gave me bad news about one of our friends that has COVID-19. He was just about to leave.”
George didn’t want to make things worse for Eloisa. He stood up and gave Nurse Michael a friendly farewell nod and gave Eloisa a hug. “Eloisa, I’ll pick you up after your shift and take you home, okay?”
Before Eloisa was able to reply, Nurse George answered “You can’t. Eloisa and I already had plans for dinner. Right Eloisa?
(To be continued. 7 of 9 Installments)