Short Story Saturday: Terribly, Terribly Ill

Terribly, Terribly Ill

“I’m coming down with a cold. It’s really serious. My eyes are itchy. My throat is sore. I can’t stop coughing and sneezing. And I keep burping. That’s always a sign that I’m sick. I’m really sick here.”

“I haven’t heard you cough once.”

“I coughed yesterday.”

“Once?”

“No…three times.”

I raised my eyebrows. We’d spent most of the day together. “Oh, really?” Nothing in the tone of voice suggested belief or sympathy.

“Yes. Three times. Three times in quick succession. It was a coughing FIT really,” he moaned. “Sorry, I didn’t get it on tape! And then the kitty came into our bedroom this morning sounding like a river rat and jolted me out of sleep. Plus, you were up early making noise, probably around 4:00, even though you had your alarm set for later because you don’t have to go in to work until 8:00.” He sigh reproachfully, as if all the world had indeed unfairly turned against him.

“I woke up at 4:00 with a stomachache. I had horrible diarrhea. My temperature is up, too. That’s why I was awake.” The coughing “fit” wasn’t garnering much sympathy this morning.

“Oh,” he paused, momentarily thrown off course, but direction was rapidly regained. “See!?! We’re BOTH sick. I made the ultimate sacrifice the other day when I went over to your parents house to make tea for them, the ultimate sacrifice. I just wanted to make sure they were doing okay.”

“I think you were starting to feel a bit under the weather and you went over there so you’d have a dramatic, heroic excuse for not doing anything later in the week!” I teased. “Although that WAS nice of you and they really did appreciate it. Dad said he felt quite pampered.”

He grinned sheepishly. “I really don’t feel well.” He sat forward in the rocking chair and held his head in his hands.

“I’m sorry, Sweet. At least you can get some rest today.”

“Not really. I have to go to G–‘s to pay the electric bill.”

I suppressed a grin. “Well, that won’t take too much time. You’ll still have plenty of down time, I’d imagine.”

“I don’t know. I’ll have to take those postcards to K- at some point, too. I’ve got a few things I need to do today.”

It just so happens that we are short-staffed at work this week. I’ve been filling in for my supervisor, skipping lunch and breaks and working like crazy to keep things running smoothly in both office and lab. I’m glad T- gets to take time off, but I’ll sure be glad when she’s back on Monday. This isn’t exactly the week to earn my sympathy by stating that your day will be busy because of a 30 minute (and that’s a generous estimate) load of things which need to get done. That’s the equivalent of the lunch break I won’t be taking this afternoon. I sigh and decide to keep my mouth shut.

“What is it? Something’s wrong. You’re not acting normal here, Boss.”

“Everything’s just thrown off this week.” I left it at that.

“I know. I’ve been waiting for WEEKS for everything to go back to normal. Two more days. Just two more days, then the weekend will be here.”

“Yeah.” I turned back to my notebook and Dave paced back and forth across the house. I heard him pause in the kitchen. A pan rattled, water whooshed from the faucet, and metal ticked twice against the smooth stovetop. A knob clicked. He was brewing tea. Footsteps again, before he joined me in the living room. “Are you sure you’re okay?”

“Yeah, the before work hours are usually my writing time, so I’m just focused in on that. That’s all.”

“It’s odd that these are the before work hours,” he said.

I agreed. I felt like his presence was disrupting my tiny pocket of alone time, but in reality, my own crazy schedule was to blame, totally throwing off the balance of the day. Dave and I are both creatures of habit, I’m discovering. We both love excitement, but when we have plans set in our minds, neither of us take exceptionally well to sudden changes. Today was no different. I turned back to scripting away at my lined paper and Dave settled in at the computer. Two more days. (1/2/14)

(Originally posted on my old blog, Interim Arts, on June 7, 2014)

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