B Betty, RN

We were once starry eyed nurses, convinced we would change the world. We would be the helpmates and Saviors we knew the world needed and wanted. We end up  broken like those we were trying to save. The people who come into institutions whole and leave broken are different than the patients who come in broken and leave whole.

Nurses, doctors, technicians- we stand daily at the abyss of death only to use our knowledge and magic to bring patients back from that perceived darkness. We pat each other on the back, cheer our own fabricated sense of Divinity. We are Demi gods. We are told we are, too. We believe every word of it.

Tear stained faces turned up to us in supplication. “What would we do without you? You’re an angel! I prayed for help and here you are….”  The drunkenness of re-starting hearts when there is no life, inject potions that hold the secrets to life –they are what allows us to fly. But only for so long. Even gods can’t fly forever.

When our wings falter, the shock of it almost throws us off course. We realize how tired we are, that we have been flying far too long. When gods fall, they are problematic. When gods need to rest their wings, pluck old feathers, molt and renew like earth bound chickens, they are never allowed to fly again. Their wings are clipped, cut jagged with rusty shears. The wings are clipped in such a way that their hideousness and inability for flight are visible  for all to witness. Like a naked chicken who has lost all feathers, the shame is all consuming, No one remembers that new feathers will soon grow when allowed time and rest. Until then, there shall be no golden eggs from a featherless bird. Without eggs or feathers or flight, no bird is useful. Except maybe in soup.

So the featherless Demi gods are banished with their broken and bleeding wings. They leave behind a trail of fallen feathers, a trail of down that could be gathered, if only the source wasn’t a pariah. There are many broken winged Demi gods but they wander alone, through the grey fog of burnout, the wastelands and smoke filled barren hills of compassion fatigue, all the while dragging their broken and mangled wings behind them.

Shame.  Separation. Banishment. It is what happens when gods are no longer able to give life at all costs, when they admit they are more human than diety. These fallen? They are the birds who fall from the sky out of nowhere. The ones who careen into windshields or plate glass windows, leaving faint images of open wings upon the glass.

They die instantly, broken wings and broken body crumpled, lifeless in a pool of blood. They are swarmed by ants until a human with compassion gently picks her up, examines with curiosity her crushed, limp form. They may brush off the ants, wrap her in a shroud of plastic and newspaper. If she’s lucky, she’ll get a proper burial, but most likely will end up wrapped with disgust and dropped  unceremoniously into the trash with a thud.

“Stupid bird! Why didn’t you see where you were going?”
Why? Why indeed?

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