A dim grey light slanted through the curtains and landed on the bed. Charlotte groaned and put her hands up to cover her face, flipping on her side. She felt for her phone on her nightstand. She flopped her hand around and heard something fall to the floor.
“You’re kidding,” she cracked open her eyes and looked at the floor. Her phone had fallen and landed face down. Gingerly she picked it up and checked the time.
“4am? No way, I’m going back to sleep,” Charlotte got out of bed and pulled the curtains a little tighter before scrambling back under her duvet. She had two hours before she had to get up. No way was she gonna even attempt to wake up now.
When she woke up again at 6am, she got out of bed grumpily and began her daily routine. Breakfast, teeth and skincare, makeup, hair, clothes. As she tied her curls into Dutch braids, she looked into the mirror and sighed. The young woman looking back at her was exhausted. Charlotte decided that several cups of coffee should do the trick - it had worked in med school, after all.
After she had made a coffee and put it in her thermal flask (one that said ‘I’m a doctor with good handwriting...don’t trust me.’ It was a gift from her brother Sam), she pulled her phone out and dialled a number.
“Hey, you’ve reached the phone of Harrison Blaylock-Vaughn. Sam, if it’s you, stop slacking and go back to work. Charl, I love you and leave a short message. Anyone else, please call back later.”
Charlotte put the phone between her ear and shoulder as she unlocked the door and picked up her bags.
“Hey Harry. I wanted to ask if your free tomorrow? It’s mom’s birthday next week and we need to organise something. I don’t want to ask Sam myself because he’s...well, he’s annoying,” Charlotte laughed, pulling open the car door and dumping her bags inside. She shifted her weight and put the phone back in her hands. “I mean, you can ask him if you want, I don’t really care. Call me back when you get round to listening to this, or talk to me on your break. I’m taking mine in the third break slot today. Also, check the time. You’re probably late. Love you,” she blew a kiss into the receiver and ended the call. Slamming the passenger door shut, she walked around her car and got in on the other side. Today was going to be one hell of a day.
“Good morning, Dr. Blaylock-Vaughn. I have been informed that your first patient today is a 15-year-old female complaining of severe abdominal pain.”
“Morning RONI,” Charlotte set her things down on the desk, patting the robot on the top of her screen. “Her primary physician has checked that gynaecology won’t be more suited to treat it, right?”
“Yes, Doctor. Her appointment is at 9am. Dr. Müller requested that you completed the rounds with your brother until then.”
“I understand,” Charlotte sat in her chair and put her feet on the desk. “But I didn’t think I was qualified?”
“You most certainly are, Dr. Blaylock-Vaughn.”
Charlotte inwardly cursed the robot. “And if I weren’t to do them? You wouldn’t...snitch, for want of a better word.”
“I would not ‘snitch’, as you put it, but I highly recommend against that option. Dr. Cunningham tried it several times and got caught out anyway. Dr. Patel always just gave him extra work instead, or more difficult patients.”
Charlotte moved from the casual position she was in. Of course RONI has to bring up her first partner. The damn machine never stopped singing his praises. Some days, Charl could deal with it. But not today.
“Well, I’m not Dr. Cunningham. And Chief Müller isn’t Ms. Patel.”
RONI went silent. Charlotte sat in her seat, watching as grey clouds began to gather outside. Looks like a storm she thought. Her mom had always taken her outside when she was young, particularly when it was raining. They would run about in the wet together, drenching themselves until they were dripping. Afterwards, when they would go back in, her father would shake his head and laugh at them, taking their coats. Her mom would give her a bath and hang up the rets of their clothes to dry, before they got a hot cocoa and sat to watch TV together. She really loved rainy days.
Her phone rang, pulling her from the memories. She flipped it over and looked at the caller ID.
“Harry,” she muttered as she picked it up. She put a finger up to shush RONI. “Hi Harry. Where are you?”
“At home, you were right I-” she heard him pulling on a pair of shoes and the phone was muffled for a minute. “Late. Anyway, I’m free on Friday evening. We could go out for dinner? We haven’t talked properly in a while Charl. Like I know we talk at work but..”
“I know. It’s just crazy busy for you and they are not giving me an easy time down here. And I could do with the promotion to Associate Specialist.”
“Yeah, I get if. Dr. Müller seems to be finding my work promising and I hope with the Healing Touch I can become as good as him, but I still have lots of work to do.”
“You’ve only just graduated, calm down.”
Harry laughed. “Yeah.”
“Anyway, speaking of the Chief, I’m supposed to be doing rounds with you until 9. I can cover until you get here but-”
“Oh my god, would you?” Harry said gratefully. “You’re a life saver!”
“Yeah yeah, whatever. Just get your ass here quick because I don’t know your patients. Also, you owe me.” She ended the call. She hadn’t had any idea that Harry was going to try for a specialty doctor position. Seems like they might have a lot to catch up on. Charlotte stretched her back and picked up her stethoscope walking out of the door. Too late, she realised someone was walking towards her. She collided with the other person, who let out a sound of surprise.
“Ah!” Charlotte stumbled backwards. Hana Müller. Okay, she could do this, just don’t blush or stutter. “Sorry Hana.”
Hana smiled. Charlotte could feel her cheeks reddening. “It’s okay.”
“Why are...what brings you down here?”
“I saw a friend on the bus and it turns out she has an appointment with Dr. Goley. So I decided to bring her down here, I’m not technically on-shift until 8.”
“Wait, what’s the time?”
“Ah,” Charlotte felt the panic ease. She turned, flicking her hand up to wave at the surgeon. She didn’t need Hana to see the growing blush on her cheeks. Sam had caught her once, and he still didn’t let her live it down. “I’ll see you around, Dr. Müller.”
“I’m sure you will,” she heard her say as she went round the corner.