La Planchada: The Ghost Nurse

By : Ayad Attar

It was midnight; Maria was sitting alone behind a small office at the end of a long corridor with a bright floor and open doors on either side. Everything in that corridor was white.. Walls, doors, chairs and office, circular mural clock hanging at the other end of the corridor… even Maria's clothes and her elegant little hat. I think you guessed where we are now? Yes, we are in a hospital, and to be more precise, we are in a special wing of a hospital located in a neighborhood of the Mexican capital Mexico City.

There was deep silence in that white corridor which smelled of medicines and sterilizers. Everyone was asleep except the young nurse Maria who was fiercely resisting that heavy visitor who hold on her eyelashes trying to close them by force, but she refused to give up easily even though she didn’t asleep very well during the day, chief doctor warned her several times not to forget to give an injection to one of the patients in the ward at 1:00 am, telling her that life of that patient depends on that injection, so Maria was keen to stay awake. But sleep has strange behavior, it keeps resist you whenever you want it to come, but attached like glues to your eyelids if you resisted it! .. Thus, the more Maria resist sleep, the more it sneaks under her eyes, until she finally raised the white flag and closed her eyes.

When Maria woke, the first thing she saw was the clock at the other end of corridor, it was pointing to 3:00am. Maria horrified because she missed giving the injection in time and the patient may have died now. So she run toward his room with her heart beats hard, to be surprised for seeing him lying quietly on his bed and he looked fine. She apologized:

- "I am so sorry  ...  I am a little late in giving your injection".

The patient replied with a faint smile: "OK, dear. Your colleague has done the duty".

Maria said with surprise: "Which colleague?.. There is no other nurse in the ward tonight".

The man replied: "your blonde colleague. She gave me the injection and left".

- "I assure you sir that there is no one except me?" ..

- "So who was that nurse who gave me the injection?!"

- "I don’t know! Do you describe her to me please?"

- "Frankly I didn’t see her face well, I saw her hair, she was definitely blonde, wearing nurse dress, although it looked a little old fashioned".

Maria had nothing to say except that she muttered: "that It's strange!" .. And after making sure that he actually received the injection, Maria left and went back to her small office. She was astonished of what had happened, because certainly no one else knew when the injection must be given, and it was unlikely that another nurse would enter the ward without Maria feeling her entry.

Finally, the morning came, Maria's shift was over and her colleague Rosa came to replace her. Rosa was an old nurse who served in many hospitals during her long career. Maria told Rosa about the strange incident that happened with her the night before. Rosa was not surprised at what she had heard, but quietly said:

- "She must be La Blanchada" ..

- "Who is she?" ..

- "The ghost nurse  ... Didn't you hear about her before?".

- "A ghost nurse?!. Are you kidding me or do you want to scare me?" ..

- "No, It's not joke, and you should never be afraid of La Blanchada, she is the nicest ghost you can ever encounter in your life".

- "But I never heard of her  ... What is her story?" ..

Rosa paused for a while as if recalling distant memories. Then she said sadly: "Her story is sad. I heard it at the beginning of my nursing career from some older colleagues. It is said that her real name is Eulalia, and that she lived in the 1930s. She was a pretty young woman with golden blond hair and eyes that simulated clear sky color, and she was always distinguished by her clean white uniform. Everyone liked Eulalia, she was known for her kindness and great care of the patients, and for her commitment to her work to the degree that she sometimes volunteer to performed the duties of other nurses.

Many in the hospital, male staff and doctors, and even patients.. Tried to attract her attention and win her heart, but to no avail, because her only interest was on her work and her small family which consist of her mother and a little brother.

But one day, a new doctor was transferred to the hospital, he was young and handsome, soon he drew the attention and admiration of all women in the hospital, the only one that didn’t show interest was Eulalia, because as usual, her focus was solely on her work, and perhaps her ignoring is what made him attracted to her and tries to approach her in every way, as he insisted that she be particularly present at his side during surgeries and rounds at patient rooms. Gradually, he managed to sneak into her heart and a beautiful love grew between them.

It is said that people who didn’t know love in their lives before, their first love will be explosive as volcano, but it is also naive, innocent and reckless, and this description is applies exactly to Olivia's behavior when she fell into love trap, because her love was so blind that she could no longer see anything from this deceitful world except his brightly side, and sees nothing in others except their positive aspects, and perhaps that is why she has become deaf towards her colleague's whispers who are trying to tell her that her handsome boyfriend is womanizer who does not hesitate to flirt with other girls from behind her back .. Perhaps she thought these rumors were caused by envy and jealousy.

A few months passed before her boyfriend told her that he wanted to marry her. She was very happy by this news, but he told her that he was invited to a medical conference in another city and that he would be gone for two weeks, and once he return, they will announce their engagement.

The beloved doctor left to his conference while Eulalia remained waiting eagerly. Time passed quickly.. a day .. week .. two weeks .. a month .. two months .. and the promised fiancé has not yet returned.

What happened? .. Eulalia was wondering with herself every day as she wiped the tears from her beautiful eyes.. Then the disaster came, when Eulalia learned from some of her colleagues that her boyfriend had fallen in love with another woman in the city where he went to attend the conference and that they got married. Not only that, but even more so, she learned that her boyfriend had secretly resigned from the hospital on the same day he had traveled to the conference, so he had planned everything beforehand, and this means that for him , Eulalia was just an adventure and passionate whim.

And thus, high tower of illusions that Eulalia has built in her imagination turned into rubble and debris in one moment. The bright colors of the world disappeared and only one gloomy gray color remained, and after she was the best nurse in the hospital, she become taking punishment after another for neglect and forgetfulness of her duties, It is said that her neglect was so great that she once caused the death of a patient after giving him the wrong injection, so she was dismissed from her job, and this coincided with her mother death and her brother's move to the capital to work and settle there, therefore she became lonely and so exhausted emotionally and physically, It didn’t take long until a serious illness sneaked into her skinny body, and she ended up lying on one of the beds of the hospital where she was treating patients.. What a sad paradox!. And soon she died there.

It seems that Eulalia didn’t leave this miserable world after her death, because a few months later, rumors began to spread throughout the hospital about a nurse ghost with blond hair roaming between halls, rooms and wards and sometimes appears in the operating and emergency rooms. The ghost was most distinguishes by its cleanliness and carefully ironed white uniform, and this is why they called it (La Planchada), which means "The ironed lady".

Strangely enough, most of those who saw the nurse ghost said they could only see her blonde hair and that her face was not clear, also couldn’t hear her footsteps as if she were floating or walking on air. What is even more strange is that the ghost was not only showing up, but also takes care of the patients sometimes, especially when they are neglected by other nurses, it gives medicine to those who missed their medication time, and injections to those who needs it, and sterilizes the wounds and covers it carefully with gauzes ..

Many nurses like Maria sometimes forget or be so busy to provide rapid care to patient in time, and they were surprised later that this patient had been properly treated by a blonde nurse no one knew. This has not only happened in the hospital where Eulalia had worked during her life, but also in many hospitals across the country, and (La Planchada) quickly became one of the most famous ghosts in Mexico.

Some in Mexico say that Eulalia story is much older than the 1930s, and that it actually dates back to the American-Mexican War of 1846. In that bitter war, Mexico not only lost more than half of its territory to US, but also lost a lot of its men, as well as tens of thousands of wounded, and this caused too much pressure on the nurses that they could not care for all the patients, but they were sometimes surprised to find that some of those wounded soldiers whose treatment was delayed due to the lack of medical staff, were treated with great care. When asked them who did this? The answer was always: "The blonde nurse" that nobody knew.

As for why Eulalia became a ghost after her death and continued to treat patients. Some see it as a kind of atonement for her sins against some patients who died due to her negligence and failure to perform her duty as a nurse towards the end of her life.



* The above story is translated from Arabic. Original text : here


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