Short Stories On The Odyssey: Carmen Alone

A Mystery Story


Carmen opened her eyes to a dusty room. She squinted against the harsh sunlight reflected around her yellow room, and slowly pulled the heavy comforter away. Her eyes quickly adjusted, but her eyes remained in a squint. This—this wasn't her house. She thought back to the night before but couldn't remember anything. It felt like ages since she had last been conscious, but she was still groggy. She thought back as far as she could, but nothing came up. The most recent memory was from when she was little. A flash of herself standing at the back door, looking out at a rainstorm. She knew that it wasn't a recent memory. She felt much older. She furrowed her eyebrows and sat back on the bed, rubbing her forehead. It felt like someone or something was blocking her memories. She knew who she was, but how old, where, or what her personality was...She couldn't even remember what she looked like.

She would have run, but there was nobody there. The room, at least, was deserted and what she could hear of the house, silent. She glanced around. The room was painted baby yellow and was a rectangle. It was narrower than it was long. At the front of the room was a window, directly across from that the bed. The bed was made of silver metal, the headboard nothing more than some silver poles. The bedspread was an old-fashioned farm-themed blanket. It was covered in light pink, blue, and yellow flowers, and was tied together with a frilly yellow border. Matching pillows rested at the top. Carmen felt nauseous just looking at it. She panned her eyes down the room, to the other side. She squinted again, unable to see anything clearly. She saw a mound of…something in one corner and a black…something else in the other pile.

Glasses. She thought as it suddenly clicked. I must need glasses. I wonder if whoever brought me here left them with me, or took them. Maybe they just fell off in a struggle, if I was captured.

She rose from the bed and walked to the windowsill, closely inspecting its white paint. She soon found a round pair of glasses. She wasn't sure if they were hers. They certainly didn't feel like her style, but she slipped them on anyway. The prescription was perfect, and she could see across the room. She glanced back on the bed to see if she was missing anything. On top of the comforter, she suddenly noticed an outfit. A short but stretchy skirt colored a muted steel blue, and a white button-up shirt covered in a tiny flowered print. There was also a pair of flats on the floor, the solid-colored shoes only a shade darker blue than the skirt. She groaned as she looked at it, then glanced down at what she was wearing. She wore a set of similarly patterned pajamas, the only major difference being that her shirt and shorts were covered in a black powdery substance. She glanced at the clean outfit, then rolled her eyes and put it on. Directly above it on the wall hung a brown knapsack. She took it off the wall and found just a disposable bottle of water, and a piece of paper with directions on it.

She slung the knapsack over her shoulder and crossed to the other side of the room. The air was thick with dust, and the other side of the room was covered in furniture. A couch, table set, and chairs were all piled in a corner, visible through the clear tarp that covered them. Carmen noticed the door and stepped towards it. She reached for its handle but dropped her arm. All around the door were scorch marks. The yellow paint was marred with black ash that licked up the wall. She shuddered, then pulled the door. She frowned when she found that it didn't open for her. She tugged again, more firmly, but still, it didn't budge.

Carmen pushed the glasses up the bridge of her nose, then went to the window. It was locked from the inside and slid easily up when she pushed it. She climbed out into the fresh air and dropped a few feet down onto a dirt road. Still needing answers and now, a bathroom, she made herself lower than the window and crouched around to the front of the house. Unsure if anyone was inside, she didn't want to take any chances.

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To The Nursing Major During The Hardest Week Of The Year

I know that no grade can possibly prove what kind of nurse you will be. I know that no assignment will showcase your compassion. I know that no amount of bad days will ever take away the empathy inside of you that makes you an exceptional nurse.


To the Nursing Major During Finals Week,

I know you're tired, I know you're stressed, and I know you feel like you can't go on. I know that no part of this seems fair, and I know you are by far the biggest critic of yourself. I know that you've thought about giving up. I know that you feel alone. I know that you wonder why in the world you chose one of the hardest college majors, especially on the days it leaves you feeling empty and broken.

But, I also know that you love nursing school. I know your eyes light up when you're with patients, and I know your heart races when you think of graduation. I know that you love the people that you're in school with, like truly, we're-all-in-this-together, family type of love. I know that you look at the older nurses with admiration, just hoping and praying that you will remain that calm and composed one day. I know that every time someone asks what your college major is that you beam with pride as you tell them it's nursing, and I know that your heart skips a beat knowing that you are making a difference.

I know that no grade can possibly prove what kind of nurse you will be. I know that no assignment will showcase your compassion. I know that a failed class doesn't mean you aren't meant to do this. I know that a 'C' on a test that you studied so. dang. hard. for does not mean that you are not intelligent. I know that no amount of bad days will ever take away the empathy inside of you that makes you an exceptional nurse.

I know that nursing school isn't fair. I know you wish it was easier. I know that some days you can't remember why it's worth it. I know you want to go out and have fun. I know that staying up until 1:00 A.M. doing paperwork, only to have to be up and at clinicals before the sun rises is not fair. I know that studying this much only to be failing the class is hard. I know you wish your friends and family understood. I know that this is difficult.

Nursing school isn't glamorous, with the white lab coat and stethoscope. Nursing school is crying, randomly and a lot. Nursing school is exhaustion. Nursing school is drinking so much coffee that you lose track. Nursing school is being so stressed that you can't eat. Nursing school is four cumulative finals jam-packed into one week that is enough to make you go insane.

But, nursing school is worth it. I know that when these assignments are turned in and finals are over, that you will find the motivation to keep going. I know that one good day of making a difference in a patient's life is worth a hundred bad days of nursing school.

Keep hanging in there, nursing majors. It'll all be worth it— this I know, for sure.

So, if you have a nursing major in your life, hug them and tell them that you're proud of them. Nursing school is tough, nursing school is scary, and nursing school is overwhelming; but a simple 'thank-you' from someone we love is all we need to keep going.


A third-year nursing student who knows

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To The High School Graduating Seniors

I know you're ready, but be ready.



I am not going to say anything about senioritis because I was ready to get out of there and I'm sure you are too; however, in your last months living at home you should take advantage of the luxuries you will not have in a college dorm. The part of college seen in movies is great, the rest of it is incredibly inconvenient. It is better to come to terms with this While you still have plenty of time to prepare and enjoy yourself.

Perhaps one of the most annoying examples is the shower. Enjoy your hot, barefoot showers now because soon enough you will have no water pressure and a drain clogged with other people's hair. Enjoy touching your feet to the floor in the shower and the bathroom because though it seems weird, it's a small thing taken away from you in college when you have to wear shoes everywhere.

Enjoy your last summer with your friends. After this summer, any free time you take is a sacrifice. For example, if you want to go home for the summer after your freshman year and be with your friends, you have to sacrifice an internship. If you sacrifice an internship, you risk falling behind on your resume, and so on. I'm not saying you can't do that, but it is not an easy choice anymore.

Get organized. If you're like me you probably got good grades in high school by relying on your own mind. You think I can remember what I have to do for tomorrow. In college, it is much more difficult to live by memory. There are classes that only meet once or twice a week and meeting and appointments in between that are impossible to mentally keep straight. If you do not yet have an organizational system that works for you, get one.

I do not mean to sound pessimistic about school. College is great and you will meet a lot of people and make a lot of memories that will stick with you for most of your life. I'm just saying be ready.

-A freshman drowning in work

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