PonyFall: The Dawning of Twilight

by MrBackpack

Chapter 6: Jane Doe

Chapter 6: Jane Doe

I groaned and swore under my breath as my alarm roused me from a particularly good dream. My phone’s screen told me that it was five-o’clock in the morning, far too early for the world to even exist.

My back and joints creaked and popped like a man three times my age as I heaved myself out of the bed and stumbled into the bathroom to shower. Michelle is so used to me getting up at all hours that all she did was roll away from the light of the bathroom and stayed completely asleep.

My shower finished what my alarm clock started in waking me and I was out the door in under half an hour. Twilight’s door was slightly ajar as I passed; the light was out and I could hear her snoring ever-so-lightly through the door.  I am one of those people that has to be early for work, I never could stand being on time or, heaven forbid, late for work. If I wasn’t early, I was late.

I had dug out my ‘fun’ scrubs for work today: A shirt with white stars and moons all over a navy background with black pants. My turquoise scrubs are not considered proper attire for working with children; too clinical. One has to put on a certain demeanor to work with kids in a hospital.

It was a good thing that I chose to leave as early as I did. There was yet another accident on the highway that was exacerbated by the numerous eighteen-wheelers that chose that particular morning to traverse the insanity of Austin. Just another one of those mornings that I cursed my quitting smoking.

I noticed that, thankfully, the lot was rather empty as I drove through the visitor parking and over to employee parking. The ER must have had a slow night. I pulled into a spot underneath one of the awnings and got out of the car, my Luna keychain jangling noisily against my other keys.

I dropped my bag into my locker and grabbed my stethoscope, name tag, notepad, and watch. After clocking into the system I made my way up and over to the children’s portion of the hospital.

The head nurse was waiting for me at the front desk of the main lobby, a middle-aged woman with prematurely greying hair and a frown permanently etched on her face. Her fierce, ice blue eyes flashed as she caught sight of me walking up to the desk.

“Good morn-” I started before she cut me off abruptly.

“Mr. Mxxxxxxx,” she snapped, her voice as hard as granite. “It’s about time you showed up.”

I glanced at the clock on the wall behind her, it was just after six forty-five and I wasn’t scheduled until seven.

“I don’t want to hear any excuses Mr. Mxxxxxxx,” she grabbed a set of three folders off of the desk and thrust them imperiously at me. “These are your patients for the day. I don’t know how they do things down in the ER, but we do things differently in my wing. I expect you to be here on time and properly equipped.”

“Yes ma’am,” I quipped, fuming in the back of my mind. There were parents of patients and other nurses staring at the spectacle.

I took the folders from her and flipped through them without comprehending any of the information while she stood in front of me for a few moments longer before turning on her heel and marching off back into her office.

“Wow,” said Ashleigh, a permanent pediatric nurse in the wing with short dark hair, dark eyes and a pale complexion. A friend of sorts, and was the de facto head nurse. “I haven’t seen her lay into someone like that in a long time.”

“I’m early if anything,” was all I could say in reply. My hands shook with poorly restrained anger. “I’m not even supposed to be clocked in for another ten minutes.”

“I know, Matt,” she sighed, setting a couple of folders into a wall organizer marked ‘out patient.’ She turned to mark her observations on the whiteboard. “Life isn’t fair.”

“Shut up,” I fired back, a smile finding its way back on my face as I opened the the folders and really looked at them.

Three patients for the entirety of my shift. Usually we had a whole section that we shared with another one or two nurses. Being given a set number meant that I was the only one to look after the three of them.

“Hmm,” I sighed. The first of the folders had a young man, an early teenager, who was in for a very minor surgery and would be here for just a couple of days.

“Oh, you got him,” Ashleigh said from over my shoulder. “Yeah, he’s in surgery right now so you won’t have much to do with him for a while yet. Thyroidectomy.”

“Unusual,” I replied, flipping to the next folder. My heart sank as I read the name. “Oh no, not her.”

“Mmhmm,” she sighed as well, looking away from the folder with a frown.

The girl whose folder was in my hand was a frequent visitor. I saw her often enough in the ER and during my shifts out of the ER.

“Have the doctor’s found anything yet?” I asked, looking up at Ashleigh.

“They think that it might be Ewing Sarcoma,” she replied.

“Wow.” My heart sank even further. “Is Doctor Williams coming?” Dr. Williams was one of the better oncologists that the hospital employed and kept on staff. He had a very good way of explaining things to the patients and their families.

“The family will be meeting with him within the hour.”


I closed that folder and set in on the desk with a sigh. She was going to be a hard one to deal with. Not that she was a bad kid or anything, but she was here far too often.

The third folder made pause.

“Jane Doe?” I asked, looking up at Ashleigh with an eyebrow cocked. “We really have a Jane Doe? I thought that that only happened on those bad hospital dramas and episodes of CSI.”

“Hey, don’t ask me,” she defended with both of her hands up. “She came in the night before last after being hit by a car.”

“Hit by a car!” I all but shouted.

“Keep your voice down,” snapped Ashleigh as she grabbed my wrist and led me off into the, thankfully, empty break room. “Yeah, she was hit by a car.”

“Who could hit,” I looked down at the folder, “a six year old with a car?”

“According to the police report, the driver, a young woman, was driving near Zilker Park at around eleven-o’clock at night, on her way home from work, when the little girl came running out of the green belt, naked, onto the road. The driver swerved as best as she could, nearly running to a nearby light pole, but still struck the girl. The girl rolled a few yards from the point of impact. Suffering a broken radius and ulna, major contusions on both her hips, and lacerations all over her torso.”


“There’s more. Now, I didn’t see any of this, another one of my friends was working in the ER that night, said that she had the most glorious head of dark blue hair that was all matted down with oil and blood. She,” she jerked her thumb over in the direction of the head nurse’s office, “didn’t want to let us clean it and ordered us to shave her head.”

“Bitch,” I spat with a violent shake of my head.

“Tell me about it,” replied Ashleigh as she rubbed the back of her neck.

“Anything else that you can tell me about her?”

“She doesn’t like any of the female nurses, and is apparently looking for her aunt.”

“Her aunt?”

“Well, she keeps calling out for a ‘Tia’ in her sleep and constantly asks if we’ve heard from her anytime she decides to talk to one of us.”

        I heaved a massive sigh and ran a hand over my face. It was not going to be a good day.

        “Have fun,” Ashleigh sing-songed as she walked out of the break room, leaving me with my ever growing headache.

        “After the hell of this week,” I grumbled to the emptiness around me, “this is just what I needed.”

        I took another deep breath and rolled my head on my shoulders, trying desperately to relax the ache in my neck, and walked back out into the hallway. Various hospital staff were milling about, some nurses on the computers, a couple of CNAs walking about with their carts, and the odd doctor or so walking to and from rooms.

        I dropped the first chart off on the hook outside of the young man’s room. He wasn’t due out of surgery just yet and I would stop by after he had been returned to his room.

        My second patient was all the way on the other side of the wing, grouped with several other patients that were either long-term or frequented our services. She was a bright girl. She always had the biggest smile every time we walked into her room and no matter what we were there for, she always thanked us as we left.

        I slid ‘Jane Doe’s’ chart into the holder on the door, knocked, and announced my presence before entering her room.

        Her mother, father, and Dr. Williams were on the other side of the door.

        “Mr. Mart-” started Dr. Williams, giving me a look that only a doctor can give a nurse, but was cut off by the girl in the bed.

        “Hiya Nurse Matt!” she called with a bright smile.

        “Little miss,” I replied without thinking, my voice dropped a couple of octaves and I tipped an imaginary hat to her.

        Dr. Williams gave me a thin smile.

        “I’m sorry doctor Williams,” I said, quickly turning back to him. “I didn’t know you were in here.”

        “Yes, well,” he replied, looking down at his own chart. “There are things I need to discuss with the parents, privately.”

        “Yes sir,” I fired back, throwing him a mock salute. “Do you need me to put up the ‘D-n-D’ sign on the door?”

        “That would be most appreciated.”

        I nodded to the parents, tipped my hat again to the patient, grabbed the “Do-not-Disturb” sign out of the nurse’s station within the room and left. The door shut softly behind me thanks to the newly upgraded hydraulics of the automatic door opening systems. I hung the sign on the doorknob and marked on her chart the time and length of the visit.

        My third patient, the Jane Doe, was just a little ways down the hall, the last one on the right, literally in front of the door that opened onto the fire-stairs.

        I was about to knock on her door when a CNA came up behind me and grabbed me by the shoulder.

        “Hey,” he snarled loudly. “You watch out for that little brat.”

        I knocked his hand off of my shoulder and glared at him. He and I both knew that he voice had carried through the door and into the room behind me.

        “Look what she did to me,” he snarled again, brandishing his hand in my face. It was wrapped tightly in a gauze bandage and there was the tell tale pattern of a bleeding bite mark that left dark red stains in the gauze. “Look what that little -”

        I clamped my hand over his mouth and grabbed the wrist of his wounded hand, forcing him away from the door.

        “Don’t even think about finishing that sentence Markowski,” I ground out through gritted teeth. I shoved him away from me, nearly sending him to the floor. “Go home, you’re no use to anyone in your condition.”

        He looked murderously at me before turning on his heel and storming down the hall, nearly running into another aide who was ambulating a young man with a new prosthesis.

I swore under my breath again before turning back to the door and sighing.

“Miss?” I called as I opened the door after knocking. “Hi there, I’m Nurse Matt.”

None of the lights in the room were lit. The bright Texan sunshine poured through the large windows on two of the four walls and pooled on the plain, beige linoleum. Like most of the rooms in this wing of the hospital, the room was single occupancy with the bed right in the middle of the room, a nurses station right next to the door and a comfortable rocking chair to the right of the patient in the bed.

Jane Doe was sitting on the bed on top of the covers, her knees drawn up to her chest with her arms wrapped around her legs, her neon pink cast standing out vibrantly when compared to her pale skin.

I could hear the faintest sounds of sniffling and I could see her shoulders shaking very so lightly.

I cursed Markowski in the back of my mind with all that I was worth.

After quickly washing my hands, I placed my clipboard with her chart on the station and approached the bed, taking the numbers on the monitors near it with a cursory glance, and gently sat on the edge of the foot of the bed.

She retreated further away, about as far away from me as she could get without getting off of the bed.

We sat in silence for several minutes, and I took the time to study what I could see of her. She, as I had been told, had had her head shaven clean, was about the average size for a girl of her supposed age, maybe a little small. In lieu of the normal hospital gown, and considering that she would have normally been considered an outpatient, she was clad in a pair of nylon gym shorts that were several sizes too big and a large white t-shirt.

She stole a glance up at me and our eyes met. Hers were the most outstanding shade of turquoise that I had ever seen.

“Hi,” I greeted with a warm smile when she didn’t look away.

“Hi,” she said after another long silence. Her voice was muffled by the fact that she kept the majority of her face still hidden behind her knees. She had a inch long cut above her right eye that had been stitched shut.

There was no way that I was going to be able to do anything with her as balled-up into herself as she was.

“Would you like to hear a story?” I asked, leaning back and bracing myself up with one hand, and turning my torso to face her. I ignored my stethoscope as it slid off my neck and onto the bed. “I know all kinds.”

There was a long pause before she ever-so-slightly nodded, her turquoise eyes locked onto my face.

“Let’s see,” I mused, my mind cranking as it searched for the perfect story to tell. My eyes fell on the Hyrulian crest inked proudly into my forearm in crimson and smiled. “A long time ago, there was a boy who lived in a forest...”

I don’t know what really possessed me to tell a six year old the story of Ocarina of Time, but it was the only thing that came to mind. I knew that story all too well, I make sure to take the time and play through that game at least once every year, usually more than just that. I could never just start with Majora’s Mask.

And so we sat there, with her coming more and more out of her ball as the story went on, and I lost track of time as I got more and more into the telling. Eventually, I was on my feet as she watched my actions with wide, sparkling eyes and her mouth just slightly agape as I acted out Link’s powerful sword strokes and bow shots.

To her credit, she was having fun, even during the scenes that I edited for her. My heart ached for her as the thought that this might be the first time that anyone had taken the time to tell her a really good story and have fun doing it.

“With the Dark Lord vanquished, Princess Zelda took the magical flute and sent the hero back to his childhood, to live happily ever after.” I finished with a flourish and a smile.

She laughed brightly and clapped her hands.

“Liked the story?” I asked, sitting back down on the bed.

“Yeah!” she chirped, her smile getting wider as she scooted closer to me. “What happened to the hero?”

“That’s a story for another time, Jane,” I laughed.

“Who?” She cocked her head to one side.

I swore in the back of my mind. I had slipped.

“Uh,” I stammered, unsure of how to proceed. Things had been going so well too, and I had to go and screw up like that.

“My name’s not Jane,” she said after a few seconds of pondering cutely.

“Really now?” I said, grasping that line of conversation with all that I was worth. “I’m pretty sure that’s what it says on your door.”

“That’s because they didn’t like my name,” She harumphed as she crossed her arms and pouted.

“Oh?” I asked, picking up my stethoscope from the bed and cleaning the bell with an alcohol swab.

“Yeah,” she sighed as I walked over and put the automatic blood pressure cuff on her wrist. “I tried telling them my name is...”

She trailed off as the cuff tightened and beeped.

I read the numbers and marked them on the chart, hoping that she wasn’t back to giving me the silent treatment again. She was just sitting on the bed, looking depressed.

I walked over and knelt next to the bed, raising her chin to look me in the eyes.

“Hey,” I said with a kind smile. “Things aren’t all bad, you know? You’re here and you’re doing great.”

She game me a shy smile.

“Do you mind if I check your stitches?”

With a shake of her head, I gently pulled the bandage away from where her eyebrow should have been. It had to be shaved off when the surgeon stitched her up. The cut was healing nicely and I couldn’t see any sign of infection.

Right as I was about to pull away, I felt her hands wrap around my wrist and forearm. She had seen the crest.

Her fingers traced the bold lines of the red bird and three triangles.

“What’s it mean?” she asked.

“You remember that magical force I told you about in the story?”

She nodded, her eyes never leaving the tattoo.

“That would be this,” I said as I pointed at the triangles, the Triforce. I pointed at the bird and said: “The bird is me, always guarding the precious things in life.” It was a little heavy handed for a six year old, but it wasn’t as if I could really explain that it was just a game and that I was just a REALLY big fan.

She nodded imperiously, once, as though I had told her the gospel truth.

I glanced up at the clock and blanched at the time. I had been in the room for over an hour; story time had taken way too long.

“Welp,” I sighed, cracking my neck and standing. “Looks like I gotta get moving on.”

“No,” she cried, latching onto my arm with both of hers. “Don’t go.”

“Shh, shh,” I cooed as I felt her shoulder tremble. “I’m not really going anywhere. There are other little boys and girls here that need me to check up on them.”

“But I don’t want you to go,” she whimpered.

“I’ll be back soon,” I promised as I pried her surprisingly strong grip off of my arm. “I promise.”

She didn’t say anything as I left, but the look in her eyes nearly kept me there despite the vast amount of work that I had left in my shift to do.

I closed the door behind me as I left, dropping her chart into the slot next to the door. I paused for a moment outside of the door to collect myself. Working with kids is never easy.

I strode off down the hall, stopping to say hello to a couple of colleagues, but never stopping for long. The girl, her image and smile lingered in my mind.

“So...” a voice called from over my shoulder, jolting me out of my thoughts. “How’d it go?”

        Ashleigh had snuck up behind me, or had just walked up and I just didn’t notice her, causing me to jump and spin around to face her. She knew that she had scared me.

        “Aren’t you supposed to be going home?” I deadpanned as we continued walking down the hall. “You know, instead of annoying me?”

        “Hush you,” she fired back, punching me in the shoulder. Her wedding ring set dug a bit into the flesh of my arm. “And answer my question.”

        “Everything was fine,” I snarked as we went into the nurse’s station. I dropped into the chair behind the desk and began to print charts and reports. “I didn’t even get to see my first two, yet. The young man was still in surgery.”

        “And you won’t be seeing him either,” she sighed, looking away. “There was a complication with his surgery. He’s been moved up to ICU.”

        “On something that routine?” I asked, shocked.

        Ashleigh shrugged.

        “Wow,” I shook my head before continuing what I was saying. “And Dr. Williams was with the patient and her family in 1616a. I just spent the last hour with the Jane Doe at the end of the hall. Sweetest thing in the world if you ask me.”

        “I don’t know how you do it,” Ashleigh replied with a shake of her head. “You always get the short end of the stick and still manage to bring some of the best results with the patients that I’ve ever seen.”


        “The social worker should be by this afternoon to check up on her. She doesn’t need to be here.”

        “I figured.”

        We sat in relative silence, the space filled by the typing of keys on mostly functioning keyboards and the background sounds of the wing.

        “Well,” I began as I stood and stretched. I hated filling out reports for patients that you couldn’t attend to. “I’m going to go visit our little mystery girl for a while, She looks like she’s having a hard time right now.”

        “See if you can get a name out of her, a real one.”

        “What do you mean?” I asked.

        Ashleigh gave me a wry look. “She told us she was some princess named Luna.”