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Fortunes

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They told me that I was insane - that I didn’t know what I was doing or thinking anymore. No, I retorted, every time with urgency. You have to believe me - I can travel to places unimaginable - places you have probably never seen in your entire life! But no - all I was given was another dosage of morphine, perhaps some pills. They must have thought I was crazy.
But I insisted otherwise. Every time my eyes closed - every time my body struggled against the pain that it was exposed to each day, everything faded around me. And before my eyes, images flashed across the vast, empty space, and with the passing feeling of nostalgia, so did pain. Then my eyes would open once more to the wonders of life - the exuberant scenes of majesty, unexplored, and unseen.
It was different every time, of course. I once woke to see the Niagra Falls before me. With a deep breath, body strong as ever, I would indulge in the crashing of the waves, smiling as water splashed gently upon my face, and staring down, ever so far into the feeling of the sublime.
Then there was Yellowstone. The hot springs were so close to me once that I nearly fell into the scalding water. I would then cautiously walk across the bridge, occasionally bumping into people that never seemed to notice me. But that didn’t matter. It was what lay ahead of me - the mysterious, the sublime. I always woke exhausted, but overjoyed.
Nurse came in one day. She was the only one that actually shared my experiences and listened to me while the other staffs just thought I had gone insane. I didn’t know really know her name - I heard someone call her Hope before, and she would sometimes laugh and tell me how ironic it was, since she never found hope in her life.
“I went to some Japanese market today!” I exalted, watching her fill the table next to me with pills. “There were a lot of people! So much stuff to buy and see!”
“So did you buy something?” Nurse asked, a hunt of amusement in her voice.
I frowned a moment. “No, no, I didn’t, but that wasn’t the point! It was those huge sandals hanging on the building! The one in the folklore!”
“What folklore?” Nurse pulled my IV from my arm gently, replacing the needle as she did so.
“Some Japanese one,” I continued eagerly. “Then there was the temple too! There was a crowd of people talking about their fortunes - that they got from the little can by the donation area.”
“So, did you draw one?” Nurse asked. She held out a hand for my other wrist, upon which I handed to her.
“Nope, but I will next time!’ I told her. “I’ll make sure I’ll draw one for you too!”
She laughed, and I grinned dreamily. Her laughs were next to my travels as the best aspects of my life.
“Perhaps the fortune says something good. My mom’s been in a coma for days since that car accident and I haven’t my gotten my test results back from that university. Hopefully, I haven’t failed again.”
“Your mom’s still sick?” I asked, suddenly worried.
She flashed me a brief, reassuring smile. “Nothing to worry about. I’m pretty sure she’ll be fixed up soon by the doctors.”
“Ah, yes, the doctors…” I thought of the white coat people - they’ve made plenty of people well, and I was pretty sure they would make me well some day also. But I told myself that patience was everything.
“Alright.” Nurse straightened up, finished with changing the tubes on my other arm, then cleaned up the table. “You’re all set, Roan. Try to travel less please.”
“Sure! But, when are you coming again?” I asked, anxiousness lacing my question.
She paused and grinned sweetly at me. “Soon.”
I watched longingly as she pushed her trolley out the door.

That night, I was glad to find myself back in the Japanese temple again. Full of energy, I avoided the crowds of people as I walked up to the fortune can. “For Nurse,” I whispered to myself as I pulled out a sheet of paper from the can. I unfurled, reading aloud. “Your life will be long-lived and joyful, and you will be-” The fortune was cut off here, the words blurred. No matter how hard I tried to focus, I couldn’t make out the rest of the paper. But no matter. I could always come back and try to get the rest.
I nodded to myself, already eager to tell Nurse her wonderful fortune. However, I stuck my hand back into the can, reaching for my own fortune this time. I scrutinized the small scroll before opening it to read: “Your life is but brief and meaningful-” Now, I was frustrated. The fortunes kept cutting itself away of no particular reason at all. As I attempted to pick up the can and try to shake perhaps another piece of the fortunes out, the market and the temple faded away and I found myself back in my bed, looking up at Nurse with a bowl of hot noodle.
Troubles forgotten, I shouted joyfully, sitting up almost immediately. She nearly jumped in fright as the soup in her hand sloshed over the sides.
“Dear God, Roan, you scared me!” she gasped.
“No, no, that’s not it!” I interrupted. “ I saw it! I saw it!”
“Saw what exactly?” Nurse bent down, a handy tissue in her hand, already cleaning the spilled liquid.
“Your fortune! It was something like your life would be long and joyful! There was another part to it, but I couldn’t read it! I have to go back again!”
She laughed in response. “Really?” she said quietly, more to herself than to me.
I nodded eagerly. “Really, and -” Suddenly, a spasm of pain wracked my body and I coughed violently. Shocked by a wave of blood that covered the white sheets before me, both Nurse and I stared for a couple of moments before Nurse quickly set aside the chicken soup in her hand.
“Oh no, oh no,’ I heard her mumbling as she rushed over to the phone on the wall, dialing quick numbers.
An intense pain was building itself in my body, but I managed to squeak out a weak “what?”
Moments later, a squad of doctors poured into the room. I watched, completely puzzled, as they pinned me on the bed.
My vision was dimming, and as a sharp pain on my arm told me that someone had injected a sleeping drug, I struggled to keep my vision focused on a worried Rose as the medicine took effect. Then the world turned completely black.

I was standing in front of the temple of fortune telling once again. But this time, I was aware of the silence - there was no one around me.
I felt something in my hand, and looked down. The can of fortune telling was in my hands once more. But instead of feeling like heavy the first time I picked it up, it was strangely light-weighted.
I shook it almost warily - gently. Two pieces of paper fell out, and into the palm of my hand. I looked at the first one, almost immediately resigning the first part of Rose’s fortune:, the words clear and concise: “Your life will be long-lived and joyful, and you will be blessed greatly for your good deeds.” I almost sighed in relief. Maybe Nurse could finally find Hope after all.
I then focused my attention on the other piece of paper. “Your life is but brief and meaningful, but the sacrifices you have made will bring countless joy and bliss to others.” Sacrifice…?
Almost as soon as I finished reading the fortune, there was a heavy rumble around me. I looked around, wide-eyed, as the papers dropped from my hand, forgotten.
I tried to take a step towards the exit, but I suddenly found that my entire body was too weak. I fell to the ground, gasping. Bits of rocks and cement fell from the ceiling before me.
Sacrifice…was this it?
I lay there, hopeless, as the temple continued to crash around me, unable to move. Something white was before me, and I saw the brief flash of words on white again before the darkness crashed around me.
Countless joy and bliss to others…

The sun shone brightly on a grassy hilltop marked with bleak gravestones. A lone woman walked softly through the graveyard, a bundle of fresh flowers in her hands.
She knelt almost delicately before a tombstone decorated with elegant, blooming flowers. She sighed to herself, clutching the fresh flowers closely to herself.
“Hey, Roan. It’s Nurse again. How are you doing?” She stared bleary-eyed at the engraved name, pausing a moment. “I still can’t believe that fortune of yours came true. Mother is well up and walking again…and I’m about to graduate with a medical degree.”
She smiled to herself. “You were always so positive, Roan. Even though you knew that you were dying…that they couldn’t cure your Leukemia, you continued to smile and share all those funny stories with me.”
Solemnly, Hope set the bouquet of flowers on the tombstone. “I’m going to overseas to another university. I won’t be back for awhile. Be a good kid while I’m away, alright?” She chuckled herself, and unconsciously wiped the wetness away from her face.
“Goodbye, Roan.” Hope stood up, staring long and silently at the tombstone. Then, without a look backwards, she turned and walked back down the hilltop.





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