YA Fiction - Serial Novels - The Sunshine Time
The Sunshine Time Season 1 Episode 14
The air-conditioned and well-lit lobby of the Kent Caraindon hospital was more reminiscent of a five-star hotel than that of the busiest and best hospitals in Alsalem. The impeccably made-up, good-looking receptionists at the front desk spoke in low voices on phones and greeted people with an easy courtesy. There was a large, tasteful mural of palm trees on the wall behind them and several tasteful sculptures scattered around. The light granite floor gleamed like a mirror, and there was a man that was busy keeping it shining. Except for some white-coated doctors striding to and fro and some blue-uniformed nurses wheeling people past, you wouldn’t have known this was a hospital. Even the patients milling about didn’t look all that sick to me. I felt utterly sick and wretched myself. I shifted on the comfortable, deep blue couch, looked at the potted yellow-green bamboo next to me, and dabbed my handkerchief to my nose yet again. The large plate-glass window behind the bamboo was splattered with rain and blurred the view of the manicured garden outside.
“I feel horrible,” I said into the phone. “Mum, he could have taken me home first. I told him he could get the medicines later from the neighborhood chemist. And do you know what he said? He said the neighborhood chemist could kiss his ass before he made another detour for me. He actually said that!”
“I’ll speak to Tavi,” said Mum. “Just stop stressing out so much, Lea. Dr. Immer did say it was only a common cold, didn’t he?”
“Stop calling it only! And there’s nothing common about it either... Aaa...Aaa...Aaaaaaachooooo! See? See? Aaaaaaaaaaa...Aaaaaaaaaachoooooooooo!!! My nose is watering and my eyes are watering. Oh, Gawd, Mum, why aren’t you here? I wish you were here! Aaaaaaaaaachoooooooooo!!!”
Whoever conjured up the term ’common cold’ had been misguided. There was nothing common about the sheer misery it was producing. I had woken up this morning with a high temperature, a burning throat, and a runny nose. And as I was never the one to suffer in silence, I was not a very popular patient, and Tavi, especially, had already become less than enamored with playing Florence Nightingale. He had been summoned back home, because he had no classes today and he had made the mistake of calling home to crow about it. His college was in turmoil currently because one of his professors, Mr. Nolazco, had been placed on administrative leave at the behest of the Union of Kheranish Students. Professor Nolazco, who was Kheranish himself, had recently expressed solidarity with the Kirzheiks on social media in their protest against the closing of Samanbar Castle to the public on the 617th Birth Anniversary of Prince Ged Reghallaigh this coming Thursday.
“Prince Ged Reghallaigh is a national icon,” he had written. “Instead of all this needless provocation, we should all be celebrating his life. That would be a great way to foster peace and good relations.”
And this had enraged the Union of Kheranish Students. They weren’t going to be celebrating the life of the long-dead enemy, and it hurt their nationalist sentiments that he had suggested any such thing. Professor Nolazco was a traitor to his own people. He needed to delete the message and apologize unconditionally.
“Since when am I not allowed to have my own opinion?” Professor Nolazco had said in response. “I have said nothing that warrants an apology, and I’m certainly not going to kowtow to anybody’s hurt feelings. They are responsible for their own feelings, not me. These kids need to grow up.”
The college administration was more inclined to be politically correct though, and had sided with the students.
Half of Professor Nolazco’s colleagues agreed with him and had gone on a three days strike to protest the treatment meted out to him, and the other half of the professors were protesting against this protest. Why drag politics into the education system, this latter half said, and why make a fuss about this particular issue at all? The authorities were only closing Samanbar Castle because of the bomb threats that the KLF had made. It was for the public’s own safety.
Bull, said the first half, it was only the latest tactic in harassing Kirzheiks, it was treating each and everyone as a terrorist without any cause, and punishing Professor Nolazco in this manner for speaking out was undoubtedly an attack on civil liberties.
We were all outraged on Professor Nolazco’s behalf. That is, all of us in the family, except Maia and Tavi, of course. Maia secretly agreed with the mob view that Professor Nolazco was a race traitor and said aloud that this was all unnecessary, he shouldn’t have stirred things up like he had, the Kirzheiks were quite capable of creating enough drama without his assistance. Tavi, as usual, couldn’t take anything seriously. In Nolazco’s place, he had said, he would be delighted to have been given the unexpected holiday. It wasn’t like they were cutting his pay, just his working hours.
He himself was only annoyed that his ‘unexpected holiday’ had been curtailed by my sickness. There had to be someone competent at home to look after me. Daddy was tied up at the National Park, Hansin was too much of a delicate darling to be allowed to miss school for sick room attendance, and Maia said she was getting old listening to me.
“Oh, for Gawd’s sake, at least it’s not the flu!” she had said earlier.
Billy had beaten Dr. Immer to that diagnosis before going off to college and while Aunt Zarrin was having ’words’ with Maia about her inexplicable behavior. Maia had, of course, ignored Daddy’s request to not stir up things, and had specifically stirred them up. If Nolazco can, she can, Tavi had joked. Aunt Zarrin’s eyebrows had gone way, way up. She and Maia had never really got along, because Aunt Zarrin was very attached to Mum and had a very long memory and had never forgotten how Maia had turned us out of her apartment all those years ago. She wasn’t about to let Maia throw her weight about in ’Salila’s house’.
“So what if Billy’s here all the time?” she had said. “And why is it such a problem if he went to Offenbach County too? Alright, so they quarreled, but, so what? They always quarrel. It’s nothing new. They are children.”
“They are not children,” Maia had said. “Wyldan is certainly no child. He is 20.”
“Is he? Oh yes, he is. How time flies! And she is 18. And what does that even signify? It is just a numerical increase! It doesn’t automatically mean an immediate rise in maturity levels as well. Certainly not in their case. As far as I’m concerned, they are both still half-baked, far too half-baked, and I don’t pay the slightest attention to any of their fuss. I’m surprised at you, that you even feel the need to remark on it. It is hardly anything you and I ought to get into a pother about, for Gawd’s sake. Ralek! What is this?”
Daddy, who was also very annoyed with Maia for creating unnecessary trouble, had said that as far as he and Salila were concerned, there was absolutely no problem about Billy coming and going anywhere. Maia had retreated in a dignifiedly offended huff. Billy, who had never needed anyone’s permission for anything anyway, had taken no notice at all of Maia.
Revoltingly healthy as always, he had curled up his lip as he had taken my pulse, tapped two fingers to my forehead, and then had loudly announced that I wasn’t going to die young. So now, what was he to do with the wreath he had already ordered?
He had said that purposely because he had heard about Arlen Shaughnessy from Hansin and he thought it was amusing to upset me further with death-related remarks.
“Store it!” I had snapped. “You’ll be needing it yourself if you don’t drop the smart-alec routine!”
“Oh, it’s no routine. Ask my mother. I get it from her.”
“That’s right blame me for everything!” Aunt Zarrin had shouted, overhearing. “See?” She had continued to Maia. “How can you even take them seriously?”