May drew her breath in for so long she almost suffocated. The dreary footsteps of the nurse plodded closer and closer to her room, then stopped. There. Now was the time for action.
She'd stayed up almost the whole night stringing together the best escape plan her mind could concoct, drawing deep from her years of Girl Guiding and Kim Possible viewings. Every possible scenario was already backed up, every question readied with a prepared answer. It had to work.
"Where's my daughter?" May tried her best to sound anxious. "She's not around!"
"What?" the unsuspecting nurse peered at the empty bed and frowned. "Maybe she's in the toilet."
"No she's not! Don't you think I would have checked?"
"Hold on for a minute," she dialled the room phone. "Hello, Doris? Yes, I'm calling from 262B. Did anyone move...erm, May Leong See Mei?"
She nodded grimly and hung up. "She doesn't have any appointments scheduled...but don't worry, we'll have her back as soon as possible."
"You better," May was very much tempted to kick up a fuss like any doting parent would, but realised she didn't have time. "I'll be back in the afternoon."
The perplexed nurse nodded.
It worked perfectly! May couldn't help smiling to herself as she hurried to the nearest elevator, all the while making sure that her meticulously pieced blanket-cum-hospital-gown outfit didn't fall apart and make the nurses escort her back. And as much as she wanted to just sprint all the way down the stairs, rationality made her think otherwise. She couldn't risk not acting normal.
It had to be the longest elevator trip she ever took. Bing! An elderly couple stepped in, chatting animatedly about some magical sea cucumber paste which - if they were to be believed - could cure anything. Bing! The number 1 had barely changed into G when in came a group of doctors in the midst of their morning pleasantries. One of them happened to be May's doctor.
"Hi, Mrs. Leong," he greeted her.
"Oh, hi." The less said the better.
"Visiting your daughter?"
Bing! At long last they reached the ground floor. "Yah." she uttered weakly and exited with an increasingly fragile calmness.
Don't look at anyone. Don't look at anyone.
The sliding doors parted, letting in a cacophony of outside noises. They weren't really noises, but even the sound of traffic lights changing would seem thumping after days in hospital sterility.
Either way, she was out of the hospital. Now to hitch a ride back to school.