Your alarm goes off for the first time in over a month. The familiar chime rattles you out of your sleep and you reach over to try to get the damn thing to shut up. You fumble with your phone, trying to find the right nonexistent button to mute the squawking and get few moments of peace and quiet before catapulting yourself back into the real world.
It's one that you should be familiar with. You think about this as you go through the motions of your morning routine. Brush your teeth. Wash your face. Brush your hair. Get ready for work. Drink your coffee. You run through names and faces in your head, a result of careful studying of the staff and faculty directory at UCSF ZSFG. The name of your program director, the one who called your morning meeting, is etched at the forefront of your mind.
Susan Lewis. Not Miranda Foster.
Dr. Foster is a name tied to a set of memories that takes place in Boston, Massachusetts. Specifically, a set of memories that takes place at Massachusetts General Hospital. The place where you have spent six years of your life training to be a surgeon, learning the far too intimate ins and outs of the human body. It's the place that you've come up, one of the few places you've encountered in your life that actually feels like home. Now, it's a place that you have come to fear the most, nothing but a shell of a memory that feels more fabricated than ever. You wonder if it has any answers but know that it is lacking in what you need.
Dr. Foster is the surgeon who guided you through five years of general surgery residency. She interviewed you as a sub-I, a young, eager MS4 with a naive spark in your eyes. She knows the younger, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed version of yourself. When you decided to move on to trauma surgery, not only did she shepherd you through the match and interview process once again, but she was the one who stood by your side as you opened that email and saw that Mass Gen had chosen you, not just once, but twice.
Dr. Foster no longer exists in your reality. She is just a memory that exists in your head. Her words of wisdom ring hollow and you furrow your brow as you hear her voice reminding you to approach life one hour at a time. You spit and rinse and put the toothbrush away.
Here, her name is Dr. Lewis. She is the West Coast version of Dr. Foster. She, too, has guided you through your surgical career so far. Six years of training and completing a seventh while bulldozing a way to make it to years eight and nine. You skim the morning news before switching back to your email and frown as you try to find some familiarity in her face and realize that there is none. But why should there be? You haven't even lived in San Francisco for more than two months. There have been countless fleeting faces since then but only a small few that are warm and trustworthy.
You think about this as you march through her office. You know the labyrinth of hallways only because you actually were here earlier this year, spending an away rotation in the UCSF system while informally auditioning for a future fellowship role. You quickly remember that according to your records here, that away rotation was actually spent up at Seattle Children's. Even that part of your life has managed to have been baited and switched to something unfamiliar. You glance down at your seafoam green scrubs and make sure that they're clean, that there aren't any remnants of the yogurt parfait that you guzzled down in the cafeteria just minutes ago. You are wearing your lab coat, for once, in part so that you have enough pockets to carry whatever you might need for this mysterious meeting with an agenda that everyone else has been privy to except for you, despite that you are the reason this meeting has been called in the first place.
You pat around your various pockets like you're doing some odd, white coat version of Heads, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes. Pens in one pocket, a penlight just to be safe. A small notebook in another with another pen sits in the same pocket as a KIND bar (peanut butter and dark chocolate) that will serve as an emergency snack later in the day. Your pager is clipped to the waistband of your pants, alongside a SpectraLink phone and your own personal smartphone resting in yet another pocket. You roll your eyes as you realize that you are a walking, talking, humanoid version of Mary Poppins' bag.
You walk through the skywalk that takes you to Building 25 on a campus that makes no sense to you. Numbered buildings instead of actual descriptive names seems like a surefire way to cause a usability crisis but you ignore the thought and listen to the sounds of your feet hitting the tiled floor while you make your way to your destination. You think about who else might be present at the meeting. Dr. Lewis, the program director you've known for seven years but have never actually met. An attending trauma surgeon, most likely. Someone from HR for some bullshit reason or another.
You begin to hear more voices as you round the corner with your paper coffee cup in hand. Patients in need of assistance, Family members looking for nurses who can answer their questions. You adjust your stature and hurry your way through the wards so that you don't get roped into a conversation that you're not qualified to have, and soon enough you have arrived at a series of offices. You skim the hoity toity, almost braggadocious name plates on each office door until you find a piece of metal with the one name that you know and take a deep breath. You hear that a conversation in the office has ended and you wonder if that was just coincidence or if the office inhabitants knew you were approaching with some super senses of their own. You take a deep breath, knock on the door, and are told almost immediately to come in and take a seat. There are no less than seven people in the medium-sized office already, and all of their eyes are on you. Dr. Lewis gestures to an empty chair, so you sit down, set your shitty hospital coffee down in front of you, and rest your arms on your lap while Dr. Lewis makes a half-assed joke about 'diving right in'. You smile and grin and bear it like a good little minion, and she opens her mouth to speak again, looking directly at you.
"Are you Supergirl?"