On the second day of school, Zhang Lisheng saw George came to him on his bicycle right after he parked his car by the street. After greeting each other, George began taunting on Zhang Lisheng hard and announced cruelly that his attempt to get him a prom date was completely blown now.
“It was such a coincidence that I met the two babes Lina and Hannah. And what happened? You stood them up when you were supposed to date them. Of course, I personally think a lobster dinner at Hilton’s great to show your sincere apology but to the ladies, you’re too…”
“Alright George, I’m not interested to go to that prom at all anyway. If I must go, I can get myself a prom date.”
“Get yourself a prom date! Oh, Lisheng seems like you’re still clueless…”
“It’s you who are clueless. I heard from Randy last night that we can bring any girls not from our school to the prom. I’ve made $19,000 last weekend, how is it possible that I can’t even hire a lady,” Zhang Lisheng said to George while looking at him on the way to the open-style school compound.
George was taken aback, he was stunned for a long time before he cursed madly, “Sh*t, what an ugly country where money is everything. Zhang Lisheng, look at your naked capitalist face, don’t you think exchanging money for a lady’s company is something pathetic and shameful?”
“Maybe, but wasting time’s even more pathetic and shameful,” Zhang Lisheng left the depressed George and walked into the school building. It was four in the afternoon, and he was already done with three classes and year-end papers. After school, he went to Queens Hospital with his family with Christmas decorations to decorate the ward. It was the critical period for Michelle’s recovery whereby she should not move at all. Therefore, the family decided to spend Christmas Eve in the hospital ward with her.
When they arrived at Queens Hospital, the kids carried the bags of Christmas decorations across the crowded hospital while apologizing and smiling following Lili and Sullo’s lead. Zhang Lisheng carried the bag of fairy lights at the end of the line. He saw a familiar silhouette from far away when he was arriving at Michelle’s ward. Both of them was slightly stunned when they met each other’s eyes.
“Hi Tina,” Zhang Lisheng was the first to snap back to his senses. He mouthed to her from far away and walked into the ward with his family. The single ward in a public hospital was small. There was only a simple bed, a bed cabinet for the patient, a foldable extra bed and two wooden chairs.
Michelle laid on the bed with her limbs hanging tight with wires on four sides of the bed. The reason for doing that was to prevent the patient from moving and interfere with the healing of the broken bones which might bring even greater pain to the patient. Her collar bones were bulging because she had been losing weight ever since she got admitted to the hospital.
There were three pretty girls around Michelle’s bed when the family walked into the ward. Lili greeted them as soon as she saw them, “Fenna, Ashley, Tang, you guys are visiting Michelle again. You guys are the best.”
“We’re Michelle’s best friends, Aunt Lili. Of course, we’re always here for her,” Ashley, the tallest and thinnest one with shoulder-length hair and beautiful features said. The girls gave Lili a hug. The ward was a little crowded as it was the first time it occupied ten people at once. Lili nodded and folded the extra bed close to the wall. She stacked the chairs on top,” The doctor said that Michelle’s wounds are beginning to heal. She’ll be able to move very soon, maybe you guys could go shopping again not long later.”
“That’s great,” The three girls began cheering at the same time. Compared to her friends who were pretending to be excited, Michelle who was lying on the bed said expressionlessly, “Stop consoling me, Aunt Lili. I know that I might be bedridden for the rest of my life.”
The air in the ward became iced cold because of what Michelle said. Even Randy who was joking around with Fenna since he came in had his expression froze.
“You won’t, baby,” Lili got to Michelle and said while stroking her face feeling the pain.
“Even if I could get off the bed, I’ll be limping when I walk. I might as well just lay on the bed for the rest of my life,” Michelle said as her eyes turned red. Family and friends in the ward began consoling the broken girl, even Zhang Lisheng who hardly initiate the conversation whenever he visited spoke as well, “Don’t worry Michelle, I’ll make you some medicine when your wounds are healed and your bones are beginning to grow. I guarantee you won’t be handicapped.”
Michelle glanced through Zhang Lisheng’s face with a complicated expression and nodded slightly hearing what he said. She seemed to be extra sensitive to what he said. Ever since Zhang Lisheng saved her from Dr. Fracture that night, she always had some odd expression whenever she faced this young man.
Everyone was secretly relieved seeing that Michelle was slightly relaxed now. At that moment, a light knock came from the ward all of a sudden. Subsequently, a lady wearing a red dress and high boots walked in. Apart from Zhang Lisheng, every kid in the ward exclaimed almost in unison when they looked at the lady, “Tina Douglin…”
“Hi everyone, nice meeting you. Hi Ms. Lili and Lisheng, we meet again.”
“Hi Ms. Tina,” Seeing the lady’s face, Lili recollected her memory and said with a smile and red eyes.
Zhang Lisheng who was standing aside asked, “Tina, are you here to visit someone?”
“Yes, Trish’s mom had a heart attack somewhere around here during noon. She was sent to the emergency ward here, Sheila and I have been accompanying Trish when we found out. How about you? Are you visiting someone too?”
“My sister Michelle had an accident, she’s been staying in the hospital for quite some time now.”
“Oh,” Tina nodded. She looked at Michelle on the bed and comforted, “Ms. Michelle, don’t worry. You’ll be alright soon.”
“Thanks,” Michelle got rid of the depression she had earlier and said courteously to the common enemy of all girls from Lowbige Junior High.
Tina nodded at Michelle again and said to Zhang Lisheng while looking at him, “Lisheng, my grandpa’s a neurosurgery professor at Harvard University. Tell me if you need anything. I’m going back to Trish now, goodbye everyone.”
“Tina, wait! I’ll visit Trish with you too,” Zhang Lisheng hesitated for a moment and turned around to look at Lili, “Mom…”
“Oh, go baby. We’ll decorate the ward,” Lili pushed Zhang Lisheng out of the ward as she spoke. She was eager to get his introverted and quiet son to talk more to girls. Seeing Tina and Zhang Lisheng leaving the ward, Randy looked like he had just snapped back to his senses and spoke looking lost, “Was that Tina Douglin? Oh my god, Lisheng was talking to Tina Douglin! And that Lisheng who had always been an idiot whenever he’s with girls looks like he’s close to her. Not only that, he seems to know Trish Steg too! No, this isn’t real. Harry, pinch me. Pinch me quick, I must be dreaming.”
Harry who was standing aside said while smirking hearing that, “My dear brother, are you sure you want me to do that?” He sounded like he was asking but his hand was lifted high and pinched hard on Randy’s cheek. ‘Ahh…’ A devastating scream came out of the ward, it seemed to be proving Randy was not dreaming.
That was the truth. Not only Zhang Lisheng knew Tina very well in the past, but they were also rekindling their friendship now.
“How’s business at the slaughterhouse?” Tina asked all of a sudden as they walked along the hospital corridor quietly.
“It’s so good that it’s hard to believe, especially the past few days since Christmas’ around the corner.”
“You must be psyched then, I’m envious of you. I’ve been having a nightmare recently, a nightmare of a worm eating people,” Tina said with his deep voice like there was a hidden meaning.
“But the worm in your dream wouldn’t harm good people, it wouldn’t harm you. Am I right? Do you know that worm is the simplest and most straightforward creature in the world, Tina? Just like a bee, it would sting you even if it meant death for it if you harm it for no reason. However, it would harvest honey for you if you treat it kindly.”
“You’re right Lisheng, I’ve figured it out. Worms are actually not scary although they look pretty disgusting,” Tina could not help but smile hearing Zhang Lisheng’s paradoxical analogy, “But I’ve never imagined such a big bee like you.”
“That’s just an analogy. I’m not a bee, I can’t harvest honey for you. Oh, yeah Tina, how did the heart attack happen to Trish’s mom?”
“That damn Henrick…”
“Your boyfriend Mr. Earth?”
“Lisheng, I’ve never admitted that that idiot’s my boyfriend. He’s just…just…my ex-boyfriend…”
Zhang Lisheng could not help but snicker when he heard Tina saying that.
“Stop laughing Lisheng,” Tina said feeling irritated, “That Mr. Earth is in great trouble now. He went for younger kids ever since I see through him being a liar. Now Trish’s sister Henry’s the victim. He made Henry leave a note of ‘being a real man’ and traveled to Amazon rainforest by foot during the winter holiday. When Trish’s parents found the note and tried contacting them, they found out that both of them have been missing in the rainforest with the tour guide for 24 hours.”
“Traveling across Amazon rainforest by foot,” Zhang Lisheng said that out loud from his stun, “Do you mean the Amazone in Disneyland?”
“Of course not, the real Amazon.”