Stages of Loneliness
Spoilers to Next of Kin within
Was Matilda's life his future? Even after he pronounced her he found it hard to leave her alone, the thought that she would be alone in death as she had been in life weighing heavily on him.
"Dr. Kovac?" It was Haleh's hand on his arm that brought him back to where he was and he swallowed before turning to her. "We can take care of her." The look on her face spoke of understanding, as if she somehow knew that even in those few hours how much the elderly woman had affected him.
"Thanks, Haleh." He voiced the gratitude quietly, hoping she understood the deeper significance of the word before he forced himself to leave. He had two patients still waiting on him, and while he knew his shift was over, had been over for some time, he knew too that he needed the transition time before he even attempted to drive home.
"Dr. Kovac, the chart." He stopped at the door and turned back as Haleh spoke then approached him. "You forgot to sign for time of death."
"Oh, right." He found himself looking over to Matilda again before scrawling his name and handing the chart back. "There you go."
The next hour passed with his mind clouded by thoughts that he couldn't quite escape, and more then once he found himself having to ask someone to repeat themselves. He might have been existing in a half world, hearing conversations as if they were muffled, seeming almost an observer to his own actions, he needed to get away, the pull to escape growing stronger.
By the time he stepped into the apartment the fugue had worsened. Two days she had lain injured on the floor of her apartment, two days and not one person had missed her, not one person had cared enough to check on her. Would that be his fate if he continued at the rate he was going? He shrugged his coat off and dumped it and his scarf unceremoniously on the couch before walking to the refrigerator and pulling a beer out. As he tossed the cap in the sink he caught sight of the flashing of the light on the answering machine and after a long pull on the beer he moved over to it.
As he hit play an unfamiliar voice broke the silence of the room. "Luka, you don't know me, my name's Becca, my friend Melissa gave me your number, she said you liked to have a good time. Look, I'm not doing anything tonight, I thought you might be open for some company. My number is 555-2463, call me, it's supposed to be cold tonight, maybe we can find something to do to keep each other warm."
The boldness of the woman and her call shocked him, her implications clear even through the machine. Was this what he had fallen to? He downed the remainder of the beer in one drink only to pull a second from the refrigerator as he played the message a second time.
"Maybe we can find something to do to keep each other warm..." The phrase echoed in his thoughts even as he reached for the phone, knowing that anything was better then being alone with his thoughts.