Chapter 35 - Win

“She won’t eat all day!” Quin spoke to Bui Yee with anxiety over the long-distance phone line with one hand while carrying her crying baby with the other.  “I tried feeding her, but she spits everything back out.”

Quin listened attentively to something Bui Yee was saying.  Then she felt her daughter’s forehead.  “No, she doesn’t have a fever.  But she won’t sleep either.”  Then she pressed the speaker phone on so she could carry her almost 3 month-old daughter with both arms.

“She started crying again when you guys called.  She’s been on and off like this the whole day.”  Quin tried cradling the baby against her bosom and was cooing her to stop crying, but nothing seemed to do the trick.

“When did she start acting like this?”  Mr. Mo’s voice came across the phone and the baby suddenly stopped crying.

“Since Fei got off the phone this morning.  As soon as his face disappeared from the computer screen, she started bawling.”  Quin noticed her daughter stopped crying when her father’s voice came through the speaker phone.  She felt hopeful.  “She stopped crying.  You guys keep talking.”

“Are you nagging her too much?”  Bui Yee teased.

“Yeah, she’s not even three months old yet, you know.  You have to take it easy.”  Her dad added jovially.

Then the baby started crying again and Quin tried desperately to soothe her daughter again.  “See, she is crying again and I didn’t even do anything.”

There was a beeping sound on the phone and Quin was certain it was Fei calling.  “I got a call waiting on the line.  Just wait!  I think it’s Fei.  Let me press the conference call button.”  When Quin pressed the button, her daughter was still bawling aloud.
“Hey, is that my baby girl crying?  It’s alright!  Daddy will be home soon, you don’t have to cry!”

“Fei, we’re on conference call with Dad and Bui Yee!”

Fei greeted his father-in-law and Bui Yee and noticed his daughter stopped crying.  “Quin, why is Lemon-B still up?  I thought it’s her nap time.”  Fei asked.

“Maybe she’s been waiting for your call.  I don’t hear her crying anymore.”  Bui Yee said.  “We’ve been on the phone with Quin for nearly half an hour and she hasn’t stopped crying until now.”

Fei chuckled into the phone.  “Well, she knows her Daddy’s voice!”

Quin cuddled her daughter close to the speaker phone so she could hear Fei.  “Say Hi Daddy!  Lemon-B, say Hello Daddy!”

A few hours later, at around 3 am in the morning, Quin woke and found her daughter having trouble breathing.  The baby was wheezing and remained listless lying next to her mother on the bed.  When Quin picked her daughter up, her body was burning hot.  She called the emergency number immediately.  When she was waiting for the ambulance to come, she called Fei and woke him up in the early hours of the morning in New York.

Fei picked up the call with a sleepy voice.  “That’s okay, I was about to get up anyways.  We have an 8:30 meeting at the World Trade Centre this morning.”  But when he heard Quin’s anxious voice and what she was telling him, he woke up instantly.  “What?  Lemon-B is running a fever?!”

He listened attentively as Quin told him what was happening.  “I will wash up now and get dressed.  Call me when you are done with the ambulance attendants!”  Then he ended the call. 

Half an hour later, Fei was cleaned up, dressed and ready to head to the restaurant for breakfast.  But he was waiting for Quin’s call to make sure his daughter was okay.  When she didn’t call, he decided to call her instead.

“Why didn’t you call me?!”  That was the first thing he said when Quin picked up the phone.  He voiced his frustration but didn’t hear the concern in his wife’s voice.  “You’re heading to Seattle General?  I didn’t think it was that serious.  Did you expose her to the cold and got her sick?”

“No, she was sound asleep when I checked on her at 2 in the morning.  I was next to her all night.”

Fei had gone back to being his old self again.  “Are you looking after her properly?  Do you know how to be a mother?! How can you not know she was having such a high fever?”

“Tsui Fei!” Quin was agitated by his statement and raised her voice.  “She is as much my daughter as she is yours!”  As she watched the nurses in the medical center wrapping her daughter up in a blanket and placing the oxygen mask on her baby, her heart sank to the pit of her stomach.  Her knees grew weak.  One of the nurses signaled to her that they were ready to move the infant to the air ambulance that would take them to Seattle General Hospital.  “I got to go now.  They are taking her to the air ambulance right now.”  She was still irritated with him when she pressed End on her cell.
Fei went downstairs to the restaurant where his team was having breakfast.  He approached them and asked if it was okay to postpone the meeting.  He told them that his daughter had gone into The Emergency and he would catch a cab to the meeting place once he heard from his wife.  Then his supervisor made a call and told the other party to meet at 10 am instead.

After breakfast, Fei went back to his room to wait for Quin’s call again.  He wished he had sent her the phone that was able to transmit video instantly.  After calming himself down, he realized he did sound rather harsh to her on the phone earlier.  He tried calling her but her cell was not available.  He figured it was hospital’s rules to turn off all cellular devices.

When he finally got a call from Quin, the first thing he did was apologized to her.  When she responded with gentleness, he knew she did not count it against him.  “Thanks for forgiving me.”

“You need to thank Aleiya’s Grandma for the Shout It Out with Love does not keep record of wrong card.”  Quin smiled into her phone.

“And also for the Shout It Out with Love is patience.”  Fei smiled as well.

By the time Fei finished talking with Quin, it was shortly after 8:00 in the morning.  He figured it would take him more than two hours to get to the World Trade Center (WTC) if he were to catch a cab from the hotel now.  That was New York traffic.  So he decided to catch the taxi to the nearest Subway Station instead.   He was about 5 minutes away from the meeting place when he decided stop by a street vendor to buy a cup of coffee.  After reading a text message from Quin telling him that their daughter’s fever was gone and that she was now being moved to Intensive Care, he placed his cell phone on the vender counter was about to take out his wallet to pay for the coffee.  Right at that moment, he heard a loud roaring sound and lifted his head and saw the bottom of a jumbo jet flew over him.  He had never seen a jet so close above him before, it almost looked like an object from outer space.  He had to cover his ears but his eyes followed the plane as it flew right into one of the tallest building in New York.
“What the …..?!”  Fei wasn’t the only one who asked that question at that instant and he wasn’t the only one who witnessed the horrific scene.  He wasn’t the only one who saw the plane exploding as it hit the WTC North Tower at 8:46 am on what started as a fine Tuesday late summer morning on September 11, 2001.  It was so surreal to Fei’s human eyes that his brain wasn’t able to register what just happened.  His world suddenly became still as he felt a strong wave of air impacted him and he thought perhaps time had suddenly stood still for at least 10 seconds, yet it felt like eternity.  Then suddenly, he saw debris flying in the air towards him and human screams were heard all around him.  Then earthly time returned and he saw people scrambling to get away from the flying debris.

He turned and grabbed the older man who was tending the vender.  “Forget about the coffee.  Let’s get out of here now!”

Just as they were about to turn and run, Fei saw a little boy and his mother being pushed down by an approaching crowd.  Seeing that they were about to be trampled over, he jolted forward to grab the little boy up into his arms.  The older man took one last glance of Fei as he fell to the floor and saw his wallet falling out of his back pocket.  He tried to fight against the crowd to get back to Fei but it was too late.  Fei had disappeared among the sea of running pedestrians.

When Fei stood up and turned around, the little boy was crying out for his mother but Fei couldn’t see her as his view was blocked by the oncoming streams of running people.  Looking frantically for a sign of the toddler’s mother while the child was screaming in his ear, he spotted an arm reaching out from the ground.  He fought through the crowd to get to her and finally helped her up.  But she was not able to walk as her right leg was badly dislocated by being trampled over by the crowd that had gone before them.

Debris were still falling around them while Fei tried to help the limping woman and her son get to a safer ground that was nowhere in sight at that moment.  Fei looked ahead and saw a whole sea of people running somewhere.  As he searched desperately for a quicker way to get to somewhere safe, a voice inside him told him to take the narrow path.  He turned looking at all directions and saw a few people running towards his right.  However, the majority of the crowds were heading towards the left.  He decided to listen to his inner voice and led the limping woman down the path less traveled while carrying her son in his other arm.  Just as they turned the corner, they saw another loud roaring engine of a jet plane and minutes later, they were covered up by debris and that was when Fei’s world turned into complete darkness.

Win by Brian McKnight