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“Hello,” she said with a slight southern accent and a shy smile.

“Hello, ma’am.”

“Would you like to meet my best friend?”

There was something about her cranberry red sweater set, petite figure, and benign, dentured smile that screamed harmless.


She walked in front of me down a long hall seeped in urine and Lysol. She entered a small bedroom with an unmade long narrow hospital bed.

Today was my first day. I was not sure I was allowed in patients’ rooms, so I hesitated.

She beckoned me to follow her with that same enigmatic smile.

I entered the room and followed her into her private bathroom.

She turned on the light. We were alone.

She smiled again and pointed to her reflection in the mirror.

“Here she is. Mary say hello.”

Her reflection’s silence puzzled her. She traced her reflection’s cheek as a mother would sweep the face of a sick child.

We stood looking at the woman’s wrinkled pale face and misty brown eyes in the mirror in shared reverent quiet for several minutes.

“She must not be feeling well today.”

I backed out of the bathroom and found my way to my car fighting back tears.