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...Out of a Thousand Invitations
“Please let him notice,” I mumble to myself as I attempted to walk pass the group of surgeons gathered around the front elevator doors of the surgical floor.
He had to see me this time.
My hair was professionally washed and styled. My make-up was applied just the way the cosmetic saleswoman had suggested. The earth-tone reds and browns highlighted my subtle beauty, my sparkling eyes.
I wasn't the type of woman a man noticed at first glance. That was not the way my looks worked. No, my physical appeal-- my aesthetics were inclined to surprise, even startle the opposite sex who weren't expecting it.
That was always a quiet boost to my developing ego.
My nails were trimmed, neat. My hands shook slightly from the anxiousness I felt.
I wanted to still the forceful current of electrical excitement that sparked and fired through my body as I glanced briefly at the face of one man in particular, Dr. Jackson Murphy.
My eyes swept across his face. He was a Surgical God— a majestic, vivid creation of a holy power which had fashioned him into flesh and bone and placed him among mortals.
Okay, so maybe that was a slight exaggeration, but Jackson Murphy was the closet thing to perfection my eyes had seen. He was gorgeous. He was bronzed. He was an American wonder.
I adored him. I would have worshiped him if it wasn't against my religion.
I fantasized about the man often and in the most unusual situations. I'd imagine things-- lots of things. Sweet things, innocent things, virgin-like things.
For example, I would envision our first actual meeting-- the time when he'd take note of the quiet, almost invisible laboratory clerk who seldom spoke above a whisper and observed everything.
I'd think of how he'd notice me as I walked the halls of the hospital— how our eyes would suddenly meet and lock— how I'd come to his rescue when he needed—
Stop daydreaming, I giggled quietly. Just walk pass him and do not stare. I cast my eyes downward and then straight ahead. I was coy, but I'd learned to disguise my shyness with a controlled expression and a proud walk.
Now if I could just not stumble. Or trip over my own feet. I hadn't mastered the art of balanced movement without the aid of my contact lenses which I had accidentally dropped on the bathroom floor this morning.
My clumsy feet had shredded, destroyed the one lens and the other contact was useless. I tried wearing it, but found I couldn't function at all. Everything I looked at or touched was distorted-- unbalanced.
So I gave up and put the lens away, but I was not going to let one mishap-- one mistake ruin my plans for New Year's Eve.
No, I wouldn't. I couldn't.
I had spent too much time and saved all of the extra money I had earned working my two part-time jobs in order to complete my fashion makeover which started today.
The astonishing, cool surgeon was going to take note this time. He was about to see another side of me.
That was why I refused to wear the Coco-Cola-bottle glasses that rested in the bottom of my handbag which would have provided temporary vision.
No I was not going to be that girl. I was not going to be the stereotypical chick with a geeky persona and nerd status.
No, those torturous high school days were over; however, with very little visual perception, I was the most awkward moving creature on this floor when it came to walking.
I faltered, staggered and self-corrected— all in a matter of seconds. Why did I have to damage my lenses? Why was I too vain, too stubborn to wear the glasses in my bag?
I glanced quickly over my shoulder and I got my answer; because he was so damn handsome— and smart. I couldn't let him see the real me.
Walk on little girl, I ordered mentally. It is never wise to look at an American God-- a medical phenomena.
Dr. Jackson Murphy was a part of the cardiology team that went from patient room to patient room early in the morning. He and his fellow surgeons checked on the conditions of their preoperative and postoperative cases.
This was usually the time that I walked the distance of the 7th floor Maple Building. I came up with the daily routine a month ago when I realized that the only opportunity I'd get to see the gorgeous black doctor was by walking the halls of the surgical floor at a ridiculously early hour.
But, love was blind and so was I.
As I tried to move casually down the hallway, I heard my heels announcing to the entire floor my every step. The bottom flair of my pleated skirt seemed to smack against its folds in a clapping sound.
Was it my imagination or did several heads lift in response to the loud noise?
I raised my head even higher and as I did so, I realized that I'd forgotten to do something. I tried to remember exactly what it was.
The white coats were a beacon— a visual sign-- a blatant reminder that I'd neglected a very important task this morning. As I tried to concentrate, to think; I immediately realized what it was.
I forgot my mother's Christmas present! I'd left it in my apartment. It was still laying on the kitchen table wrapped in the white/silver gift paper. This day just kept getting better and better--
I stumbled in my new heels.
I lurched forward and for a briefness of a second the ceiling of the hospital began to whirl above my head. Or was I the one turning and spinning out-of-control like a plastic top.
“Ohhh No. Auggghhh!” I let out a yell.
I felt the handbag slide from my shoulder as I fought the threat of sudden floor impact. My eyes widened at the thought of falling in front of everyone-- in front of Dr. Jackson Murphy.
Don't notice me. Don't do it. Not like this. Not with my skirt up-- not with my legs high in the air--
I hit the floor. My bag spun away from me spreading its contents all over the surgical floor. My perfect plan was rapidly falling apart. I felt my dignity leap from my body as it too tried to escape the embarrassment.
“Miss? Are you alright,” I heard approaching steps and a concerned voice.
It was him!
I focus my eyes on the blurry, distant end of the hall and swore softly.
It wasn't supposed to happen like this. Not in front of the entire hospital. Our first meeting was supposed to be graceful, quiet-- romantic.
“I'm okay,” I managed to say in a tiny voice. “I didn't see that happening,” I tried to joke.
“We never do. Let me help you up.” he smiled encouraging me with a gentle hand to my feet.
Then our eyes met. The visual contact was stupendous. It was as though two storm fronts had actually collided. I heard the heavens slip open. I saw light. I felt the floor rumble beneath me and I smelt the air of success--
He was actually talking to me-- staring at me-- examining me so thoroughly that I thought I was an African diamond being discovered amongst the ordinary rocks.
His dark eyes swept across my face.
This was not how I had planned, envisioned; but it was an amazing way to catch his attention.
The other surgeon's followed Dr Murphy's lead. They were gathering my belongings and stuffing them back into my handbag. They were collecting scattered coins, ink pens, glasses...
“Are you hurt?”
“I don't think so,” I said looking down at my feet, ankles.
“Nothing twisted? Or sprained?”
“I hope not.”
“Let me take a look Miss-- ah?”
“Ferguson-- Saadya Ferguson,” I said surprised that he would ask for my name.
“I'm going to feel your ankle for tenderness-- pain,” he said stooping down to examine it. “You're going to feel a light touch, a bit of pressure.”
I stared down at his bent head. His hand did in fact touch my ankle. My eyes widen, my protest got caught in my throat as I waited to see how my body would react to the physical contact.
I expected to flinch and say, 'Ouch!' but I didn't. The discomfort from the fall was more mental than anything else.
Dr. Murphy glanced up from the distance of the floor and gave me the most amazing smile, “No protruding bones-- that's always a good sign. No tenderness?”
“None,” I said in a shallow voice. I could still feel his fingers, his hands examining me.
He stood up and I realized that he was an extremely tall man. Standing this close to him made me acutely aware of all of the disadvantages that came alone with admiring him from afar. He was a larger man than I'd previously thought and unbelievably handsome.
Did he play sports in college? Probably football. Or wrestling. Where did that thought come from? Did black men even enjoy such a sport?
Dr. Jackson Murphy stared down at me. A crowd was starting gather around us. I felt like the sun in my own universe. One doctor handed me my belongings. Another drew closer to see if in fact I was hurt. Still, a third man offered his hand in additional support.
I smiled weakly and said, “I'll be fine.”
I tried to focus my eyes on the face of the surgeon, but my vision was slightly blurred. I could see; however, without my contact lenses it was a struggle.
I panicked a little.
How was I going to survive the day without them? I was not technically blind, but I disliked the thought of squinting my way through the day. The idea of groping around the hospital like a Mrs. Magoo was definitely not an appealing thought.
I instantly recalled watching the Mr. Magoo show as a child. The animated cartoon character was completely blind without his glasses and in every episode he stumbled his way through life making all kinds of hilarious mistakes.
As a kid, I'd laughed uncontrollably; but today as I thought about my own situation, I didn't think it was quite so funny.
“Hi Saadya. I'm Jackson Murphy,” said my rescuer. “I think you'll be okay, but no running in those heels,” he teased. “These floors can be slippery at times. Especially after they've been buffed by maintenance. I wouldn't want to see you in the emergency room.”
“I'll be careful,” I promised with a slight smile. My heart was thumping erratically beneath my ribcage. The pulse rate at the base of my neck quickened as I became lost in his stare.
“Take care,” he said as his eyes swept over my face one final time before he turned to one of his colleagues. “Let's get to the pathology conference room. Dr. Riehls is presenting this morning. He's from oncology. He likes to start off his lectures with cytology-- the examination of red blood cell production in bone marrow. His presentation should be very informative. I'm interested in what he has to say about the treatment of Leukemia/lymphoma.”
“Isn't he the top cancer doc from D.C?” one of the surgeons asked. “I heard he studied at Howard Medical School in the 60's.”
I watched and listened with interest as the surgeons made their way back to the elevators. The dialogue drifted down the corridor as the men moved and became distracted once more by medicine.
I tried to make sense of their conversation as they became completely engrossed in their discussion.
I allowed an easy smile to spread across my lips as the corners of my eyes lifted in silent joy. My eyes sparkled as though they had a magical glow.
Dr. Jackson Murphy had spoken to me! He had actually looked into my eyes and acknowledged my presence. He had even touched my ankle with such concern.
I let out a soft laugh. What a wonderful day this was turning out to be. I giggled to myself as I rushed toward the cafeteria. It was too early to punch in for work so I decided to order a large breakfast. Probably hotcakes, sausage and scrambled eggs.
Yes, that was exactly how I was going to start my day...