Turning into the parking lot, Tyler Green slowed his white 1993 Ford pickup to a crawl. Turning the wheel hard, he maneuvered it into a parking spot across from the apartment building, hoping that the large tree would be enough to at least shade the truck and keep it from reaching a blistering 110 degrees before he returned. The air conditioner wasn’t working; it hadn’t worked in a year, so any relief, however small, was welcomed.
As he got out of the truck, he reached in the slightly rusted bed to gather three grocery bags. He had only a few hours before he needed to be back to work at the fire station, still, he could relieve the day nurse and stay with Felicia until the evening nurse arrived. While he waited he’d make chicken salad with extra large chunks of chicken and celery…just the way Felicia liked it.
Tyler entered his apartment and made a beeline for the kitchen. The apartment wasn’t anything special—it wasn’t too big, or too open, or too luxurious. The furniture was used, but still in good condition, and nearly everything matched. The walls were a plain white, but a few pictures—Felicia’s doing—gave the entire apartment a more homey look, instead of simply stark.
Well, Tyler thought absentmindedly, It’s nothing to brag about…but it is home.
“Hi, Tyler. You’re home early,” Kay, the registered nurse who usually worked the weekday shift, said as she rounded the kitchen island. She reached around him, putting a small bag on the refrigerator door.
“Yeah, I thought I would give you a break. I want to spend some time with Felicia, make her dinner.” Kay met his gaze, opened her mouth, then pinched her lips together. “How’s she doing today?” Tyler asked as he removed the contents from the shopping bags.
Kay hesitated, knowing that Tyler didn’t want to hear what she had to say. She had been helping Felicia for a while now, and while she liked Tyler as much as the next person—sometimes she wished that he was a little more, she didn’t know, receptive to Felicia’s condition. She knew that as much as the doctors or she or even Felicia told Tyler that Felicia wasn’t getting better, he didn’t hear it. “She’s very weak,” Kay said apologetically. “I just gave her an injection. She might sleep most of the evening, and if she doesn’t, I don’t think she’ll be up to eating.”
“I’m making chicken salad. I’m sure it’ll be plenty. I’ll save you some for lunch tomorrow. Felicia really loves my chicken salad,” Tyler droned on as if he hadn’t heard a word she’d said.
“I usually make it with—”
“Tyler, listen to me.” Kay rested her hand on his arm, stilling his movement. Then taking a deep breath, she said “Felicia’s not doing well today, and I don’t know…”
“I’m going to check on her,” Tyler said quickly, and then brushing past Kay, he walked down the hall toward the bedroom.