To thank all of you for your support this past year, here is an exclusive Frontline outtake. It takes place after Frontline, just prior to the sequel, which will be released in 2015. So if you haven’t read Frontline yet, please do so before reading this outtake.
The front of the card is a pencil drawing outlined in thick, black marker, showing a girl crowded by men and women, all curling their arms around her in a group hug. The girl doesn’t look comfortable. She looks like she’s being strangled by an octopus.
The message on the card reads:
They’re here for you every day,
(whether you want to see them or not)
Work with you through all your trials
(because they’re paid to)
Beg you to share the most intimate details of your private life
(because they’re bored)
And drink with you on paydays…
The illustration on the inside shows the girl standing by herself coupled with the punch line: But remember, they’re only work friends.
I don’t know whether to interpret the message to mean they’re not interested in keeping in touch, or look deeper to find some kind of pledge of friendship buried somewhere beneath the sarcasm. Messages and signatures are scrawled in different colored pens with barely legible signatures and initials beneath them.
“Barely knew ya! Good luck out there!”
“Sara, you’re special. Always remember that, okay?”
“Don’t be a stranger. Visit often!”
And the obligatory:
“Keep it real!”
I guess I should feel flattered that they at least went to this much effort. I didn’t expect any acknowledgement in the first place.
Tonight, I’m not just changing clothes and locking my locker until next shift. I’m emptying my locker, too, tossing out any garbage, leaving it clean and shiny for the next nurse to settle into it as a member of Manhattan General Hospital staff. I wonder if carving my initials into the back of it would be significant in any way, like an I Was Here message to all future nurses. I think better of it. They’d probably send me a bill for the paint and patchwork.
My last time in Manhattan General’s locker room.
I don’t plan to return. I finalized my decision two weeks ago when I slipped my notice of resignation under the office door of Valerie Hendrix, the tough-as-scabs nurse manager with a raging temper and words that bruise like a collapsed vein. I’ve avoided her successfully ever since. If I can make it out of here tonight without seeing her, I’ll be home free.