Tifa awakened from her half sleep and yawned and stretched. Calling it sleep would be lying. She was so worried about Cloud it was hard to go beyong a hypnagogic state. She went over to Cloud and nudged him awake.
"Rise and shine, Cloud." She then hoisted him out of his hospital bed and into his wheelchair. She wheeled him into the bathroom and got out the things she'd need for his catheter collection bag and ostomy. She drained his night bag and replaced it with the leg bag and taped it to his calf. "I'm going to be giving you a new colostomy bag." She said.
Tifa rolled up Cloud's shirt and tucked a towel over his pants. She then got the new colostomy bag and wafer and adhesives. She loosened the wafer with some wipes and removed the colostomy bag and placed it in a biohazard waste bag. She took a wipe and wiped the output around the stoma off.
"Stop pooping, Rosie! I'm trying to clean you!" Said Tifa, hopelessly wiping up output leaking from the stoma.
Finally the stoma stopped leaking output and applied antifungal ointment and adhesive and checked the surrounding tissue for cracks.
She measured the stoma with a template and then got out a new wafer and bag and attached it to the stoma and checked to make sure she'd done it right.
"Is that better, Cloud? Are you comfy?" Said Tifa.
"Nggggggg" said Cloud.
"I take that as a yes." She wheeled him out of the bathroom. Now let me get you your breakfast."
She went into the cupboard and brought out the necesseties: a receptable, a large syringe, a bottle of distilled water, and a can of one of those butter pecan flavored nutrition shakes that smelled sickeningly sweet. She had once tasted a bit from the security seal-it tasted sickeningly sweet and of artificial chemicals and the despair of not being able to feed oneself.
She set the necesseties on a tray on the nearby table.
"Time for breakfast, Cloud." She said.
"Unghh" Cloud moaned.
She rolled up his shirt and got a hold of his feeding tube and opened the valve. She flushed the tube with distilled water and then began to feed him for real. She knew the drill by now: crack open the can of nutrition shake, empty the sticky beige liquid into the container, insert the syringe, pull up the plunger, turn it upside down, flick flick, squirt out the air bubbles, insert the tip of the syringe into his feeding tube, push down on the plunger with a slow and steady pace, and repeat until the entire dose was given.
She flushed his tube with water and closed the valve and rolled down Cloud's shirt. She wiped a bit of drool from his mouth.
"How was breakfast? Was it yummy?" Said Tifa.
"Gnnnnnkkkk" groaned Cloud. The vacant stare in his glowing blue eyes made her heart bleed.
"I take that as a yes." Said Tifa. "Now let's go for a walk." She removed the wheel locks from his wheelchair and began to push him out of the clinic.
The sun of Mideel was bright and the balmy air was faintly scented with palm fronds and hibiscus. She smiled sweetly at the pensioners sitting on park benches and walking their dogs.
"Such duty." Said one old lady sitting on a park bench.
"Poor dear soul." Said another old lady sitting on the same park bench.
"Her smile looks forced. She looks like she hasn't gotten any sleep in days. I don't know how she puts up with him like that. Yes he's good-looking but he's a drooling vegetable. Such filth, taking care of invalids. If I were her I would have smothered him with a pillow long ago." Said the third old lady on the park bench.
Tifa was not out of earshot when she heard her say that. At any other time she would have beaten the tar out of her but she decided not to waste her energy on people who didn't matter.
When they returned to the clinic she rolled Cloud back into his room and he slumped over and seemingly went to sleep.
"I hate to wake you from your nap, but I need to change your catheter." She said. Tifa hoisted Cloud out of his wheelchair and laid him out on the hospital bed.
"I'm going to change your catheter." She said as she got out the Foley box and set it on the rolling table.She pulled down his pants and then opened the box and put on the sterile gloves. She took the syringe and withdrew the sterile water from the indwelling balloon catheter. She disposed of the sterile water syring in a biohazard waste box and then very gently tugged down on the catheter.
"I'm not hurting you, am I?" She said. He groaned. "Oh dear! I am!" She tugged a little slower. Finally the tip of the catheter emerged and she wound the used catheter around her fingers and disposed if it. She put on a fresh pair of sterile gloves and got the new catheter, syringe full of sterile water, lubricant, and iodine dipped cotton swabs ready. She contaminated the glove as she grasped hold of his member and pulled back and swirled the iodine applicator around the head and over the tip. "I'm going to be inserting the catheter now." She said. No response. She dipped the tip of the catheter in lubricant and slowly inserted the catheter into him. "Please tell me if I'm hurting you." Cloud groaned as if in pain or discomfort. "Oh goodness! I don't want to hurt you." She said as she inserted the catheter a little more slowly. He kept on groaning as if in pain. Not good he's in pain or discomfort but it is good he is responding a little. Tifa thought. She reached the hilt and waited for some output. She then took the saline syringe and placed the nozzle into the second islet of the catheter and pushed on the plunger to inflate the catheter balloon.
She removed the syringe and tugged gently on the catheter to make sure it would stay put. She then took the opposite end of the catheter and attached it to a new collection bag. She attached the new collection bag to his leg with adhesive tape and then pulled up his pants. "Is that more like it?" Said Tifa.
"Glurk" said Cloud.
Tifa went and washed her hands in a nearby sink. It pained her to see him like this, his gaze vacant, the lights were on but nobody was home. As she washed her hands, She remembered the first time she'd changed his catheter on her own without the nurse's help. He had been moaning and groaning in pain when she pulled it out and when she inserted the new catheter she tried to be gentle but she flubbed it. He groaned and writhed in agony and in the tube she saw blood in the output. She disposed of her gloves and pulled up his pants, feeling hollow in her stomach.
"Are you ok? She asked, when she noticed tears were streaming from his eyes and mucus was streaming from his nose. She took a kleenex and wiped his eyes and nose. Guilt ripped through her innards. He could feel pain, but couldn't understand it, & it was all her fault. "Nursie!" She called, & in came the nurse. She explained what happened & the nurse inspected the collection bag. She then held up the unopened packet of lubricant and the used catheter from the wastebin.
"You didn't fully deflate the balloon before removal and you plumb forgot to use the lubricant for insertion. A double whammy of urethral trauma. it happens when you're new at inserting catheters. You'll get it right." The nurse groaned.
"He's in so much pain." Said Tifa, wiping away his tears and snot with a damp kleenex. "What can we do?" "Give him some Ativan." Said the nurse, crushing an Ativan tablet with a mortar and pestle and fetching a bottle of distilled water from the cupboard. "Put it in his feeding tube."
Tifa syringe-fed Cloud the Ativan infused water and he slumped over and went to sleep. Tifa then collapsed on her cot and cried herself to sleep. Tell me how, tell me when, will this never end? She thought, the line replayed in her mind like a fiendish song of grief. Tifa's consiousness returned to the present and scrubbed her hands with harsh soap and hot water for the umpteenth time. Her hands were getting very chapped from repeated washing and exaustion sprawled in her cranial cavity like an overweight cat. Sometimes she wondered why she even did this. Feeding him horrible drinks from cans, cleaning up his messes and making sure there were no accidents...she was starting to wonder why she even bothered. She mouthed to herself as she finished scrubbing under her brittle nails. She the fell to the ground and raised her hands to the sky, the sink still running, and called out loud: "I'm not doing this for this gibbering, peeing, pooping husk of what was once Cloud. I'm doing this for the Cloud I know is in there somewhere!"
She turned. Cloud seemed to have fallen asleep. Tifa then snuck out of the clinic and took a walk. She walked down the street, none of the shops of particular interest to her. Then the heavenly scent of chocolate and mint came wafting on the breeze. Tifa became aware of the hunger that was clawing away at her stomach. She followed the scent to a bakery at the end of the lane and entered. Tifa looked at the pastries on display in the cases, but what she wanted was whatever was giving off the chocolate mint aroma.
A girl with pink hair and a flour-stained green and black striped apron came out from the kitchen. "How can I help you?" She said.
"What is that chocolate mint smell?" Said Tifa. "I'll have that."
"One moment." Said the girl. "Grandma! Are the chocolate mint wafers ready!? She called. A tall older woman came out of the bakery who was also wearing a green and black striped apron with flour stains on it. Her gray hair, twisted into a Gibson girl bun, was also dusted with flour and she had a smear of flour on her face. She was carrying a tray of shiny wafers. "You want some of our chocolate mint thins? I just glazed them" she said. She put the tray of cookies down on the counter.
"Yes please. I'll take two dozen." Said Tifa.
The pink haired girl's jaw dropped. "Two dozen?"
"They're not all for herself." Said the grandma, counting out cookies.
"Actually they are." Said Tifa. "I haven't eaten all day."
"Well you came to the right place" said the pink haired girl, taring a scale. The grandma took the cookies, stacked them, rolled them up in pink tissue paper, expertly folded a pink pastry box, and inserted the rolls of cookies and sealed the box. She brought the box of cookies over to the counter and Tifa handed her some Gil. The grandma opened the cash register and made some change. "Carmen, would you please get me a carton of milk?"
"One moment, Grandma." She said as she brought out a carton of milk and brought it to the front counter and handed it to her grandma.
"Thank you, Carmen." She said as she handed Tifa the cookies, receipt, change,and milk. "The drink is on the house."
"Thank you so much." Said Tifa. She wasn't partial to milk, she was a bit lactose intolerant, but she couldn't turn it down.
Tifa hurried back to the clinic, sat down at the table, opened the box of cookies, and opened the carton of milk. The heavenly aroma of chocolate and mint hit her nose. Her mouth watered as she unwrapped the cookies. She took one, perfectly round, glazed with chocolate, she took a bite and closed her eyes. It was the best thing she'd eaten in awhile. Crisp, chocolaty, just enough mint...she thought is was the best thing she ever had in her mouth. In another bite she finished the first cookie and then took a second. It was just as sublime as the first. She washed it down with cold, creamy milk. She kept on eating one after another. She thought she should save some for later, but she was just so hungry and the cookies were just so delicious. Finally she finished the last cookie, washed it down with the last of the milk, wiped her mouth on her arm, and stifled a burp.
"That was the best." Said Tifa. Then she heard a loud groan from Cloud.
"Uh-oh" said Tifa, her love affair with the cookies coming to a screeching halt. She entered his room and looked at the clock.
"Oh, time to feed you again." She got out the necessary items for feeding him. Only when she cracked open the can of nutrition shake, it smelled more acrid than usual. She fed him and flushed the tube out with water, but noticed the tube was leaking. She pulled back on the syringe. Why did the stomach contents look like coffee grounds, even though the shake was beige? She gagged, but was determined not to throw up her delicious cookies. She flushed the tube with water again, rolled down his shirt, and discarded the can and put the receptacle in the sink. She heard a beep on her phone.
It was from Yuffie.
Tifa texted back
Yuffie: how's Cloud?
Tifa: not doing well.
Tifa: He can't speak or do anything 4 himself, he's on a gtube
Tifa: a g-tube is a tube they put in your stomach which they feed you through if you can't eat on your own.
Yuffie: what does he eat through the tube?
Tifa: these nutrition shakes in cans that taste like butter pecan motor oil and existential dread.
Yuffie sent back the puking emoji.
Tifa: he also needs a catheter and a colostomy bag
Yuffie: a what and a what?
Tifa described what a catheter and a colostomy bag were as tactfully and clearly as she could but fell short in both. She hesitated before pushing the send button.
Tifa:he can't go to the bathroom by himself.
Tifa waited a moment.
Yuffie's text came back. It was full of rows of the see-no-evil monkey and the hear-no-evil monkey emojis.
Yuffie: LALALALALALALA I CAN'T HEAR YOU
Tifa did not respond.
Vincent walked past a mortified Yuffie, slouched on the floor of the Highwind.
"If you're feeling queasy you'd best not use your electronic devices. Go to the bridge where you can look at the horizon." Said Vincent.
"But I was just texting Tifa! Poor Cloud! It's bad enough he can't move or speak but he can't eat or go to the bathroom on his own!" Yuffie gushed about all the unsavory ways Tifa had to take care of Cloud. Vincent was still stony-faced.
Yuffie's eyes widened and any color she had left drained from her face.
Vincent sat down next to her on her right and hugged his knees. "I know. It's awful what Cloud has to go through. Tifa has the patience of a saint, taking care of him like that."
Yuffie's complexion was almost translucent. "But do you know where a catheter goes? It goes up his..."
"I know where it goes, you need not elaborate." Grumbled Vincent.
"But still! Isn't it awful? If I couldn't eat or go to the bathroom on my own I would want someone to put a plastic bag over my head." Said Yuffie. "No enjoyment, no dignity, no memories, you're alive but not living! Cloud's body is his holding cell!" Yuffie's eyes were wild with lament.
"Darn right it's awful. But it could be worse. A lot worse." Said Vincent.
"how?" Yuffie's voice came out as a whisper.
"I know that feeding tubes and all those other implements Cloud needs are gross but they're there for a reason. What's the alternative?" Said Vincent.
Yuffie's tongue and eyes were frozen.
"It's ok if you don't know." Said Vincent.
There was a long pause.
"The alternative is Cloud starves in his own mess." Said Vincent.
Yuffie sputtered. "I...I suppose you're right! It IS better he have all those gross medical implements than the alternative! You're a genius!" And with that Yuffie reached to the side and hugged Vincent around the shoulders. Vincent stiffened at the sudden gesture of affection.
"What do you say we go to the bridge." Said Vincent as Yuffie loosed him from her grasp.
"Ok." A little if the color returned to her cheeks.
But as she stood up she swooned and Vincent caught her and swooped her up into a piggyback ride. as they headed into some turbulence Vincent almost lost his balance.
"Whoa Vinny!" Said Yuffie as she tugged on the collar of his cloak.
"Don't get too comfortable." Said Vincent as he carried her down the hall, cracking a smirk under his cloak collar.
Later that day
The sun was setting. Tifa had fed Cloud, drained his colostomy bag and catheter collection bag. Now it was time for a shower.
She didn't know what it was, but Cloud hated showers.
"All right, Cloud, time for a shower" she said, and pushed his wheelchair into the bathroom. Cloud groaned as if in protest.
Tifa undressed Cloud, hoisted him out of the wheelchair, and onto the shower chair. He slumped over and groaned.
Tifa turned on the shower and adjusted the temperature to lukewarm. She hosed him down, took some of the unscented head to toe body wash, lathered it up, and scrubbed it into his hair. Cloud groaned in protest, as if to say "what's this fluffy stuff you're putting in my hair?"
"What's this fluffy stuff I'm putting in your hair?" Said Tifa. "It's called shampoo. It gets your hair clean.
No wonder your hair is so spiky. It's never been washed before!" Said Tifa as she rinsed his hair and began to scrub his body. He moaned in protest the whole time.
"I know you don't like showers and I don't do this very often but it has to be done." Said Tifa. She turned off the shower, put a towel on Cloud's wheelchair, hoisted Cloud out of the shower chair and back into the wheelchair, toweled him off, blow-dried his hair, and dressed him. She wheeled him out of the bathroom, hoisted him onto the bed, changed his leg bag to a night collection bag, and turned out the lights.
Tifa headed into the bathroom. She was so tired and needed a shower herself but wasn't sure she had the energy.
Instead she reached for her hairbrush, undid her dolphin tail, and began to brush her hair. She hadn't washed it in so long. As she dragged the brush through her locks, she couldn't help but notice how greasy and smelly it had become. She liked it when her hair was clean and shiny and bouncy, now it was matte and greasy and waxy and smelly. It plastered flat to Tifa's head when she ran the brush through.
Then she heard a loud moan, a moan of pain.
Tifa's hairbrush clattered to the floor as she ran to attend to Cloud.
She rushed to his bed, when the smell hit her.
His colostomy bag had burst and output had splattered all over the floor. There was blood in the output.
"Oh my goodness!" She tiptoed over and inspected his stoma. The stoma was herniated.
"Nurse! We have a situation here!" Called Tifa as she got some paper towels and cleaning solution and began to mop up the mess.
The nurse and doctor entered.
"We didn't find this out until just now, but the batch of nutrition shake you fed him this afternoon had been contaminated. We didn't get the recall message until it was too late." Said the doctor.
"Now you tell me!" Tifa grumbled a she continued to mop up the mess. The smell got to her. Her stomach churned and she burped loudly. She fell to her knees. She gagged and began to salivate. Then all hell broke loose.
She threw up all the delicious cookies she had downed that afternoon. Why had they been so delicious going down and so vile coming up? Tifa's thought spun around her head as she tried to hold the rest of the vomit down, but it came out her nose instead, smelling of mint and chocolate and acid and gall. I'll never be able to eat chocolate mint anything again. She thought as another nurse and doctor came in.
Tifa raised up her head and panted. "A bad situation here."
She scrubbed up the output and vomit as the nurse and doctor hoisted Cloud onto a stretcher.
"He's going to need surgery for that ostomy hernia" said the doctor as they wheeled him away.
Tifa still had vomit in her nose, her throat burned, her mouth tasted sour, and to her horror, she had chunks of vomit in her hair.
Tifa ran to the bathroom and blew her nose, chunks of partially digested cookie coming out. What a waste. She though. Then the nausea rose again. She ran to the toilet and threw up again, only this time she had nothing to throw up, just horrid, bitter bile.
Tifa stripped down and hopped in the shower. She washed her hair and combed out the chunks of vomit from her hair with a wide-toothed comb but the smells remained. She washed her body but all the clinic had was that unscented hair and body wash. She needed something with a strong scent to mask the smell.
She stepped out of the shower, hair sodden, wrapped herself in a towel, grabbed some gil, and ran out of the clinic and to the drugstore. Her feet were bare, her boobs were bouncing, but she needed something fragrant. Someone in their car cat-called her.
She ran into the drugstore, heart beating fast, in search of something that would mask the smell. She found a large, cheap bottle of 3-in-1 shampoo, body wash, and bubble bath that was scented of sugared apples. She ran to the front, paid for it, didn't explain anything, and ran back to the clinic.
She got back in the shower and scrubbed herself down with the new body wash, fragrant suds washing away the stenches, yet the stenches still hung in her mind, as if the scent knew it was supposed to offer protection it wasn't sure it could give.
Tifa finished her shower when the water ran cold and stepped out. She toweled off and dried her hair and draped a towel over her head as she brushed her teeth.
She spat out the toothpaste and rinsed her mouth. She stood there and looked in the mirror. Wrapped in a towel and with a towel on her head, hair wild, face pale, cheeks sunken, eyes reddened.
Tifa lost it.
"WHEN ARE WE ALL GOING TO WAKE UP FROM THIS NIGHTMARE?!" She screeched at the top of her lungs.
The Highwind stopped in the middle of a desert and the party and crew disembarked. "Good to be on terra firma again!" Announced Yuffie as she jumped off the gangplank.
She checked her messages and found a new one from Tifa. She gagged when she read what had gone on.
"Where's the tears of blood emoji when you need one?" she said, but couldn't write back because there was no service.
Yuffie wandered over to a dried up lake. The flaky, dried up crusted earth cracked under her feet as the lowering sun made her cast a long shadow over the dried out earth.
She began to sing.
"When I was walking in the desert and was searching for the truth
I heard a choir of angels calling out my name and I knew my life would never be the same again
And I turned my face towards the barren sun
And I know from the pain that you feel the same as me
And I dream of the rain as it falls upon the leaves
And the cracks in the ground
Like the cracks that are in our lives
They are sealed and are now washed away"
"You tell me we can start the rain
You tell me that we all can change
You tell me we can find something to wash my tears away
And I know from the pain
That you feel the same as me
And I dream of the rain as it falls upon to me
And the cracks in the ground
Like the cracks that are in our lives
They are sealed and are now far away"
Yuffie changed her tune. She sang in a minor key:
"Hand of fate is moving and the finger points to you
He knocks you to your feet and so what are you gonna do?
Your tongue was frozen now you've got something to say
The viper at the gates of dawn is calling you his way
You watch the world exploding every single night
Dancing in the sun a newborn in the light
Say goodbye to gravity and say goodbye to death
Hello to eternity and live for every breath
Your time will come
Your time will come
Your time will co-o-ome
The ferryman wants his money you ain't gonna give it back
He can push his own boat as you set off for the track
Nothing you can contemplate will ever be the same..." and Yuffie absentmindedly kicked a rock. It skipped and landed against a larger rock at the edge of the lake, making it crumble. Vincent stood up from behind the smaller rock in front of it.
"Nice aim." Said Vincent sarcastically, brushing off dust.
"You didn't hear me singing, did you?" Said Yuffie.
"How could I not hear your little concert? You sounded like the frightened child from that horror movie who sings that ironic nursery tune." Said Vincent. "By the way, it's not 'the viper at the gates of dawn' it's 'the piper at the gates of dawn'"
"I've been listening to it wrong all these years!" Said Yuffie.
"Happens to the best of us" said Vincent. "But I will admit that 'the viper at the gates of dawn' has a nice ring to it."
"But still, there must be a reason for the bizarre behavior" said Vincent.
"I got another text from Tifa" Vincent facepalmed. "The butter pecan motor oil that she feeds cloud through his G-tube was contaminated and the clinic didn't get the recall notice until too late and Tifa had just given Cloud a shower and put him to bed when Cloud got really bad diarrhea and his colostomy bag exploded and his stoma herniated and he needed to have emergency surgery and when she was cleaning up she threw up all the delicious freshly baked chocolate mint cookies she'd eaten that afternoon!" Yuffie gushed.
"Calm down." Said Vincent.
Yuffie took a deep breath.
"And then she got her vomit in her hair and had to wash it out and she ran down the street in her towel to get a new container of body wash to mask the smell!"
"What a delightful image" said Vincent with an eye roll.
And after she got out of the shower she completely lost her temper and shouted so loudly she woke up the neighbors" whimpered Yuffie.
Vincent's eyes flared in the late afternoon sunlight. "Do you remember what I told you?" Said Vincent.
"But what's the point if they do him no good?" Said Yuffie. Yuffie shook her head. "I suppose if I had been there I would have helped her."
"Helped her? You get sick at the sight of ketchup" said Vincent.
"But still! Said Yuffie. "She can't go on forever like this."
"Vincent, if I ever had mako poisoning, would you put me out of my misery?" Said Yuffie.
"I do believe in respecting people's wishes, but the world would sure be a dark, boring place without you." Said Vincent.
"It would?" Yuffie tilted her head incredulously.
"Here. I have something I want to show you." He took off Yuffie's forehead protector and tied it around her eyes. He took her hand. "And no peeking."
Vincent guided Yuffie over the cracked earth, keeping an eye out for rocks and other obstacles. "No peeking" said Vincent periodically.
Behind her closed eyes, Yuffie sensed it suddenly get darker.
"You can open now" said Vincent. Yuffie took her forehead protector off her eyes. They stood in the shadow of an old, crumbling stone chapel.
"Follow me" said Vincent as he lead Yuffie into the chapel. He lead her over to the pipe organ and they sat down at the bench.
"A pipe organ?" Said Yuffie.
Vincent removed the cover from the keyboards. They had been locked but the shackle had long since rusted away. Vincent began to play the organ, a melancholy, lilting tune.
"You didn't tell me you could play the organ." Said Yuffie.
"I don't tell most people." Said Vincent as he played the final notes. "There's something else I want to show you." He swung around to the other side of the organ bench.
"And no peeking"
Vincent took Yuffie's hand and helped her up from the organ bench and lead her down the chapel. "Watch your step on the stairs."
Yuffie once again sensed darkness through her closed eyes and the air became cold and damp. The stairs ended and Vincent lead her to the center of the room.
"You can open your eyes now." Said Vincent.
Yuffie's eyes took a moment to adjust to the lowlight. Then everything came into focus.
"Are we in a crypt?" she stammered. Rows of deteriorating sarcophagi stretched out around them, chandeliers hung from overhead, dripping with burned out candle wax. A columbarium surrounded the perimeter, urns nestled in their niches like sad little doves.
"Where else would we be?" Said Vincent.
Yuffie wiped the dust off the white sepulchre next to her.
"As you are now, so once was I, as I am now, so ye shall be." Yuffie read out loud.
"If only." Said Vincent.
"Ohhh..." Yuffie sputtered, remembering Vincent couldn't die even if he wanted to.
"Vincent, are you trying to tell me something?"
Vincent was silent.
"Uhhh...I get it, here we are in this cold, dark, dreary crypt...are you trying to tell me this is what things would be like if you had to put me out of my misery?"
"Not quite, but you're smart." Said Vincent. He unfurled his cloak so that Yuffie could sit on it as they sat down on the sepulchre.
"Are you still wondering about Cloud and Tifa?" He asked.
"I am now." Said Yuffie.
"Remember how ecstatic you were that the revelation that even if they were gross, Cloud's catheter and colostomy and G-tube improved his quality of life and was better than the alternative? If you don't remember I do." Said Vincent.
"But then Cloud got a stomach bug from that butter pecan motor oil and his colostomy bag failed and splattered all over the place! If I'm going to get explosive diarrhea, I had better eat something like sushi or sashimi or ceviche or oysters on the half shell, with my mouth, enjoy every bite of it, then when the diarrhea starts, I had better be doing my business in a toilet (squat or commode, I'm not picky) or chamber pot or outhouse or behind a friendly bush, and it had better be through my butthole!" She squawked.
"If you weren't too big for me to spank, I would put a hashtag on your bum and see how many hits you can get." Grumbled Vincent.
"Since when am I too big to spank?" Suggested Yuffie.
"That aside, after Cloud had his mishap, did Tifa leave him like that?" Said Vincent.
"They cleaned him up right before they sent him in for surgery." Said Yuffie.
"You neglected to mention that." Said Vincent. "And by they do you mean Tifa?"
"Tifa and the medical staff." Said Yuffie.
"Do you see what I'm getting at?" Said Vincent. "Cloud is in an undesirable situation, but he's in good hands with Tifa."
"But Tifa literally tossed her cookies after they'd been the only thing she'd eaten all week!" Said Yuffie.
"I didn't say Tifa was in a desirable situation either or that she liked cleaning up Cloud's messes. I do think that it speaks volumes about her loyalty and devotion." Said Vincent. "You can also be glad it isn't you."
"Me? Glad? And I'm Adelbert Steiner!" Said Yuffie.
"Well, you don't have mako poisoning, you can move and speak, you can eat and go to the toilet on your own, you've never been the pet of some mad scientist whose head I wouldn't mind on a platter, those are all reasons for you to be glad." Said Vincent.
Yuffie shifted a bit. "Vinny, are you, the gloomiest person I know, in the gloomiest place I can think of, telling me to always look on the bright side of life?"
"I wouldn't call it that, but something I've learned over the years is that, after all that has happened to me, I can't change my situation, I can change my outlook on a situation. Even though my situation isn't one I would wish on my worst enemy, I've learned that if I can set my eyes beyond this place, where angels fall and darkness reigns, I can keep going." Said Vincent.
"That's why youre telling me this in a crypt! It all makes sense now!" Said Yuffie.
"I have something else I want to show you." Said Vincent.
"Close my eyes and no peeking?" Chirped Yuffie.
Vincent beckoned to her with his claw, as if to say it wasn't necessary.
He lead her to a tomb at the far edge of the crypt: a white marble sarcophagus with an elaborate engraving in the lid. Yuffie read the engraving out loud.
"Only imagine being buried alive. Stifled to death. Strangled. Pent up on all sides. Earth above you, earth below you. No room to move. Is not the thought dreadful? Terrified, stupefied, horror-struck, no hope, utter despair...only think of what your feelings must be when you come to life in your own narrow charnel house and become aware of your situation."
"Is that what your existence feels like, Vincent?" But before he could answer, Yuffie got distracted by a pinpoint of light coming from a fissure overhead. It streamed down on the foot of sarcophagus, and Yuffie went over to investigate it.
But when she saw the inscription facing from the opposite side of the sarcophagus, it said:
"The world is quiet here."
"Wait." Yuffie did a double take. She went over to the other side of the sarcophagus, and it had the buried alive inscription, but from the other side it said the world is quiet here.
"I...I..." Yuffie was tongue-tied.
"See what I mean? It all depends on how you look at things and from which perspective. It's the same inscription, but it has two different messages, depending on which side you see it from." Said Vincent.
"It really makes sense! I can see it clearly now!" Said Yuffie.
She pouted. "But I still miss Cloud. And Tifa."
"Now we get to the bottom of this." Said Vincent.
"follow me." And she followed him up the stairs.
In the foyer of the chapel there was an old-timey record player with a record in it. Vincent wound it up and adjusted the needle. It began to play the song Vincent had been playing on the organ. Then the lyrics began.
"Tell you a thing that you oughta know
Two minutes of your time then on you go
Tell tale of the men all dressed in black
That most of them not coming back
Sent off to war to play little games
Upon their return can't name no names
Some strange yellow gas has played with their minds
Has reddened their eyes
And removed them of lies
As strange as it sounds
Death knows no bounds
How many get well?
Only time will tell
Only time will tell."
"How many get well only time will tell." Repeated Yuffie. "I guess only time will tell if Cloud will get well."
"That's the spirit." Said Vincent as he ruffled Yuffie's hair. Yuffie laughed.
"Let's go back to the Highwind" said Yuffie as she climbed over the crumbling wall of the foyer.
"Good idea." Said Vincent as he followed her.
As they hiked over the cracked earth of the dried lake, Yuffie's voice refrained
"How many get well
only time will tell" over and over again. The tune was stuck in Vincent's head.
"Yuffie, do you come with an off button?" Vincent called to her, but Yuffie just belted out, her voice resonating in the dusky sky:
"HOW MANY GET W-E-L-L-L
ONLY TIME WILL T-E-L-L-L"
"I've created a monster." Vincent grumbled to himself.