Holiday
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"A holiday?"

Aquamarine's eyes widened. It was the first in weeks that her eyes didn't bear any exhaustion.

"It's a project for staff welfare. It's a plan to give employees who postponed their holidays for a long time, at least three times. Of course, it will be a paid leave in compensation of working." The woman sitting on the other side of the table said in a blank voice, filing her fingernails.

"But I don't want to go."

"You can come to work. But officially, you will be on vacation, and I don't recommend wasting your holiday like that."

"I have nowhere to stay. Do I have to be stuck in my quarters during vacation?"

The woman moved her eyes from her nails to Aquamarine's eyes.

"Parents?"

"Both passed away."

"Hometown?"

"I know nobody there."

The woman let out a sigh and crossed her arms. She wanted to recommend a getaway location if she could, but she was well aware that she couldn't.

However, the title of Foundation administration office was not for nothing.

There was a knock on the office door.

"I was expecting as such, so I called someone." She said. "Come in."

"Excuse meee." Another woman entered through the door.

Her hair and iris was deep indigo. Several strands of hair above her head was an eyecatcher. She was dressed in a typical researcher's outfit, but her appearance was of much potential. She had the eyes of a joyful office lady waiting for an imminent holiday.

"I am researcher Jso, from Site-27." She told the staggered Aquamarine. Actually, she herself did not know if this would help her or not. "She'll serve as a guide to aid you since you have nowhere to go."


Aquamarine was visiting her colleague at the ER.

Either the ER or the Medical room was busy, so they were talkative about the upcoming holiday tomorrow.

Just before they returned to position, an alarm went off in the entire base. Mass scale containment failure, multiple dangerous instances escaped, all medical personnel gather at ER and prepare for emergency operation. Aquamarine was already on-site, so she was able to partake in the first surgery.

But when she saw who was lying on the hospital bed, her thought process stopped.

It was her brother, all bloody.


AHHHH!!!!

Aquamarine woke up screaming. It was the same nightmare again. Several months passed since the incident, but she just cannot forget that day. She thought of countless 'what if's after then. What if she did not go to ER? What if she paid a visit to her brother? What if that day…

…ZZZ…ZZZ…ZZZ…

She looked down at the sound of faint breathing. Jso was sleeping on the floor beside the bed. She remembered that she invited her to her room, as she was about to pack for tomorrow, but Jso was from another site and had nowhere to stay.

She must have screamed in her dreams since Jso's asleep.

Aquamarine crouched into a ball and looked down at Jso. Just like her first impression, she looked as if she had no worries in the world.


"Ms Marine? Aquamarine?"

Aquamarine woke up to the voice calling her. A wide smile filled her sight.

"Do you regularly sleep like that?"

Like what? She then saw her knees upright. Oh, I must have slept crouching.

"I took a shower first. You do too. Let's get out there as soon as possible."

Aquamarine pushed Jso aside and wobbled towards the shower room. Jso looked at her, her head tilted.


Two women walked across the parking lot. Both were wearing regular clothing instead of a lab coat.
Jso was wearing an ivory turtle-neck, jeans and a long brown coat. Aquamarine was wearing tracksuit bottoms, a hoodie and a sleeveless padded overcoat.

They unloaded their luggage in Jso's car. The luggage was heavier than they thought, but Aquamarine didn't seem to mind. She was told they were headed to a ski resort near Jso's hometown.

"Would you mind going somewhere before we head to our stay?" Jso, on the driver's seat, asked Aquamarine sitting on the passenger's seat.

"No…" Aquamarine answered faintly, eyes closed.

"Heh, aren't you asking where we're going?"

"Where are we going to?" Aquamarine blankly asked, with her eyes still closed.

"To my parent's place. I should visit them." Jso said delightfully.

Aquamarine stared at her, annoyed as a mischievous grin filled Jso's face. Aquamarine felt repulsed by her unfathomable naïve smile.

"Then I'll stay in the car while you do so."

Aquamarine heard a chuckle to her left ear. "So be it. Then, let's go!"

She suddenly felt tired. "Let me drowse for a moment."

"You must be tired after sleeping like that. I'll wake you up when we arrive."

She succumbs to Hypnos, hoping not to be entangled again.


Trance awaits after letting go of thinking.

I don't know if this is the proper expression, but my friends tell me that I operated like someone in a trance.

I felt like it. Once I started my brother's surgery, nothing else was in my mind except the urge to revive the person in front of me. I even forgot he was my own brother.

I have never been so concentrated in my career. One of my friends quit, frightened by this. Did I look that possessed? However, an operator halting surgery also meant there was no hope.

I stopped as my friend grabbed my arm. The ECG line was flat, and I didn't even know if tears ran on my face or if it already dried up.

I collapsed. After removing some equipment from my brother's body and pulling the blanket over his face, my friend put her hand on me, lost for words.

I told her to bring the subsequent patients. She asked back, but I stressed it again. She hesitated, but I insisted. She had to pull in another bed to the operating theatre.

After it was over, I was forced to send my friend on holiday, alone.


Aquamarine silently opened her eyes.

The car was parked on the shoulder of a national road. Snowflakes flew about. She looked at the snowflakes swirling around the passenger seat window, feeling comforted for the first time since then. Snow does something magical to the human mind to relieve it.

She looked to the passenger seat, comforted. She expected Jso to be mindlessly staring at the snow.

But she wasn't there.

She felt numb again. Then she saw a blue-haired woman climbing the mountain.

Aquamarine followed her out, frustrated.

"Jso!"

Jso turned back, smiling.

"You said you'd be in the car, yes?"

"Huh?"

"Since you're awake, let's go together. I never showed my parents people from work."

Aquamarine followed her, still confused. Then she remembered what Jso said.

'To my parent's place.'

She didn't say 'home'.


"Mommy~ Daddy~."

Jso tossed herself onto the snow between the two graves.

"I'm here, with my colleague! I see the grass is mowed. Did the town uncle do it?"

Aquamarine watched Jso silently. She couldn't dare let out a word. However, Jso was so bright compared to Aquamarine's hesitance.

Jso pulled out some nuts and a bottle of liquor. She tossed the nuts on the gravestone and poured the liquor evenly around the grave. After that, she bowed to times in front of it. Aquamarine followed.


"I come here every holiday."

Jso said, squeezed between the two graves. It looked like a child hugged by her parents. Aquamarine listened to her, crouched like how she slept last night.

"I was too busy to contact them, so I have to visit them on holiday."

"'Contact'? So, they were alive when you were hired."

"Yes, they passed away while I was working. I didn't even make it to the funeral."

"The funeral?"

"I was too busy. It doesn't feel good that I couldn't show proper manners, but this job was too much for me to leave."

Aquamarine stared with discomfort. Jso just chuckled.

"What about the grave?"

"The town uncle did the funeral and burial for them. He also told me never return to the visit again."

"Never return?"

"He said they'll beat me up hard… Hehe…"

Jso scratched her head awkwardly.

"It doesn't matter anymore. My parents are here now. It's not like they disappeared. They'll always be here."

Her eyes and mouth were still smiling while saying such a saddening story. Aquamarine felt a twitch from this woman's strange delightfulness - she wasn't sure if this was contamination or amusement. Her oddity had makes one flutter. How quaint.

Jso dusted off her pants, stood up and stretched her arms.

"I'm going, mom, pop. I called the uncle, so he'll clean it up for you. Help yourselves till then!"

Aquamarine stood up too. She was unsure if she felt lighter or heavier or if her gaping wounds will heal or worsen. But following this unpredictable woman was an interesting task.

It would be nothing of a fundamental solution, but it would do something to brighten her mood up a bit.

The two looked at each other in the car. Aquamarine smiled brightly at Jso, as the car took off into the snow.

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