Chapter 58 – Obscure and Unknown
Crossing several streets, Renly soon entered the confines of Madison Avenue. A dark red Victorian-style building appeared in his sight, bursting yet wonderfully blending into the surrounding streets.
As the bridgehead to European landing in North America, New York City was left with countless marks of European influence, such as the Harlem district, which derives its name from the Dutch, who used to own the area. The building in front of Renly was completed in the mid-19th century, long after the colonial era, but the designer still followed the exotic styles of the nearby neighborhoods, creating a beautiful scenery.
Renly quickly entered through the gate, put away his skateboard, and arrived on the first floor. “Kelly,” Renly greeted the young woman behind the counter, handing over his skateboard.
The lady named Kelly took the skateboard and showed him a big smile. “You’re here!”
“I’m five minutes late. I’ll head upstairs first, we can talk later,” Renly replied with a smile. Kelly nodded in agreement, placing the skateboard under the counter. Renly then rushed towards the elevator and managed to slip in before the doors closed.
The elevator stopped on the seventh floor, and as Renly walked out of the elevator doors, he saw a little girl, about six or seven years old, sitting on an orange plastic bench. She was supporting her chin with both hands and pouting; her puffed-up cheeks made her look like a pufferfish. It was hard not to chuckle at her adorable expression.
Renly walked up to her and squatted down in front of her. He patted her head, but she stubbornly twisted away, frowning and glaring at Renly. “I’m thinking! Don’t disturb me!” This little girl’s behavior was truly amusing.
Renly composed himself and said seriously, “Did you not have a bowel movement again today?”
The little girl gritted her teeth and swung her chubby right fist, then fiercely struck the palm of her left hand. “Renly, it’s been three days! Three days! I feel like my whole stomach is full of poop. I don’t think I can even wash it off in the shower.”
Renly almost laughed so hard that tears were about to come out of his eyes, but he couldn’t laugh out loud. He could only clench his fists and cheer her on, “I believe in you! You can do it today!”
The little girl also shook her fist, with a determined expression on her face, “Today, is the day! I will go to the bathroom to prepare myself, so I can’t accompany you for now!”
“Don’t worry, I can hold on by myself, I won’t get lost!” Renly said seriously. The two of them exchanged words of encouragement again, and then Renly watched as the little girl walked towards the bathroom with a heroic expression, which was truly amusing.
This building is actually a hospital, Mount Sinai Hospital to be exact, one of the best children’s hospitals in New York.
In his previous life, Renly spent one-third of his life in the hospital. These long years made his emotions towards the hospital incredibly complicated – he felt some rejection, some hatred, but also some nostalgia. He knew more clearly than anyone else the pain and suffering of long-term hospitalization, which was something that bystanders could not understand and even his friends who were also patients could not understand because every patient had their own inner demons and their own story.
Sometimes, patients would inexplicably start to get angry and lash out at everyone around them, without any reason and without being able to control themselves. As for their family and friends, they can only stand by helplessly, asking over and over again, “What do you want?” As long as the patient speaks up, they would do their best to help.
But Renly knew that they didn’t actually want anything, they were just…lost. The care, the worry, the pain, the torture, and the closeness from family and friends – they were aware of it all, but they still couldn’t change the fact that the disease was overwhelming them, and they couldn’t change the fact that everyone was powerless. The anger, jealousy, and repression that erupted from the depths of their hearts, was something that even they themselves couldn’t control. Even though they knew that none of it was their family and friends’ fault, they couldn’t find a target to vent on.
Perhaps, they just need someone to be by their side, someone they can ignore but who will stay there, not leaving them alone.
They know it’s an unreasonable request, because even their own family members have their own lives and cannot stop their lives because of their illness. But what else can they ask for?
Starting from high school, Renly began volunteering at his local hospital every week. When he was 18 years old, he obtained a professional nursing license, hoping to help more people within his ability. Even when he moved to another city, he continued doing this. In the past eight months, except for the time he was filming “The Pacific”, he continued to volunteer at nearby hospitals in Australia.
It was not kindness or charity; it is because he can empathize with them.
The little girl he talked to just now, whose name is Annie Seliman, resided in the Mount Sinai Hospital during Renly’s filming. Renly had once asked the doctor about Annie’s condition, and the other party explained to him the whole situation using a lot of medical terms. Even though Renly later studied professional medicine, his understanding of it was still limited. He only knew that Annie had a problem with her metabolism system and found it difficult to complete the basic functions through her own body function, not only defecating, but also sweating.
If, over a period of time, she continued to be unable to complete her own excretion, it would have to be done through medical means. After Renly returned to New York, he once saw Annie receive a treatment. Her small and helpless body lay on the hospital bed, full of tubes, and she couldn’t do anything for three days, not even talk. That long process was so painful that even bystanders couldn’t bear to watch, let alone Annie herself who was receiving the treatment.
“Renly, Renly, Renly!” A small train-like whistle came from behind him. Before Renly could turn around, a little guy jumped onto Renly’s back and exclaimed, “Airplane, airplane, let’s fly!”
Renly held the little guy’s bottom with both hands, stood up and spun quickly in circles, then dashed forward at full speed. The little guy on Renly’s back cheered happily, “I’m flying! Anita, Anita, look, I’m flying!”
The nurse in the ward, Anita Tunisia, couldn’t help but laugh as she sat up and cried out, “Renly, don’t take too long and don’t be too intense. Alex’s heart can’t take it!”
“Yes, ma’am!” Renly shouted, then ran in small steps with Alex on his back, asking, “Commander! Please give instructions on the destination!”
Alex Reich, full of vigor, lifted his upper body and shouted with all his strength, “Normandy!”
Renly didn’t know where the little guy heard of Normandy, but he didn’t have time to laugh, because Alex’s voice was really loud and alarmed the entire floor. Many people ran out – this is not good, disturbing the rest of other patients will definitely earn them an earful. So, Renly grabbed Alex’s little leg with both hands, lifted him up to the shoulder, then grabbed his waist and lifted him over his head in one swift motion, and instantly held the little guy in his arms, “Commander, the enemy has all been awakened, we must escape quickly!”
Alex giggled in Renly’s arms, and they quickly ran to the family rest area at the end of the corridor. Then they curled up on the backrest of the chair, like soldiers looking for cover.
Although Alex covered his mouth with both hands, he still couldn’t stop giggling, obviously very happy. There was chaos in the corridor, with nurses discussing it angrily, and some parents coming out to see what was going on. Some parents who were not familiar with the situation thought something had happened, so other parents explained the situation with a smile.
“Alex Reich!” A nurse stood with her hands on her hips at the end of a bench. “You didn’t take your noon prescription and you have even snuck out!! What do you think Renly will do with you?”
Renly widened his eyes and looked at the mischievous little guy. Before Renly could speak, the little guy quickly apologized, “I’ll go take it now! Renly, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to.” Those watery big eyes looked pitifully at Renly, like a little dog.
Renly wrinkled his nose and rubbed Alex’s hair. “Hurry up and take your medicine, then come to Heather’s ward. I’ll make kites for you guys, and we’ll fly them this afternoon!”
“Really?” Alex’s eyes lit up, and Renly pointed to the large backpack on his shoulder. “Of course!”
Upon hearing this, Alex jumped out of Renly’s arms and without even waiting for the nurse he ran out in a flash, shouting, “Come on, I want to take my medicine! I want to take my medicine!” The nurse followed helplessly, “Alex, slow down, slow down.”
Alex who is ten years old this year has spent two years in Mount Sinai Hospital due to congenital heart disease. In fact, his condition could have been treated at home, and as long as there was no strenuous exercise, his daily life would not be greatly affected. But his parents are busy people and are not at home every day. They hired a private caregiver at home, but Alex made such a mess that they left him in the hospital – at least he has friends his age here.
Standing up again, wiping the sweat off his forehead, and taking big strides forward, Renly greeted the parents of the children familiarly along the way, and finally stopped at the door of the “314” ward. The previous noise obviously did not disturb the peace here. Renly knocked on the door to indicate his presence, then pushed the door open with a smile and said a greeting, “Good afternoon, Heather. The sunshine today is really nice, isn’t it?”
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