Image by Vidar Nordli-Mathisen


a short story

Cassie was sitting at the bus stop waiting for the 8:15 AM to take her to Los Robles Hospital, where her shift started at 9:00 AM. 

She checked her watch and sighed. If she arrived late one more time, Mr. Jones would surely fire her. At least, that was his threat when she was ten minutes late last week. 

Being a nurse was not an easy job because of the long shifts, but she loved every minute of it. 

Another glance at her watch and the time showed 8:20 AM and no sign of her bus. She considered walking, but she’d never make it on time. 

‘What if the bus were early on its schedule today?’ She considered it since she was alone at the bus stop. 

Cassie looked again at the road, and instead of a bus, a white van was coming in her direction. When it reached Cassie, the van stopped, and the driver opened the passenger window. 

“Do you need a ride?” he asked. 

She couldn’t see his face as it was half hidden by his cap and sunglasses. 

Cassie debated what to do next. Her mother’s words had been banging in her head since she was a kid. ‘Don’t talk to strangers! Don’t talk to strangers! Don’t talk to strangers!’ 

Then, she remembered Mr. Jones’s threats. 

‘Oh, what the hell!’ she thought. 

“Yes! I’m going to Los Robles Hospital.” 

“Cool! It’s on my way. Get in.” 

Cassie hesitated for a second then got into the van. The interior was filthy and cluttered, and she was struggling to cope with the stench. 

“Thanks! I was afraid I’d be late and wouldn’t make it on time.” 

“No problem.” He looked at her and smiled. 

She could see his face now; his smile was genuine. He had perfect, even white teeth. Cassie relaxed and smiled back. 

She wished she could see his eyes. 

“So, what do you do for a living?” She asked. 

“I’m a dog trainer.” 

“Wow!” That explains the stench, she thought. 

“Yep! You don’t need to be polite. I know my car stinks, and I’m sorry.” He laughed. 

“No! Well, maybe just a bit.” She smiled. 

“I’m Jake, by the way.” 

“Nice to meet you, Jake! I’m Cassie.” 

“Cassie. Short for Cassandra?” 


“So, you work at the hospital. What do you do? Are you a doctor?” 

“No. I’m a nurse.” 

“Do you like your job?” 

“I love it!” 

“How about dogs? Do you like them?” 

“Yes! I had a terrier when I was a kid. His name was Thunder.” 


“Yes. It was raining when my parents gave him to me. When I was trying to find a name for him, it thundered. So, that became his name.” 

“Well, if you would like, we could visit my kennel. You can play with the puppies before they are adopted.” 

“Aww, I would love to!” 

“What time does your shift ends?” 

“At 9:00 PM.” 

“I can pick you up. We can grab a pizza, and see the puppies. What do you think?” 

“OK. I’d like that.” 

The van stopped. Cassie looked out the window and realized they were at the Los Robles Hospital entrance. She turned to Jake, and he was smiling again. He took off his sunglasses, and she saw his eyes. They were light blue, trusting eyes. 

“Bye! See you tonight.” 

She got out of the van and walked quickly to clock into her shift. She sighed in relief; there were five minutes to spare. 

She put on her uniform and rushed to room 645. The old lady, Mrs. Meyer, was still asleep. Yesterday, the doctor told Cassie that Mrs. Meyer would probably be released in a couple of days since she recovered faster than expected from her heart attack. 

Cassie watched her sleep and grinned. Then she took a pillow from the closet and pressed it against Mrs. Meyer’s face.