"Do you know the young lady?"asked the nurse who was observing my gesture.
I looked at the white face of the one that was lying on the bed. "I don't know...I can't tell you for sure..."
She giggled. "Then how about I tell you how you can find out if you know her for sure?"
I raised my eyes and met hers. They were sparkling with excitement. "How would that be possible?"
"Miss Scarlett is not alone on this Earth, you know. Her parents are here and visit her once in a while. Of course, I understand why they don't come that often. The pain they are experiencing it's unimaginable for us, the rest of the world. You know, I really admire their strenght for doing this. Is not easy to see your child trapped on a hospital bed, unconscious and unable to wake up..."
The nurse's words were a background noise for me. I was looking at Mi Rae's face. It was her. I was sure of it...but somehow, my heart was unable to recognize it. I was shocked to see her there, so thin and pale, barely breathing. I was expecting her to be the same old bubbly Mi Rae, a lively being, weird and delicate, baring the sweet smell of lillies. The girl that danced with the wind...but no more. She was nothing like I was remembering her to be. Pale, thin, looking more dead than alive, surrounded by the pungent smell of pills, so silent and distant...
"How did you get here?"I whispered, gently stroking her hair.
"I see you're quite well now, mister Yang,"smiled the doctor as he looked through my medical file. "I believe you can go home now. I'll prescribe you some pain killers and then I'll sign your discharge."
"Thank you, doctor,"I shook his hand. "Thank you for taking care of me and for not sending me to the psychiatric hospital,"I bowed.
"A broken hearted man is not a crazy one. He's just suffering."
I looked at him surprised.
"I was once like you. A young man, first year intern at this hospital. I was one of the best inters this hospitals had. And it's not that I'm bragging about it or anything like that,"he smiled as he took a sit on my bed. "I was the best because all I did was to study. Whenever I had free time, I studied. When my friends were going out to party, I was locking myself inside my room and going through all the medicine books I had. It was a vicious cercle that imprisoned me for quite a while. But then I met her..."
"Sofia Krakovski. The new resident. She was the most beautiful woman I ever saw in my whole life. She was beautiful and smart. She was one of the mst talented brain surgeons that USA ever had. That's what I stopped caring...about my friends, about my studies, about being the best, about the age gap between us. 'Coz Sofia was 10 years older than me, married and a mother. I didn't care about anything else, but her person. I wanted her to see me, to observe me and to love me. And I did my best to make her observe me. In the end, I could do nothing to break her happy home. She left this hospital and went back to her native country, Russia."
I watched him get engrossed in his own memories. He was no longer the doctor that supervised me for this weeks after my break down, but he once again became the young intern that fell in love with his teacher. An impossible love...
"But then again, I guess our fate was to meet again. 10 years later, I met her again, in this very hospital. This time, she was the one who looked for me,"he continued while looking at me. "You see, Sofia was diagnosed with brain tumor. And she requested me especially to operate on her. I said no. Countless of times, I refused to admitt that she was that sick. I was afraid to touch her. I was afraid that she would die in front of me, leaving me unable to do a thing to save her. But she pleaded. 'Jerry, I want to see my child getting married. I want to learn how to live on my own. I want to experience crazy adeventures that I never had time to even think about. This world is wonderful and yet, I only see this now, when I'm about to die. I want to know what true love means, Jerry. I and Ivan...we didn't love each other. We were together because it felt only normal to obey our parents wishes. But we never loved each other. I finally saw that after I met you, Jerry. You were the one that opened my eyes...and my heart. I left New York, hoping that I could forget you, but the truth is that I never did. I love you, Jerry! And I want you to cut me open, take the tumor out and let me live by your side till the ends of my days...Let's grow old together, Jerry,' she told me one night after I woked her up to tell her that there was no way I could ever operate her. Guess what? That was my happiest moment in my whole life! It's not everyday that you hear the woman you love telling you that she loves you and that she wants to be next to you till the end of her life..."
"And? What happened next?"
"I operated her and everything went smoothly. She regain conscioness and we got married. She had a brain ischemia years later and collapsed during a surgery. She never woked up from the coma..."
I watched him with a shocked expression.
"Would you allow me showing you something?"he turned his atention on me.
I nodded. The doctor stood and I followed him outside my ward. He led me to a well known corridor. We stopped in front of a closed door. 16 10...
"I think no one sees this when passing by here or when entering,"he whispered while looking at a spot, right above the ward's door.
Sofia Krakovski Ward...
"I had to let my love go. I could not let her suffer here when she could be much more happy in another place,"he turned towards me and fixed me with his green eyes.
I took a step back. I could see what he was thinking about. "No! Never! Not when I'm sure that she's still in there, waiting for my return. No when I...NEVER!"I shouted before running away.
And like a coward I ran away. I ran from all those thoughts that were scaring me, that were making my heart feel heavy and on the edge of cracking. I ran from the single thought of having to part with her once again, just when I found her. I ran from the poisonous thought that eternity will be the one that will stand between us...
"Yeoboseyo?"I answered with a husky voice.
"Hello? Yang Seung Ho?"I heard a woman's voice at the other line.
"Yes,"I answered in English.
"Finally!"she whispered in Korean.
"May I ask who is it?"I asked confused by the sudden change of language.
"Choi. Choi Ha Rue..."
I tried to make myself more confortable on the taxi's seat.
"Where to, mister?"
"Central Park, please,"I answered.
And he stepped on the acceleraion as if my life depended on his speed. Actually, it was not my life. It was Mi Rae's and my pain. Curiosity had it's role there too. Choi Ha Rue...Mi Rae's mother. She called me out of the blue. She wanted to see me, to talk to me.
"Mister, we're here,"I heard the taxi driver's voice.
"Oh...thank you. Keep the change!"I said, snapping out of my daze.
I stepped out in the frozen air of February. Some kids were playing around while giggling. The rest of the park was quiet...
I walked down a quiet alley, lost in my thoughts, engrossed in my fears. Somehow, I was feeling exactly the way I felt back then when she told me she was going to leave for New York. Empty. Unable to move my body. Unable to think straight. Unable to...unable to...unable to...well, this was my battle agains all the deamons of hell. And somehow I felt that I could fight agains them. If it was for Mi Rae, then I could fight them all and still win.
"Seung Ho?"called a voice.
I turned around. A middle aged woman was approching me with reluctant steps. Her fur coat was shining in the sun.
"It's been a while, Seung Ho,"she smiled taking my hand in her gloved one. "How have you been?"
"Good,"I tried to smile. "Mrs. Choi!"I broke into tears as her familiar embrace brought back the memories from back home. The memories where my mom and her used to call us to dinner. The smell of baked cookies and boiled vegetabled. The kind of smell that tells you 'Welcome back!' after a long day. But her smell was different now. She was wearing an expensive perfume. Coco Channel Nº 5...
We took a walk. A silent one. Neither of us spoke.
"Neh, tell me, why is Mi Rae there?"I whispered as we sat on a bench.
She played with her fingers for a couple of minutes. "You see, she really hit the jackpot by coming to New York to study at Juilliard. She had the talent and her teachers were the best out of the best ones she could ever have. She worked really hard to get to the top. And she did it eventually. She became Juilliard most treasured gem! After graduating, she got so many contracts with different ballet houses. But the again she was aiming for the best and she picked New York's ballet. Her technique was the best among the dancers and she soon became the Prima Ballerina. She was the youngest to be named so. It was the first public appearance as NYCB's Prima Ballerina..."
She stopped. Her words remained blocked in her throat.
"...her partner was the well known Roberto Bolle as her partner...Everything went smoothly till the first half of the show. Then Roberto began complaining of muscle cramps. Mi Rae, or better known Scarlett, 'coz she changed her name after getting into NYCB, helped him and massaged his arms and shoulders. The show continued and half way through, while he was lifting her from the ground, he dropped her on the floor. And that was it. She fell down and the lights went out, trying to hide the incident. She woked up after a minute and said she was ok. But the director didn't let her continue and the show was canceled. We all went home and ate. After taking an aspirin, she went to bed. She never woked up since then..."
She broke into tears. I conforted while trying to be brave. I tried in vain because soon I felt warm tears going down my cheeks.
"When did it happen?"I whispered.
"Back in 2009."
My heart ached. So...all my encounterings with her were just...mere dreams?
"Why...why have you kept her like that for this long?"
"Oh, Seung Ho! How could I be the one to decide my own child's death?!"she cried, looking at me shocked. "I did my best as her mother. But this...this is just too much for me!"
I let her cry. My heart was crying too. I could feel something in the air. There was definetely something coming towards me. Like a hurricane...
"Mi Rae missed you so much, Seung Ho..."
"There wasn't a single day she would go to sleep without writing you a letter. When she was under pressure she was talking to herself as if she was talking to you. You know, she was always saying something about a promise list..."
"Mrs. Choi...what do you want from me?"I asked as I stood. "I know you're about to ask me something. Just name it! I'll do anything for Mi Rae!"