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I'm Here, I Exist, You Can Count On Me!

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It’s not easy to be a nurse right now in London. Even worse to be one at the Pembroke, which is suffering so badly from the epidemic, the influx of patients coughing and wheezing and dying around you, some nights it’s too difficult to bear. Some of your fellow nurses had already resigned, but to you, it didn’t make sense to. You had no family left, and you lived in the run- down district of Whitechapel. What was there to resign to? Better to die helping people than to die holed up in your apartment. But still... every night seemed to bring a new tragedy. More deaths, more resignations. Dr. Swansea tried to keep the morale up but there was a tired look behind his eyes, as if he too was afraid of the losses this hospital kept suffering from. Operating in the heart of London’s slums, the Pembroke was a beacon of hope in the darkness of the time, but you worried night after night how long the lights could remain on. Dr. Swansea had left a few days ago to attend to a personal matter, you noted he had not returned for quite some time. You were the duty nurse tonight, overseeing nurse Crane and nurse Hawkins. You had ushered nurse Brannigan home a few hours ago and assured her you’d take her place as duty nurse as she looked as though she could pass out at any moment. She was an older nurse, and the exhaustion of the endless nights was definitely getting to her. You knew she was more capable than any nurse here, and often inquired about certain medical questions you had with her - for you felt more comfortable in the women’s presence than any of the male doctors here. You saw nurse Crane rush out the doors and peaked out to see what she had seen. You spotted a boat pulling up to the hospitals dock and realized that Dr. Swansea had returned from his trip away! And... you squinted your eyes, looking harder into the night, and there were others, a man, tall and well dressed, helping a smaller and weaker man out of the boat and into Dorothy’s arms. Pippa had come up beside you now and quirked her eyebrow.

“What’s the show about?” She said questioningly. You looked at her out of the corner of your eye.

“Dr. Swansea is back, and he’s brought people.” “Great, more dying patients to treat.” She said with a huff as she turned on her heel and returned to her rounds. You rolled your eyes at her bluntness and flicked your eyes back to see Dr. Swansea rushing up from the dock and coming over to you.

“We have been gifted with a wonderful practitioner today who will be joining us here at Pembroke. He will be using the spare room at the end of the hall upstairs. Please tell him he is free to go there whenever he chooses to do so. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I must head to my office at once.” To you it sounded like he said all that in one breath, and as quick as he had come to you, he walked by you and up the stairs, disappearing into his office. You noted the task he’d given you and were about to meet up with Dorothy first to see if she needed help with their new patient but stopped when you saw the other passenger climb up the steps of the dock and look around. This must be the new doctor. Getting a better look at him now that he was closer, you noted, again, how tall he was, how his piercing blue eyes seemed to gleam and how his finely tailored coat billowed behind him as he walked to meet and speak with some of the people in the hospital’s courtyard. You almost couldn’t find your voice as he bid Dr. Tippets farewell and began to walk towards you. You caught each other’s eyes and he stopped, tilted his head way down to hold your gaze and he smiled, softly.

“Hello, I’m doctor Jonathan Reid, I will be joining you here at the Pembroke, I look forward to working with you.” You blinked in surprise that he would go out of his way to introduce himself to you, a nurse. He put out his hand to shake and you took it sheepishly. You were making a terrible first impression, you hadn’t answered him yet!! Speak!

“I-I am nurse (l/n), I’m the duty nurse tonight. It is a pleasure to meet you as well, I’m so glad to have a new staff member to assist us. Dr. Swansea told me to inform you that you have been given an office upstairs for your work, it is the last room at the end of the corridor after the stairs. You pointed at the wide set of stairs behind you. He nodded and smiled again. You really, really liked that smile.
“Thank you, I will be resting tonight but will be working the night shifts here. If you need me, just knock on my door.” He nodded his head once and then strode away, leaving you oddly speechless and a bit winded. What an interesting figure, you remarked. You were excited to see what he would bring to the hospital. For now, you turned and reentered the hospital, settling in for another long night.