Thick forests stretched all the way to the horizon and reached up to the heavens. Spring had evolved full force throughout the environment. Warm beams of light filtered their way through the conifers and onto a solitary highway. Off to the side of the road a small, squat building sat like a shelter with a sign at the edge of it's parking lot proclaiming "Stevenson Medical Clinic" in bold black letters. A peculiar silence was hovering around the double sliding doors that led into the building. It was slightly unrestful, with no signs of activity but a definite feeling of something going on that could not be seen.
There was a fair scattering of patients throughout the moderately sized room, all of whom were shifting in their seats uncomfortably waiting for their turn to be called in by the doctor. It was Sunday, there were no appointments scheduled, but the doctor who was on call for the weekend was seeing to the emergencies.
Behind a counter the check-in desk sat empty, it's normal occupant sent home
for the weekend. A few clipboards were haphazardly scattered on top of the
desk, all awaiting attention from the doctor, just like the patients. Quietly, the door to the waiting room swung open and everyone looked up expectantly. A couple cuddling a small, gurgling child emerged, closely followed by a graceful, young looking woman in a long white smock.
"You know Laura down at the pharmacy, don't you?" she asked the couple. They
nodded, "give this to her and she can probably fill it for you right away." The woman handed them a prescription. "Give Abbey a tablespoon of this syrup
tonight with her dinner, then with her meals in the mornings and nights for the next week. It should clear everything up. If you see any yellowish or greenish discharge," the couple looked at her quizzically, "Um, snot," the woman quickly corrected, "if you see any yellow or green snot, bring her back in right away, alright?" The woman flashed a big, warm smile at the couple and gave the mother a reassuring pat.
"Thank you Sonja," the father said. "Come on down to the house for dinner sometime, we'd be happy to have you," the man offered jovially as he ushered his wife and baby out the door.
"Thanks sheriff, I just might do that," Sonja said.
Swiftly, the doctor made a few marks on her clipboard, then reached over the
counter to place the paperwork on the vacant secretary's desk. She grabbed
another file and looked pointedly at a little boy with a bloody rag pressed to his forehead.
"Rich, you've been playing 'sword fight' with your brothers again, haven't you?" she said in a semi-stern voice, shaking her head amusedly.
"It wasn't my fault!" the boy whimpered, climbing out of the chair and shuffling towards her. His mother rolled her eyes and shooed him into the door that Sonja was holding open. "Besides, how did you know I was playin' swords with Jimmy?" he asked plaintively.
Sonja smiled and bent down to look the boy in the eye. "I'm psychic, that's why," she said with a wink. The boy gaped at her.
"Oh, don't be silly, Rich," his mother chastised frustratingly. "It's the third time this month that we've been in here because you and you brothers like to play Zorro."
The young woman laughed deeply and followed mother and son in to the examination room.
It was 4:30 in the afternoon before Sonja finally ushered the last patient out of the clinic. With a contented sigh she brushed her hair off her face and turned back to the desk where she had been leaving the unfinished files. Instead of walking back through the door and down the hallway to get into the small office, in one fluid movement she half-jumped and half-swung her legs across the counter and soundlessly landed on the other side. Sitting down in the vacant seat, the woman started to put the last bits of information on the paperwork that she had filled for the emergency patients.
Sonja looked fondly at her surroundings, surprised at how much it felt like home to her. Josh and Julia Stevenson, a warm, yet very efficient couple that had been practicing medicine for their whole lives, owned the clinic. The older secretary that kept the red tape of the clinic in order was Julia's Aunt Gertrude, affectionately known as Gerdie to the people of the community. To Sonja, it was a familiar little family.
As she sat down to tackle the paperwork Sonja laughed a little at how conveniently the life she had always wanted had just fallen into her lap. She was happy with her odd if not amusing collection of rescued animals, (her 2 horses, a burro, 2 dogs, and her cat.) She had a job she enjoyed and was surrounded by people that just let her live. No one asked anything of her that she wasn't willing to give.
Sonja shook her head and attributed her wandering thoughts to the stillness of the clinic. Her mind was usually the clearest when everyone else around her was going hysterical. Caffeine might help she thought. She grabbed a can of soda, emptied its contents into a mug and threw the can into the recycle bin. Just then she heard a car rolling into the lot outside. So much for getting this done, she thought, putting her mug down on the half-finished papers and leaning far over the counter to look out the window. Her brow creased into a frown as a big black SUV screeched into the lot. That doesn't look familiar she thought as she jumped back over the counter.
The driver was leaning on the horn and a man jumped out of the car. He was
dressed in an expensive looking suit and his unfamiliarity and obvious misplacement in the rural surroundings made Sonja even more worried and
perplexed. As she approached the car, the middle-aged man grabbed her shoulders. "You must find us a doctor, right now!" he fairly screamed into her face. She pushed the frantic man's hands aside as politely as possible.
"I'm the doctor on call. What's wrong?" she asked, trying to see if anyone was visibly injured.
"It's George, there was this terrible accident!" he said, tears and hysteria
brimming over in his voice.
"What do you mean an accident?" she asked, still not seeing anyone who
appeared to be injured.
"There's no time! You have to come now!" the driver yelled, motioning for them to get back in the car. Sonja suddenly saw flashes of images behind her eyes. She could make out a man, bleeding, with people and cameras all around. She asked no more questions as she ran back inside to grab her keys and the traveling emergency medical kit. She locked the front door of the clinic, flipped up a sign with the Stevenson's emergency beeper number on it, and jumped into the car.
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