She looked at what I assumed was my pale and sallow complexion, taking a moment to scrutinize with her hard grey eyes. I felt the acute sting of foolish anxiety, allowing my thoughts to wander towards insecurity. It was a disservice to myself to allow feelings better suited for a precocious teenager to exert any sort of influence.
She smiled, in the way those of the fairer sex do when it's to their fancy to be coquettish, “I am frightfully busy and do have a lot to occupy myself with. I can't really say I have time to spare but I suppose there's no harm in spending some time towards the evening with a needy patient.”
“I'd be much obliged,” I said.
“Come now, there's no need to brood,” She apparently saw right through me. Her words were both deliberate and whimsical, effective in making it hard for me to discern things said in jest and those with sobriety, “I always have time to help those in need. Particularly if they are distinguished gentlemen such as yourself. You do realize that it's not every average fellow that has that rancorous little girl and her special friend asking after him constantly, don't you? My, even discarding that, I'd have to say that something about you appeals to me – perhaps I'll be able to have a jolly little conversation, a real conversation, for a change.”
There wasn't anything I could really think to say. The tall and confident woman bid a warm farewell and retreated into the world beyond the white curtain. She had done so with a casual wave of her hand and a coy little smile plastered on her face. True to her word, it wasn't long before her assistant came with what I wanted.
“Is this what you wished for?” The red-eyed girl held my journal close to her chest, with the brass clasp out towards me.
Cracks in the worn leather weren't the only signs of age. There were once gilded letters on the corner, spelling out my name in handsome flowing script. The person who had given the journal to me, and taken the time to lend her penmanship for the golden script, was long since gone. It wouldn't be much longer before the characters completely faded, casting the journal's owner and her memory into anonymity.
“Yes, thank you,” I said, holding back the urge to grab the tome out of her hands. The way she held it irked me. In fact, just her being here bothered me and I wished to get her out of my presence as soon as possible, “I'm grateful that you brought me this. If I can trouble you for something to write with, I would appreciate it. Ink would probably be unwieldy in my situation so charcoal or anything else is fine.”
The girl left my bedside soon enough, having preoccupied herself with hunting down for a writing implement for me. I felt the aged leather on the back with the palm of my hand, enjoying its rough feel. My other hand, the one with the tube affixed to it, fumbled for the clasp, trying to open the time-tested book. It was more of a struggle than I cared for. Then again, even sitting up was something of a struggle for my enfeebled body. I swore at my clumsy tired hands. It took an undue expenditure of energy to finally get the troublesome thing open.
My reward was peace of mind. The pages were as crammed with annotations and drawings as I remembered them to be. I felt foolish for a moment for expecting any different but my excitement soon made me forget all about that. I poured through the contents hungrily, as if the knowledge and thoughts I had collected in there were rich sustenance. It was no less filling than a good meal; Certainly I felt as happy and fulfilled as possible, completely satiated. It was only when the girl returned that I snapped out of it.
“We have no charcoal pencils and the like, but I hope this is fine,” She handed me a rather compact pen. Wanting nothing else to do with her, I thanked her and told her I needed something else. She left, chirping gleefully, “If you need me just call out and I'll be here.”
It was easy to get lost in my own thoughts. And what was my journal if not a massive library of my thoughts? The sketches and writing, often laboriously done with the utmost care to detail, were supposedly objective renderings of my encounters. That was my aim. The reality of it, however, was quite different. I acknowledged my bias and saw the detailed drawings and diagrams as my soberest interpretation of reality. In the end, that's all it needed to be. There was no particular reason I was cataloging the world around me, save for my own amusement. Perhaps amusement dressed up as inquisitive passion, but amusement nonetheless.
I opened up a blank page, hoping to describe some of the new experiences I had undergone recently. My writing implement was the first and most obvious novelty; it was a light and blue tube, made out of a strange material. That is, except for the metallic tip from whence the ink would come out when I rolled it against a sheet of paper. A button on the top, which clicked when pressed, deployed the actual tip. It was strange to use, and stranger still was the blue ink it had, but I rapidly grew accustomed to writing with it. It was like a pencil but with ink, no smudges or bleeding through that was so inherent a problem with ink stones and brushes or the fancier quills I had tried before. It was simple and clean, something which made things easier.
I took to drawing the bottle and stand next to me. I got a good perspective sketch of how the tube came down into my arm and added a caption that it played an important role in my recovery. The truth was that I didn't exactly know how it benefited me but I left enough space to add an explanation once I found out. With additional sketches of the simple fixings around me, as well as a few thoughts on how I had been feeling when confronted with all that, I passed the hours quite easily. I didn't once feel any pain, only slight discomfort around my bandaged joints when I tried to move a little too much.
“I'm sorry to interrupt,” Reisen came back sometime in the afternoon. I tensed up, closing my journal hastily.
“Yes, what is it?” I avoided looking at her, feeling a little nauseous whenever my eyes met hers.
“I have to give you a sponge bath now, just relax and I'll be quick.”
“Do what you must,” I said with resignation. There would be no point in being confrontational or otherwise difficult.
She hovered over me, a damp sponge in hand. She began with my exposed arms, her bath feeling a little cold and wet. She talked all the while, “That book must be important to you, right? You won't even let go of it, huh? I wonder what's in there, maybe something you really like reading?”
“It's a journal, it has my personal observations and sketches,” I explained curtly. I kept my gaze to the side, avoiding dealing with her directly.
“Now that's interesting!” She exclaimed, making conversation, “It looks really old too, so you've been probably at this for a while. That's really amazing you know, not that many people have the patience to commit so much time to something like that. I tried keeping a journal of my own once. I had to give it up after it kept getting read by a certain troublesome someone.”
“Is that so...” I said with no real interest.
“The only thing you've asked for is your journal so I guess you feel uneasy without it. I can understand that.”
She was wrong. I didn't bother to inform her of that. I could do without my journal just fine. What mattered the most was being able to remember everything I had seen in the first place. Nature had endowed me with a competent memory. As long as I could have my recollections, as fractured and incomplete as they could be without the assistance of my notes, I could be at ease.
“And there we are, all done.” She announced happily. I hadn't even noticed her movements after she began talking to me. I was so preoccupied with listening to her that I forgot all about the purpose of her visit.
“I didn't even feel it.”
“That's, of course, part of the trick to doing this right,” She smiled, amused with herself. She left me alone soon enough, thinking that I was maybe too tired to keep on talking.
I was really tired by the time the sun had set. Indirect lighting (another oddity I had to comment on in my journal) kept the room bright enough for me to read and write. My candor had waned significantly and I was tempted to sleep my troubles away.
Before I gave in to the siren call of rest, Eirin checked in on me. Taking stock of my condition and checking my bandages, she played her role diligently and with expertise. Once the formalities were done with, she sat in the small chair to the right of the bed, crossing her legs.
“The day hasn't been too dull for you, has it? Being confined to bed certainly is no party.” She looked tired herself, subtle signs showing almost imperceptibly in the way she slunk into the chair.
“I've managed. I can't say I'm happy staying in bed all day, but I suppose it's for the best,” I smiled, “I wouldn't want to aggravate my wounds, now would I?”
“Not really, no.”
“Pardon my asking, but how serious is my condition? I'm no physician and I suppose the pain I feel invalidates any attempts for my own impartial assessment.”
“To be completely honest,” She sported a frank look that told me she wasn't sugar-coating things. It felt like she was telling the truth out of respect, “Most of the injuries you can see are superficial bruises and gashes, and will heal rather quickly. Even the cuts that went a little deeper won't take too long to mend, I did some of my best stitchwork there.” She paused, possibly to let the comforting thought of my being alright soak through my brain. Eirin was soon quick to move on, detailing the more serious injuries, “Your bruising wasn't only superficial, however. There was some internal bleeding and a collapsed lung I had to deal with. Those were life-threatening things if left untreated and those are the things that necessitate a longer recovery period.”
“I see...” I remarked, awestruck. Not because of my own very apparent mortality, but because of the assertive manner she had dealt with the injuries.
“Don't think about it too much, it's not a big deal. It's interesting to get cases such as yours once in a while.”
Though it sounded like she was boasting, I somehow suspecting that hers was a genuine statement. I spoke, asking another question, “When can I see the people who brought me here? I should really thank those two.”
“Next time they are around,” Eirin answered, “They came while you were asleep yesterday. I don't imagine that a schoolteacher has much free time during the day.”
“I suppose not,” I hoped I hadn't inconvenienced them too much. If I had driven Mokou away from any future possibilities of cooperation, I would be upset with myself.
We conversed for a long time. I was as interested in her world of medicine as she seemed to be about my hobby. When I confessed to sketching her apparatus and taking notes about her treatment, she laughed and took the time to indulge me curiosity about the purpose of her equipment and techniques. In one fell swoop I learned the point of an intravenous transfusion, what plastic was and was gifted the pen her assistant handed me earlier. On my part, I shared my drawings and discussed some of the plants I had observed in the wild.
“I don't know much about the medicinal properties of this one, but in the village they sometimes use an infusion of it for high fevers,” I showed her my sketch. She seemed pleased that I was sharing my limited knowledge with her.
She nodded, reading my notes, “You certainly have an acute eye and a steady hand, judging by your lines and attention to detail, I think you would make for a good surgeon.”
I laughed, “I think I'm overwhelmed dissecting the odd small creature, I couldn't imagine how hard it would be to deal with a living breathing human.”
“With practice, anything is possible.” She smiled slyly, hinting that there was something else she was talking about.
I yawned, feeling that I was close to my limit for the day. We had been talking for a long time. This was the longest conversation I had had in quite some time. “I'm sorry for taking up so much of your time.”
“Don't be, I enjoyed talking to you,” She got up, understanding that I was tired.
 Bid her a good night and rest up
 Encourage her to have more conversations with you in the future
 Ask to be ambulatory as soon as possible