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Chapter 17

After settling his things back into his apartment, Mike biked his way to the nearby hospital where his mother had been facilitated. It had been a while since he had seen her sweet and fragile soul due to his stay in Japan so to brighten things up he decided to visit her for a little bit before going off to work. Holding onto a basket full of his mother’s favorite foods, a few small accessories and a bouquet of flowers, he enters her hospital room with a smile beaming from every direction.

“Knock, knock,” he said knocking on the door.

“…Mi-ke,” his mother said in between a harsh exhale.

“Hey mommy,” he smiled at her as he settled the basket on the table and put the flowers on the nearby vase which already contained the dying flowers he left her weeks before.

“…You…came…alone?” she whispered roughly.

“Mmhmm,” he hummed. “Joe couldn’t make it today; he’s looking for a job. How are you today?”

“…Better,” she smiled.

“That’s really good to hear,” he said grabbing the chair next to her and taking a seat.
“…Where’d…you…go?” she asked.

“I went to Japan for a while, remember?” he explained quietly as he nears her sweet face, brushing the strands of hair off her pale face.

“…It was…too…long,” she joked between deep breathes.

“Aw, I missed you a lot too, mom. I made a lot of business though. I think I have a few takers in Japan now!” he said proudly.

“…That’s…nice,” she smiled. “…What…did…you…do?”

“I did a lot of eating!” Mike laughed. “I went to a lot of different restaurants to try new recipes and strange foods. I think I gained at least 50 pounds!”

She laughed a little and it caused her to cough gently. Mike hated when his mother coughed. It looked painful and no matter how gentle it would be it broke his heart to see her suffer.

“…continue…” she managed to utter.

“I saw a lot of new things, a few not so new things and a lot of beautiful surprises,” he reminisced.

“…oh,” she said closing her eyes shut.

“Should I leave now so you can rest?” he whispered.

“…no,” she sighed. “How’s…Joe?”

“He’s fine,” he said rubbing her arm back and forth. “But you should have seen his face darken when I walked through that door today. Phew, it was like hell on Earth I tell ya!”

“…he’s…still…mad?” she asked curiously.

“Let’s just say,” Mike winced. “That 3 weeks with a total stranger that apparently happens to be the infamous bag lady, 15 cuts on his hand from knife accidents, a couple really horrible catering services and a run in with his ex girlfriend does not equal a very happy man. His face was absolutely…priceless.”

“…So…he’s…mad,” she laughed.

“Oh yeah,” he chuckled. “But I told him that I was only doing this for you so he forgives me.”

“…You…sure?” she asked smugly.

“Absolutely!” he nodded happily. “Are you sure you don’t want to rest?”

“…it’s ok,” she whispered back. “…Tell me something.”

“Anything,” he said delicately holding her hand.  Gaining some momentum on her speech, Mike’s mother began to ask, “…How’s Rainie?”

“Rainie huh?” he laughed a bit. “So it’s all about her?”

“It’s always about the girl,” she joked quietly.

“She’s fine mom,” he smiled, rolling his eyes.

“Is she your girlfriend yet?” she smiled widely.

“NO!” he pouted. “She’s just a friend!”

“She kissed you once though,” his mother said patting his hand.

“She actually kissed me twice,” he smirked playfully.

“See…” his mother smiled. “There’s something in her that you like.”

“I like her a lot,” he explained. “But that doesn’t change that she’s just a friend. Besides, I’m not ready for a girlfriend.”

“…It’s because of me isn’t it?” she said solemnly.

“Don’t you think that for a second!” he reassured her.

“You shouldn’t waste all your time with me,” his mother sighed.

“It’s not wasted time,” he said giving her a kiss on the hand. “You’re my mom and I love you. You already took care of me when I was younger so this is payback.”

“Payback?” she laughed. “You’re seeking vengeance on your mother.”

“You’re my responsibility,” he said seriously. “Who else will take care of you?”

“My baby boy,” she smiled again. “I’m older and much wiser than you. I’ll be fine. But in all seriousness please listen to me. Take your mother’s advice; if you like this girl then go after her.”

“I will, but like I said, she’s just a friend,” he nodded trying to convince her. “If I ever feel different, then I will.”

“…Then do so with all your heart,” she said tightening her grip on his hand.

“Yes mommy,” he said obediently, before kissing her on the forehead.

Mike stepped out of the room slowly and waved his goodbyes. He shook his head at his own inability to help her even further and breathed in all the air his lungs could take so not one single tear would drop to the floor.

“She’ll be fine,” he reassured himself before exiting the hospital and heading off to work.



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