Healing Hands

By: Liz Carlton



CHAPTER 1

"I think I made a huge mistake."

I thoughtfully chewed my sushi, trying to make my voice sound casual as I spoke. I didn't like admitting that I had problems and that I had made a mistake about something as permanent as marriage. I especially didn't like admitting all of this to my friend Kay, who always seemed so sure of herself and in control of her life. I knew that plenty of people got divorced all the time, but I just felt like it was an embarrassing thing to have to do- especially after only one year of marriage. I hadn't talked about this to anyone yet, but I had consumed just enough rice wine before our food had arrived to open up about my life a little bit. I have always had trouble doing that.

Kay raised her eyebrows. "Whoa. Really? I didn't expect to hear that. Are you serious, or are you just going through a rough patch?"

"No, I'm serious. I've been feeling like this was a mistake pretty much since we left the courthouse on the day of our wedding." I let out a huge sigh. It actually felt good to tell someone. I had been keeping all of this to myself for the past year, smiling and exclaiming "Great!" whenever anyone asked me that dreaded question - "So how's married life?"

When David and I got married, we hadn't had an actual wedding, with flowers and guests and dancing. Both of my parents died in a car accident ten years ago, when I was just nineteen years old, and I didn't have many close friends. I was never close with my extended family, and when I moved out of state after my parent's accident, I didn't keep in touch with them. I didn't exactly have anyone to invite to a wedding. Plus, the thought of being the center of attention freaked me out. I was actually the one who had insisted we just have a courthouse wedding.

"Shit," Kay said, jabbing at another sushi roll with her chopsticks. "This is news to me. You really do know how to put on a happy face about things, don't you? What are you going to do?"

I made an exasperated sound. "I don't know. This is not the most convenient time to go through a divorce, even if I feel like it is an imminent thing. With graduation coming in a month, I have to focus on passing exams and finishing clinic hours. I'll think about it all after graduation, and then do something. I know it's probably wrong of me to not say anything to him, but I don't have time to deal with the drama right now."

Kay smiled sympathetically. "It's not wrong of you. It seems reasonable. One thing at a time, right? I mean, the divorce court will still be open in a few months." She paused. "I still can't believe we're graduating next month. Holy shit, time flies."

I laughed, feeling giddy with excitement at the thought of almost being done with my nursing degree. "I know, right? It's crazy that we're almost done. How many clinic hours do you still need?"

Kay made a disgusted face. "Way too many to even think about." She stuffed more food into her mouth to take her mind off of it.

Kay and I were both nursing students. We met on our first day of classes, and even though, or maybe because of, the fact that we had opposite personalities, we ended up becoming very good friends over the course of our studies. Kay was boisterous and loud, always the first to speak up and never afraid to boldly declare what was on her mind. I was just the opposite, so quiet that I was often overlooked. I very rarely spoke up about anything at all. We balanced each other perfectly and quickly became friends in class.

At our college of nursing, we were with the same group of classmates from the start of the program all the way until we had graduated. We had all of our classes together and had plenty of time to get to know each other. Kay and I were the only ones in our class that happened to be older students, both of us working on our second degree after we decided that we couldn't actually do anything with our undergrad degrees. Working in an office or getting paid a measly wage as some adjunct professor just didn't cut it. We were both idealistic and had ended up choosing a career in nursing as a way to make a more direct contribution to society. That wasn't going to happen, though, if we didn't get through this last grueling stretch of classes.

I sighed. "Don't worry, I'm behind on hours too." I rolled my eyes.

"Oh, I'm not worried about it." The waiter arrived to fill up our water glasses. "Another sake, please. Large." Kay batted her eyelashes at the waiter, and he let his eyes linger on her for a beat too long.

I had always admired her looks, too. With her slender physique, above average height, and long brunette hair, she looked like some kind of wonder woman goddess. She turned a lot of heads but never seemed to notice all the attention she got. In the four years that I had known her, I had never even seen her date anyone.