Interview The earliest excerpt that I've shared so far.

Everyone who "Likes" and makes suggestions motivates me to continue exploring this story. Some of the most effective comments ask for more detail about a moment, event or character.
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"I see that you have been working as a medical aide. Tell me about that." She tilts her head to one side as she looks at me across her desk.

"What do you want to know?" Oh dear. I hope I said that right. 

"What do you do each day? What's a typical day like?"

My hands are neatly in my lap. I'm sitting up proper, like Sister Lucy taught me at church on Sunday when I told her about this job interview. "I talk with the patients to make sure they don't have any problems bigger than what they came in for."

"How do you do that?

"I ask them about their symptoms. They usually come in with colds or aches. The doctor guesses what they need, and I just confirm what they told the nurse over the phone, and look for signs that maybe something more is wrong."

"Like what?"

"Like a stroke or abuse or something."

"Do you meet with all of the practice's patients?"

"No. Just the ones who have common symptoms."

"If I came in and told you that I had a sore throat, what would you say?"

"Well, first I'm supposed to read your chart to see what the notes say from when you called to make the appointment. Then I would --"

"Let's pretend that the notes simply say that I have a sore throat."

"OK. Well, then, first I would --"

"Let's pretend that we're in the doctor's office now."

"Oh. OK. Like play-acting? Well, hi."

"Hi."

"I see here that you have a sore throat."

"Yes."

"When did it start?"

"Yesterday."

"What does it feel like?"

"It's sore."

"Is it dry?"

"Yes."

"Have you been coughing?"

"No."

"What makes it feel better or worse?"

"I don't know."

This is easy. I can pretend that she's just telling me the same thing that's in her file. I continue, "Does it hurt more in the morning or evening?"

"All the time."

"OK." I pretend to fumble with papers. "Here's a prescription that might help. We'll see you back in a week."

"OK." She looks at me and waits. What's she waiting for? I'm about to laugh with nervousness, but she says, "Is that all?"

"Yeah?" What's she waiting for? "Well, goodbye."

"Goodbye." I giggle with relief that I must have said the right thing.

She continues, "Good. Now, let's say that I come back in a week."

I guess I blew it and she's giving me another chance to do well. "OK. How is your throat?"

"All better." 

I realize that my posture had slumped. I sit up tall again. "Good. I'm glad that we could help. Let us know when we can help again."

"OK." I look back at her and wait for her to speak. I did great. It was a short conversation. She says, "Is that it?"

"Yes." I beam. Oh Damn! What did I do wrong now? I try to replay the scene in my head. Maybe I should have said goodbye, but she moves on.

"OK. Let's try again. I'm the same patient this time, coming in with a sore throat."

"OK." I take a deep breath. Another chance to get it right. I hope this goes better this time. "Hi. I see that you have a sore throat."

"Yes."

"When did it start? Oh! You're having trouble breathing! Just a minute while I get help." I look at the wall. "Do you want me to press the call button?"

"No. That's OK. But if you did, at your office, who would come?"

"A nurse."

"Do you ever tell patients that you're not a nurse?"

"No! We're trained not to let the patients know. I probably shouldn't be telling you." I'd like to gulp my words back down.

"Why?"

I muster up all the fear that I can, and look at her with pleading eyes, imagining what would happen if a nurse, or, God forbid, what a doctor would do if they found me here. I press into this woman's mind that she has to rescue me from such a den of thieves. "Because we might get shut down, and even go to jail, if people find out! I've heard it said that the doctor charges for each visit as an office visit, as if he saw each patient. We are his eyes and ears. We have to sign off that the person has the symptoms that are in the file, so he can look the authorities in the eye and say that he met with each patient, because he did, because we're his eyes and ears. He reads all of our notes, so he's not really lying."

She turns pages in her file. "What's your favorite part of the job?"

"Umm... Leaving Friday evening. No, just kidding." I wave my hands in the air, as if I can erase what I just said. "Umm... Meeting lots of different people. Yeah. I meet people who wouldn't never talk with me otherwise."

"Do you wear a uniform?"

"Yeah."

"Sounds like you don't like it."

"No! I'd rather wear my own clothes."

"What else don't you like about your job?"

"Oh, I don't know, nothing."

"What are the hardest parts of your job?"

"Getting to work on time. No! Just kidding." Sometimes I've really got to keep my mouth shut. "Umm... Seeing so many people that I don't always recognize them when they come back. I'm good with names and faces, but I see so many..."

"Well, thank you for meeting with me today. I appreciate your taking the time to come all the way out here."

"Yeah, sure. No problem." Then I remember to say, "Goodbye."
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See links to all of the excerpts that I've posted by going to http://weavergrace.com/2014/09/17/river-novel/

Photo credits:
Ukraine dnepr at krementchug, by Lutz Fischer-Lamprecht http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Ukraine_dnepr_at_krementchug.JPG Licensed by Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike 3.0 Unported. 
Kissing Crane Leg Knife, by James Case https://www.flickr.com/photos/capcase/7348516434/in/photostream/ Licensed by Creative Commons Attribution 2.0.
Modified by Grace Buchanan.
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