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Giovanni groggily sat up in his wheelchair. He had fallen asleep again. He gripped the inner wheel as he pushed himself along the sterile hallways. The hallways were so familiar they appeared even in his dreams. Everywhere Giovanni looked, he could see uniformed ladies and professional-looking people in white coats. Through the open doors lined against the white walls, he could make out all his friends paying bridge, dozing off, chatting and taking medicine. For some reason, he had a knack for making friends with neighbors who were older than him. A lot older. The hospital he was staying in had elderly everywhere. Giovanni began to speed through the hallway, turning his head this way and that to look for his sweetheart. 

From his elderly friends to the young nurses to the neat young men with stethoscopes around their necks, he asked several people he recognised, ‘Anita?’

‘Anita, darling?’ 

He peered into the dining hall, the common room, the rooftop garden and the balcony. His love was nowhere to be found. Everyone he asked had responded with "no", accompanied with a patient smile, or combined with some kind of emotion. Giovanni couldn't understand what it was. Sadness? Pity?

He hoped Anita was safe from the explosion that had paralyzed him from the waist down. As soon as Giovanni regained his ability to run, he'd grab a rifle and join his comrades on the battlefield again. They had Nazis to stop. He has Anita to find, so help him God. It was what he told the nurses and his elderly friends. Then they would all look at him with the same expression he couldn't put his finger on. Pity? Bitterness? A combination of both? 

Giovanni rubbed his chin, deep in thought. He was astonished to feel some stubble. When was the last time he shaved? 

‘Could you give me a mirror and a razor?’ Giovanni once asked.

‘We’d love to help you.’ Some nurses volunteered to assist him, but they denied him a mirror.

Yet he didn't mind it. Perhaps he had gained a battle scar on his face no one wanted him to notice.

However, he never felt a scar when he rubbed his hands on his face. Strange, he thought. 

   An incident stood out in his mind. A new nurse had commented, ‘Your hair reminds me of a cloud.’ All of a sudden, the air was as tense as the aftermath of a gunshot, he remembered thinking. His other friends shot that nurse glares before abruptly changing the topic. It was considerate of them to not dwell on how the stress from the war had changed him, wrinkly hands included.

   Giovanni continued to speed down the halls in search of Anita. Just like he had done every day since he'd moved here.



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