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A Second Chance

by

Sahar Sabati

ZoŽ's eyes narrowed as she peered at the stack of papers Alice, the head nurse, had dropped in front of her a few moments ago. Alice smiled apologetically.

"Sorry, ZoŽ," she said. "But you have to do the paperwork."

ZoŽ groaned as she obligingly picked up a pen.

"Why? I became a nurse so that I wouldn't be stuck behind a desk and where am I? Stuck behind a desk!" Alice chuckled and squeezed ZoŽ's shoulder.

"Shut your mouth and do your work. If you speed up, you'll finish faster."

"Such wisdom" ZoŽ said, drawing the stack of paper closer to her.

"That's why I am head nurse," grinned Alice. ZoŽ sighed and went to work.

Zelda screamed when she felt the cold hand on her neck. She flew around, ready to plunge her dagger in her attacker's stomach. She stopped her hand when she realized who there.

"Lyle! You scared me!"

Lyle eyed the sharp knife, chuckling. "I am to marry a dangerous woman," he remarked.
Zelda slipped the dagger back in its sheath. She winded her arms around Lyle's neck. "Dangerous only to those who want to harm me or my loved ones."
Lyle smiled, but didn't answer.

"You look very serious" Zelda said. "Is something wrong?"

"I have some bad news," he admitted.

"What is it?"

"We have someone on our land killing the animals. We will set out in less than an hour to find him."
Zelda paled. Ever since losing her brother during a fight, she had been wary of it.

"Please be careful," she told him.

"Of course I will."

ZoŽ sighed and rubbed her neck. She hated the paperwork related to her job. She thought of it as a waste of time, and tried to do it as fast as possible. She served herself a cup of coffee and went back to work. The doors of the ER slammed open. ZoŽ, halfway through her pile, jumped up and rushed to meet the stretcher. The ambulance men told her the young man had been hit by a car and his heart had already stopped once; they gave her a quick review of the ride to the hospital. His name was Lance. ZoŽ looked down at him and had a strange sense of dťjŗ vu.

"Zelda! Zelda!" Zelda let go of the concoction she was making for an ailing friend and rushed out of her workroom.

"I am here, Augusta!"

"Zelda! Lyle has been hurt!"

Zelda paled as her feet sped up. She followed Augusta to the clearing where her mother, Morag, was trying to help Lyle.

"How is he?" Augusta whispered, asking the question that Zelda, throat clenched, couldn't bear to ask.

Morag looked into her daughter's eyes.

 "He won't live. Even you can't fix all the damage that has been done to him."Zelda's knees buckled. She knelt beside Lyle and cradled his head in her lap.

"Lyle, can you hear me?" she whispered brokenly. Lyle opened his eyes and smiled.

"I am dying," he said simply. Zelda's throat clogged up. She nodded. Lyle closed his eyes. "I can't save you," Zelda whispered. Lyle reached for her hand.

"I'll always love you," he told her.

"I'll always love you, too," she told him.

"Take care of yourself," he said. "You have to live."

"How can I?" she sobbed. Lyle's eyes filled with tears.

"Promise me you will."
Zelda, sobbing, bent down over Lyle, and placed her forehead on his.

"Do it for me," he whispered. Zelda bit her lip as the tears kept falling.

"I'll do it. For you. I will live." Quickly losing his remaining energy, Lyle reached up and drew her close. He pressed a gentle kiss on her lips.

"Next time, you'll be able to save me," he vowed. Then he was gone.

"His heart stopped!"

"V-fib!"

"Get the defibrillator!"

"Where is it?"

"I don't know!"

"What do you mean, you don't know? We are an ER, for heavens' sake!"

"Someone took it and didn't bring it back."

"Well find it!"

ZoŽ knew every second unnecessarily fighting about the missing machine diminished the man's chances of surviving. She climbed on the stretcher and awkwardly started to administer CPR. One minute. Then two.

"Where is that defibrillator?" Three minutes.... ZoŽ lost track of time. Her muscles started to ache, but she ignored the pulling, pushing herself. She just knew she had to save the man on the stretcher. Lance. Lance... Lannie.. Lyle.

"No!" Zelda opened Lyle's mouth and blew into it. She had done that to Sophie's baby and it had lived. It could, no, it would help Lyle. Zelda blew until her face turned blue. Morag, crying, put her hand on her daughter's shoulder and tried to pull her away from her fiancť.

"It's over, Zelda."

"It's over, ZoŽ." ZoŽ shrugged off Dr Martin's hand and continued pushing on Lance's chest.

"I won't give up" she said through clenched teeth. " I can't let him die a second time. It's only been ten minutes." Dr Martin frowned.

"ZoŽ, it's been twenty minutes. And he is bleeding internally."

"I don't care." Zelda continued blowing in Lyle's mouth. His chest went up, came back down. She blew and blew and blew.....

.....And pushed and pushed and pushed.
"ZoŽ. Please. It's over."

Zelda carefully placed Lyle's lifeless head back on the grass. The words had cut through her like a knife. It's over. She hadn't been able to save him. He was dead. She was left alone. Zelda's threw her head back and let out a scream that chilled anyone who heard it. Her head fell on Lyle's chest as she sobbed. Alice gently drew the sobbing ZoŽ away.

"Good job, ZoŽ," she said, hugging her.
Dr. Martin shook his head as they wheeled the patient out of the room.

"A miracle. A bloody miracle."

A few days later, ZoŽ was yet again on her way to Lance's room. She often went there to make sure he had everything he needed. They felt awkward around each other yet longed for each other's company. Lance often called the nurse's station to know where she was. ZoŽ went to visit him when she could. They didn't talk much, but this time, as she was leaving the room, he called out to her.

"ZoŽ. We know each other from...."

"From before," she finished for him. They looked at each other for a few moments, on one hand understanding, yet totally confused on the other hand.

"I think..." he hesitated.

"What?" she urged. Lance frowned. "We have been given a second chance."
ZoŽ nodded. "I think so too. I just knew it." Lance smiled.

"Would you like to go out for dinner once I'm out of here?" ZoŽ smiled back. "I'd love to."

Zelda searched her mother's eyes. "What do you mean?"
Morag smiled.

"Lyle has always kept his promises. He will give you another chance to save him. Just wait for it". Zelda started to cry softly. "I miss him already," she whispered. "How long will I have to wait?"
Morag held her daughter in a tight embrace. "Patience is a virtue, baby. You might have to wait a couple of lifetimes."

ZoŽ and Lance continued seeing each other after his discharge from the hospital. Eventually, the announced their engagement, and, a year after they met, they were married. A year into their marriage, ZoŽ gave birth to twins, a boy and a girl. The happy couple named their children Zelda and Lyle.

"Where did you get those names?" Lance's mother, rocking Zelda, asked them.

"Nice names, but a tad bit odd, don't you think?" added ZoŽ's father, cooing to Lyle.
Both missed the look that passed between ZoŽ and Lance, nor did they notice the way ZoŽ took Lance's hand and held it to her heart, the way so long ago Zelda had held Lyle's lifeless hand to her heart for the last time before he was buried.

"They just seemed... appropriate" answered Lance, bringing his wife's hand up and kissing it.

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