Chapter 60 – Meeting Again
Jennifer casually looked around the room and quickly noticed the mess left on the adjacent bed: a deep blue backpack, a couple of torn paper scraps, and some handmade craft tools. “What are you making today?” she asked.
In order to maintain her muscles’ development and flexibility, Hazel had to undergo a rehabilitation every day, even activities such as writing, which involved finger movements, were considered as a form of a rehabilitation.
“Kites,” Hazel answered instinctively, but then realized her mistake. “No, I am not making anything today, I am just…” Hazel was getting frustrated and didn’t want to talk about her rehabilitation anymore, so she cut herself off. “Anyway, those things aren’t part of rehabilitation, they’re just…they’re just…” Hazel couldn’t find a suitable word to describe it, this kind of feeling really felt terrible!
Jennifer could sense Hazel’s conflict and hesitation, so she didn’t press the issue further. Instead, she half-jokingly chided, “So where’s the kite then? Did that guy make it halfway and then run away?”
Hazel didn’t say anything and turned her head to look deeply out of the window, her expression unclear and inscrutable.
Jennifer couldn’t help feeling surprised as she walked to the window, where she saw the joyful crowd below – Alex running downhill with the kite in his hand, a little girl standing behind him holding the kite reel, and a tall man crouching down behind her, holding onto the kite line and controlling its speed. Then, a group of kids ran aimlessly behind Alex, laughing, shouting, and cheering, their joyous sounds breaking free from the restraints of winter and filling the air with exuberant vitality. Many hospitalized children and parents stood nearby, watching the scene as if they were enjoying the show, with smiles on their faces.
Unconsciously, Jennifer’s mouth also gently curved upward.
As a children’s hospital, Mount Sinai Hospital tried to maintain the optimism and children’s laughter and chatter always filled the air. However, the deep-seated heaviness in their hearts never dissipated. The small lives tortured by disease always made people feel helpless. But today, the broken laughter carried by the light breeze made the entire hospital come alive.
Turning back, Jennifer saw Hazel quickly releasing her teeth, but the slowly recovering color on her lips betrayed her actions, and the stubbornness in her eyes couldn’t conceal the envy surging inside her.
Over the past few months, whenever she had free time, Jennifer would come to visit Hazel. Perhaps because they were both girls and close in age, Hazel didn’t mind her presence, and they had become good friends, but today Hazel’s behavior was a bit unusual.
After thinking for a moment, Jennifer carefully asked in a hesitant tone, “Hazel, is he the guy that made the kite?” Although she didn’t specify, Jennifer’s intuition told her that Hazel knew who she was talking about. However, Hazel didn’t directly answer and instead lowered her gaze, avoiding the question, which was even stranger.
Suddenly, a flash of insight came to Jennifer’s mind, and she tentatively said, “So, he’s that guy?” The guy who disappeared for nearly eight months because of his work.
Jennifer had heard so many stories about that guy that her ears had calluses. Every nurse here knew him, and many of them spoke highly of him. Later, he left New York for work, but he persistently called back to ask about the situation. Even Hazel was no exception. She always talked tirelessly about that guy’s interesting stories, as if all her memories of him were bright and warm.
But as time went on, he never returned to New York. Hazel gradually lost her smile, almost thinking that he would never come back, just like those friends who had gradually disappeared from her life. So, Hazel closed her heart again, refusing to make new friends, and she even didn’t seem so enthusiastic about the rehabilitation anymore, as if she had given up.
As soon as Jennifer spoke, she could see Hazel’s brows furrow and there were waves of emotion in her eyes that were almost impossible to conceal. Even though she didn’t say anything, Jennifer had already gotten the answer she wanted.
Jennifer couldn’t help but turn her head to look out of the window again. Because the person was too far away, she couldn’t see his face clearly, and could only see a small figure about the size of a palm. However, that dazzling smile that could outshine the sun was clearly reflected in her eyes, making her gaze involuntarily drawn to him.
“Yes, that’s him,” Hazel suddenly spoke up, breaking the silence in the room. “That’s Renly Hall.”
“The legendary Renly Hall!” Jennifer said teasingly with meaningful implications, the girl code between them was as clear as day. Jennifer hardly concealed the fact that Hazel was secretly in love with Renly.
This teasing remark made Hazel grit her teeth. “I just like the music he recommends,” she explained, but Hazel felt that wasn’t enough, so she added, “He’s a very educated person and seems to know everything. I just enjoy talking with him.”
No one can know everything. But Jennifer didn’t burst Hazel’s bubble of fantasy. Every teenage girl has a crush, and that crush seems to be capable of anything, shining like the sun with every move, making the whole world revolve around him. Every teenage girl is the same. However, Jennifer involuntarily recalled her own crush, was it in high school? Or middle school? The memory has become so blurry.
“So, Renly had finally came back. Aren’t you supposed to be happy?” Jennifer asked curiously.
Hazel looked quietly out of the window, with a hint of envy in her eyes. She envies those who can run wild, feel the solidity and weight of the earth with their feet; she envies those who can laugh out loud without feeling the burning and suffocating sensation in their lungs; she envies those who can enjoy the sun like a normal person, talking, writing, walking, things that are taken for granted by other patients but are slowly being stripped away from her body. She felt a sense of humiliation.
“But he will eventually leave again, won’t he?” Hazel said softly. Having gone through countless goodbyes, she was already tired of them.
“How do you know that deep down he’s not worried about you leaving?” Jennifer sighed lightly.
“How can I leave? I’m trapped here! Forever!” Hazel shouted in agitation, even sitting up, clenching her fists, her cheeks red, using all her strength to express her anger.
Jennifer wanted to give her a hug, but she held back because she knew that at this moment, Hazel didn’t need anyone’s comfort or sympathy. “Hazel, you know what I mean.” There is currently no cure for ALS, so it is highly likely that Hazel will be the first to leave when time runs out, not Renly or anyone else. “Renly chose to come back, he is braver than others, while you chose to escape.”
Jennifer’s words were so cruel and brutal that they cut right through Hazel’s fig leaf and leaving her feeling embarrassed. But Jennifer didn’t stop there, and continued, “The doctor said you can still walk.” Hazel’s condition had progressed faster than expected, but it hadn’t deteriorated to a terrible extent. Hazel could still walk; she just chose to give up.
Hazel was in pain and didn’t know what to say to refute Jennifer’s words and in the end, she could only shout at Jennifer, “You don’t understand, you understand nothing. You’re a healthy person, standing here and laughing at me. Your words are so easy for you to say, but you don’t know what they mean to me!” Hazel pointed towards the door and said, “Get out, I’m asking you to leave!”
Jennifer opened her mouth, wanting to say something, but hesitated for a moment before finally leaving in large strides.
She wanted to desperately help Hazel, but she was still too young. She was in her twenties, and she hadn’t experienced many setbacks in life. Sometimes, even when she wanted to help, she didn’t know how to. This sense of powerlessness and frustration made her hate herself.
However, she also knew that is not about herself, the patients suffering from illnesses were the main characters. She couldn’t force them to accept her goodwill just because of her own sense of helplessness and urgency, could she?
Leaving the ward, Jennifer’s mind was in a mess. She didn’t have time to look up and saw a wall at the door. She took a step back unconsciously, and then looked up to see Renly standing at the door. She recognized him at first glance, the man she had met at the Los Angeles airport last time. The kite in his hand indicated that he was the Renly that Hazel had mentioned. There was too much information, and Jennifer couldn’t process them all at once.
When Renly also saw Jennifer in front of him the corners of his eyebrows lightly raised. He had just heard the tail end of an argument and was wondering who it was. He didn’t expect to see someone completely unexpected for him. However, there was a more important task at hand, so Renly nodded towards Jennifer with a smile, without saying much. He pushed open the door to the hospital room and walked in.
“Get out!” Hazel didn’t even see who the newcomer was and just shouted angrily. But this time, she didn’t get a response, so she shouted again, “Get out!” And then she lifted her head and saw Renly.
Renly was holding a butterfly kite, while he was smiling, standing still without showing any strange emotions due to Hazel’s fluctuating mood. He just stood here calmly in place.
Hazel felt like she had hit a cotton wall, unable to exert any strength. She turned her head in anger, refusing to have any kind of communication with Renly.
Renly took another step and walked to the window. He carefully set up the kite and then stepped back to inspect it. After confirming that everything was in order, he smiled at Hazel and said, “I’m leaving now. See you next week, Hazel.” As if nothing had happened just now, Renly walked to the side, packed up his things, and then left the room.
The room quieted down again, with Hazel’s gaze falling on the kite. Behind the transparent window was the blue sky. The kite was placed there motionlessly, looking somewhat discordant but at the same time also incredibly harmonious. She couldn’t help but imagine the butterfly kite flying up into the sky in her mind.
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