Tornado (pt. 3)

The rest of the day is uneventful. I spend an hour or two sleeping on the couch trying to make up for the sleep I didn't get the night before.
Finally, 24 hours after I arrived, I grab my things and head for the door. I hear the tones drop for a call, but I just keep walking; there are other people to take it.
I drive home thinking about everything and nothing at the same time. When I walk into my apartment, I realize that I don't really remember the drive back. I shrug and unlock the door. No one's home, and I'm not sure if I'm happy about that or not. I feel the urge to talk, but I know I'd have nothing to say.
I carefully take off my uniform and throw on a robe. I walk into the bathroom and start the shower, but then I change my mind, flipping the water over to the faucet and closing the drain. I haven't taken a real bath in years, but I feel that today it's appropriate.
My feet ache from the work boots I've been wearing for hours, and my back aches from sleeping on the couch and awful bed at the station. The bathroom fills up with steam, and it's a little hard to breathe. Turning off the water, I climb into the tub and let the water creep up my legs.
Going under water, I take a deep breath. I open my eyes and look up from the water. Dirt and debris floats above me, along with fuzz from my uniform. I sit up and look at myself. I'm covered in random dirt and lint, and I realize this bath isn't doing much.
Pulling my knees to my chest, I rest the side of my head on them carefully. Looking down, I see the tattoo on my hip. "Protect," it says, staring back at me.
"You didn't really do anything, did you," it taunts.
"Shut up."
"Whose life did you save? Is that old lady still alive? And what about the tornado? What good did your being there do?"
"Shut the fuck up!"
I slide back under water, realizing how crazy I'd seem if anyone heard me talking to myself. I close my eyes and let tiny bubbles escape from my lips. I'm floating to the surface, and the water moves away from my mouth, chilling my face as it evaporates.
I flick the drain open with my toe and watch as the water bobs up and down over my feet. The drain pulls my heel down softly, and I move my knees back up against my chest.
The water forms a little cyclone as it disappears down the drain. I look at it and think of the picture of my hospital with the tornado behind it. Kicking some water at it, I smile as it fades away.
If only it had been that easy yesterday.


Epijunky said...

I wish I could give you a hug.

You made a difference, girl. I would LOVE to work with you as a partner and I'd be honored to call you a friend.

I'm glad you, your family and your coworkers are safe.

Witness said...

It seems like it's after the hardest 36 hour shifts that I feel I've made the least amount of difference. I'll leave you a quote from Bringing Out The Dead:

Frank Pierce: "I realized that my training was useful in less than ten percent of the calls, and saving lives was rarer than that. After a while, I grew to understand that my role was less about saving lives than about bearing witness. I was a grief mop. It was enough that I simply turned up."

And that is the essence of my blogspot name.

Bernice said...

I wish I had some great suggestion to give you that would help you feel better about everything. I think the bath was a good start though. Hang in there.

Anonymous said...


I'm so happy everyone is ok- I saw the pictures of the tornadoes and I was so worried about you, Drew, and Eric. You DID make a difference girl, dont let anyone deny you of that. It reminds me when I was working a railcar derailment about 3 years ago- I felt like I did nothing, but I did everything.


EE said...

Dude, I didn't know you had a tat! I want to see a pic! Email it to me or something!

Anonymous said...

Sometimes, there isn't much that could be said...the same here. Sometimes, we all wish that we could have done something different, or we could have been there to help...but the Goddness always have a plan...it is not up to us to figure out what that plan is...we only have to live through it, and see to it that we have become a better person by what we may have done, or may have not have done...

life happens...and I will just say that you will be okay.