At the End of Winter

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Romance  |  House: Booksie Classic
A boy goes to the hospital to see his brother who just had a car accident. But he finds the wrong room, and the unexpected meeting makes him to get a new friend.

Submitted: May 16, 2013

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Submitted: May 16, 2013

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At the End of Winter

In one sunny day of September, I was having a peaceful lunchtime with my friends in a classroom. But when my homeroom teacher came in a hurry and told me that my brother had a car accident, I threw out my pizza slice and rammed out from the classroom. Fortunately he was sent to Mercy Hospital right behind my school. Soon as I arrived I desperately spoke to the help desk.

“I’m looking for Chris Brown, fifteen years old half Asian guy.”

A nurse looked at me above her huge glass and started to search with her computer.

“Reason?”

“His my little brother. I think he was hit by a car,” I said.

“Up at the 4th floor. You’ll be able to find him at the end of the hallway.”

I could not find the elevator, so I ran up the stair. When I arrived at the 4th floor I found out that the hallway was split into two sections - right and left. I turned right without thinking. This hospital was not so big, so he won’t be that hard to find.

“Chris!” I opened the door of room number 420 with haste. It was a single room, dark and narrow. Breathing hard, I looked for my brother but I could only find a curtain instead. I noticed a silhouette behind it.

“Who’s there?”

I heard a high-toned voice and a girl pushed the curtain to the side. I could see her head was shaved and covered with a green scarf with stars on it. Because of that I thought she was a boy for a moment.

“Uh, sorry. I found a wrong room I guess,” I said, scratching back of my head.

“It’s okay. Are you looking for your family? You seem very desperate.”

I wanted to hurry out the room, but the girl’s pale face and kind voice stopped me. Despite she was having an unexpected guest, her voice was very calm. Taking my hand off from the back of my head, I answered.

“My brother just had a car accident. I heard his room is at the end of this floor’s hallway, but I guess it’s on the other side.”

Her eyes opened widely with surprise. “Oh okay. Well, good luck.”

Smiling awkwardly, I nodded and hurried out. It was my first time watching a bald headed girl. I guess it’s because her disease? Is it prep for a big operation? Well, it’s none of my business.

I could find Chris’ room at the end of the other hallway. He was sleeping. Bandages were covering his both legs but he seemed okay. I quietly approached and stood next to him.

“Miles! Thank god you’re here.” 

I hear my mom’s voice from behind. She was getting out from the restroom. I hugged her and escorted her to the chair next to Chris’ bed.

“Teacher told me. How’s he doing? And who the fuck hit him?”

“Miles, watch your language. This is Hospital. His both legs are hurt but his okay. The doctor said he might need an operation, but it’s no risk to his life.”

“What kind of operation are we talking about?”

“Skin surgery. When he fell to the ground he hurt his skins pretty bad. Even the jean he was wearing was torn apart.”

“Shit that sounds hurt. Tell me what happened exactly.”

After a short talk with my mom, I left my sleeping little brother and walked to the floor’s lobby to get a coke. I felt thirsty after all the hush. The lobby was empty. After I picked a can of soda from the vending machine, I saw the girl from the other room. She was slowly walking down the hallway.

“Oh, hey there,” she said.

Normally I’m not so kind to strangers, but her voice had this kindness that I could not ignore. I answered her with awkward smile and stepped aside because she was approaching to the vending machine I just used.

“Sorry for being so friendly out of nowhere. It’s just it’s been some time since I spoke with a person other than the doc and my parents.”

“No prob.”

I could not guess this girl’s age because she was pretty short. About 5.2 foot I guess? She looked like a pure Caucasian with blue eyes. And without any hair, she looked more like a boy. She might be pretty if she had hairs and if her skin wasn’t so pale. I watched her picking up her drink.

“So how’s your brother?” She asked without looking at me.

I had a sip from my can and answered.

“His skins were hurt a little but I think he should be fine.”

“That’s great news!” She said, and smiled at me again.

She was quite cheerful for a girl who was in hospitalization. I’ve seen in movies that shaving hair is for a brain surgery, or it’s a side effect of strong vaccine. She cannot be feeling good.

There was a set of soft chairs in the middle of the lobby. She slowly walked to the chairs and sat. Then she tried to pick the can, but I could see she was having a hard time for doing so. I approached her and rolled out my hand.

“Here. Let me open that up.”

“Thanks.” She looked at me and handed over her can.

Ka-Chick!

For a while, we didn’t speak. There were no people in the lobby and it was very quite. I could just leave, but something stopped me from leaving. I couldn’t figure out what it was.

“Is it okay for you to get a coke?” I asked.

She chuckled and answered, having a sip from her can.

“Not really. But I like coke.”

She seemed glad that I asked something first. Then she was going to say something, but I noticed the time and spoke first.

“I think I have to get back to school now. Goddamn annoying but no choice.”

“Well, okay. It’s been a pleasure.”

I have not imagined that she was a sick person if it wasn’t for her bald head with the green scarf with stars. I looked back at the staircase, and she was still there watching me. She waved cheerfully, which made me laugh. What a weird girl.

=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=

So the doc said my brother Chris needs about a month and half’s rest. A week has passed and it became October, I could already see that my brother is getting better. I visited the hospital every day but my brother became a laughing brat who was enjoying his sudden vacation. About time when I started to get sick of visiting Chris, I happened to meet the girl again.

When I went to the lobby to get a soda, I saw a familiar green scarf. She was wearing a coat around her patient gown, standing in front of the vending machines.

“Hey.”

“Oh, wow! Hi! Didn’t expect to see you again.”

When got behind and said hi, she made that smiling face again and greeted me. I was actually kind of glad that she remembered me.

“Did you come to see your brother? How’s he doing?” She asked, leaning on the vending machine. A few buttons were lighted up because of her back.

“He’ll be fine. How about you?” I answered.

“I don’t know. They never tell me about my condition. Sometimes I get a severe fever or can’t eat, but the last few weeks I’ve been okay.”

“What is the name of your…”

“Oh, I’m Starla. Starla Griffin. What’s yours?”

I was about going to ask her about the disease she has, but she threw a wild answer without listening to me ‘til the end. I laughed and answered.

“Name’s Miles.”

“Miles, huh? How old are you? If you don’t mind.”

“Nah. I’m 17.”

“Hey, I’m 18. Respect your elder!”

She made me laugh again. It was a big surprise that she was older than me, but I didn’t even care. We became friends like that.

=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=

Something made me to keep thinking about Starla. Maybe curiosity. It was my first time to have such a friendly conversation with a complete stranger, and her cheerful expression always got my attention. Chris had been discharged from the hospital a long time ago, but I still went to visit room 420 and calendar said we’re in the middle of November already.

We learned many things about each others. She was from other state, and her parents were both working. Her father was a lawyer, and her mother was a teacher in kindergarten. She said they moved to here because of father’s office moving. But more importantly, Starla’s been suffering for AML - leukemia for about a year, so she stopped to go to school and got hospitalized over a half year ago. She couldn’t graduate from high school just yet. Unlike mine her school was pretty far, but she said “This hospital has the doctor who’s specializing in all four types of leukemia.” This place was the best for her, and she said she could not go anywhere until she’s cured. “I guess I’ll be here for a long time. Do you feel relieved?” She chuckled.

Starla asked a lot about me as well. She learned that I am a half Asian, and I’m not that good at studying, stuff like that. However her best concern was my language. I had a habit of using words like “fuck,” “hell,” or “goddamn” - in other words, curses. I did not really care so much about it, but for her it was a problem. One day when I responded to her joke with “That’s fucking hilarious,” she stopped me.

“Miles, could you stop using those words? I don’t like it.”

“Use what?” I asked.

“You know. F-words and all the curses you like to use. It’s not good.”

I was surprised because no one between my peers told me about this problem so seriously. I froze for a second and answered.

“Well, I’ll try. I can’t guarantee it, though.”

“Then how about this? Say ‘freak’ instead of F-word. And then gradually stop to use curses. It will be better for you. I swear!” She said.

“If you say so.”

When I tried to see her the other day, a doctor was talking with a lady alongside Starla in the room. It seemed serious, so I stood wait outside of the room. Few minutes later, the doctor came out and there was a silence. When I peeked inside of the room, Starla saw me and called me in.

“Mom, this is Miles. We met when his brother was in this hospital. He’s my friend.”

Starla’s mother was beautiful lady. She had black hair with glasses, and wearing a grey coat over with black muffler. She nodded with smile, and Starla spoke to me with excitement.

“Oh right, Miles, good news! The doctor said that I can do the outpatient treatment. Seems like I really got better.”

“Fuck! I mean freak, that’s great news!” I sensed Starla’s mother frowning when I said the F-word. “So what happens now?”

“I’ll be heading home day after tomorrow. But hey, here.” She searched behind her pillow and handed me a piece of paper and pen.

“What’s this?”

“Can I get your number? So I can talk to you.”

“I can just go and see you.”

“Sorry, Miles, but she needs to rest good when she’s outside of hospital.” Mrs. Griffin gently convinced me. “And it’s too far anyway,” added Starla.

“Well, I don’t have a cell, but I can get you my home number,” I said. I wrote down the number and handed over the paper.

“You don’t have a cell phone?” Starla asked, taking the paper and pen.

“Nope. I made some trouble with it and my father stopped my account.”

“Trouble?”

She looked at me with curious eyes. I was going to answer honestly that I used the phone’s internet access to watch porn, but I realized that there was Starla’s mother next to us. I slowly closed my opened mouth and answered. “Let’s not talk about it.”

“Anyway thanks. I’ll call you when I really have nothing to do.”

“What? That’s mean.”

We laughed together.

=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=

In December, final came and I had no time to think about other stuff. And it’s been almost a month, and never had a call from Starla. I wished her the best, but at the same time I was little upset. I was nothing like her boyfriend, but I thought our relationship was special. We were more than just friends. At least I thought so. But she never called me.

Well, it’s not that I liked her or something. She looked more like a girlish boy. And she looked like a Buddhist monk, with that bald head. You don’t call me because you’re out of hospital? Well screw you.

“I’m home.”

I threw out my backpack and dropped myself on the sofa. While I was keep thinking about Starla, my mom came out from the kitchen.

“Miles, I have something to tell you. There was a call from Mercy Hospital. It’s about a person named Starla?”

I freaked out and jumped up. “What was it?”

“They said she’s re-hospitalized? I’m not sure. It was about 3 days ago.”

“What? Why the hell didn’t you tell me fucking sooner?!”

“Miles, watch your mouth! Why are you so mad? I don’t even know that girl and I had no idea what they were talking about. Besides, you were taking final the whole week. Wait, Miles, where are you going? Miles!”

Ignoring her, I rushed out to get a bus to get to the hospital.

=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=

“Fuck. I mean, freak.”

I spit a curse, watching Starla over window. She was lying on a big hospital bed, hidden by a thin piece of vinyl curtain. I could only see her silhouette. Although I could see her breathing. Hard. She was moved to ICU - intensive care unit. It was located at the highest floor in the hospital.

“Is she going to be okay?” I asked.

“I hope so. I really do.” Mrs. Griffin answered. Her eyes were puffy, and I could well guess that it’s because she cried a lot. Starla was in a bad shape.

“I’m sorry,” I said quietly and gently rubbed Mrs. Griffin’s shoulder. She was shaking with fear and sorrow. Then she nodded silently, covering her face with both hands. All I could do is to pray, and I didn’t even believe in god. I felt so usless. And I was useless.

You can do it, Starla.

You can do it.

=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=

At the end of December, I had a call from Starla’s mother that she was sent outside of ICU, and set back to room 420. When I arrived, Starla talked like she never went through anything serious, but I could see that she did not have the usual energy in her voice. Her look was considerably paler, as well.

“I think I saw the door of heaven. God, that was awful,” she said.

“Don’t say like that. Your mother was really worried.”

Holding mine on the other hand, I handed over a cup of cocoa to her.

“And you.” She gazed at me, holding the cup of cocoa. I could not answer right away because I was very surprised.

“For god’s sake, yes. You goddamn did.” I answered bluntly and sipped the cup I was holding. “Fuck, I mean freak.”

“Oh my god, you’re blushing!” She laughed. “I was joking!”

“Shut up!”

I tried to hide my blushed face and looked at the window. It was snowing.Starla and I silently watched the snow together.

“You know one of my dreams?”

After a moment of silence, she spoke. I waved my head.

”Snowball fight.” She said, keep watching the snow. “I’ve never had a snowball fight. I had to stay inside in winter because the cold air is bad for my health. But when I get better, I really want to do a snowball fight with friends.”

“You just get better and I’ll play with you and snow for hundred hours.” I said. Surprised, she was quiet for a second and looked at me with smile.

“That’s nice of you. Thanks, Miles.”

“God, stop being cheesy.” I said, standing up. “I’m going Christmas vacation with my family tomorrow, so you better not be in the ICU again.”

“Yessir!” She saluted me, making a funny face.

=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=

When I got back from the vacation, Starla’s mother was waiting in front of my house. I expected good news, since it must have been a long trip for her. She can’t be here if she wasn’t excited with joy, and wanted to deliver me good news as soon as possible. But it didn’t take me a long time to realize that I was wrong. My hope was shattered when her greeting smile changed into a heartbreaking cry. Then I knew.

Starla was gone.

The Funeral was done quietly. Most of Starla’s family were in abroad, so even the number was small. Some of Starla’s friend came in and cried like it was the end of this world. Where the fuck were you when she was lonely? You don’t get the right to cry in here just because you knew her long time ago.

I couldn’t cry. I didn’t know why. I could have been feeling goddamn better if I could just cry out this sorrow. But I couldn’t, as if the tear was dried out.

When I was kicking a pile of snow for no reason outside of the funeral parlor, I heard a familiar voice from behind. “Miles?”

When I looked back, I could see Mrs. Griffin holding a small box of wood. I looked at it, and lost my word.

“Is… Is that…”

Mrs. Griffin nodded slowly. “Please bid farewell to her. Will you?”

When she handed over the urn, I was surprised by its weight. It was heavier than I thought.

“So you’re in here. Huh Starla.”

I slightly lifted the urn for a few times.

“Fuck, I mean freak, you are heavy.”

Then, I could cry.

She was “in” here. Not in “here.”

=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=

Snow. The world became totally white.

It’s been more than few years, but every time I see snow, I thought of Starla. I deeply sipped the cigarette that I was holding with my lips.

“Bro, you gotta pack up before Dad spanks your ass man.”

Chris bumped me from behind and told me to move. So my father, who is the CEO of small documentary filming company, finally decided to move his workplace to a bigger building. Therefore my whole family followed up - we were moving out from this village.

“Be right there. You go help others.” I said, breathing out the smoke. I could see people moving busy at the floor below.

“Come fast. He’s already kinda mad.”

Said Chris, and I waved instead of answering. It also meant ‘get the hell out of my face.’ He made a weird face and gave me a finger. Freaking brat.

I looked up at the grey sky, full of falling snowdrops.

“You doin’ good up there?”


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