I’m so, so sorry! This post is LONG overdue. I have various voices in my head telling me that I should have posted something sooner. But these two weeks have been quite hectic and hellish (which isn’t really a valid excuse!). But finding time to write has been relatively hard recently.
Anyway – enough with me. Episode 7.
To those of you familiar with me, you know what to do! Let me know what you think!
To those of you new to this, start right from the beginning by clicking here.
The Red Thread
A slight brightness penetrated my curtains in the morning, and when I opened them, I saw that the rain had finally stopped. After two days of constant rain, the grass had probably drowned and I was expecting the river to be overflowing. No doubt a ‘red flag’ would be raised, forbidding anyone from attempting to row in his or her crew that morning. Unusually, I was up much earlier than Mei and Tristan, and felt a lot less groggy than I normally did. After two days of just skulking around and avoiding everyone – Mei, Tristan, Yue, and even Hiro – I had to return to some sort of normality, even if I had to force myself. This whole situation wasn’t really my business, and Yue could do whatever he wanted. If he liked Mei, that wasn’t my concern. He no longer had any obligation to me, and after the way I had treated him, I wasn’t expecting him to be considerate of my feelings. Well, that’s how I construed karmic circle at any rate.
I quickly ate a bowl of cereal and downed a massive bowl of coffee, and left: I was on the ward-round with Siobhan and Dr Yeates that morning, and if I were even a minute late, Dr Yeates would make the rest of my day a living hell. Nametag, gloves in my pocket, pen, my reading glasses on my head, my clipboard and notebook in hand, everything ready as I waited by the counter for Siobhan to show up. Of course, it was just my luck that he would also show up at the same time.
“Morning, Emilia,” Tristan greeted me, accompanied by Siobhan. I didn’t greet him back.
“Seeing your friend this morning?” I interrogated him.
“Actually, no, not today. I’m going to paediatrics and talking to some of the kids there,” he told me. Really? Now? I turned to Siobhan.
“Is that even allowed?”
“Dr Yeates allowed it. He has a CRB check, and I don’t see any problems.”
My gosh, he was seriously doing this. That morning wasn’t the only morning. Most days that week he would come and talk and play with some of the children suffering from tumours or leukaemia, and to their families. Mei and I were now mainly working in the adult oncology, and Siobhan kept quiet about the circumstances of Tristan and Yue’s friend whenever Mei asked. We only dealt with patients to whom we were directed, and were given an extensive burden of paperwork to deal with.
I sat there one afternoon, the sun shining through the ward entrance, sifting through paperwork, and inputting numbers and notes into the computer, whilst Mei sat behind me, doing the same.
“He’s been around a lot recently,” Mei commented. I just murmured a ‘yes’. “It’s weird, right? He’s so good at dealing with the kids, and even Hiro.”
“I guess so,” I agreed placidly. Concentrate on the paperwork. No more questions…
“Do you think their friend is doing better now? Have you heard anything from Yue?”
“Um…no,” I quickly evaded. Nope, this paperwork wasn’t happening. I stood suddenly and turned to her abruptly. “Do you want some coffee?” She looked up at me, slightly surprised.
“Um…yes, I suppose so. Are you okay?”
“Yep. Latte. Really need caffeine,” I told her as I walked out of the ward and to the coffee dispenser, but instead I just sat by the vending machine, and slumped back in the uncomfortable, fluorescent metal seat. What was I doing? Why did I feel so averse to this? I felt like I was lying to Mei. I felt burdened, even though I didn’t really know anything. Why did Yue do that to me? Was he just torturing me out of spite? He wanted to see me squirm, didn’t he? Why did he have to tell me he liked Mei, and then continue as if everything was normal? And of course, on top of it all, Mei had no idea.
On my way back to the ward, two cups of coffee in hand, I ended up bumping into the person I least wanted to talk to, the person who was the cause of these problems…problems? Perhaps grievances would be better? Tristan stood there, hands in his jacket pockets, standing as if he were cold, or ashamed. But I knew that he had too much pride for that.
“Hey,” I greeted him quietly. He didn’t greet me back. He just held my gaze for a few seconds, before speaking.
“Yue told me that you know.” At this, I didn’t answer. “I’m sorry.”
“Why are you apologising? It’s not your fault,” I told him. “How are you feeling?” Maybe this was the first time I was genuinely concerned. How was he calm and collected? But he totally ignored the question, and brought up the matter at hand.
“Yue’s only doing what he thinks is right. He’s doing it all for my sake.”
“Well, things haven’t changed since school, have they?”
“You leading, Yue carrying out your ‘dirty’ work.”
“You call what Yue is doing ‘dirty’ work?” he rebuked me. But I countered his question:
“You know he likes Mei now?” At this, Tristan broke gazes with me. He did know. How shameful. “You know he likes Mei and yet you’re making him do this?” Tristan glanced back at me.
“Yue is an adult. He’s old enough to make any decisions himself,” he rebuked my accusation. “At any rate, I didn’t tell him to do anything. He thought that it would be good thing.”
“Does Mei know?” His eyes softened. His entire visage softened. No. Of course she didn’t.
“Excuse me?” he asked back, as if he had been accused of something heinous. It was, if I was being honest.
“Does Mei know? Does Mei know why you’re so good at dealing with Hiro, and the kids in paediatric oncology, and why Siobhan and Dr Yeates know you so well?” At this, Tristan stood tall and proud.
“As far as I’m concerned, it doesn’t matter. She knows what she needs to know. In fact, you weren’t even meant to know,” he told, his tone becoming as condescending and patronizing as he had been with Delilah. At this point, there was no use. My anger exploded.
“But I do!” I declared. “And so does Hiro! So it concerns us! All of us!” I felt myself tearing up, but I had to hold back. I had to restrain myself from exploding in a flurry of emotions. If I didn’t walk away now, I would explode into a flood of tears, and I wouldn’t be able to stop myself. Before I did, I handed him my cup of coffee.
“You need as much of it as you can get, right?” I told him, trying to smile.
Then I left him in the surprisingly quiet, undisturbed hospital corridor. This wasn’t my thing to tell anyone, but it still hurt me so much. Why was this happening? And now of all times?
I went back home with Mei that evening in absolute silence. I was exhausted. In fact, it seemed inevitable that I would be. Dr Yeates and Siobhan, despite her charming smile and unexhausted enthusiasm, had worked us both to the limit that week. I looked over at Mei as she stared out of the bus window, gazing at the sky that had become amber with the descending sun. Still as serene as ever, still as infatuated as I suspected by the person I had warned her about in Covent Garden that summer day. Since then, we had had many rainy days, many days of unexpected cold, many days of sunshine that brought chilly winds, and a storm – a massive one; one that had lasted for many days. Now, after it all, it seemed that the weather had achieved its homeostatic balance, harmony achieved. Of course – my phone vibrated in my pocket and I pulled it out, and checked the text – this was the cycle: with every moment of harmony was a necessary moment of chaos, with every instant of balance followed an instant of instability, with every fluctuation of motion came a second of absolute stillness. For Yue, this rule was entirely and absolutely applicable:
‘I don’t know how to make things up to you. All I can offer is being your friend. So as friends, can we all go out one evening? Drinks and club tickets on me. My treat to you and Mei. Let me know. xxx’
The only thing I could reply – to fulfil my obligation to the eternal karmic formula of motion and tranquillity, instability and balance, chaos and harmony – was:
‘Fine. Next week at some point. Talk soon. xxx.’