Daisy rolled over in a creaking queen bed and faced the sliding glass door that led to a balcony overlooking a polluted slough of a slack river. She was alone.
She opened her eyes inside a motel room in Reedsport and squinted to block the light leaking through the threadbare, cream-colored drapes. She checked the time on her phone: 7:00 am. Ninety minutes before her shift began as an emergency room nurse at a hospital in Coos Bay, 30 minutes away.
It was a Tuesday and the eleventh day of Christmas. She wore the vestiges of a slutty elf outfit her lover from last night had ordered and then ripped apart during coitus. Apparently that helped him get off. Some men have it bad for anything elvish.
Last night’s lover was a married doctor, the same doctor she’d be assisting in the emergency room in 90 minutes. He was married with five young children. She was single and childless. He was Mormon and believed it. She was agnostic and didn’t.
The Mormon made it six doctors from the hospital, Five men, one woman, all married. All Christians in one generic judgmental form or other. The number might have gone higher had there been more doctors on staff. Only doctors for her. She seduced them with the sincerity and surety of gravity. She loved upending their textbook power dynamic and making them beg when she cut them off, which invariably she did with an ungrammatical text message accompanied by a bawling emoticon. Then when the fancy struck her, she texted a nude of herself fishing or chainsawing and seduced each and every one of them all over again. How the doctors never discovered each one was having an affair—if affair is the word—with the same nurse in the same hospital always made her laugh. She knew the reason. They were dumber than dirt.
Daisy got up from bed and felt the headache of a slight hangover. She was used to it. She always came to work in a fuzzy wine, whiskey or vicodin fog.
She threw open the drapes and glass door to the balcony. She stepped outside and lit an American Spirit. Rain fell in slanting walls. She looked out to the slough. A low tide exposed rotting pilings and an abandoned bicycle. A snowy egret hunted in the mud flats. White on brown never looked more beautiful. A herd of elk lounged in the pasture beyond the slough. Females only. Always segregated herds with elk.
Daisy dipped inside the room and grabbed a bottle of champagne off the nightstand. There was a single swig left. She swigged it and then nibbled a cold cut from a snack tray. She went outside and smoked and stared at the slough.
She wanted to become a snowy egret and spend her time hunting in the mud. She wanted to join the elk herd and come together with a male one time during rutting season and eat plants the rest of the year.
Then what? She didn’t know. Daisy didn’t know anything about herself anymore except that she had to get to work. She finished her cigarette, but not before she saw the snowy egret pluck a frog from the mud, lift off, and fly straight toward her. For a moment she thought it might fly right into the room, but it veered upward at the last second, so close Daisy could see the frog wriggling in its beak. It struck Daisy as a beautifully sublime death that served an antediluvian purpose.
And it did. One that Americans could only dream of emulating when they died.