A week has passed since I met that guy.
Now that I think about it, I never got his name. All I know is that he’s the son of the hospital’s CEO. I wonder how his leg is doing. He’s probably a lot better now, since I don’t see him around the hospital at all. Perhaps he was discharged.
I hear a knock on my door. “Come in!” I say.
The doctor walks in with a smile on his face. “Hello Taylor,” he says. “How are you feeling?”
I never really know how to answer this question. He’s a doctor, so do I answer honestly and say that I’m feeling like crap or do I say the usual, “I’m feeling great!” Well, based off his expression, I guess it’s the usual.
“I’m feeling great!” I reply.
“That’s good to hear,” the doctor replies with a grin. Hm… that grin looks familiar. I feel like he looks like someone I know, but I can’t figure out who. “Because, Taylor, we are going to discharge you.”
What? Did I hear that correctly? Or am I imagining things like usual?
“Discharge?” I ask with my eyes widen.
“Yes!” he says. “When your brother comes to visit you later, prepare your things. You’ll be able to go home and school. Isn’t that exciting?”
Exciting? That’s an understatement. I haven’t been discharged in months, no almost a year now. I have been studying by myself in the hospital everyday. Hearing the same sounds. Seeing the same ceiling. Smelling the same antibiotics. Going outside is beyond exciting for me. It’s thrilling. Exhilarating. I want to go lay in the grass, just like ordinary people. Take the bus everyday to and from school. Sit in the library and study with a group of friends. Get distracted and not actually do any work.
Like ordinary people.
“Just remember not to do any vigorous exercises,” the doctor says with a grin as he leaves.
“For sure!” I say. My heart keeps beating in excitement. I can barely contain myself. I just want to scream. What time was Henry going to visit me again? Think it was after his morning classes, so about one o’clock should be right. What time is it now? I look over at the wall clock: nine-fifteen.
I can’t wait.
The doctors called Henry, telling him that I could be discharged, and immediately, he came to the hospital to see me, skipping his morning classes. I texted him, telling him to go back, but he insisted. Oh well. Since today is special for me, I’ll let him off the hook.
“Tay’!” Henry exclaims as he opens the door.
“Hey Henry!” I say as I grab my things.
Henry runs over to me, giving me a hug. “I’m so happy for you,” he says. “I didn’t think you would ever be discharged again.”
“I didn’t either,” I reply, dropping my things and hugging him back. This really is a miracle for me. Perhaps this is what sweet-sixteen means: a miracle.
Henry helps me take my suitcase. I go to the bathroom to change out of my hospital gown. I look at myself in the mirror. I am wearing a white T-shirt and jeans with Converse. Casual wear. I haven’t worn clothes like this in so long. Even though it is just a simple outfit, it makes me feel so light, as if my burdens were leaving me.
“I’m so happy,” I mutter to myself.
“Are you done?” Henry shouts. “Gosh, why do you girls always take forever?”
I peer out the door and smirk. “You girls always take forever? How do you know that?” I ask. “Do you have a girl behind my back?”
To my surprise, Henry’s face turns bright red. What? I was just making fun of him! Don’t tell me he actually does. He immediately turns around to face the wall. “I-I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“Your ears are red,” I say, grabbing his shoulders and shaking him. “Come on! You butt! Tell me about her!”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about!”
“You’re such a bad liar!” I say. “Just spill!”
“Okay, okay,” he says, turning back toward me. “I’ll tell you when we get home. For now, let’s make sure you get back safe.”
“M’kay,” I say with a pout. He’s probably hoping that I’ll forget about it, but I would never. As his annoying little sister, I will fuss about it until he tells me.
As we walk to the hospital’s main exit, my heart beats faster and faster. I can’t wait to go home. I wonder if it looks completely different. Or perhaps it will look the same, and I will feel nostalgic. Either way, it’ll be comforting. Home. I miss it.
We take the elevator down. I begin to feel butterflies in my stomach. I have only seen the outside through my window in that hospital room. “I want to walk on the grass,” I say. “Barefoot.”
“What? That’s dirty!” Henry laughs.
But I want to feel the grass and dirt between my toes. I want to feel the slight dampness cool the soles of my feet while the sun beats me with its hot rays. Just like those stories I always read. Holding hands with her friends and running across a grassy field. The idealistic kind of hangout. But Henry is a neat freak, so he’d never do it with me. I won’t force him.
“Never mind,” I say. “You’re right. Let’s just go home.”
Ah. We approach the main entrance. I am about to leave the hospital. I stop right in the middle of the large opened doors and take a deep breath. I take my first step out onto the cement sidewalk. The wind blows across my face and the sun rays blind my eyes. I can’t help but smile.
“Henry…” I say. “I’m outside.”
“You are,” he replies, putting his arm around my shoulders. “How is it?”
“Beautiful,” I say softly.
“Come on,” Henry says. “Let’s go home.”
Home. I wonder how Mom and Dad are. I haven’t seen them in so long. Maybe I should stay up tonight to see them. They’ve been so busy. I barely remember their faces.
“Are Mom and Dad coming home tonight?” I ask.
Henry shakes his head. “They have to work their night shifts.”
Oh… I see. I understand that our family has debts to pay, but are they so busy that they can’t even come to see me? I feel heaviness in my chest. I was in the hospital for over a year, but not once did they even come to see me. They didn’t call either. Not even a text message. Are they too busy to send even something like that?
Did they forget about me?
What am I saying? They’re busy! They were earning money so I could stay in that comfortable hospital room. But at the same time, I would rather have to share rooms with strangers and be able to see my parents, than stay in that upper-class room by myself.
I wonder if I am being selfish.
But I can’t stop myself from feeling this way.
“Tay’?” I hear Henry say. “You okay?”
I nod. “Sorry, I was just wondering how our house looks now! I’m just so excited!”
Henry ruffles my hair. “What are you saying?” he laughs. “It looks the same, nothing to be excited over.”
We ride the bus. I never knew that the hospital was this far away from home. It feels like I’ve been sitting on the same seat forever. Did Henry make this long trip everyday just to see me? I don’t deserve such a nice brother like him.
After about forty minutes, we finally arrive at our stop. I walk through the familiar street. It has slightly changed. There are new shops, replacing old ones. More trees are on the sidewalk, making it feel more comforting and calming. It has only been a couple of months, yet it has changed so much.
I turn the corner and immediately see our house. Gray paint. It hasn’t changed. As I walk closer, I notice that there are pink flowers around the house. I bend down in front of the flower beds and touch the petals. Ah, I remember. We were growing peonies. But it is odd. Usually, these blossom during summer time. Right now, it is November. “They blossomed,” I say.
“Just in time for your return,” Henry says, grinning.
I hear the jingle of keys. I look over to see Henry opening the front door. He opens it and looks at me with a smile. “Welcome home, Taylor.”
Slowly, I stand up and walk into the house. He turns on the lights and instantly I burst out laughing. “The house is so messy now!” I exclaim.
“Well, you weren’t here to help clean up my mess, so…” he looks at me nervously. “Sorry?”
I smile. But honestly, other than the mess, the house looks exactly the same. The photos on the wall. The plant in the corner. The pile of newspapers on the side. The untidy desk that Henry could never manage to keep organized. I missed it.
“Thank you,” I say.
“Huh? What for?” Henry says, a bit shakened.
“For always being here for me.”
Henry laughs, patting my back. “What are you saying? That’s what I am here for.”
I turn around to hug him tightly. “I love you.”
“I love you too, Tay’.”
Imagining the day that I won’t be here to clean up my brother’s mess…