They lived two completely different lives – he was poor, yet carefree; she was rich, yet stuck in this prison of a hospital.
However, these two contrasting people shared one similar thing – they wanted someone to love. And who was that someone? Even they themselves didn't know.
She wandered. Even with this blasted IV hooked up to her, she wandered.
This hospital was like a cage. It trapped her behind metal bars. The world out there seemed so inviting, so beautiful. Yet, why was she stuck in this blasted place?
She hated to admit it, but she was lonely.
And when lonely, people do some crazy things.
She blew flippantly at the stray strand blinding her right eye temporarily. It was autumn – the leaves rustled with the slight breeze. She had probably cracked a thousand dry leaves on the leafy road she was walking on.
And she got that idea, that would probably save her life.
She was going to make her wish come true.
He looked at the meagre portion of near-stale bread on his plastic plate. Goodness, was that even edible? He took a nibble, and spit that out.
Blast it, breakfast was impossible.
He gulped down a bottle of water, refilled it from the sink, and announced in his plain white tee and shorts, "I'm going out!"
Problem was, he didn't know where to. Anywhere?
Anywhere turned out to be the park. On a hot, Saturday morning in autumn.
"Teddy bear?" Was he hallucinating, or was that really-
Oh, it was.
"Macho man!" he pulled his long-time-no-see best friend into an embrace.
As they found a small café, they caught up over ice cream. Eventually, their metal chairs scraped against the granite as they completed the final step of catching up – jogging like the old times.
They found themselves along the same route as our female protagonist soon after, their shoes cracking even more leaves on the ground.
"Let's take a break," his best friend suggested, pointing to a nearby bench.
Both panting and grinning hard, they flopped onto the bench.
Chugging down water at the speed of light, he only realised a parcel beside him when he accidentally knocked it down. (How was he to know, it blended with the bench perfectly.)
He picked it up, the brown parcel with the words 'FRAGILE' and 'To anyone' scribbled on it.
Well, he could count as 'anyone', couldn't he?
He messily tore open the parcel, and in its beauty, there it was. A pretty, pink crane. His best friend still making himself bloated, he slipped the crane in his messenger bag.
"Let's go," he announced, his best friend following.
That crane was the start of something.
Why yes, it was her who placed that parcel there. A stack of origami paper she'd asked for was beside her on her deskside table, as her fingers skilfully folded another paper crane. And she placed that paper crane in another parcel.
After all, if she made a thousand paper cranes, her wish would come true, wouldn't it?
She would find someone.
And that was all that mattered.
Eventually, he began coming back, finding sometimes, crates of cranes.
He kept them all – counting all of them became his hobby. They came in all shapes and sizes, all different colours.
Even he himself did not understand why he kept those things.
They were just cranes. So what was the significance?
Nine-hundred and ninety-nine cranes.
Just one more…
He went back. And this time, he didn't find a parcel. But he found a girl.
A girl, with the same coloured crane he first got. A girl, sitting on that exact same bench. A girl, who looked oddly, pretty. A girl, he was about to go up to.
"Um, hi?" Great, what an excellent first impression he gave.
"Hi." With outstretched hands, she handed him the last crane. "Now, my wish will come true." He accepted the crane. "Thank you for accepting those cranes."
"How did you know?"
"I just do."
This girl…there was an odd aura surrounding her. Something morbid, yet filled with hope.
Well, there was something he didn't know.
The fact that someone accepted her cranes was a huge encouragement. Those cranes were windows. Windows that gave her hope. Windows that gave her an unexplainable sense of joy. Windows that helped her live another day.
He gave her hope. That boy, she saw him taking the paper crane from the very first day.
As she saw him come back, she saw his sincerity. And unknowingly, she fell in love with that sincerity.
He gave her hope.
That hope that sustained her through her chemotherapy, that hope that sustained her when she went to replace her bone marrow.
But sadly, that hope was slowly dying out.
She would get her wish, wouldn't she?
For some reason, she knew she was going to die that day.
And so, her thousandth and first crane was created.
She sat at that bench, again. She waited, again. And he came, again. And he was surprised, again.
She presented him with another crane. "Take it."
"Why do you make cranes?" It was an innocent enough question, but it made her almost tear up.
"It's just…a hobby." And with that, she fled. With the blasted IV following.
It was going to be her last answer, to the last question she ever heard.
"Why do you make those cranes?" her nurse asked, setting down an apple by her table, next to her origami paper.
"It's more than just a hobby," she explained, croaking. "It's my way of telling him I love him."
And she closed her eyes, as the cancer spread to her heart, slowly killing her.
Her time was up.
The nurse ran. She ran, for she knew she was doing her a favour.
She knew she'd see the boy. And she did.
"Read the cranes. Open them up."
And with that, she was gone.
He took out the last crane she gave him.
In her messy penmanship, there it was, in ink and paper. 'I love you.'
He went home, and unfolded each and every single one of the cranes she gave him. And he smiled.
Random anecdotes and drawings covered the first few. The middle few were descriptions of her days. And the last few…they all contained the same 'I love you's.
Did he love her too?
He put down a crate of a thousand and two paper cranes by her grave.