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The Tale of a Pink Sweater

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Jordan blinked in astonishment once, twice, and yet the sight before her remained the same. Among the confusion of emergency cars, first responders and the cacophony of sirens, she saw a man break a glass window and disappear into the smoke. From the safety of the medical tent Jordan observed the events that led to that moment. He had just been upgraded from an intern on a ride along to senior medical officer, much to everyone’s surprise including himself, and his first action was to rush inside a burning building without hesitance or a hint of fear, ignoring all contrary orders.

She recognized him immediately. He was a first-year resident at the hospital, just like her, though they had yet to meet properly. The grueling hands-on training of residency did not leave much spare time to make friends and all she knew about him had been supplied by gossip: in the army, skilled and intelligent. Now she could add another information to the very short list, extremely reckless.

Time went by, seconds seemed to stretch far beyond reason with no sign of life, only the bright flames rising into the night sky and mingling with dark clouds of smoke. Many stood by expectantly, eyes fixed on the window. Jordan bit her lip in unconscious anxiety and the beat of her heart seemed to have grown so loud that she thought it might be heard above the sirens.

Silhouettes took shape in the smoke and out of the darkness one man pulled another with effort. The one that had bravely, or rather foolishly, ran into the fire, was being dragged out of the building unconscious. He was quickly transported to the tent where she had been assigned for triage and placed limply on a cot bed.

He's not breathing, pulse is weak. Help me with him Jordan, she heard her supervisor shout. Jordan felt unable to move, wide eyes locked on the nearly lifeless form in front of her. Panic rose in her chest, her own breathing became shallow. She was chosen to help with triage as part of field training, simple and practical emergency interventions any first year could do, but was now requested to save a life. Her name was yelled repeatedly, growing in urgency until her body finally snapped into action.

Her hands joined together above his sternum and she started compressing rhythmically until his body convulsed slightly under her pressure. It was the first time she ever did CPR on a real person and she could feel beads of sweat forming on her forehead already, both from effort and nerves.

Jordan found herself easing into the task, her arms trembled slightly but the pressure was even. Her mind was focused and alert, driven by the will to bring him back and determined to go on as long as it would take.

He looked pale, thin lips were turning a morbid shade of blue, though Jordan went on relentlessly.

His chest expanded suddenly under her hands with a large intake of breath followed by violent coughing, the sounds were cavernous from lungs filled with smoke. He attempted to rise but her hands pushed hard against his chest and he fell back into the cot.

Eyes wide open, deep brown and framed by long, dark lashes, locked with her lighter ones. He seemed confused at first, though calmed down eventually as if finding something in her gaze that told him he was alive and safe. Even with his face covered in patches of black soot and sweat, Jordan could still appreciate the sharp angles of his handsome face, the one she had not been indifferent to whenever they crossed paths under fluorescent lights and nearly endless corridors, never finding the courage to approach him.

Jordan stood above him with her hands still resting on his solid chest, his large frame seemed smaller in that state of weakness. Even now she could not find words to speak, and instead felt both amazed and annoyed by his recklessness.

His lips trembled slightly and only then she noticed his whole body was shaking as well, the first signs of hypothermia. Jordan looked quickly around for a blanket but found none and shouting for help seemed pointless as all responders were already engaged with other patients from the fire.

Jordan then pulled the sweater she wore over scrubs to shield against the cold Baltimore night and before he could protest, maneuvered it over his head, arms and torso, not minding that his much larger body was stretching the fabric to its limits.

A giggle formed in her throat and she attempted to stifle it as best she could. He looked far too ridiculous in her pink sweater, though he didn’t seem to mind, and a crocked smile formed on his lips when the shivers subsided. He blinked slowly as exhaustion attempted to take over his mind and body, then made one final effort to get up.

“I need to help…” he started, voice hoarse, only to be interrupted by more coughing.

“You need rest and oxygen. No more heroics from you tonight.” Jordan finally said and was somewhat embarrassed that her first words to him were sharp commands.

Although no doubt used to not follow orders despite his military training, he yielded to her with a silent nod, knowing his throat would not comply with a response. His eyes finally closed, the smile never wavered.