26 November, 2021

Fiction Friday - Front Lines

Kim was exhausted. These days were long. 

She knew she should be grateful. One of her former classmates from nursing school was stationed in a hospital way up in a high infection area. Here, Kim had had it easy during this pandemic. She knew that. She counted her lucky stars that the disease had not hit this area as hard as her friend was seeing it.

Still, now that the vaccinations were rolling out in full force to the general population, her days were long. It was a lame thing to gripe about, so she didn't. 

"165!" She heard her boyfriend calling through the megaphone outside. Sign in and sign up were outside, and he had volunteered. He knew how stressed she'd been these days and wanted to be helpful. It was very sweet, and he was a help, standing at the sign in table and directing people to the open triage nurse, but she never saw him.

Kim waved in the next patient. "Please verify everything on this form..." she said to the faceless person in front of her.

"Yes, please. That's all correct. Thank you."

Kim looked up. It was the "please" and "thank you" that was different. She had seen dozens of faces so far this morning. Hers was one of three injection stations in the room, so she'd probably seen all of the faces, not that she'd know them. She hadn't heard one thank you. It was only 9:30. There would be hundreds today.

She smiled at the little, elderly lady in front of her and accepted the form back from her. "Which arm please?" she asked. She never asked. This was like a conveyor belt. People came in, they checked the form, nodded, handed it back, and exposed a shoulder of their choice. Everyone sitting in the waiting area saw all the patients doing it, so they all knew what to do. But this time, she requested politely if the the woman had a preference.

"Oh, sorry. Here." The woman had to slip out of her cardigan to expose a shoulder. It was cold in the processing facility and older people often had poor circulation. Kim thought of her own gran and felt indulgent. 

"That's fine," she told the woman before the cardigan was all the way down to her elbow. Kim's work partner for the day swabbed the area and made the jab while Kim input the data from the form into the computer.

Kim smiled at the old lady. "You may wait in the next room, please," and she motioned with her hand. to the doorway. "We will bring you your certification shortly." It was a gimmick. Every injectee was to be observed for 30 minutes. There weren't enough staff to honestly observe all these people, so they took some time printing the certificates. If anything went wrong, there were enough bystanders to witness any problems.

As the woman passed out of her view, Kim took a moment to pray that someone would give this old lady a seat. Then, her attention was required of the next patient. "Everything on this form correct?" she asked the person taking the stool in front of her table...

At 11:00, she saw Jay passing by the injection room, walking slowly, looking in. Kim shrugged at him. He got his breaks at regular intervals, being a volunteer. Kim would have to wait until her relief arrived. Could be soon, could be in an hour. She hoped the vaccination initiative would be over soon so that she and Jay could go back to their orderly lives. But from what she heard from the hot spots, it could be months.

Will this pandemic never end?


Every Friday I write a new flash fiction piece. Today's self-indulgent little micro-fiction was inspired by the hard workers at the hospital where we got our second dose of the Covid vaccine.
If you have a writing prompt you'd like to see turned into a story, just leave it in a comment.


  1. I wrote blog posts about my first two shots as I went to the city's convention center and braved the long line of cars (it was a drive up). So, no need to call this self-indulgent. How's your arm? We're now doing boosters (shot number 3). I got mine on Monday.

    1. This was the 2nd shot, so it's easier. After the first one, my arm was like dead weight for a few days. Everyone says "your arm will be sore" but I was thinking of the bruised feeling around the injection site. The muscle pain was a shock!
      Also, the first night I was freezing. Had to wear socks to bed and add a blanket! I had to do research to realize that it was a known side-effect.

      As for this story, I'm absolutely guessing about how all the staff work together or spend their time. However, one fact: We are very fortunate to be in a low-incident area.

  2. I kept reading and thought, "This is how it was at our place."

    And being here in Vietnam, they probably put in incredible hours.

    1. Probably. I wonder if it's continuous or just a burst of a few days, then another burst of a few days. On top of other regular medical duties.


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