Miana Dalko fumbled with Hart House’s heavy main door, struggling to hold it and not drop her lunch or bag. Once safe from the door’s clutches, she shook off the autumn morning chill, staring out into the emptiness of the main lobby and reception area she’d called her work home for over five years. The stairs and elevators were now roped off, silent dark holes to an equally desolate second floor now vacant and mostly cleared out in preparations for the closing.
Abby’s always cheery smile and morning greeting sounded to her now as only memory. A haunting memory. She shook free of it and moved behind the reception area, dropping her datebook and papers then continued on to the west door, using her card to unlock and move into the dining area and heart of the facility.
The door barring the now menacing south end of the hall, used mostly by laundry and maintenance, swung open.
Miana nearly choked on a breath of air that settled only when Craig’s eyes, over a pile of fresh white linens, met hers. Gone was his quick smile, but he still grinned and nodded as he said his, “Good morning.”
Miana forced a grin. “Just another Wednesday,” she said.
“One day closer to Friday,” Craig said.
“And I’ll see this place Saturday and Sunday too,” she said with a chuckle. “It’s my weekend.”
Craig’s smile shivered a little, almost unnoticeable. “Again?”
“Yeah, Elrick says he needs it off for school study stuff again,” Miana said
Craig nodded in understanding. “It’ll be a slow weekend for you. A safe one."
Miana nodded, then used her card once more to open the staff lounge door, letting it quickly latch behind her to seal her off from the ugly desolation that now plagued Hart House.
She hooked her jacket in the cubby by the door, next to Craig’s black wind breaker and Lamartha’s long-pleated beige coat. Lamartha’s coat was always there, whatever one she chose to wear for the day. The woman practically lived at Hart House. Miana shuddered at the thought, never wanting her life to be so dictated by any job.
Miana moved through the motions of placing her lunch in the small refrigerator and pouring her coffee. She couldn’t pull her eyes from Abby’s pink mug with the white cat sitting on the “have a purrfect morning” cluster of words.
She wondered if anyone would claim Abby’s work items as she stirred the creamer into the dark liquid steaming inside her plain green mug. She shook her head against that notion and moved out into the main area again, her back to the door that had hidden such horror only days ago. The body and blood were all removed and things cleaned, but the sight of it still burned in her mind’s eye. She forced a calm pace back toward the main lobby and greeted Dania and Markie as they rounded from the front door headed into the kitchen.
Hart House was such a well oiled machine even tragedy didn’t shatter it, though things were a little darker, filled with gloom. Now the morning routine included the new RN rushing through, a sour lady, though Miana couldn’t blame her. Every morning the poor woman had to drive so far out of her way just to pass the meds since Abby was gone.
Miana sucked a long drawl of the hot coffee, shook off the remnants of the morning’s chill and gloomy thoughts, then poked the computer on the reception desk into waking. It was time to focus on the residents, time to prep for the meeting in fifteen minutes, reviewing the residents’ documentation and preparing herself to be ready for their residents’ full morning routines.