“Have you seen your evaluations?” Margaret’s boss sat across the desk from her. Margaret had a lot of bosses. Attendings, nurses, the professors, then the directors, program coordinators, this guy. Lots of bosses. Lots of advice. So much advice Margaret almost didn’t know what to do with it.
Margaret hadn’t read the type-outs, the attendings sat her down every week and talked ad nauseum about how she was doing. Why read it? It was like the cliff notes of a failure.
“I can tell you’re trying harder, Maggie. You’ve got more pep in your step, you’re picking up on things quicker. You’ve got your game face on, put on some eyeliner. Dressed like a doctor.”
Margaret sat quietly, nodding. Where’s the fashion police going with this?
“But I think you’re going to need more remediation time. You’re just not on par with the other residents. And some of the things you say to the patients, it’s almost like you’re desperate for them to like you, but it’s just like you’re trying too hard at the wrong things. What have you been trying for staying organized?”
“Well, I have a column system that Dr. Shore showed me that has worked better than anything else, I think. As long as I do write everything down. Otherwise, I just can’t remember.”
“I see that,” he pulled out one of the evaluations. “‘Forgets anything she does not write down. Says she does not “know anything” about liver disease. Only answers questions if prompted.’” He sighed. “I just think you need to stay on the service and study harder.”
That’s your big fucking answer? Keep doing the thing that’s not helping you get better at the thing? You said it yourself, I suck!
“Unless you have any other ideas or suggestions?”
What could Margaret say that wouldn’t incriminate herself as one of those “problematic” residents who “didn’t think they had a problem”?
Oi, vey, Maggie May.
“You know what this guy said to me today?” Maggie burst out at Nip as she loaded a row of black beads onto the loom.
“I must be trying harder because I wore eyeliner today. You know what? I had to put on eyeliner to be in my cousin’s stupid experimental film last weekend and I can’t get it off!” Maggie pointed a finger at her face.
Nip raised his eyebrows.
“OK, Bill’s movie is not stupid. He’s a very talented filmographer guy. But still, it was the left overs from me playing a punk star on my one day off.” Maggie said as she carefully aligned the beads. One popped off and she knocked it to the floor. “That was dumb, I know, don’t say it,” she leaned over to pick up the bead, pretending Nip offered it back to her.
The tapestry was growing, but what it was yet she couldn’t tell. She could tell there was a pattern, but the nature of it was still a mystery, at least to her conscious self. She side-eyed where Nip stood. “Do you know what it’s going to be?”
Maggie sighed. “Well, one chapter more and I’ll pack it in for the night.”
Maggie didn’t hear the knock on her door at first, but its persistence pierced the voice in her headphones she also mostly drowned out. If one asked her what the last ten chapters of whichever Chronicle of Narnia she was listening to entailed, she wouldn’t be able to answer. It was merely a time divider, a stop-go for her beading. Chapter ends meant breaks, or the end to her evening of mental meandering while beads patiently loaded and rolled into the slots on the loom. Like sand in an hour glass. The tapestry was quite large now, and heavy. She wondered if she could even really lift it. It certainly wouldn’t hang on the wall.
The door knocked again.
“Oh, yeah,” Maggie muttered, removing her headphones. “Guess you’re not gonna get the door,” she joked at Nip.
She opened the door.
A man stood outside, “Hello, I’m delivering these confidential documents.”
“What?” Maggie’s heart jumped into her mouth. She’d paid all her bills. The car was up to date, well, the tag was expired. “Is this about my car?”
The man didn’t answer but offered the package. “I’m going to need you to sign here, and that this was the final attempt.”
“What?” Maggie repeated, looking at the envelope. What if she just said thanks, but no?
“Look, ma’am, I don’t know anything about your business—” the man started to chastise her when his eyes went wide. “Whoa, buddy!” He reached for Maggie but it was too late.
A cascade of beaded tapestry dropped over Maggie’s body, sank into to her skin, curled into the corners of her mouth. Her eyes appeared wide through the gaps in the pattern. It covered her body; a bead work in the pattern of a person now stood before the man.
“Jesus, what the hell is this?” he stepped back
The bead work knocked the envelope from his hand, black and blue arms outstretched.
“Nothing… in particular…”