"Sounds like a rough first day."
Jenna couldn't hold the tears back a second longer. A wail erupted from her throat and she buried her face in her boyfriend's shoulder.
"I don't want," she choked out words between sobs, "to go back there."
He stroked her back gently. "Let it out, babe. I'm sure it wasn't that bad. Want me to come with you tomorrow and kick someone's ass?"
She let out a sort of crying chuckle and wrapped her arms around his neck. "I can't quit my first job after four years of school, but I'm not sure I can handle this. Those nurses were so mean, and I just can't keep up with all the meds and patients and it took me three tries to get that IV in. Then my other patient yelled at me because I forgot her name. I'm a terrible nurse!"
"Shh, baby. Don't cry." He started to kiss her neck softly and then more passionately.
"No, Shaun, I have to study or something. I'm so tired. And my feet hurt."
"Just half an hour, then you can study whatever you want. I'll give you a foot massage." He started to untie the laces of her scrub pants.
"Shaun, please, I'm really not in the-"
"What's the point of us living together if we can't have a little fun when you get home from work? I've been waiting for four hours, waiting for you to come home."
Jenna took a step back. "You didn't have to wait, you could clean, or cook us some supper. I've been standing for twelve hours straight and there isn't a scrap of food anywhere in this apartment."
He looked like he was about to get angry, but he held it in, the flash of heat in his eyes suddenly going blank. "I was gonna order pizza or something." Shaun scratched his head, and, with a sigh, sat back down on the couch. He turned up the volume on the TV, and just like that, Jenna was invisible again.
Her mother's warnings echoed in her mind. She had been too stubborn to heed them. She had thought she was in love. She wasn't going to get that foot massage. He wasn't going to order the pizza either. This wasn't the man she had loved. That man had a good heart. He had bought her flowers, made her feel beautiful. Still, she knew that one was still in there somewhere. "I'll pick up some sandwiches," she said quietly.
Shaun didn't even look up from his show.
He looked up at her, his expression first annoyed and then repentant. "I'm sorry, babe. I just had an awful day at work, too. My boss gave me a bad review. I just need to cool down."
Jenna suddenly felt so guilty. She hadn't even asked him about his day. Of course, he was just upset at his boss. She walked back over to give him a kiss. "I'll pick us up some sandwiches. We can just eat and veg out and watch Netflix until we fall asleep."
Shaun smiled and kissed her back. "You are the best girlfriend a guy could ask for. And you look so sexy in those scrubs."
Jenna put on a sweater and grabbed her keys and purse.
"Not those cold cut sandwiches, though. I want real meat."
Jenna left the apartment and climbed into her car, slamming the door behind her. The tears returned, sobs racking at her throat until she could barely breathe. When they finally stopped, she sat in the silence for a few moments, listening to her shallow breaths, watching the fog gather on the windshield. She had survived nursing school. She had survived her mother. She would get through this. She started the car.