Soap Opera in the ER

doctor-stethoscope-white-160km120408The most famous TV soap I know is General Hospital.  It first aired April 1, 1963 and twelve-thousand-six-hundred plus episodes later, in my opinion, it still rules the day.  I remember spending summer vacations getting hooked into the plot line.  Who can forget the super couple Luke and Laura and their wedding?  The Quartermaines, The Spencers, or the most famous nurse of all, Jessie Brewer.

Nurse Jesse Brewer

Having worked in a hospital for over twenty years as first a medical transcriber and then an RN, before moving on to the clinic setting for the last ten years of my medical career, I am here to testify that the hospital is a perfect setting for soap opera stories.  The hospital grapevine runs deep and intricately throughout the floors.  While busily caring for patients, the doctors and nurses, technicians and aides keep track of each others’ comings and goings. If you’re wondering who so and so is dating, all you have to do is ask and if this one doesn’t know, they’ll know someone else who can find out.  If you think a certain x-ray technician is cheating with the new ward secretary, just ask one of the LVNs!  News travels fast in the hospital.

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When I was given the opportunity to participate in The Mammoth Book of ER Romance anthology, I asked a question that would have permeated the entire hospital from top floor downward: Can two ER doctors ever forget what happened IN THE BLINK OF AN EYE, forgive each other and finally move on?

The tragic news that leads up to the beginning of my story would have swarmed through the hospital grapevine. People would have gasped and cried.  Ellen and Adam Deeds, both doctors, were highly respected professionals and the perfect family…until…

I don’t want to give away any spoilers, but drama is the key to any good soap, and I went the dramatic route with this story.  I tortured my characters by asking these questions: What one thing could tear a loving couple apart and make forgiving seem impossible?  What one thing could make Adam, a man devoted to his family, profession, and wife, turn to drinking and lose hope?  What would it take for Ellen to finally forgive Adam and let him back into her heart?

I was limited by word count and decided that a slice of life could be sampled in three acts.  The first scene shows how intense Ellen and Adams’ relationship is.  The second scene lays all the tragic details on the line and forces Ellen, Adam and the reader to examine them.  And the third scene turns the tables on the couple to drive home a point that Ellen had overlooked.  Finally she understands how one blink of an eye can change a life forever, and her hardened heart opens once again.

If you can’t get enough soap opera in your life, I hope you’ll pick up The Mammoth Book of ER Romance written by an international list of authors. You’ll be able to enjoy a story on your lunch break at school or work, or before you go to bed each night for seventeen days!

until next time, make it a great one!

Lynne Marshall

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