“You could at least listen to the doctor, if not to anyone else who cares about you.” Fo sat down at the table, near the book.
Mi almost wondered what the book is about, but recognized their mind trying anything to not focus on Fo.
Mi’s hand clenched the rough fabric of their sheet. “I want to go home.”
Fo exhaled. “You’d be home sooner if you did as you were told.”
Mi stared out the window. The wood jammed into the frame wasn’t the same in any other room. To keep Mi in, their family decided to take more measures as the doctor hadn’t bothered. Why did the hospital have to be that shade of brown?
The rustling of paper told Mi that Fo wanted to read to them again. Mi wouldn’t listen. Even if they wanted to, Mi couldn’t focus on it. Fo worried too much, over nothing. The world conspired against them.
When Jahan entered later to tell the both of them the war has ended, Mi felt the world laugh at them.
As if to mock them, Mi’s uniform displayed without a single crease upon the dress form in their hospital room. The grain of the wood in the floor and walls was dark, but browns. All browns. The dark red in the brown made them think everything else around was dried blood. The crisp sheets scratched their skin as they didn’t move an inch. A book lay on the table next to their bed, but closed. Mi didn’t bother reaching for it. They stared out the window.
Their room stood at ground level, like all of the hospital. Like all of the buildings in town. Trees towered above all of them. Mi considered their lives pitiful, as forever attached to the earth.
“Do we have to set a guard on you too?”
Mi ignored Fo. Their brother had said the same words when Mi first got medical attention. When Mi’s words landed on deaf ears, it felt natural to return the treatment.
Usually, to thank someone, he would offer to take them out to eat somewhere. It was a message he had instilled in him by his mother. Henri had probably missed his weekly call by now. That would be a nightmare to deal with.
Taking a vampire out to a meal didn’t seem like a good idea though. He didn’t know what that entailed. Well, he knew it had to deal with blood. That much was obvious. But he didn’t want to say any of that. It would just be awkward. Henri knew enough about vampires to know that some of them lost their tempers when faced with… well, obvious facts? Assumed traits? There was the church that had been trashed when someone assumed that crosses had anything to do with keeping a vampire out.
Nevertheless, he had to do it. It was how he was supposed to be polite. Henri tugged at the collar of his new shirt awkwardly. “I’d like to treat you to a meal as thanks.”
Slowly, the vampire’s eyebrows crept upward on his face. “You would… like to treat me to a meal?”
The vampire smiled. The teeth were so human looking. That was another thing Henri could never get over. He knew this one too, had known for a long time. “Fangs” weren’t a part of the package, despite what everyone said. Henri hoped he hadn’t gotten himself into trouble or something.
“No you wouldn’t,” the vampire said. “But thank you for offering.”
Then he left Henri alone.
Henri recognized the vampire the moment he stepped into the doorway. He didn’t interrupt the nurse as he cleared away Henrique’s meal. He could get to his feet now without feeling dizzy. The vampire didn’t say anything until the nurse walked out. The man said something to the vampire as he left, but Henri didn’t catch it.
“I see you didn’t die,” the vampire said, tone all matter of fact.
Henri looked him over. The vampire wasn’t really how he remembered him being. He was shorter than Henri, slighter too. If he had been human, he wouldn’t have been the type to throw Henri into the back of anything. “I have you to thank for that… um…”
The nurse had never given him the vampire’s name. Now that he thought about it, he could see that. How many people knew that there were vampires working here?
He decided not to make it more awkward. “It’s Henrique. Thanks for ignoring whatever it was I was saying when I was bleeding out.”
The vampire nodded. “People bleeding out don’t tend to know what’s best for them.”
At this point, he didn’t really know what else to say.
Henrique woke up, finally feeling sore.
He decided that was a good thing. The fact that he felt anything meant he was still alive. That’s what his mother had always said to him. Secondly, it meant that he could just feel that rather than the blood. He wasn’t bleeding out anymore. He could feel how he was patched up.
Then he remembered what had happened. “How are you feeling?” the nurse asked him.
Right, he wasn’t alone. “You have vampires working in a hospital?” Henri asked the man, feeling the wool in his head still.
The man looked about to sigh, but just nodded. “We have a few in our employ. Don’t worry though, they are no danger.”
Henri could have said that. After all, it was a vampire who brought him here. “The… one in the ambulance. What’s his name? He… he saved me.”
The nurse appeared to have some sort of change of heart, but Henri didn’t know what. He realized he had to be on some painkillers. “I will let him know.”
That wasn’t the answer he wanted, but Henrique drifted off nonetheless.
Here it came. The mundane conversations.
“How was the performance?”
They never talked about anything he wanted to hear about.
“He did well. It was actually more entertaining than I’d thought it might be. What about you?”
“I’ve just been here.”
It was like he wasn’t even here.
“Have you eaten?”
“Just did. Ham and swiss.”
“Sounds good. That from here or…?”
“Actually, yeah. The nurse brought it in.”
Maybe he wasn’t here.
“I’ll go down and get one. Then do you want to play some cards or something?”
“Sounds good. I’m about done with this chapter anyway.”
No. Why didn’t she talk about the performance or something? But she left and boredom returned. This was hell, he decided. This was hell.