For the third time that twenty-minute call, Katara promised her father she would be careful. And then again, a fourth time, to her brother, listening in on the other line. They sounded worried, despite their words stating their pride in her and her work, and so she tried to keep her voice even, steady. After the months she had been through, keeping a smooth voice in a high tension environment had become something of a talent of hers and so it was easy.
“I have to go,” she told them after hearing the ding of her alarm. Break over. “I love you guys.”
“We love you, too,” Hakoda told her. “Be careful.”
“Call tonight! I mean it! Don’t fall asleep again!”
She hung up. She felt both relieved to be off the phone and strangely scraped with loneliness. The way she always felt now after calls home. It was getting easier, though, being so far. On the other side of the world. It was hard, lonely, frightening at first. Now, mostly, it was tiring, trying.
And satisfying. Among the stress, and pressure, and sleepless nights, there was satisfaction, when her patients woke up, when she was able to see a patient walk out the clinic, or a mother hold her child for the first time. The satisfaction kept her going. It had to. The pay was bad, and the nights long, and the hours even longer, but the satisfaction worthy.
So, swallowing down her last mouthful of coffee, it was back to work, down the clean, white clinic hallways.