This Tuesday sees the release of the first in a series of short, fictional stories written by TBAW’s Hon-Ming Gianotti.
The leaves from cherry blossoms drifted downwards, carried by the wind and fluttering in circles until they rested on the sunlit mosaic of tiles. Dappled shadows swayed back and forth, their movement like a palm frond being slowly waved over an empress by a pretty girl. Like an everyday fantasy, children in school uniforms milled about on the open path, the trees overhead forming an arch of foliage for them to walk though on their way to the fenced, rectangular brick building that sat patiently at the end of the trail. The school was already bustling with movement. The bell on the sharp tower above the building was chiming, a celebration of the schoolday’s beginning, and the grounds. Wordless chatter echoed softly around the vicinity, light snatches of conversation occasionally breaking free of the others as one student would exclaim excitedly or pause to make a point.
Through this slowly moving congregation, one figure raced through, occasionally squeezing between peers or bumping accidentally into others who had been leisurely taking their time. Eventually the mass of people became thick enough that the hurried figure was hastily wading through the throng of her fellows. Glimpses of dark hair floating in the gentle breeze flashed in and out of view.
“Haddy! Hey, Haddy!”
I glanced in the direction of the echo, involuntarily responding to the sound of my name. I paused and turned, searching for the source of the calls. “Over here!” I looked closely and saw a hand waving, sticking up from a particularly clumped gaggle of students, all smiling and too engaged in happy conversation to even notice. I took a half-step towards them, hesitating, and then slowly walked over towards the group. A panting figure slid free through a miniscule opening, almost falling down in the process. A lump formed in my throat as I saw who it was, and my mouth unconsciously began to form into a smile.
“Hadrian, it is slightly later than I would have liked for you to wake up.”
I burst upright in the hospital bed, banging my head on the twisted apparatus that hung above the small, crib-like cot. My heart sank as the blur of my vision slowly coalesced into the cold, neat pallidity of the ward. Some cold light hung in the room from outside, the high window’s view showing only dull clouds. Everything from the walls to the frame of the medical appliance looming over my head was white, and the teeth of the self-proclaimed friend of mine, Doctor Bosch, was no exception. As his dental prize was prominent in my field of view, I instantly felt uncomfortable. His smile, not quite reaching his eyes, was unreflective of his eerily calculative gaze that coldly scrutinized my frail body and then the monitor beside my bed.
“Your parents wish to see you. They will come in now.” He turned his back and left the room all signs of his false smile leaving him, and his long lab coat sweeping dramatically out the open door.