As Jahan and Fo went to get them their stretcher, Mi ran away.
They could run. The most important thing of all – nothing stopped them from pushing their uniform over and running out of their room. They ran down the hallway and stopped at the front door. Peering out, Mi waited until they couldn’t see Jahan and Fo anymore. They waited until the coast was clear. Then they ran out the door and through the streets.
Mi was fast. This had always been true. A scout couldn’t be slow. A scout had to be fast everywhere they ended up. Even when another person noticed Mi, none could catch them. Mi was too fast. With no one expecting them, they could run right down the road and straight out of the city.
Mi almost expected not to make it. That they had some grievous injury they couldn’t recognize and that was why they had been laid up for several months, not allowed to return to the fight. But they made it. Nothing slowed them, other than the slight strain from muscles not recently used. Mi could feel their heart pounding, a good feeling. No one could stop them. They escaped.
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.
They commanded attention, leaving spectators breathless in their presence. Mi didn’t expect anything less. Dressed all in red, the crowd could still see the stains of the blood on them. Somehow, despite having returned from battle, despite the blood of their enemies and of their friends upon them, they all stood tall. Not as though they had suffered a heavy loss.
Mi dipped their head down before Jahan could see them. They shouldn’t have bothered. Their red cloak stood out in the cooler colours worn by the rest of the crowd. Jahan would break formation, they know. They shouldn’t have come, not right now.
“What are you doing?”
They stared at their boots, instead of looking up to see how many people Jahan pushed aside. The crowd had moved, giving them space. Mi’s boots looked the same as ever. They had only managed to pull on the boots and put on the cloak. The rest of their outfit was not the same uniform. “Standing in support.”