My name is Deok-ta. I’m just an average medical student with no friends or free time. My only hobby is to study every day using the marinara technique: study for 25 minutes, marinate in my sorrows for 5 minutes, and repeat.
One day, I accidentally marinated for 7 minutes so I punished myself by going on a run. The light was taking too long at the crosswalk, so I jaywalked. Big mistake. I heard the blaring of horns and a loud screech before the world went dark.
I woke up on the streets of an unfamiliar world. A horse-drawn carriage clopped by on the cobblestone road, stopping at a wooden house with a thatched roof. The people walking around wore tunics and aproned dresses. Was this a dream?
A scream rang through the air. An elderly man had collapsed on the other side of the road. My medical instincts kicked in, and I rushed over. He was pulseless, in obvious cardiac arrest.
Placing my hands upon his chest, I began compressions. “First I was afraid…I was petrified…” Wait no. “Ah staying alive, staying alive. Ah staying -”
Before I could complete my vocal run, someone shoved me aside. I looked up and saw a circle of townspeople glaring at me.
“Get away from him!” they yelled.
“Get away! This man needs CPR!” I shooed them off and went mouth-to-mouth. A strange dark magic tendril appeared beneath my hands.
“Begone you crazy demon!” The townspeople were livid. I scrambled to my feet, and they chased me down the streets.
“You’re all buffoons!” I shouted as I ran.
Then the townspeople pulled out wands and started blasting me with magic.
“I deeply apologize for my insolence! Please spare me!”
My stamina was running low, and my lungs were burning too much for this to be a dream. Right when I was ready to give up, a random woman yanked me into her house before the townspeople rounded the corner.
I fell to my knees, gasping and glancing around. The woman’s house radiated color; beautiful paintings of vermillion and chartreuse adorned the walls. The portrait of an anxious-looking little witch sat on the table. The woman nudged me into a chair and sat next to me.
She said, “Who are you? You’re clearly not from here.”
“Sorry I only know English,” I replied, “but thanks for saving me.”
Smiling, the woman brandished two pencils and a stack of parchment. We exchanged a series of sketches to communicate. I saw that she was a painter and that this mysterious world operated on magic instead of science. Their traditional healers used potions, not CPR, which explains why everyone was so hostile towards me.
My indignation dissipated– perhaps I was the one in the wrong for performing mouth-to-mouth without explanation. Looking back, the townspeople weren’t buffoons for not understanding my methods. They were concerned about the health of a friend and couldn’t place their trust in someone who dismissed their pleas. The true buffoon…was I.
I returned to the scene a couple days later. The old man was still lying on the ground, pulseless. This time, I showed the townspeople a diagram of CPR and did a demonstration on a nearby child. They were skeptical, but I listened patiently to their concerns and gestured for them to give me a chance. I even purchased a potion to let them know that I acknowledged their ways.
They agreed, and I performed CPR. The same tendril from before came out of my hands. The man immediately leapt to his feet, fully revived. The town accepted me as a healer, and I went on to save many more lives. The old man even followed me around, never aging and making weird moans instead of talking. I took him on as a nurse.
A few decades passed by, during which I still did not learn the language. I did, however, learn to treat patients despite the barrier. All it took was a smile, eye contact, and a little – I mean kindness.
Featured Art by: Su Bin Hahn