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Spiral Wrapper

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Morning filtered through an open window, as a soft breeze plays with the gauzy curtains, and dappled sunlight falls on crisp white sheets.

The room is bone white, clean, and bare. It’s a hospital room, and there’s only one occupant; an old man, sitting alone, with a lollipop in his mouth.

A nurse walks in, and he smiles at her, his eyes still have a mischief, yet to be extinguished. He says something, she giggles, and blushes, waving a hand in mock sternness. He winks, and as she leaves, his eyes follow.

But once she’s gone, his face is somber once more. Pulling out the lollipop, he let’s his hand fall to the sheet.

Another hand catches his, before it hits the bed. Looking up he sees a young man in a blue suit, with well groomed hair, and thin round glasses.

“Zhao Yunlan…” says the young man, softly, with an almost reverence. He sits, resting his hands on his knees, and smiles.

“Who are you?” Zhao asks, but from his expression, there’s a suspicion there, and he tilts his head. “Have we met before?”

The strangers face gets clouded and he ducks his head for a moment, his hands grip his knees. His shoulders tremble, is he laughing, crying?

“We have, a long time ago.” Says the stranger looking up. His expression hidden by his glasses, when he reaches up to adjust them, he’s smiling again.

“I’m sorry, I can’t recall your name. You’re so handsome, how’d I forget?” The old glint was in his eyes, but this time, it seemed different then when the old man flirted with the nurse. That seemed more, habit, something for fun.

This…was different somehow. “If I'd met you in my youth, I’d have never let you go.” He chuckles, then breaks into a coughing fit. The young man helps him turn over some and then eases him back.

“I’ll get your medicine, hold on.”

Hurried away, and once more Zhao’s eyes followed, checking out the other, but then quick as he could, tries to hide his stare as his visitor returned.

He didn’t notice the smile on the others face, it would seem his attention hadn’t gone unnoticed.

Sitting down again, the young man sat on the edge of the bed and helped Zhao sit up. Putting an arm around his shoulders, he passed the medicine, and puts a cup of warm water to his lips. A small cough, causes some of the water to dribble, and he gently wipes it away as it slips down Zhao’s chin. Curling his fingers around the sensation and stands again, his face calm.

Setting the cup aside, the young man sits back down, and his face is somewhat pained.

Zhao Chuckles weakly, “I quit smoking. Too late.” Smiling he holds up the lollipop. Then looks out the window. “Ah well, it was a decent ride. Eh? Say, young man, do you believe in reincarnation?”

The other man's lips frown in a tight line, and after a moment, he says in a hoarse whisper, “Yes…”

Zhao’s voice comes weaker, “What...did you say your name was again?” Reaching up to touch the young man's face.

Catching Zhao’s hand, the youth, holds it tightly in his own, and holds it to his face.

“Shen...Wei” he says it like the first time they’d met, with the second tone on Shen, and the first tone, on Wei.

“That’s...a good name…you should keep i-......”

“I will…I-“

But the old man’s hand has slipped from Shen’s, as a tear follows. Catching Zhao’s hand again, tucks it under the sheet, and stands, pulling it all the way up.

The high pitch sound...of a flatline...echoes in the empty white room. The lollipop in Shen’s hand.

A dark fog creeps around Shen, and when it clears, he’s dressed in all black, a mask hiding his face, and he turns and opening a portal, looking back, one last time, before disappearing…