Nurse Jackie

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Kevin and the girls are on the bed in the morning, still in their pajamas, even though it's a Thursday. The world outside the bathroom, in the master bedroom, is very different from the world inside. "Ah, morning. So quiet," Jackie says. "So peaceful. I can breathe it in, I can almost feel it inside... " She's short, reaching for the last pill on the medicine cabinet, far above her head where nobody knows about it but her. Outside, Fiona and Kevin are ignoring the television; Grace watches with rapt attention. "Almost there..." It's something medical:

Jackie retrieves the pill and then drops it in the sink, and for a second she is ugly. She grabs a piece of gum and an eye pencil, and reaches down into the hole. It's pretty gross. Kevin surprises her and she jumps, guilty, and tries to get out of there. He cracks the door behind him, and shows her Grace, staring up at the TV. Their younger daughter lies back on the bed, bored to tears. "I asked her what she wanted to watch," he says, and she chose a documentary over cartoons: Viral Armageddon: Death Knell For Mankind." Grace knows better than most about the things that come into your house, that tear you apart. "So she's interested in science," Jackie says easily, but he says there's more to it. He's right:

Jackie points out that Grace is heading full-bore into teenagerhood, where mood swings are the order of the day, and reassures him this stuff is normal. But documents about world war, and global warming? "She seems so nervous," he says, honestly afraid. "She's ten, what's she got to be nervous about?" How about this:

Kevin Peyton kisses his wife and asks to visit her at work, take her to lunch like Eleanor always does, but she takes a rain check. It's Thursday, it's going to be nuts. What she means is that her back hurts; what she means is that she doesn't wear her wedding ring past the revolving doors; what she means is that she fucks Eddie every day at noon. "Been raining a lot lately," Kevin says, already giving in, and she distracts him: "April showers bring May flowers. And if you're really good, maybe a blowjob." Humor plus sex and he's forgotten what they were talking about. Kevin laughs, and leaves to take the kids to school. Jackie stares back at the sink.

Then it's later, coming out of the subway and calling Eddie: "I really want to see you this morning," she says. What she means is that she needs some drugs. "Call me, that would be great, okay," she says. Sounding desperate. Then it's later and this old guy is saying he knows about medicine, he's aware of how this works, he knows all about it, he was in the Army. She's more distracted than usual, filling the space with empty encouragement. Zoey enters grinning, showing off her new stethoscope -- "Ta-da!" -- but Jackie's more distracted than usual:

"Okay, first give me those leads. Second, don't ever say ta-da. The only people that say ta-da are magicians and idiots." Zoey smiles and nods, as usual blissfully uninterested in anything but accentuating the positive: "Cool, isn't it," she gloats proudly. "My mom gave it to me." Jackie doesn't even look at her. "Leads." Before Zoey can force her to acknowledge her existence, or that of the stethoscope, Dr. Eleanor O'Hara comes breezing in: "Swear to God, Jacks, the salespeople at Bergdorf are so foul they almost make me regret spending twelve hundred dollars on a scarf."

Eleanor easily snags Zoey's brand-new stethoscope with barely a verbal acknowledgement that she's doing so, and listens to the old man's chest. He had a quadruple bypass, he tells her, the same year the Rangers won the Stanley Cup. Eleanor looks at, or toward, Jackie, knowing she'll fill in the blanks, and Jackie does: 1994. She's still dreaming about a particular player, whom the old man loves as well. Eleanor tells him he needs a cardio consult, probably angioplasty -- Zoey reaching for the stethoscope, pulling back suddenly -- if not another bypass. She calls Jackie out into the hall, and Zoey follows: "I'm thinking sushi or Indian for lunch. Text me and I'll get a rezzie." Zoey can barely breathe, much less ask for her stethoscope back, and Eleanor breezes out as easily as she came in.

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Nurse Jackie

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