A Final Request
Tyra, a recently hired night-shift nurse at North Bridge Nursing Home, stood up from her station for the sixth time in thirty minutes.
“What the hell is going on in room seven?” she whispered to herself as she walked down the dimly lit hallway. Why was the call bell going off? Even though all the elderly men and women were sleeping peacefully, something about this building – this hallway – spooked her. Maybe it was the simple fact of death lingering everywhere she went.
Tonight, Tyra was responsible for all residents in rooms one through twelve. Room seven was the “corner suite,” as everyone liked to call it. The residents who lived in those corner rooms were given twenty-five extra square feet for a little extra cash each month.
When Tyra entered room seven yet again, it was as she had left it: fresh linens, bed neatly made, whiteboards completely erased. The only light that happened to be on was the reading light directly above the bed. It flickered off then on again as she looked at it.
Tyra took a step back, almost in a defensive position. A chill ran down her spine. “Ms. Jamison, quit messing with me,” she said into the empty room. “There’s nothing else I can do for you.”
Heart pounding, Tyra dashed over to the light above the bed, turned it off, and scampered out of the room. She sped past rooms one through six on her way back to the nursing station.
Am I going crazy or what?
When she sat down to type up a few notes on administering medication, her coworker, Peggy, sat down at the computer beside her.
“What’s up, girl,” Peggy said, dreadlocks bobbing. “You alright?”
Before Tyra could respond, her station lit up. The call bell from room seven had turned on again.
Tyra looked at Peggy wide-eyed. “I don’t think so. I don’t know what’s going on.”
Even in the dim lighting, Peggy noticed the goosebumps on Tyra’s arms. She wheeled over to her much younger coworker and placed a hand on her shoulder.
“Room seven…that was Ms. Jamison’s,” Peggy stated. Her breath smelled like strong coffee.
Tyra bit her lower lip as she nodded. “I don’t know what else to do…the room is spotless. But she – or someone, or something – keeps turning the light on in there. Do you think she’s just messing with me?”
Peggy let out a laugh. “Ms. Jamison messing with you? No. That old bat – forgive me, Jesus – was the most serious woman I’ve ever met in my life. She was here for over a year and I never, not once, saw her smile.”
“Then what the hell do you think is going on?”
Peggy paused to contemplate this. Eventually, she said, “She wants something. She’s probably making a final request.” Peggy pushed her chair back and stood up. “Come on. Let’s go take a look.”
Tyra took in a deep breath and begrudgingly followed Peggy. When the two women entered room seven, the reading light was on.
Tyra cursed under her breath and felt the chills again.
“I ain’t messing around,” Peggy said as she flipped on the main lights – which spilled out into the hallway. Peggy walked the perimeter of the room, scrutinizing it as if she was the fire marshal completing his annual inspection.
“I’m gonna sound really crazy,” Peggy began, “but has anyone opened these windows since Ms. Jamison’s passing?”
“I have no idea,” Tyra replied.
Without another word, Peggy slid all three windows open fully – even the screenless fire rescue window.
“My grandma once told me a story about her Uncle Joe and how he’d passed away in his sleep one night. To make a long story short, she swears his soul was trapped in that bedroom. After she opened the windows, he left.” Peggy shrugged, then placed an arm around Tyra and guided her out of the room. She flipped the light switch on their way out.
Back at their workstation, Peggy said, “I’ve been working here a long time – seen some crazy things in the middle of the night. But let me assure you: there is no evil here. All these people – all these souls – are gentle and tired. All they want is peace, and one way or another, they get it.”
Tyra and Peggy sat in silence for a few moments.
“It’s kind of a beautiful thing if you think about it,” Peggy said softly. “Go take a break, hon. Clear your head, make some coffee or something. I’ll bet you five bucks that when you come back Ms. Jamison will be gone for good.”
Tyra smiled with tired eyes as she stood. “I don’t know why, but I bet you’re right.”
A quiet night passed. The only call was from Mr. Turner in room three, who woke in a bout of confusion. But Tyra, a gentle soul herself, was able to calm him.
When dawn arrived – a blur of pinks and oranges – both Tyra and Peggy knew that Ms. Jamison had moved on.
“You know where I think she is? Somewhere right about there,” Peggy said, pointing at the sunrise. “And I bet she’s smiling, too.”
Thank you for reading “A Final Request” — I hope you enjoyed it.
Have a great week. As always, please feel free to leave me a comment below!