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Exploring The Wreck

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I came to explore the wreck.
The words are purposes.
The words are maps.
I came to see the damage that was done
and the treasures that prevail.

"I've never tried to communicate in a relationship, in a shock to nobody, the recovery doctor with Daddy issues has terrible interpersonal skills." 

 

Lauren Bloom comments to her therapist over their zoom call after her second consult with Kevin, the dyslexic athlete. One of the lynchpins of working the programme is not using her job, and random events like arson was an excuse. One of the stipulations during her discharge was finding a therapist willing to do teleconferencing. It was easy enough to connect on the N.A.T.H.A.N. network; her psychologist has flexible hours and is ready to fit in between certain hours. Dr Thompson doesn't react to the words, but Lauren takes that as approval. 

 

"Did something in particular happen to spur these reflections, Lauren? I read about the fire and saw some of the coverage on the news." Dr Thompson asks softly. 

 

"I praised her for performing a basic task while warning the group collectively; in my defence, she was the only one to work towards a genuine timeframe. Have a mentioned how unfair it is that she needs to do a residency again to practice medicine?" Lauren huffs with a sigh. 

 

"Multiple times, generally as a distraction tactic, how are you managing after the fire?" Dr Thompson asks again. 

 

"The emergency department was relatively safe; still, it's going to be a pain for a few weeks; it was an interesting start to the day for the residents, my box of doughnuts seems to pale in comparison. Leyla was a trooper." Lauren reflects with a tired sigh. 

 

" What feels different about this relationship? It was always going to be a challenge having dual standing with somebody you love." Dr Thompson asks gently. 

 

"Everything feels different with her, she wants to see me at my best, worst and everything in between. I’m managing to stumble over the most basic interactions. I am failing to strike a balance between being the boss and smiling every time she is on the ward." Lauren confesses softly. 

 

"You are trying to live within transparency and recovery; how can you reconcile lying to Leyla about the extra residency spot?" Dr Thompson asks, treading carefully. 

 

"I don't, which is why I'm tripping over my every word and missing the mark so completely. Leyla Shinwari is an asset to New Amsterdam, however she got through the door." Lauren says firmly. 

 

 

"What is she to you, though, Dr Bloom? Why weren't you able to trust in this new relationship to progress without interference?" the question was firm. 

 

"I don't know." Lauren says honestly. 

 

Lauren doesn't answer the question; she knows such tactics are putting a roadblock in her recovery, but she doesn't adequately explain why she was so willing to ask such questions. She is making a distinction without a difference, Her therapist cannot reveal any of their conversations without cause, but that doesn't mean the truth won't come out one way or another. It doesn't matter that this thing has been going on for years; Lauren Bloom did not want to add her name to the list. 

 

 

 

 

***

 

"Leyla is mad at me." Lauren says gloomily 

 

"That's not surprising, the Demon with Heart Eyes, isn't going to last long." Casey points out while slamming her locker. 

 

Lauren Bloom appreciates her favourite nurses' candour in all most all situations, but his neat assessment still stings. She knows that Leyla's boss presents many challenges, but Lauren did not prepare well enough for the emotional labour. Although Leyla is a brilliant doctor who ran several refugee programmes, she shouldn't be stuck in the trenches with many children who can barely distinguish between M.R.I.s and C.A.T. scans. All Leyla wants is to fit in, and Lauren has the impulsive urge to help her shine. 

 

"What do I do if I am an attending demon with heart eyes for one particular resident?" Lauren complains weakly. 

 

"If you want the girlfriend in question to survive the Shark Tank life that is residency, I would work on my acting skills. I'm sure Lauren Bloom got through her residency without a scratch but some aren't so lucky." Casey warns seriously. 

 

"Okay, I'll do my best." Lauren resolves dubiously. 

 

"Never underestimate the wounded pride of somebody who constantly faces the notion that they don't deserve the opportunity they have. Sleeping with the boss almost writes the script for her detractors." 

 

"Are you going to act as my translator to such feelings, Nurse Acosta?" Lauren asks sceptically. 

 

"As if you listen when your adrenaline gets in on the floor, instructions outside medicine tend to take repetition, Dr Bloom. So instead of focusing on the prize, five residents get through the programme without any of them wanting to quit medicine to join clown college. Trust Leyla to fight her battles without her white night. Leyla isn't replicating Harry Potter anymore" Casey holds up his hands warningly. 

 

Lauren bites back the urge to come up the retorts to the argument, but she is in no position to; medical school and residency were never in doubt for the daughter of a prominent philanthropist. Leyla will always be acutely aware of their difference in status in that they speak difficult languages. Lauren enjoys giving away her trust money because it sits heavily on her shoulders. She sees a problem and finds a way to write a cheque. Although making life easier for Leyla Shinwari is top of her goals right now, that doesn't mean much such action is the responsible thing to do at any given time. 

 

 

***

 

"How is your patient?" Leyla asks softly

 

Lauren hates that Leyla looks around before approaching her in the hallway. Despite her best efforts, Lauren didn't manage to find her girlfriend again after talking to Kevin. There were charts to review and insurance to argue over. Every time Lauren gets something close to a break, Leyla is at the centre of a resident huddle, and she knows enough not to bridge that gap again. She wants to write a note at leaving it in her locker, but such action seems so high school that it would be embarrassing. So instead, she paces the halls feel uncomfortable and emotional. The feeling of powerlessness is an unusual and unwelcome one. 

 

" Learning to take his medication in a dyslexic friendly format, he has one of my shiny new business cards." Lauren offers with a nervous smile. 

 

"Excellent detective work, Dr Bloom." the smile Leyla offers is genuine. 

 

"I had no right to 'out' you or our relationship, even if I was trying to work any programme, it was selfish and demeaning both as an attending and girlfriend." Lauren struggles to keep her voice from shaking. 

 

"You have no clue when it means to have true insecurity in your position here, Lauren. Whether you like it or not, I am at the bottom of the hierarchy here; all my documents from home mean next to nothing; you can't rescue me from the barbs, Lauren." Leyla keeps her voice neutral. 

 

"I'll try to do better; my therapist and Casey were pretty firm on those points, complete with examples." Lauren replies sheepishly. 

 

"Aren't those two positions interchangeable, Dr Bloom?" Leyla asks jokingly. 

 

"I refuse not to praise you for doing good work and reaching my standards; I can be biased and the topic true. You are a fantastic doctor." Lauren encourages. 

 

"Lauren, you can't be effective boss when you smile at me like that. The weeks are going to pass slowly for me in the crosshairs," Leyla sighs in a warning. 

 

"Leyla..." Lauren tries again 

 

"Somebody will be watching us, taking notes and giving me more nicknames. We need to kick the habit of having deep conversations in the corroders." Leyla warns, turning to walk away. 

 

"So we'll squeeze it sometimes in the 23rd hour of the day?" Lauren jokes somewhat helplessly.  

 

"Something like that, we better get going, Dr Bloom." But, Leyla says, there is a certain tenderness in her voice. 

 

Lauren can see the tension in the set of her girlfriend's shoulders, but she cannot follow. She has paperwork to finish up before clocking out for the day. Leyla wouldn't appreciate taking their argument or disagreement to other parts of the hospital; they would likely cross paths with one of the others. She feels foolish and uncertain facing such emotions in a place where that is usually her refuge from such pain. For all her faults, she wasn't typically a New Amsterdam doctor with relationship drama. 

 

"I'll see you after work?" Lauren calls, trying to keep the tremble from her voice. 

 

"Whenever that will be, life of a resident. Back to the grind, Boss." Leyla's words are far from casual. 

 

 After all her efforts to avoid communication, it seems strange that she finds herself at an impasse at both work and home. Lauren pauses to take several deep breaths before turning her attention to her next responsibility. Her hands creep to her pocket, searching for the pill bottle that will never be there again. Spending time with Leyla Shinwari means everything right now, but they are going to need to figure out this new hellish schedule. Again, Lauren feels the pressure to keep everything together. While maintaining a smile on her face, even if it is fake for a while. She resolves to swipe one of the doughnuts from the staffroom, even if only the plain ones are left. 

 

 

***

 

"You may not want power over the situation but that doesn't mean that the dynamic doesn't exist." 

 

Lauren muses on the words as she sits in her office, waiting for Leyla to finish for the night. Technically speaking, the residents are done for the shift. However, that doesn't mean anything when you are in the middle of finishing patients and rounds. Leyla is stubborn and prideful enough to double-check every patient to avoid her. They aren't fighting precisely, but neither is the fight resolved; the competing demands on their times interrupt any progress.  

 

"I heard that I might not be the only token crip in the place. Is it true that Dr Goodwin is looking to hire the Deaf oncology Marilee Matlin type goodness who practically writes multiple inspirational biographical movies?" Dr Walsh calls from the door 

 

 

 

 

“I resent that notion, you should know by now I’m famous for many lack of compassion and consideration, as if that would translate to letting standards slide in my programme. If you don’t give yourself credit, have faith in my obsessive need for control and complete disregard for the Human Resource instructions that don’t benefits the Emergency Department.” Lauren glowers sharply.

 

Lauren gives her chief resident sceptically, not quite sure how to take the humour. However, Mark is doing a decent job of obeying her instructions and taking over the teaching. So far, they aren't coming to her with too many problems or complaints. Lauren is aware she doesn't make life easy for the other doctor, but he seems to appreciate the no-nonsense approach. At least he hasn't cried to Brantley yet. Lauren suspects he enjoys the opportunity and doesn't mind working hard. 

 

"Knowing what Max Goodwin does on any given moment is an art form, especially when he is rescuing the place from an arsonist." Lauren points out. 

 

"Your girlfriend isn't doing a bad job, a little grumpy but it’s not hard to see why." Mark says casually as he grabs for a protein bar. 

 

"You don't need to report back to me about Leyla; if anything will get the gossip mill started, it would that, Walsh." Lauren points out somewhat derisively. 

 

"It's cute that you think she isn't already running a gauntlet of gossip; that wasn't why I wasn't reporting back; you need to know that I'm not treating her any differently, either in your favour or against it. So far, she works hard and doesn't complain, I'll say as much if they start to raise a fuss with me." Walsh shrugs and returns his attention to the food.

 

"Thanks, Walsh, I appreciate the vote of support." Lauren feels a genuine smile break out.

 

"Its early days still but so far", Mark warns, but he returns a quick grin. 

 

"I know being my Chief Resident is far from easy, having my girlfriend on the books is the latest challenge." Lauren calls over the younger man. 

 

"It's the old adage about New Amsterdam, if you can work here, your CV can survive anywhere?" Doctor Walsh jokes while leaning against the door. 

 

"Or develop a weird obsession and appreciation for making hospitals greener and more sustainable. Sometimes I think Max Goodwin should narrate audiobooks; I sometimes dream his lectures." Lauren shrugs her shoulders in confusion. 

 

Lauren feels her anxiety and pressure ease slightly, knowing that she has something close to an ally on the floor. Floyd and Helen are in a different category than her friends in other departments. Besides, both in their romantic entanglement. From the sounds of things, her love for Leyla. is on the mild end. Lauren does not make a natural teacher at best times; balancing new private life makes things even harder. Still, she wouldn't trade the situation for anything. She resolves to attend anything N.A. meeting before work tomorrow. 

 

 

***

 

"Would you be willing to extend your bribery to dinner or is your cap at the doughnuts?" 

 

Lauren stops her dejected walk and turns to face Leyla, leaning against the lobby wall with her hands shoved in her pockets. She looks tired, but no other emotion flickers across her face. Truthfully, Lauren is lurking in the corridors because Lauren doesn't want to face the prospect of going home alone. She didn't know precisely where Leyla was, but she didn't want to confront the notion that they were still fighting. Conflict is still exhausting when you are bothering to feel; there are so many feelings that the Adderall no longer conceals. It's almost more tiring than her day job. 

 

"Hey, I thought you were mad at me?" Lauren asks the question tentatively. 

 

"Oh, I'm 100% still angry, but I'm also not seven years old. You don't stop being my girlfriend because you were an overly sentimental idiot at work. That's part of being in a relationship, working through obstacles when they appear, not finding creative ways to escape them." Leyla pushes off the wall to meet her. 

 

"The Bloom Family was asleep during Functional Communication 101, maybe dating a girl would have set me a better path." Lauren muses, pulling her closer. 

 

"Well, I figured that out about 20 minutes after meeting you; it's not my gender that defines our relationship, Lauren; it's the effort to make a real go of things, perhaps for the first time in either of our adult lives." Leyla disagrees firmly. 

 

"How was your first day on the job aside from your boss?" Lauren asks with genuine interest. 

 

"Much, the same as my residency was the first time, though New Amsterdam has a few luxuries that Lahore centres lacks, although the reverse is true as well, pretty sure my stamina was better than too." Leyla replies, leaning to crack her back. 

 

"I'll be in charge of food for the week and any maintenance on the tree; how is that?" Lauren tries not to sound too earnest. 

 

"By which you mean you will consult Google and hire Dougie, the UberEATS Driver who you constantly over tip because you see me in every interaction?" Leyla challenges as they reach the end of the block. 

 

"I have many flaws, Dr Shinwari, but Dougie and I have a tight relationship, don't demean my Uber game. The company is evil in New York, but I try to overcompensate with zeros." Lauren leans closer and bumps her shoulder. 

 

Lauren feels a flash of guilt that will always linger at the back of her mind. Zach Ligons was an example of a relationship trend where she didn't put any effort to make the situation better. There were good plenty in the mix who did their best to love her healthily. Almost all her relationships, going back to childhood, end in similar ways. Lauren retreats into a familiar pattern of work, A.D.H.D. and medication overuse. Leyla didn't break her habit, but she is why Lauren is smiling through the worst days. 

 

"You have me at the idea of tree maintenance and food; I'm a fairly easy sell." Leyla grins at her. 

 

Things with Leyla are so different; if she were in a healthier state, perhaps the past mistakes of relationships wouldn't be so brutal. Part of her programme is accountable; she will be connecting with the ghosts of boyfriends and hookups past. She never had a relationship with a woman before, but that doesn't mean that there weren't women who wanted to have romantic overtones. Lauren Bloom, in her 20s, was careless with plenty of people's hearts. 

 

 

***

 

"Shall we walk for a while, get some fresh air? Leyla suggests rolling her neck. 

 

Lauren resists the urge to sigh, knowing that Leyla will want to talk through the day. One thing about being in a genuine relationship is that communication isn't optional. Leyla is serious about almost everything in her life, including making a go of the Boss/Girlfriend thing. That means not letting things fester or whatever medical metaphor you want at the time. Lauren sees her plans for dinner, and trashy T.V. start to fade away like a distant dream. 

 

"Sure, whatever you want." Lauren agrees easily. 

 

Leyla may know she is lying, but they start walking anyway, pausing to put on their masks. The regulations are getting less strict, but there is a principle to uphold. Lauren feels a surge of pride and relief when Leyla takes her hand. Her girlfriend likes to take evening walks, which is a hangover from her days as a Drive Time driver, without the freedom to move. Their shifts are crazy enough, but she does her best to fit at least one on most days. Lauren is starting to enjoy them too. 

 

"it’s possibly a good idea to go over some ground rules for work." Leyla asserts, starting to lead the way.

 

"Treating you entirely 'normally' isn't going to happen, but I will try and acknowledge the achievements of the children at various intervals; maybe I'll settle for ignoring your 67% of the shift unless I am giving you direct orders, how does that sound?" Lauren questions keeping her gaze ahead

 

"An oddly specific number, we'll try and figure things including no praising me for routine tasks, including cleaning out and wound and basic monitoring vital signs." Leyla holds up her hands authoritatively. 

 

"No compliments. The tall one doesn't seem to be able to read a blood pressure machine." Lauren grumbles under her breath. 

 

"Lauren, you do realise that we are going to have talked about this and keep checking in; our dynamic is not going to get any easier. Brantley will need to review my residency reports, and we will be under harder scrutiny with our every interaction, my every mark or grading in this placement." Leyla sounds both stern and sad. 

 

"We'll make it work because there is no other choice?" Lauren repeats the conclusion from weeks ago.

 

"I love you for taking this path with me, one long processing conversation at a time." Leyla agrees with a hitch in her voice. 

 

Lauren feels a hard lump in her throat, knowing that this fragile peace may not last long, especially if the younger residents will be as resentful as Walsh and Leyla fear. Of course, she will defend Leyla to the moon and back, but that may not be within her power if things spiral out of control. Even doctors in senior positions do not have control of residency decisions, especially when it comes to grading reviews and recommendations.  

 

 

***

 

"I'm going to be horrible at this, I can't see you as just another resident. It was foolishly and typically arrogant of me to think that it was possible."

 

Lauren confesses quietly as they are getting ready for bed that night. Leyla may be forgiving, but that doesn't mean the tension leaves entirely. Dr Shinwari may be the light of her world, but that doesn't mean she has the same standing as the rest of the staff in New Amsterdam. Leyla is still the fifth resident in a world of four, an immigrant with an uncertain status. Lauren is struggling to keep those two principles are at war with each other. She feels a sense of profound relief to be inside this apartment, falling into the domestic routines. It makes her smile to see Leyla's tree standing proudly in the corner. 

 

"We do need to work on your lying game or at least the ability to look something close to neutral. I learnt that with that whole effort to break up with me, it would be more convincing if you didn't look like a kicked puppy." Leyla advises coming in after brushing her teeth.  

 

"Thank you for not buying my pathetic poker face." Lauren reaches over to hug her. 

 

"Please, you could rival a Disney character when you put your whole heart into something, be it medicine or relationship." Leyla waves her hands dismissively. 

 

"Well, don't go advertising your secret power over me." Lauren offers with a timid smile. 

 

"It's not that much of a secret, but I promise to use such power wisely." Leyla looks serious for a moment. 

 

Lauren feels her cheeks flush at the reminder of her vulnerability around this woman in particular. Her many years of hiding her emotions may be healthy, but they form a security blanket. It is disconcertingly wonderful to know that Leyla can see past that with seemingly so little effort. In all her previous relationships combined, nobody would make comparisons to Disney characters to describe her temperament. So she enjoys attending that they all fear, still meeting Leyla's standards for trust and communication feel equally important right now. 

 

"You are always going to be my girlfriend, and I'm proud of it. That doesn't mean I shouldn't try and be respectful of your place in the hierarchy, even though you shouldn't be there, to begin with, it the best I can offer, draw the line at letting you tale terrible public transport in New York, though. Besides us riding into together might be the only time to socialise." Lauren argues reasonably. 

 

"We can debate the finer points later, come and have a drink with me." Leyla instructs warmly. 

 

Lauren can appreciate that Leyla knows the limits of her emotional labour. Some of her favourite times with the other woman is when they settle in for their evening. Leyla loves reading under a fluffy blanket; Lauren sometimes massages her feat or answer questions about her studies. Her ridiculously big apartment is far better with someone else moving around the rooms. The space still looks sparse, but the little touches of Leyla are impossible to ignore. Likewise, the fridge and kitchen are reaping the benefits of having real meals. 

 

"I love you, Lauren Bloom, but you can't be my safety net for the rest of my career. There will be obstacles that you cannot overcome, no matter how much money or influence you can throw at the problem. Loving me is not the same as building me a castle in the air with magic." Leyla points out sombrely. 

 

"But that is the definition of my life plan, now that I'm contending with my Jewish elitism head-on, complete with monthly charity board meetings with my mother. All I can promise is to try and listen and respect your boundaries, even the ones that hold you to a higher standard than most of the doctors in hospital put together." Lauren insists with a stubborn frown. 

 

"Do you still want me to come to therapy with you next week?" 

 

"Yes, she is keen to meet you either by Zoom or in person; you come up often, in a variety of contexts, mainly with me singing your praises like a teenager." Lauren confesses 

 

Leyla’s only answer is to smile.