I hate hospitals.
I hate the white coats the doctors wear, I hate the smell of disease and medicine in the air, I hate how white everything is, and I definitely hate it here. Stupid trunk that crossed my path and made me fall off my bike. Now my left wrist is suffering the consequences; no bones were broken, but I have a tight bandage on my hand that prevents me from moving it freely.
The view out the window is not that bad, but my mood is crap because I cannot enjoy the great weather. The sun is high, and I want to play with my ball, which is impossible because the stupid doctor insisted that I stay here one more day to monitor my injury. Stupid doctor, I hate him.
I do not want to spend the night here; I want to be in my bed and play video games before sleep, the food in this place is disgusting and I ate the chocolate my mom snuck me in hours ago, even though I hate that sweet paste... Mom should know by now. I wanna go, today I was supposed to confront Matthew and his friends who think they own the park. I will show him…
I turn around quickly and press hard the sheets of the gurney where I am lying. It is a boy. At what point did he come in? I did not hear him, and he is carrying one of those noisy poles where the nurses hang a bag of clear liquid that’s connected to a needle in his arm; serum, I think it is called. I look around to see if anyone else is here, but it is just him standing next to my bed.
“What is your name?” His voice is a bit squeaky. He’s wearing thick glasses, and the sun shining through the window illuminates the glass, so I cannot see the color of his eyes.
“Uh... Jasper.” I sit and watch him more closely.
He has brown hair, and it looks like a bomb has exploded in his head because the locks are pointing to the sky. He has white skin, and I can tell he is a little short. He sniffs constantly and wears a hospital gown, with hairy white slippers on his feet.
“It is a nice name,” he smiles. “I’m James.”
“Oh,” I feel a bit uncomfortable; I do not know what I am supposed to say.
“How old are you?” He sniffs again and approaches my gurney.
“Ten, and you?”
“I’m eight,” he points to the bandage on my wrist. “What happened to you?”
“I fell off my bike,” he grimaces.
“Wow, did it hurt?”
“Of course it did,” I replied angrily. “A wound hurts.”
“Yeah, I know…” he mutters, and suddenly the atmosphere becomes even more uncomfortable than before.
“So... why are you here?” I gesture to the metal pole he is holding with one hand. “Why do you have that?”
“The nurse said it is to hydrate me. I have asthma,” he sorbs through his nose, it’s small and a little red. “Do you know what that is?”
“I think so,” I try to remember, but nothing pops in my mind. I know I have heard that word before. “But tell me anyway.”
“It is kinda like your lungs do not work good and you have trouble breathing,” he takes a fast look at the door and sees me again. “It gets worse when you have the flu, like I do now. My father was very angry when they told him I had to stay.”
“Father?” I scowl, confused. “Why do you call him father?”
“Huh?” He tilts his head to the side, his glasses slide a bit down his nose, but I still cannot see his eyes. “How am I supposed to call him?”
“I don’t know. Dad?” I shrug. “Or daddy maybe?”
“I can’t do that,” he denies quickly. He seems scared all of a sudden. “My father says that is for sissies.”
“Seriously?” I have never heard anything like that. Most of my friends call their parents that, including me.
“Yes, he says I should call him father or sir,” he raises his glasses again with a finger. “He also tells me to stop acting like a baby and be a man.”
“What? That does not make any sense,” I do not know why, but I’m getting angry. “You are a kid, not an adult. What does your mom say about that?”
“I don’t know,” he shrugs. “She doesn’t spend much time with us.”
“No?” He denies again. “Where does she live?”
“Sometimes at my house, though mostly she spends time with her other family,
“She left you alone with your dad?” I squeal with astonishment.
“She calls me or tells my father to drive me to her other house, but he doesn’t like that. So, he doesn’t do it,” he approaches to whisper. “Besides, she has to take care of her other son.”
“Why are you whispering?” I answer quietly, too.
“My father doesn’t like it when I talk about her or her other family,” he peeks at the door again. “But I love Niel a lot, he’s nice to me.”
“Niel?” I can feel the curiosity growing.
“Yes, my mother’s other son,” he smiles. “He is your age and my hero.”
“I see,” I get angry once more, pushing my tongue in my cheek and frowning. I do not understand why it bothers me.
“Are you okay?” I can hear the concern in his voice.
“Yeah,” I watch out the window and hear him sneeze.
“I like you, Jasper,” I flip my attention back to him and find him smiling. His cheeks are red now, but I imagine it is because of the flu he claims to have.
“Uh, yeah. I like you, too… I guess,” I mutter, I do not know why my chest feels hot.
“James?” We quickly look at the door. One of the nurses enters the room and approaches the little boy standing next to my bed.
“Hello, nurse Sofia,” the nurse puts her hands on her waist and grimaces; the boy smiles nervously.
“James, I told you to stop leaving your room and stay in bed,” he looks at me sideways and then stares at his slippers.
“I’m sorry, I got bored,” James mutters.
“I know, honey,” her voice softens and she brushes James’ rebellious hair. “But it’s risky for you to walk the corridors alone. I have to keep an eye on you in case you have another attack like yesterday, remember?”
“Yes, I’m sorry,” James mutters again.
“It’s okay, let’s go back now,” she extends a hand and he grabs it.
“See you later, Jasper,” James smiles as the nurse leads him to the exit while
dragging the pole with the bag hanging with his other hand. “It was nice to meet you.”
“Yeah, uh... nice to meet you, too.”
Before leaving, James turns and articulates with his lips: “I’ll be back tomorrow”, without the nurse noticing. I cannot help but smile, and for some strange reason, I wish he does. He is a bit of a weird kid, but I liked talking to him. But it doesn’t happen. The next day, I wait and wait, but he does not show up.
The stupid doctor passes by my room in the morning to evaluate my injury; he smiles and tells me that I can go home. I wanted to go out and find the kid, and by the time afternoon falls, I almost do. But then Mom and Dad arrived with clothes for me, rushing me to change. When I am ready, we go out and a cleaning lady enters to fix the room.
I try to tell my parents to give me a chance to search for James, but they are too busy answering the phone and ignoring me as we get near the exit. I check every room I can in the short walk around the hospital, but I do not see him in any of them, and I cannot explain the disappointment I feel.
Mom opens the back door of the car for me. She helps me put the seat belt on, and soon after that, I listen to the engine roar as we begin to move. I keep staring at the hospital until it’s out of my sight.
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