(Getting to the controversial heart of the story)
He gave the kid a hand out of the taxi; his mom followed out and lead him, slowly, limping slightly, to the hospital gate. He paid the driver and fell in beside them.
His cousin's stomach hurt; it would hurt repeatedly throughout the year on occasions of stress or excitement or having had a heavy meal, and sometimes for no discernible reason at all.
It was a condition he had had since he was eight. Now, twelve years later, it still plagued him. It was the smoking that made it worse, the kid's mother insisted.
Usually, on severe bouts of the pain, his medications sufficed. Once in a while, however, he would have the twisting, tearing serpent in his stomach acting up for several days nonstop.
It was then that he would have to be taken to the hospital for a quick checkup, to rule out other possible medical causes and have a dose of a painkiller more powerful for a bit of relief.
He led his aunt and cousin past the gate, through the side entrance away from the trolleyed cacophony of the ambulance access, and up to the reception desk.
He stood close as the nurses took the kid's blood, set him up for an X-ray and ultrasound; he could manage to move around steadily by himself by then.
All results came back negative; it was the old genetic condition that was the culprit like always. Hardly good news, but at least no worse.
It all took 2 hours.
There were only two computers available for the staff to pull up a patient's results, and one of them was broken, so a backlog of wheelchairs, trolleys topped with passed out, agitated,
or incoherently mumbling patients, people on their feet, and double that number in relatives had accrued in the waiting area and throughout the emergency department.
The pain had started to bore into his bowels again.
He still accompanied them, as a resident and a nurse found his cousin a bed and hung a solution with the medicine hooked up to his vein.
The kid lay on his side, curled into a ball to shore up and focus the drill grinding and stabbing chaotically at his insides onto a single point.
His mother sat at the foot of the bed, rubbing her knee. She hadn't looked at all concerned; just stoic, getting on with it, even smiling and chatty.
'I've got bad knees, you see; it's the osteoarthritis.' She flicked her face towards her son, gesturing. 'That's all the good he does to me. It's actually me who's ill right now not him.
You might see the state he's in and think he's the sick one, but no, it's me.'
He looked past her, at the kid who had had severe colicky pain for six days, eaten little, vomited, and slept terribly, if at all, and again at the woman with no current medical emergencies,
with manageable joint pain, and quite manageable anxiety (counterpointed, in fact, with a not so admirably hidden frustration) and shook his head. 'I'm positive he's the sick one.
' He even pointed to the dripping infusion.
'No, no, it's me. It's been me everytime his condition flared all these years.'
He was reminded of a friend of his whose parents hated his depression, not because it caused him misery,
but for how his newfound unsmiling sad nature was a gloomy affliction upon them that they just didn't appreciate or need.
"When are you going to be normal again and save us the downcast?" was the standard pressuring question.
She had been the one who called to ask him for help carrying her son to the hospital. But since the kid "was never sick", his job there was done.
Still, for his own moral scruple, he made sure the medicine was going to right his cousin's condition, bid the kid farewell, and took his leave.
'A lot of the time I find myself thinking it was an uncalculated mistake of medicine to enable humans to live to a ripe old age, and have ourselves dementia-rusted minds still ruling the world.
We were not built as a species to survive well beyond middle age and still arrogantly diffuse the maladous self-destruction mechanisms that cry for our natural end.
And those old people still consume, still preserve and enforce their own narrative, so children, generation after inheriting generation,
are forever cloaked in the mistakes and wrong choices and inadequacies of the elders, instead of starting afresh.
'We've always lived the narrative of adults,
back from a time when kids were grabbed and garbed and made squires or soldiers before they were even ten so that they could be trooped off to fight in some old man's war,
up till now when the grudges and enmities between tribes and countries and religions have to be downloaded anew onto each new pure set of young minds,
that they may carry on the corrupt message of hateful, jealous, and xenophobic predecessors.
Imagine that each generation along the way, children may have had the chance to make fewer enemies or usher in local or world peace, or in the worst case,
end a tens-of-years-running war in order to have a shorter, more modern, and more pressing conflict. All possible if not for the indoctrinated narrative.
'The self-centered narrative of an individual adult is like a video game in which they are the only real, conscious player, while the rest are non-player characters (NPC).
From that viewpoint, you can't really (and it doesn't make sense to) empathize with an NPC, as they are just there to affect or guide or serve your quest in some way.
You (the adult) can still empathize with how they make you feel, however; with how horrified you were at a particularly convincing sight of blood and gore,
how sad someone's backstory or pitiful state made you, and how joyous a display of talent and creativity felt to watch.
(It's analogous to condemning two football teams to keep playing for as long as one pleased for no pay if one had that power, which is partly what television channels achieved,
except it wouldn't have been possible without taking into consideration the pay and recovery time and logistics requirements for every team--all matters that are, coming back to the point,
irrelevant from the point of view and the scope of the viewer's empathy, who is just tuning in for his or her own enjoyment)
'Children are being begotten as NPCs too, sometimes (in the old contraceptionless days) as the unfortunate byproduct of taking one's pleasure from the opposite sex, but also in other cases,
the fortunate spawning of many sons to strengthen one's bloodline, clan, and legacy.
Mostly, in the benign days of every era old and new, adults just want offspring to help them with chores and earning a living, to fill their halls and apartments with some noise and laughter,
and to serve them as they grow old and feeble. All simple wishes that can be sympathized with, only if the granters were real unthinking, unmain human NPCs.
For all those wishes are disregarding and discarding of the children's subjective narrative, own wishes, and freedom of will.
Under this perspective, it's finally clear why it's a reprehensible shock when a child tells the main player parents that he or she "wants to be or do something else".
'It's now clear why an adult's child at the hospital isn't actually suffering, but the adult is the one suffering for watching them suffer,
and it's further comprehensible how a daughter with a mood disorder, depression say, becomes the parent's affliction, not the afflicted.
'Note how they have solidified that self-serving narrative with religion and custom and bad totalitarian philosophy. Children must obey. Respect your elders. Don't talk back. Father knows best.
Disobedience will earn you a place in hell.
And the most pernicious of them all, repay them in their later years for keeping you alive while young and weak! As though it had all been an insurance.
Or as though you had forced their hand into birthing you instead of them just acting on their genes' call for progeny. Nonsense.
If we really wanted to repay the frail demented old in kind we would yell at and beat them and break their wills and have them do and behave as we saw fit.
But no, suddenly when it's not them doing all those atrocious things to the more frail, helpless young, it's wrong.
If you accept that, notice how you're adopting your place in their narrative like a good NPC.
'Children don't owe them anything and it's ridiculous to suggest otherwise.
Someone buying a car always weighs their options, takes full responsibility for their decision, cares for the car, cleans it, maintains it, changes its gas.
Can you really suggest any less care at a minimum is due a living breathing human child? Repay you for feeding them and cleaning their waste?
What the hell did you expect, that you were "buying" a child to let it die?! And you're further not letting it die out of your own genes-interest, not a genuine self-effacing altruism.
'I know this raises a lot of red flags for moral degeneration and ungratefulness.
I ask you, how was it morally decent of them to create a warring world for millennia and force our hands into nurturing the carnage?
It never was, but they were blind to those red flags soaked with blood.
So we have a moral decision to make, one that our youth forebears either ignored or never got the chance to see clearly when they grew up; either be like them,
or end the reverberating status-quo, sacrificing in the process our promised privileges as oppressive adults for a more ethical immediate empowerment in the present.
'The narrative of a 50 year old plus should not be relevant or dominant in the 30-40 years of prime age the younger generation present at that time has available to enjoy.
'This is what we will be doing, shifting the narrative from the self-centered viewpoint of every elder to accommodate the lives of the young,
by solving the issue of jobs and dismantling that old subservient system of social hierarchy.
'That is my premise.'
Read it full (11500 words) on Patreon, I'll also post new stories there. Link in description.