Crown of Stars

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The court outside of the hospital was usually empty, void of any motion apart from the rustling vegetation that was maintained by the gardener. Mingyu noticed this whenever he walked through the skywalks, day after day, going from one hospital room to the other.

The grass was evenly cut and so bright it threatened to blind him. Around the edges of the court were his favourite maple trees, tall and strong and a circle of fire in the fall. A stone path cut into the middle of the plain of grass, leading to park benches and a fountain that had broken too long ago for Mingyu to remember what it was like when it flowed with water.

He had memorized every rock and every flower, never failing to notice the smallest changes in the court.

That's why, on the 25th of April, he singled out the small figure sitting on a beige rock in the late evening, although it should have been barely visible in the dwindling light. He thought it a normal occurrence, just another patient outside to get a breath of fresh air; it wasn't completely unusual.

Then, on the 26th of April he saw them again. The wind ruffling the stranger's dark hair and contrasting pajamas.

On the 27th, they were in the same place.

And the 28th.

And the 29th.

And the 30th.

The 1st of May, Mingyu decided to change his usual route and skipped the skywalk, making immediately for the eerie stairway he usually avoided. It was made of grey stone, dark wood and malfunctioning lights that seemed to flicker despite the amount of times the employees claimed to have fixed it. He preferred not to use this particular stairwell, but it was the only way to reach the court from this wing of the hospital.

When he broke through the warmth of the inside of the hospital he found himself standing beside a bed of flowers that he usually only saw from above. Up close they were even more vibrant than he had initially thought, although he had no clue what type of flowers they were. He just knew they were planted in every corner.

Navigating his way through the dark court, Mingyu's eyes searched for the beige rock he had been looking at more often the past five days. He passed his favourite tree, skipped over a bush he had always thought was a bit unruly, and brushed past the new apple tree sapling they had planted a couple of days ago. At the end of his path, he found the big rock and the person sitting atop it, his long legs dangling off the edge and looking awfully cold.

It was a boy-or man, Mingyu wasn't actually sure. His face was young and his body seeming small despite his height, but his eyes were tired, giving him an air of years of sad experience.

Mingyu was drawn in by those eyes.

"Hi," Mingyu said tentatively, taking off his white doctor's coat so that he could fold it over his arms. He took a step forward, far enough that he could lean up on the rock, the stranger now a mere foot away.

The stranger looked up, his eyes lighting up with surprise. His legs stilled and rested against the rock, brushing once against Mingyu's side.

Mingyu was overly aware of that small contact, his side warming a little despite how cold the stranger's foot was. He noticed for the first time that his feet were bare. They weren't even donning the hospital's slippers.

"Hello." The stranger finally replied, his deep voice barely audible in the evening's silence.

"Aren't you cold?" Mingyu asked.

"Not really."

The reply didn't give Mingyu much to work with, but he was determined to have a conversation with the lonely patient who definitely had a story that he wanted to hear.

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