Torrent of thoughts raced through my mind. After listening to her, I could finally understand Myra much better. And the more that I thought about it, the more I could see the irony between her and myself. Our situations were similar, but we had turned out to be completely different people. Myra was sentimental. She had seen way too much of one side of life that she didn’t want to live if she did not have a reason anymore. But if I could be that reason for her, then she would be more attached to me than her life.
“(You done?)” I heard Dee’s bored voice.
“(You sound bummed out.)”
“(Of course I am. What was the point of all that. We have a game here to play, so why waste time on her problems.)”
“(It wasn’t a waste of time.)”
“(You of all people, sympathetically relating to some depressed soul? That may have been the best joke I heard all my life but certainly not productive.)”
“(I didn’t really relate to her.)”
“(Then what was all that emotional stuff?)”
“(I lied. It is true that we share similarities in our past lives. But unlike her, I have never felt so strongly towards anything. In fact, I slowly accepted life as it was. Monotone, bland and boring.)”
“(I want to say you are right, but you have been acting weird since we met that girl,)” his tone became unusually cold, “(don’t tell me you are letting your emotions get in the way of the game.)”
It was the most nonsensical thing I had heard. But I wasn’t able to refute him. Because yes, I was acting weird. There were illogical actions that I had taken, for which I still had no explanation. And as I thought about those, my silence only made Dee more anxious. “(Oye, Negai-)”
“(Dee, get out,)” and Dee came out. Ultimately, I couldn’t handle my own thoughts and Dee’s queries at the same time. It was too annoying. “Go take a stroll somewhere. Visit the center of the Earth or whatever. Just don’t bug me.” Dee looked annoyed. Like a five year old told to go to his room. He left making faces.
As he left, I could swear I heard someone running away from the curtain. As if someone was there just now. I wanted to check but I couldn’t move. But soon, my worries were dispelled as the curtains were swept aside and someone entered.
“We are ready to move you,” it was Amaaya with a nurse moving a wheelchair.
I was shifted to a private room on the 3rd floor. It was a rather peaceful ward as it consisted of private rooms and hence, most of the rooms were unoccupied. The room I got was a nice room with a window, sofas and a fridge as well.
“Well, isn’t this nice?” Amaaya commented.
“I think all of our necessities for today are taken care of. I’ll bring you your stuff from home tomorrow. Tell me what you want?”
I told her the list of things that I will be needing. “Is this everything?” she confirmed one last time.
I was about to say yes, when I remembered a crucial thing, “I lost my phone in the accident.”
“Yeah I can’t seem to find it. It must be at the scene somewhere,” I explained it to her.
“Ah, forget it. Let’s just buy a new one. I’ll buy you a new one tomorrow.”
“Please don’t,” I immediately stopped her. Obviously I wasn’t going to let an adult choose the most important piece of technology in my life.
“Ah, you don’t trust mommy’s choices either. Kids these days,” she sulked at my immediate response. “Fine, order online. Then you can choose whatever model you want.”
“That’s better. And about the money-”
“Don’t say anything,” this time it was her who immediately responded. “Even if you are growing up fast, you are still a child to me. Besides, it’s your father’s money. Let us spend it without any reservation.” she said with stars in her eyes.
“(Is that how you treat your husband’s money?)” I thought that, but honestly, I didn’t care. The thought of relying on his money for something that I actually needed did not really please me, but I compromised on it.
“Is that all? I’ll be leaving then,” she was about to leave when once again a thought popped in my head.
“Amaaya, could you get me a paper and an envelope as well.”
“Sure. But what do you need that for?” she asked as she was leaving. “Oh writing letters instead of texting since you don’t have a phone now?” and then she came up with her own answer without waiting for mine.
“Haha, unfortunately not. I’ll tell you once you bring me.”
“Ok, I’ll bring them tomorrow.”
With that, she left the room. Soon, visiting hours were over, Dee came back eventually and night fell over the city. My time at the hospital began.
The 1st week was the most painful. I had to be on painkillers all the time, otherwise, the pain would be too much to bear. Even the slightest movement in my feet caused pain to travel up my whole body. And sometimes, even the pulsing of my blood vessels was enough to trigger the pain. The constant painkillers would numb my body so they were normally paired with some sleep inducing medicine so I would be resting all the time.
To be honest, I felt that after a month, I would be needing another month of physiotherapy to be able to walk. But that notion was soon dismissed when Amaaya would take me out on a wheelchair. Even though it wasn’t really exercise, it still put my mind at ease.
In the evening of the 2nd day, I was writing a note when Myra visited me with a box in hand.
“Hey, how are you feeling?” she greeted me in her usual manner.
“Better than before. What’s that?” I asked, pointing at the box.
“Ah, this is a box of the sweet and sour candy you chose at the candy store. The granny there sent it as you had no chance to eat the one you bought due to the incident,” she said with a smile plastered on her face. Though to see her smile like that was refreshing, but the candy just killed the mood.I don’t like sweet things very much. That is why my choice of candy was one that was the least sweet. But still a whole box of it was just overboard.
“Oh, who do we have here?” Amaaya who had stepped out of the room came back in and was surprised to find Myra there.
“Hello. My name is Myra Sirota. I am Negai’s friend.”
“Nice to meet you. I am Negai’s mother, Amaaya.”
I first thought that it was because she was talking to my mother, another Hoshino, that she used my first name. But apparently that is how she addressed me from then on. She was finally opening up to me more and more.
I finished up the note I was writing and put it in the envelope.
“Amaaya,” I called to her, handing her the envelope.
“What’s this?” Obviously she had no idea what to do with it.
“Give it to him when he comes home next time.”
Amaaya thought upon my vague words before realizing who I was talking about. A subtle smile appeared on her face. Even though it was roundabout, she was happy that I was finally talking to my father.
“Oi, Negai. I heard you finally made it to the hospital,” the very next day Taisho came to visit me.
“Is that how you treat the injured?”
“But I thought you knew it was coming. I mean, you were having quite the terrible luck this month. The bridge accident, then you lost your bag and now finally this.” he said taking a seat.
“At least I hope this will be the last,” I said, knowing full well why all of these accidents were caused and I also knew I wasn’t going to stop.
“Anyway, I heard this morning. Thought you might need some notes about the classes,” he said, taking out his notebooks.
“By the way, how long are you in here for?”
“One month at least,” his face immediately turned pale. “Wait a minute. One month? Didn’t your ankle just sprained? Why do you have to stay one month? In fact, why do you have to stay in the hospital at all?” and he threw a fit like an idiot.
“It was not an ankle sprain, it was an ankle break, you buffoon. In other words, a fracture.”
“Wait. Does that mean I have to come here after school everyday to deliver notes?” He had no concern about my injury at all, but just his chores.
“You did it for three days before, what’s the problem with one month?” I meant to say that as a tease. But he clutched his head in despair.
And then as if a spark of innovation dawned on him, he looked at me, “I know, I’ll just take turns with Asada-”
I immediately patted his shoulder to stop him from finishing that sentence; no, punishment, “You can come only once a week if you want. Weekends will do as well. (Just don’t send that annoyance here. I finally got some peacetime.)”
“Done,” he gave me a big thumbs up.
After that, people visiting me each day became a routine. Amaaya would come after work and sometimes with Eiji and Tatsuo in tow. Myra also visited regularly, unless she had someone to help (which was not rare at all.) But as long as her evening was not fully occupied, she would visit me. But what is surprising is that another person regularly visited as well.
“Hello! How are you feeling?” Yua Chieki would drop by almost everyday.
“Please, you make me sound old.”
True she didn’t look old. If I had to guess, she must have been the same age as Amaaya. Amaaya was in her late twenties with Tatsuo being ten years old only.
“I thought Mrs.Chieki would make you sound old.”
“Ms.Chieki is the same to me. You can call me Yua,” there it was. Her infectious aura that made everything hard to refuse and dragged everyone on her own pace.
“I see, Ms.Yua,” I still tried to sound respectful.
“If you must add a honorific, I will take nothing but big sister.”
Screw respectful, Yua it is. Her dynamic attitude caused me to sigh, “Do you really have nothing better to do?”
“That’s cold. Here, I make time for you despite my job and that is how you treat me.”
“I don’t remember asking you to do that. And unless there is a reason, I don’t think you should be doing that either.”
“Haha, good at reasoning like always. True, I just come to the hospital to see my relative. It just so happens that I am almost always free after that, so I visit someone else I know. Well, if someday I get my whole evening occupied, I won’t visit obviously.”
In my whole time at the hospital, if I came to know one thing, it was that Yua and Myra were hopelessly similar.
The 2nd week was better as the pain slowly started to die down. The acute pain was now gone and all that remained was the kind of swelling pain that was always there, but not impactful until you touched it. With the healing pain, my medications also became milder. I had to no longer be on constant painkillers, and after a long time, I could feel my body free of numbness.
“Good evening,” Myra came inside my room with a package in hand. (Deja vu?)
“What’s that? Another box of candies?” sweat appeared on my forehead looking at the still full pack of sour candy on my side table.
“Sadly, no. This is a package for you. Since I was coming here anyway, I took it with me,” she explained while handing me the package. It was carefully packed and protected. And once I read the label on it, I knew exactly what it was.
“Ah, it’s my smartphone.”
“The one that you lost that day?”
“No, that thing was lost forever. So, I ordered a new one. Took a week but it’s finally here.” I ripped open the packaging and began setting up my phone while Myra took a seat.
“Are you fine with that? Wasn’t there important data in your last phone?”
“I can’t say that there was nothing. But most of it was backed up,” this was true. “The only thing that I will miss though is your number that should have been in the missed calls,” this was just a tease.
Myra giggled at my straight faced cheeky remark, “It’s not something top secret,” she made her way to me, “here, i’ll add it for you.”
But I wasn’t done setting up. I still had to add my pin.
“You are locking your phone?” She asked a question I never thought I would hear in my life.
“Why aren’t you locking yours? The only ones that don’t do that are characters in a TV show or something and God, does that drive me mad.” Half of the drama serials would be peacefully resolved if the characters locked their phones.
“But there are already so many passwords to remember with social media and other things. Why add another one that is at the risk of being forgotten. Especially something as important as my phone.” I could literally see smoke emerge from her head as she kept complaining.
“There is one simple way for a small brain like yours. Use the same password for everything,” it was meant to be advice for her but somehow she managed to reverse it.
“Wait, do you do that?” Of course, I would not answer that but my silence was enough for her. “You do, don’t you? Wait, so if I know your password, I will basically know every password you ever have.” Now she was building castles in the sky..
“Fine,” I decided to shut this matter before it got any more out of hand, “I use the same PIN for every phone I use. But that is it.”
“Aww. Bummer.” she pouted as she entered her contact information in my phone.
My phone was only a big part of my life because of the information I used to get from news and the web. And although it hadn’t really stopped with the loss of my previous phone, it was never the same either. Still, from time to time, the whereabouts of my last phone bothered me.
The 3rd week was where my recovery sped up. I could now put weight on my feet. I could also manage to walk, but the doctor did not allow it. Saying that it was too early. But, any more lying and I am sure my feet would stop obeying me. So, I secretly started going on walks around the ward during the night.
This week was an anomaly to my peace. A one of it’s kind day of my whole stay at the hospital. Amaaya could not come due to her work that day. But both of my brothers, Eiji and Tatsuo, were somehow in my room.
“Big brother, do you need anything?” Eiji asked sweetly.
“No, thank you,” I somehow felt obliged to smile while replying to him. He really had the same kind of charm as his mother.
On the other hand, Tatsuo was sitting on the sofa reading a book, looking extremely bored. It was not wrong to say he was definitely like father. Only if he had dull gray hair instead of blonde, he would be a perfect chibi version of him. But then, he would also be like me, so this was better.
Even though I mostly never interacted with them and was not a model big brother, I still thought that I had enough respect to boss them around. So I tried to test that.
“Tatsuo,” I called him.
“What is it, Negai?”
I had planned to give him a random task to see if I could mess with him or anything, but his more than casual way of addressing me was more than enough.
“Eiji,” I called the younger brother.
“Yes, big brother,” a clear difference in respect. I looked back at Tatsuo.
“Spit it out already. Do you need anything or not?” only one time to tick his meter off.
“If you still don’t get it then clearly you are not such a smart ass after all, little brother.”
“What is that supposed to mean,” he borderline made faces at me.
“I presume what big brother Negai is trying to get at, is your way of addressing him without any honorifics,” contrary to my expectations, it was the sweet little one with more of a common sense.
“Correct, Eiji.” He just smiled at my compliment.
“So, what? It’s not like you act like a big brother or anything either,” good reasoning but still naive.
“I see, so are you going to call father by his name too the next time he comes home.”
“Hey, that's not the same.” he immediately slipped up in my words.
“Point out the difference then,” I demanded.
“He is right, you know. Big brother Negai is busy. After all, he studies in a prestigious school. Technically he is making Mom and Dad proud.”
Once again Eiji presented a very sound reasoning despite his age. While Tatsuo was grinding his teeth like a brat.
“Still, it’s not unusual for the eldest two siblings to drop honorifics,” and now he was giving foolish reasons. I thought being my brother he would be a bit more smart.
“But you are 10 and I am 17. I think our age gap more than justifies my status.”
“No, it doesn’t. At least I haven’t heard or read any such rule.” he puffed his chest.
“I see,” I shifted my attention to Eiji. “Eiji, how much younger are you than Tatsuo?”
“Then I see no problem in you calling him by his name either.”
“Really?” Eiji’s eyes sparkled.
“Of course it's a problem.” Tatsuo whined.
“I don’t see any as the eldest brother,” and I played the big brother card that every younger sibling in the world hates.
“Exactly. Looking forward to our new relationship, Tatsuo,” Eiji calmly obeyed my order as the eldest. How come I never knew he was such a good boy. Tatsuo on the other hand was almost on the verge of tears due to his stubbornness.
“Fine! Big brother, Negai. Happy now.” with that he threw a fit before running out.
“Looks like we teased big brother Tatsuo a bit too much.” I agreed with Eiji. I had expected Tatsuo to be more like me and Father but turns out, he only has the shell. Eiji is the one with the dangerous genes as he never panicked despite receiving orders from both of his elder brothers.
“You are a good boy, Eiji.” I passed him the box of candies, “You can have a candy.”
“Yay! Thank you very much.”
“Now that I think about it, it will be summer vacation when you get discharged,” Taisho suddenly spoke while finishing his notes.
“You are correct. Why else do you think I was enjoying this stay,” I replied, working in my notebook.
“You are getting discharged soon? We should celebrate,” and then there was this happy go lucky girl ruining our professional mood, Yuki Asada.
I passed a glance at Taisho, “(We had a deal. Come once a week without her)”
But he passed back a nonchalant glance as if he had no control over this.
“What are you exactly doing here, Asada,” I finally asked.
“I am here to visit you. You have been here for more than half a month now and I never visited you even though Oki did. That made me feel bad as your classmate.”
“Well, you could’ve just sent a get well card and I would’ve been happy,”
“You know normally, I enjoy your straight forward and somewhat rude remarks. I am used to them by now. But this time I am mad.”
I had no idea why. There could be a thousand reasons and hers could be none of them.
“Do tell why,” I gulped as I dared to ask.
“You are trying to keep us away to get as much alone time with your girlfriend, aren’t you?” I was honestly speechless now, “I know I can be a bit dense sometimes, but still, I can read the air as well. You didn’t have to try and keep me away,” she kept rambling in her own little world.
“Taisho, please translate for me.” I sought Taisho’s assistance in this matter out of my scope.
“I think she is talking about that blonde girl that visits you often. You know, the one that came to return your bag.”
“You mean Myra.”
“I see, so her name is Myra,” somehow Asada was only listening to what she wanted to.
“I only visit once a week but she is here every time. What is your relation with her anyways,” Taisho asked logical questions instead of skipping a few steps and jumping to conclusions.
“They’re obviously going out. Oh how it saddens me, how my little Hoshino had grown up to score a girlfriend and did not even tell me,” Asada continued her over dramatic monologue. While Taisho looked at me for a serious answer.
“Actually, why don’t you ask her yourself,” I averted the matter.
“Well, actually I already did,” but of course, logic doesn’t work before Asada’s antics.
“What did you ask exactly,” Taisho dared to ask hesitantly.
“Well, I asked if she was Hoshino’s girlfriend.”
“And her answer?”
“She turned red like a tomato before walking away.”
There was silence afterwards. Because I, too, had no idea what to say. Soon, me and Taisho went back to our notebooks and Asada to her phone.
“So what are your plans for summer vacation,” Taisho once again initiated the conversation.
“I am thinking about finding a job,” was my answer.
“Summer vacation is for relaxation. And that is exactly what I am going to do. There is this new sweets shop opening by the station. I heard it’s a pretty unique cafe with a mix of Japanese, Indian and Western sweets on the menu. And just thinking about it makes my mouth water. We should celebrate your recovery there.” Once again Asada went off making plans on her own and once again, I shot her down.
“I don’t really like sweets.”
What followed afterwards was total silence.
It was the middle of the night as I went on a stroll around the ward. It was hard to move with the casts, but I was getting faster with each day. It was a rare chance since there was no nurse taking a round. Normally, I had to hide when she came but today, I could walk a bit more openly. As I was walking through, a room caught my attention. It was just like any other room on the floor. But the name on the plate is what caught my eye.
‘Mia Chieki.’ Yua did say that she comes to visit someone. It was probably her. But there was something bugging me that I had to ask directly with her.
“Yo ho,” Yua came barging in with a greeting unbefitting her age.
“Good evening,” Myra greeted back.
“You again,” of course I didn’t.
“Come on, don’t look so disappointed. Here I brought snacks,” she said, placing a box of short cakes.
“(Why does everybody keep bringing sweets?)”
Both Yua and Myra helped themselves to a cake while I did not eat any.
“You are not eating?” Yua asked.
She looked a bit disappointed but soon reverted back to her cheerful expression as she and Myra talked. While I was scribbling down notes in my notebook.
Time went by and I was done. Myra and Yua were still talking, but I had no time to wait for them to stop, so I interrupted them.
“Say, Yua, why do you keep coming here?” no matter how I spun it, it was going to sound rude, so I kept it straight forward.
“Like I said, I am coming here to visit someone anyways, so I visit you while I am at it,” thankfully Yua isn’t really the type to mind. And I was going to use her easy going nature of hers.
“Can I ask who?”
She was silent for a moment as if thinking over it, before answering, “My daughter.”
I could’ve asked why she was in the hospital, but I didn’t need to look like an insensitive jerk.
“So, you visiting your daughter and yet you make time to visit me,”
“Oh, you’re just overthinking again,” she tried to dismiss the subject completely.
“Am I? I say there is another reason. I smell a guilty conscience.”
I could swear I heard a *gulp* from her. Looked like I hit the nail right on the head. She averted her eyes from me as sweat appeared on her forehead.
“Well, there is maybe……..,” she started merging broken words, “a chance that…… I was the one who broke your feet.”
“Huh?” Before I could give any other reaction, she clapped her hands together in a passionate apology.
“I am so sorry! I didn’t mean to. It’s just Myra suddenly jumped before my car and then you did and there was chaos and maybe I braked a little late that my tyre ran over your feet.”
“Ok ok I get it,” I had to literally shout to halt the panicking Yua.
“You forgive me?” she asked with big puppy eyes.
“I wasn’t really mad at you anyway. It was all an accident so, it’s no one’s fault.” I said that knowing full well if there was anybody to blame, it could only be me.
The 4th week I had an x-ray.
“It has healed a lot better than I thought. We can remove the cast and he should be discharged by the end of this week,” the doctor gave his final report. Amaaya’s face sparkled with joy, while mine was the same as always.
“We should have a feast when you are discharged,” as we were walking back, Amaaya gave this suggestion. “What do you want to eat?”
“I am fine with anything,” this was an honest answer.
“You should have some preferences, you know.”
“Well as long as it is not something sweet. I feel like I have eaten all the sweets I should have in this life, in this month.”
“You are getting discharged this week?,” Myra asked meekly.
“Yes,” I answered while looking at my phone
“But summer vacation is about to start.”
“That is also correct.”
“What are your plans for the summer?”
“I am thinking of getting a job.”
“Have you decided on a place?”
“I am not sure. But there is this new shop opening near the station. I feel like finding a job there would be easy.”
“I see. That is good.”
“What about you. What are you doing during summer vacation?”
“I am going to attend summer camp so it isn’t really a vacation for me,” she answered, scratching her head.
“That is not bad. So, what’s the problem,” I was asking about the gloomy mood she had.
“There is no problem.”
“But you want to ask something, don’t you?”
She paused before answering, “We won’t get to meet as often during the break.”
“(Good, it wasn’t anything serious.)” I heaved a sigh of relief mentally. Myra Sirota was still an unpredictable variable in my life. “Don’t worry so much. I will try to work during normal school hours and you will be going to school normally. As far as I think, we will be going back on the same train as always.”
“You’re right,” she finally smiled at my words. I went back to my phone. I was scrolling through my contacts when hers appeared before me.I hadn’t checked it after she entered it. ‘Myra Sirota’ it said.
“Say, why do you still use Myra Sirota as your full name. It can’t be a proper name after all.”
“You are right. But when I think about how Gramps and Granny took me in without even knowing anything about me. Without even knowing what I had was not a name, just a code, it just makes me unable to give this name up. Besides, people will not really notice here in Japan.”
“Most people will not,” she amended her statement, “And besides, maybe someday, I will have a proper family name as my surname.”
“Well, I’ll be going. See you tomorrow,” with that Myra stood up and left as I waved her goodbye.
“(Well, aren’t things going well for you.)”
“(It feels like I haven’t heard you bitch in a while. I haven’t heard you talk in a while either. Oh right, you only bitch when you talk.)”
“(Whatever you might say, but you have deviated from our initial goal.)”
“(Oh? And what was that.)”
“(Checking if she is a wisher or not. Seriously, it has been a month and the only thing that you have been doing is wasting time.)”
“(I know exactly what I am doing. Myra Sirota is a variable in our equation for victory. It is going to take some time but I will figure her out completely.I want to make the best out of her,)” obviously Dee was not satisfied. He hasn’t been for the past month. I had been thinking about Myra’s story again and again. And putting myself in her shoes, I had almost understood everything. But still there were uncertainties. But it was high time that I got back to the game.
“(In the meantime,)” I said, “(I have found our next target.)”