Saturday, December 26, 2009

The Second Childhood: Chapter 1 (Pages 6-10)

(Continued from Pages 1-5)
Mom rubbed her swollen tummy. “My precious little yeoja-ai is due on May 1st. I don’t know what we’ll name her yet, but I’m open to ideas.”
“Sorry, Mom. What did you call her again?”
“You know, a yeoja-ai is an onna no ko, a girl. I need to start giving you some Korean lessons. And Dad should start giving you some Japanese. Now, I should get him.”
Tanaka sat on the couch and waited for Mom and Dad as they approached. Upon sitting down, Dad picked him up and sat him on his lap.
Tanaka felt uncomfortable. “Um, yeah, I appreciate your affection and all, but I’ll sit by myself today, okay?” Tanaka got off and sat to his right of Mom and Dad.
“Mom and Dad, was I sick last night? I don’t remember a lot of things, and I’m wearing something I don’t even wanna talk about. So I HAD to have been sick! What did I suffer from?”
Dad responded, “Tanaka-chan, you had a pretty bad flu. We gave you both Tami-Flu and Thera-flu for good measure, and put you in bed at 7 last night. We were sure that they were enough to get you to feel better this morning, and we were right!”
“Maybe physically, you guys, but it still didn’t ‘heal’ something else. First off though, what did I do to get that flu?”
Mom responded, “Earlier this week, I caught you playing outside in the snow wearing only a T-shirt, shorts, and sandals. You wanted to be a little daredevil who didn’t want to care about being cold, and you said so yourself. You were putting together several snowballs when I grabbed you and carried you back inside. After I warmed you back up, you started getting sick, and we took you to a clinic. After checking you up, the clinicians asked us to give you either Tami-Flu or Thera-flu, and we decided to give you both. We gave you little doses at first, but when your illness didn’t start to let up, we increased it, and then yesterday, we gave you enough to put you to sleep early.”
Dad cut in, “And now, you feel completely fine. But I don’t understand why you’re behaving so differently, and using all these new words. Why do you think that is?”
“Oh, I KNOW why that is. You must’ve overdosed me! You know overdosing can wreak havoc on minds, you see! In this “dream,” I lived a college student’s life, and I guess the overdose of that medicine you fed me must’ve made that dream so intense, that all of his life, memories, and knowledge rubbed off on me in the real world. Oh, and that overdose must’ve caused my amnesia. If that wasn’t it, maybe the flu virus caused it. A pediatric psychologist might figure me out.”
Mom felt worried. “Oh dear, Kanoku-san. What are we gonna do? Should we find him one?”
Dad responded surely, “Once we get a psychologist to figure him out for us, we’ll figure out something. All their offices are closed today, so we can get in touch with one Monday.”
Tanaka noticed a large collection of family pictures right above the fireplace mantle. He got up and approached them for a closer look. In the center was a group family photo all together. Flanking the sides were the individual photos and their following captions, in this order:
The father’s read: Kanoku Shimoya 
Born Saint Patrick’s Day (March 17), 1975
Hachinohe, Aomori Prefecture, Japan
The mother’s read: Kyo-Ni Shimoya (née Rhee)
Born Thanksgiving Day (November 22), 1973
Jeonju, North Jeolla Province, Korea
The older brother’s read: Satoru Shimoya
Born Greenery Day (April 29), 1996
KU Medical Center, Lawrence, Kansas
The older sister’s read: Kyung-hwa (Chihiro) Shimoya
Born Valentines Day (February 14), 1998
Yale-New Haven Medical Center, New Haven, Connecticut
Tanaka’s read: Tanaka Shimoya
Born New Years Day (January 1), 2000
Yale-New Haven Medical Center, New Haven, Connecticut
The younger brother’s read: Toshiaki Shimoya
Born September 11, 2001
Bellevue Hospital, Schenectady, New York
                Tanaka mumbled, “I guess I know where they went to college now! And grad school, it looks like.”
Tanaka felt perturbed at Toshiaki’s birthdate. “Uh, Mom? What was the time of Toshiaki’s delivery? It didn’t happen to be anytime between eight and nine in the morning, was it?”
                “Great guess, Tanaka. Yes, it was. I delivered your little brother at 8:45.”
                Tanaka inquired in a flustered manner. “Eh, you just hit the nail on the head! Of, you know, when THAT happened. He is one unlucky little bro! When you saw the news that day, how’d you respond?”
                “Minutes after I got to hold little Toshiaki in my arms, a frantic nurse jogged into the delivery room and told everyone to watch the news. She turned on a TV hanging from a corner of the room, and that’s when we saw it all unfold. A sad and a happy day mixed together, I might add.”
                Tanaka asked, “And where was I that day? I think everyone ought to remember where they were that day.”
                “Tanaka-chan, you were at “A Magic Kingdom,” your old daycare, like you were at every weekday. I’m pretty sure that even if the nannies there thought the news was not inappropriate enough not to turn on, that you wouldn’t have been able to pay attention to it.”
                “Yeah, I guess not. Well, okay Mom. I see you like to mention holidays on our portraits there. Why didn’t you make Toshiaki’s say ‘Patriot Day,’ as that is what it is?”
                “I debated this with your Dad, when we were deciding how the photos and captions were gonna look, and decided against it for that time. Maybe when we get new photos of everyone a few years older, we might put “Patriot Day” on Toshiaki’s.”
Tanaka then said, “OK, thanks for that, Mom. Now if you’ll both excuse me, I need to find a computer. Where is one?”
Dad asked, “Wow, maybe you do have amnesia. This is just unbelievable. Well, it’s in the den, but it’s locked because we’re having your birthday in there at Noon. Why do you want to use a computer now?”
Tanaka responded, “I need to check my Face— uh, games. I need to check on the… characters, in my games, and I… yeah, I just wanna play games. Do you have another computer?”
Mom responded, “Tanaka-chan, your flu must’ve really done something to you, because you’re supposed to know this already! It’s in my walk-in closet in our room. Lemme take you up there so I can unlock it with my password.” Mom picked Tanaka up and carried him up the stairs.
“Gee, Mom, that’s a really nice way to show your affection, carrying me like that. I haven’t felt this way since I was eig— well, for a while.”
“You didn’t feel the same way the last time I carried you?”
“In this case, I guess not.”
Mom let Tanaka down in the master bedroom. Tanaka proceeded to open the first closet door. There were only hung clothes, drawers, and shoe receptacles. Tanaka closed the door, and proceeded to the second one. There was a desktop and shelf with many CDs.
                “I think Satoru is big enough to have his own computer, don’t you think so?” Tanaka inquired.
                Mom responded, “I’ll get him one once he’s in middle school. None of you are big enough for us to trust you to use it alone, so you all share Dad’s in his den. Or you use mine here if Dad’s is in use.”
                “Or I guess we ride bikes to the local public library if both of them are in use!”
                “No, Tanaka-chan, you don’t, and you and Toshiaki don’t have a bike. The Library is five miles away, and I don’t let any of you wander too far away from home by yourselves.” Mom entered her password and logged onto Windows XP.
                “Okay, Mom. If I were Dad, I would have given Satoru a computer for Christmas if his GPA was 3.0 or higher this last fall.”
                “Tanaka, I don’t know what that flu has done to you but they don’t use GPAs at his school. They just use A’s through F’s, and O’s to U’s. How do you even know what a GPA is?”
                “When we sit down with a pediatric psychologist, I will spill ALL the beans, Mom. But to summarize, that flu must’ve given me a lot of extra mental powers! Anyway, I meant if Satoru’s grades were all B’s or better this last fall.”
                “Well we’ll find out the truth eventually, Tanaka-chan. Actually, I think Satoru should get straight A’s if he’s gonna get a computer while still in elementary school.”
                “Well, has he been?”
                “No, there are some subjects we need to tutor him on. Unfortunately, the only subjects he gets less than A’s in are the subjects he hates, but we’ll try our best.”
                Tanaka muttered, “Even I’ll try to tutor him. Haha!”
                Mom gave the seat to Tanaka. “Here you go, Tanaka-chan. Have fun and don’t ruin any of my files!”
                “Sure, no problem. Thanks a lot, Mom.
                As soon as Mom left the closet and shut it behind her, Tanaka proceeded to open Internet Explorer right away. “Mom should get Firefox!” Tanaka uttered.
                After he got one browser window to the Firefox download page and started on it, he opened another window to log onto Facebook. He typed in his username (his K-State email account from his previous life), and his password.
                His wall-page was flooded with sympathy letters. One read, “Oh my God! I just watched the local news! You were in an ACCIDENT? Oh no, Marc! I hope you pull through!”
                Another one stated, “I’m sorry that this has happened to you! I read it all on the Collegian! I’ll stop by your hospital and leave you flowers and a card. Please get better sometime, okay?” There were many other posts of well-wishes and sympathy. After reading through them all, he pondered whether to respond to them, but decided to wait on that.
                Next, Tanaka looked at the website for the Kansas State Collegian at as one of his friends made a mention of it. The title on the front page read:
                “Drunken-driving collision on K-18 – 4 hurt, 1 in critical condition”
                Tanaka read the entire article, and felt a little saddened, then surprised, when he read that Marcus Michael Shuttles III was revived but in a coma, and in Intensive Care at Geary Community Hospital.
                “Oh, no. What happens when he wakes up?” Tanaka whispered. “If I transferred to a little kid’s body, then, oh man, I can’t imagine how he’ll act when he wakens! I think I’d better call them and ask!”
                Tanaka went to Google to type in “geary community hospital phone” and the official website for the hospital appeared up at the top. After clicking onto, he found the phone number on the top-right of the page. Tanaka reached for the desk phone and dialed 1-785-238-4131. An operator answered, “This is Geary Community Hospital. How may I direct your call?”
                “Hi, ma’am. I’d like to speak to a nurse caring for an Marcus Michael Shuttles the Third, please?”
“Wow, sweetie. I admire you for being so polite and eloquent for a kid your age! How old are you, and may I ask who’s calling?”
“I’m Tanaka Shimoya, and I just turned five. Now may I please speak to the nurse looking after him?”
“Okay, sweetheart. I’ll transfer you over.” The hold-music had a soothing effect for 30 seconds.
“This is Nurse Meyer. How may I help you.”
“Hi. This is Tanaka. Is Marcus Michael Shuttles the Third out of a coma yet? If so, how’s he acting?”
“I’m sorry kiddo, but there are rules at this hospital telling us to keep information about our patients a secret. It’s called a “confidentiality policy” but I don’t think you know that word, but basically, unless you’re a relative, I can’t tell you how he’s doing. Are you a little brother of his?”
“Eh, no, you could say I’m a kind of a distant cousin now, but yes, we are related in a certain way.”
“Well I’m afraid you’ll have to ask his parents to give us a release of information before you can get it from us, or you can ask them directly how he’s doing. Other than that, I can’t help you, kid.”
“Okay. Thanks anyway. Bye.” After clicking the hang-up button, Tanaka dialed Marc’s brother’s cellphone.
“Hello? And do I know anyone from this area code?” Chris answered.
“Hi. How’s Marc doing?”
Chris got startled at a little child’s voice, as no kid has a reason to call him. “Haha, well I’m glad you’re not a telemarketer. Who’s this, and how do you know my brother?”
“This is Tanaka Shimoya, and well, um, I… knew him from our local Boys & Girls club in Manhattan. He volunteered there every now and again, but I guess you didn’t know about it because he told me that he wants to keep his volunteering there a secret from his family. I saw his accident on the news, so that’s why I called.”
“You sound like you’ve GOTTA be the smartest kid there! Pretty cool. Anyway, my family and I just left the hospital. We’re now eating at Coach’s because it’s my birthday too. You see, the doctors told us that he’s going to be in a coma for quite some time, but based on his progress, he may wake up a month from now at the most. I heard that he died for a few seconds and they brought him back while he was still in the ambulance. He’s still pretty bad, but they stabilized him and he’ll recover sometime. Anyway, if you knew him in Manhattan, then where’s area code 518 and why are you there?”

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