PDA

View Full Version : Small Miracles



Arashi_Leonhart
October 16th, 2011, 03:58 AM
“So, what’s the problem?” he asked.

The head nurse gave him a helpless look. Sighing, she handed him a clipboard and tapped lightly on the name. “The patient in 303. She’s been…” the head nurse worked her mouth, searching for words. “Extremely unresponsive.”

He looked over the information, though it told an empty story despite the full diagnosis. Postpartum depression, a miscarried child out of wedlock. All so dry, clinical. Her name: Kasukabe, Eri. Sixteen years old, born October 25th. He read through notes by other nurses, comments on fits of prolonged lethargy and sharp bursts of anger. Concerns over self-harm. He glanced up over the clipboard’s lip at the head nurse. “You want me to try?”

“You have had some success with others before,” the head nurse said, smiling, though the look hardly reached her eyes. It was a sad thing to smile over. “I hate to put this on you—”

He grinned. “Don’t worry about that. Do you have some spare paper, perhaps?”



Quietly, he knocked on the door to 303.

The ward was tiny despite the idea that it would fit two patients at a time, a small space and a mere sheet pulled between the two beds. It only had one occupant currently, though. His new charge, sitting on her bed closer to the door, unresponsive when he peeked his head through the door.

“Kasukabe-san?”

The girl sat quietly, staring up at the ceiling, her hair spread out like a dark halo about her head as if she were already halfway into the other world. Though she had recently been pregnant, she was a tiny girl, probably only coming up to his nose despite the fact that he himself was no tower.

He put the clipboard up on the table across from her room and took the extra paper instead. Pulling a chair from the table, he set down at the foot of the patient’s bed and started cutting the paper.

The sound, fairly quiet in other situations, was loud enough to breach the otherwise silent space, and it did at least draw the girl’s eyes down toward him. He acknowledged her gaze with a careful smile and bow of his head, but he merely continued doing as he was until he had a perfect square cut from the regular 8x11 sheet of paper. Once finished, he started folding.

“I’m sure you remember in grade school, the story of the thousand cranes and Sadako, the girl that made them after the Hiroshima bombing?” The crane he made was practice-perfect, the wings perfectly symmetrical and the head and tail tapered to a fine point. He held out the small thing to her. “We’ll get you started today.”

Absently, the patient plucked it from his palm, stared at it blankly.

“I’ll come back tomorrow and make another one. Maybe show you how to, if you’re interested?” The nurse’s smile widened. “Until then, keep a hold of that for me.”



The nurse made good on his promise the next day at the beginning of his shift, knocking once more and popping his head through the doorway. The girl was awake, though at his knock she had turned her head to the door, and he noted that she still held onto the small paper craft.

He held up proper origami paper this time. “Want to give it a try?”



They were on 87 some days later when the patient spoke for the first time to him. “What am I wishing for?”

The nurse looked up from where he had been folding the tiniest crane yet, from some of the discarded paper they had from cutting up normal sheets. He met her eyes, and was struck by how young she was still. He then tried not to laugh at how stupid it made him feel, since he was not that much older than she. “Well, I’m not sure. I just like to make them, and sometimes it helps others out, doing something like this.” He tilted his head in contemplation. “I can’t really begin to imagine, but, well, I’m sure you have any number of things to wish for.”

“Because of…that.”

“No,” he said, shaking his head vehemently. “Because you’re young. Because you’re a girl,” he teased. His teasing smirk gave way to a more sympathetic expression. “Because you’ve been stuck in a hospital for a while. Doesn’t have to be because of that in particular.” He shrugged.

She was silent for a while longer, and he finished his tiny crane, hardly larger than a ten-yen piece.

“Wishes are stupid, they don’t change anything.”

He gave a sad smile down at the next piece of paper she had started on, despite her words. “Well, I don’t know. I’ve yet to get to a thousand before.”



254. It had been over two weeks since they had started, and the girl had not had any drastic fits since. The doctors were talking about releasing her, though the head nurse had spoken on his behalf. “Give her a little more time, the poor child.”

He had started, on occasion, to come in before going home after his shifts were done. They had started folding things not of regular or origami paper, sometimes candy wrappers and the occasional get well cards she had accumulated over her stay.

“Do you think…” she had said out of the blue the evening of the head nurse’s comments to the doctors, “that…it…she…would have a wish?” The child Kasukabe had miscarried was far enough along to have identifiable sex.

The nurse frowned at that. “I’m not sure.”

Kasukabe had stopped her folding, was looking out the window of the darkening sky. They had pulled aside the curtain to decorate the rest of the room with their gathering hoard of cranes, and she sometimes stared off out to the sky. “I’m sure…sure she did.”

“Oh?”

The girl was suddenly a nightmare, a terror, her face contorting in anger, one fist crushing the latest half-made crane. She stared out, her rage toward the heavens, her rage in the strength of her tiny hands. “She would have wished to live…”

The nurse shook his head, though he knew she was no longer paying attention to here, to now. “You can’t start thinking about that—”

“She would have wished to live…to live! And she can’t! She can’t live…because of me, because I’m here, not someone else! And I hate that, I hate that!”

She shoved her covers up and started for the window, a scream tearing from her throat. The nurse slapped the emergency control nearby and knocked over his chair to get to her, grabbing her by the hands when she went to flail at the window. More figures came into the room, and when others had Kasukabe restrained, the nurse glanced back to the window’s shiny surface—

Her reflection behind his; she pulled violently at the other nurses in an attempt to spear her body at the window, a simulacrum of her own self.

The doctors agreed to keep her for a while longer.



Besides that night, she had since calmed again and not had any further bouts. He had continued to visit, and despite her words, she had continued to fold. They were almost to 600.

“She would hate me, you know,” Kasukabe said, her voice quieter than a pin drop.

“No, she wouldn’t.”

“She would curse me if she had a voice,” Kasukabe said. “She curses me now, where nobody can hear.”

“No, she doesn’t.”

The girl paused to look to him, and though her voice was fierce, her stare was weak, ghostly. “And how do you know?”

“I know.” The nurse smiled, though it was a sad smile, a smile earned in the face of a world where a girl endured the misfortune of a lost child. “Let me tell you a story.”



There was a world of magic.

In this world, little girls could make wishes, wishes for anything they desired. Wishes for good things: to see their friends happy, save lives, keep families together.

But where there are wishes, there are curses as well. To make such a wish, these girls would have to give up their own happiness. They would have to create despair that would become curses in this world to make the wish come true.

To make a good wish, an evil curse would be necessary.

So with the wishes for happiness, for the good around them, these girls would feel equal sadness and curse the world in their despair.

One girl believed this to be wrong. So when her time came, she made her wish:

No girl shall ever curse others because of the despair they wrought.

And so, with her wish, she took on everyone else’s sadness, their pain, their loneliness, their despair. She made it so that those who had wishes could face the world and say “I will not curse you.”

She made it so only the good remained, so those with wishes could smile in the end.



“And what was the girl’s name?” Kasukabe said, staring out the window again.

The nurse smiled. “Madoka.”

“Nice story, I guess.”

He shrugged. “So, don’t think about curses. Just think about your wish.”
And as she stared out the window, he continued to fold.



They had made it to 914 when she had said, “I’m being discharged soon.”

The nurse nodded. He was already folding number 915. “I heard.”

“I want to finish before then.”

He grinned. “Good plan.” Realizing something unsaid, he asked, “Do you have a wish, then?”

She stared down at the one she had just made out of a discarded pink card envelope from one of the other patients. “Wishes are stupid.”

“Mm.”

She sighed. “So I guess it’d be a stupid wish, to be fitting.”

He raised an eyebrow. “Oh?”

“For your story to be true, maybe.” Kasukabe flicked the crane in hand across the room as if it could fly, then reached for the next piece of paper. “Or maybe I’ll just wish that my own sadness go away.”

The thought that they were one in the same passed through the nurse’s head, that she wanted to be forgiven of her perceived transgression against her unborn child. He nodded. “That sounds like a good wish.”



999. She was to leave the next day.

A female nurse had come in to give her the last checkup for the evening. Kasukabe had stared at the new face. “Isn’t Tatsuya Kaname-san coming?”

The nurse gave a sympathetic smile. “I’m sorry, but Kaname-san is undergoing tests for his schooling. He wants to be a doctor, you know.”

“I didn’t.” Kasukabe started feeling a little guilty over never asking about her visitor. “Why’d they send him to me, anyway?”

The new nurse leaned in conspiratorially. “Well, he’s oddly been helping out a lot with the girls. Some of us think he likes flirting.”

Kasukabe gave a dry stare. “Really.”

Giving a faint giggle, the nurse waved that off. “Honestly, though, he talked a bit with the head nurse about, well, things like this.” There was no need to mention what this was, Kasukabe knew it was certainly related to situations like hers. “His mother had a miscarriage. I think he’s on a crusade to help everyone that faces such a thing.”

“I see.”

The nurse gave her an appraising look. “Don’t you think he’s helped?”

“I guess.”

She absently finished 1000, considering whether she should leave him a thank-you note.



When Kasukabe woke the next morning, her cranes were gone.

All of them.

Gone.

For a moment, she was as hysterical as before, darting around her room for any signs of the little things. When another nurse came in to check on her, she demanded to know whether someone had trashed them all.

“No, nobody should have been here since last night at nine,” the nurse said.

So even as she started getting dressed to leave, Kasukabe would search again as if the paper animals would remove themselves from hiding or suddenly appear again as if they had been invisible. But by the time she was ready to check out, nothing had appeared.

When she finally made to bid farewell to the room, however, something across the way caught her eye and she realized, in her still moment, that she felt a faint breeze.

The window had been left ajar.

Kasukabe went to it, went to pull it closed, imagining the child-like vision of each of these paper cranes taking flight out the opening. As she did so, a slip of paper fell from the corner of the frame, fluttering up like an errant leaf by the flush of air pressure that came from the window being closed. She caught it, held it up to read:




Of course your wish can come true.
-Madoka

Fafnir
October 16th, 2011, 06:12 AM
That was sweet. The ending was a bit weak though. I wish you went more in depth with Eri's character, she'd make a great protagonist for a bittersweet slice of life series with some dark overtones.

Could that wish come true as well?

EDIT: Oh dear you went back to the Madokami avatar.

Ace
October 16th, 2011, 03:09 PM
Nice story, it's a concept I haven't seen before. Yeah, the ending is a little weak but good nonetheless.

SeiKeo
October 16th, 2011, 03:14 PM
EDIT: Oh dear you went back to the Madokami avatar.

Oh dear?

Arashi_Leonhart
October 16th, 2011, 03:20 PM
Hummmmmmm.

Honestly, I just tried to zap through this because it's a hard topic and I kept thinking I was going Bitter Virgin on it or something. Weak ending...hmm....

Arashi_Leonhart
November 17th, 2011, 05:45 AM
Like Fading Rays, I rewrote this story for a class, and this time made mention of the series itself, like we're viewing a piece actually set in "our world." I did, however, maintain a certain amount of ambiguity. Also, changed names and implied an American setting so people wouldn't be put off by the Japanese.


Small Miracles


“So, what’s the problem?” Tatsuya Kaname asked.

The head nurse gave him a helpless look. Sighing, she handed him a clipboard and tapped lightly on the name. “The patient in 303. She’s been…” the head nurse worked her mouth, searching for words. “Extremely unresponsive.”

He looked over the information, though it told an empty story despite the full diagnosis. Her name: Blythe, Ashley. Sixteen years old, born October 25th. Infection recovery. Suffering from postpartum depression, a miscarried child. All so dry, clinical. Tatsuya read through notes by other nurses, comments on fits of prolonged lethargy and sharp bursts of anger. Concerns over self-harm. He glanced up over the clipboard’s lip at the head nurse. “You want me to try?”

“You have had some success with others before,” the head nurse said, smiling, though the look hardly reached her eyes. It was a sad thing to smile over. “I hate to put this on you—”

He grinned. “Don’t worry about that. Do you have some spare paper, perhaps?”



Quietly, Tatsuya knocked on the door to 303.

The ward was tiny despite the idea that it would fit two patients at a time, a small space and a mere curtain pulled between the two beds. It only had one occupant currently, though. His new charge, sitting on her bed closer to the door, unresponsive when he peeked his head through the door.

“Miss Blythe?”

The girl sat quietly, staring up at the ceiling, her hair spread out like a dark halo about her head as if she were already halfway into the other world. Though she had recently been pregnant, she was a tiny girl, probably only coming up to his nose despite the fact that Tatsuya himself was no tower, something he owed to his Japanese heritage.

He put the clipboard up on the table across from her room and took the extra paper instead. Pulling a chair from the table, he set down at the foot of the patient’s bed and started cutting the paper.

The sound, fairly quiet in other situations, was loud enough to breach the otherwise silent space, and it did at least draw the girl’s eyes down toward him. He acknowledged her gaze with a careful smile and bow of his head, but he merely continued doing as he was until he had a perfect square cut from the regular 8x11 sheet of paper. Once finished, he started folding.

“I’m not sure your school taught it, I know mine did at least: the story of the thousand cranes and Sadako, the girl that made them after the Hiroshima bombing?” The crane he made was practice-perfect, the wings perfectly symmetrical and the head and tail tapered to a fine point. “There’s a legend in Japan that if you make a thousand of them, you’ll be granted a wish.” He held out the small thing to her. “We’ll get you started today.”

Absently, the patient plucked it from his palm, stared at it blankly.

“I’ll come back tomorrow and make another one. Maybe show you how to, if you’re interested?” Tatsuya’s smile widened. “Until then, keep a hold of that for me.”



Tatsuya made good on his promise the next day at the beginning of his shift, knocking once more and popping his head through the doorway. The girl was awake, though at his knock she had turned her head to the door, and he noted that she still held onto the small paper craft.

He held up proper origami paper this time. “Want to give it a try?”



They were on number 87 some days later when Ashley spoke for the first time to him. “What am I wishing for?”

Tatsuya looked up from where he had been folding the tiniest crane yet, from some of the discarded paper they had from cutting up normal sheets of 11x8. He met her gaze, and was struck by how young she was still, the signs of baby fat around her chin and neck still lingering, the lack of worry lines and creases about her face. He then tried not to laugh at how stupid it made him feel, since he was not that much older than she. “Well, I’m not sure. I just like to make them, and sometimes it helps others out, doing something like this.” He tilted his head in contemplation. “I can’t really begin to imagine, but, well, I’m sure you have any number of things to wish for.”

“Because of…that.”

“No,” he said, shaking his head vehemently. “Because you’re young. Because you’re a girl,” he teased. His teasing smirk gave way to a more sympathetic expression. “Because you’ve been stuck in a hospital for a while. Doesn’t have to be because of that in particular.” He shrugged.

She was silent for a while longer, and he finished his tiny crane, hardly larger than a quarter.

“Wishes are stupid, they don’t change anything.”

He gave a sad smile down at the next piece of paper she had started on, despite her words. “Well, I don’t know. I’ve yet to get to a thousand before.”



254. It had been over two weeks since they had started, and Ashley had not had any drastic fits since. Further tests had not shown complications, though The doctors were talking about releasing her, though the head nurse had spoken on his behalf. “Give her a little more time, the poor child.” Tatsuya had given the hope she would be allowed to leave without a referral to a psychiatric ward. Hopefully, just some counseling. Her parents, still ambivalent about the situation, had given the go-ahead for any time she needed to stay.

Tatsuya had started, on occasion, to come in before going home after his shifts were done. They had started folding things not of regular or origami paper, sometimes candy wrappers and the occasional get well cards she had accumulated over her stay.

“Do you think…” she had said out of the blue the evening of the head nurse’s comments to the doctors, “that…it…she…would have a wish?” The child Ashley had miscarried was far enough along to have identifiable sex.

Tatsuya frowned at that. “I’m not sure.”

Ashley had stopped her folding, was looking out the window of the darkening sky. They had pulled aside the curtain to decorate the rest of the room with their gathering hoard of cranes, and she sometimes stared off out to the sky. “I’m sure…sure she did.”

“Oh?”

The girl was suddenly a nightmarish figure, her tiny face contorting in unnatural ways, the pupils of her eyes dilating, one fist crushing the latest half-made crane. She stared out, her rage toward the heavens, her rage in the strength of her tiny hands. “She would have wished to live…”

The nurse shook his head, though he knew she was no longer paying attention to here, to now. “You can’t start thinking about that—”

“She would have wished to live…to live! And she can’t! She can’t live…because of me, because I’m here, not someone else! And I hate that, I hate that!”

She shoved her covers up and started for the window, a scream tearing from her throat. Tatsuya slapped the emergency control nearby and knocked over his chair to get to her, grabbing her by the hands when she went to flail at the window. More figures came into the room, and when others had Ashley restrained, the nurse glanced back to the window’s shiny surface—

Her reflection behind his; she pulled violently at the other nurses in an attempt to spear her body at the window, a simulacrum of her own self.

The doctors agreed to keep her for a while longer.



Besides that night, she had since calmed again and not had any further bouts, though she was on suicide watch. He had continued to visit, and despite her earlier words, she had continued to fold, so mindless now she hardly paid any attention as she did so. They were almost to 600.

“She would hate me, you know,” Ashley said, her voice quieter than a pin drop.

Tatsuya was quiet in return, though as firm as he could manage. “No, she wouldn’t.”

“She would curse me if she had a voice,” Ashley said, halting her efforts with a crane made out of white butcher paper. “She curses me now, where nobody can hear.”

“No, she doesn’t.”

The girl paused to look to him, and though her voice was fierce, her stare was weak, ghostly. “And how do you know?”

“I know.” The nurse smiled, though it was a sad smile, a smile earned in the face of a world where a girl endured the misfortune of a lost child. “Let me tell you a story.”



There was a world of magic.

In this world, little girls could make wishes, wishes for anything they desired. Girls could wish for anything, for family to be happy, for loved ones to be healed, to even keep death and illness at bay. “Save my life!” was one, or “heal my ill friend!” could be another.

But where there are wishes, there are curses as well, since magic must have a price. To make such a wish, these girls would have to give up their own happiness. They would have to create equal amounts of despair to offset their good wishes. They would have to fight the shadows of the world, the nightmares that caused the very dangers that could harm them or their loved ones in the first place. And in this eternal struggle against these nightmares, they would despair; despair in amounts equal to the good they had done. And that despair would lead to the very nightmarish curses they fought.

To make a good wish, an evil curse would be necessary.

So with the wishes for happiness, for the good around them, these girls would feel equal sadness and curse the world.

One girl believed this to be wrong. So when her time came, she made her wish:

To defeat all of the despair these girls had before they turned to curses. She would take that despair, and with her wish, she would defeat it.

And so, her wish granted, she took on everyone else’s sadness, their pain, their loneliness, all that made them despair, and she defeated it before it turned into a nightmare. She made it so that those who had wishes could face the world and say “I will not curse you.”

She made it so only the good remained, so those with wishes could smile in the end, whatever their end.



“And what was the girl’s name?” Ashley said, staring out the window again.

Tatsuya smiled, the smile of one who was successful in making his audience laugh or cry as intended. “Madoka.”

“Nice story, I guess.”

The nurse grinned. “It’s a television show. Puella Magi Madoka Magica. I love that show.”

Ashley gave him a dull look that, as opposed to her dull looks before, was not dull because she was emotionless. It was dull because she felt scammed. “A television show.”

“A cartoon, actually.”

She sighed, like an exasperated parent. “You give me paper to fold and tell me stories for children. Wonderful.”

He shrugged. “It works, though, right? As a thought, at least?” He gave what he hoped was the kind of smile that could diffuse her annoyance, though this expression was untested. “So just…don’t think about curses. Just think about your wish.”

The crinkle and rasp of origami paper being folded answered him, as Ashley absently started on 600.



They had made it to 914 when Ashley had said, “I’m being discharged soon.”

Tatsuya nodded. He was already folding number 915. “I heard.”

“I want to finish before then.”

He beamed at her, at the implied initiative. “Good plan.” Taking a moment to finish his current crane out of his lunch receipt, he thought of something left unsaid, and asked, “Do you have a wish, then?”

She stared down at the one she had just made out of a discarded pink card envelope from one of the other patients. “Wishes are stupid.”

“Mm.” He tried to be as neutral as possible.

She sighed. “So I guess it’d be a stupid wish, to be fitting.”

He raised an eyebrow, now carefully eyeing the crane she was working on now. “Oh?”

“How about, for that cartoon of yours to be real?” Ashley flicked the crane in hand across the room as if it could fly, then reached for the next piece of paper. “Or I’ll just wish that my own sadness go away.”

The thought that they were one in the same passed through Tatsuya’s head, that Ashley wanted to be forgiven of her perceived transgression against her unborn child. That she didn’t want to feel cursed. He nodded, thoughtful, his own mind veering off to his beloved show, to other things. “That sounds like a good wish.”



999. She was to leave the next day.

A female nurse had come in to give her the last checkup for the evening. Ashley had stared at the new face. “Isn’t Tatsuya Kaname coming?”

The nurse gave a sympathetic smile. “I’m sorry, but Tatsuya is undergoing tests for his schooling. He wants to be a doctor, you know.”

“I didn’t.” Ashley started feeling a little guilty over never asking about her visitor. He’d even pulled stupid wishes out of her, but she knew nothing other than he watched cartoons. “Why’d they send him to me, anyway?”

The new nurse leaned in conspiratorially. “Well, he’s oddly been helping out a lot with the girls. Some of us joke that he likes to flirt.”

Ashley gave a dry stare, trying her best to not look like she was glaring even though she was. “Really.”

Giving a faint giggle, the nurse waved that off. “Honestly, though, he talked a bit with the head nurse about, well, things like this.” There was no need to mention what this was, Ashley knew it was certainly related to situations like hers. “He’s also pretty open about it to the rest of us nurses too: his mother had a miscarriage before he was born. I think he’s on a crusade to help everyone that faces such a thing.”

“I see.”

The nurse gave her an appraising look, like this was suddenly an evaluation of Tatsuya as a teacher, Ashley the graduating student his evaluation is dependent on. “Don’t you think he’s helped?”

“I guess.”

She absently finished 1000 with some college-ruled paper Tatsuya had left behind, considering whether she should leave him a thank-you note.



When Ashley woke the next morning, her cranes were gone.

All of them.

Gone.

For a moment, she was as hysterical as before, darting around her room for any signs of the little things. When another nurse came in to check on her, she demanded to know whether someone had trashed them all.

“No, nobody should have been here since last night at nine,” the nurse said.

So even as she started getting dressed to leave, Ashley would search again as if the paper animals would remove themselves from hiding or suddenly appear again as if they had been invisible. She absently thought of the film Toy Story, how the figures and dolls woke up when nobody was looking and moved; stupid, but she almost considered the idea that it had happened to her in this case. But after changing to the clothes her parents had brought a few days before and glancing about for anything she had left behind, there was still no sign.

When she finally made to bid farewell to the room, however, something across the way caught her eye and she realized, in her still moment, that she felt a faint breeze.

The window had been left ajar.

Ashley went to it, went to pull it closed, imagining the child-like vision of each of these paper cranes taking flight out the opening. As she did so, a slip of paper fell from the corner of the frame, fluttering up like an errant leaf or feather by the flush of air pressure that came from the window being closed. She caught it, held it up to read, in awkward handwriting and an odd signature:


Of course your wish can come true.
-まどか

When she got home and after the initial awkward dance around her parents, Ashley eventually managed to get onto her computer to look up what she thought she already knew.

She knew what it was; though, what it actually was—a trick, a joke, Tatsuya Kaname being smart with her, or something else—she didn’t know. She knew what it was, but she didn’t.

Though, even if it was stupid, it did stay on her mind for a long time.

“まどか” was Japanese, a phonetic rendering of three syllables.

Madoka.