I tried to be polite and not wrinkle my nose with distaste. I fought the urge not to grab the ridiculously small hankie from her hand and jam it down her throat while screaming “Cover your mouth!” I slunk deeper in my chair, buried my nose deeper in my book and tried not to breathe the contaminated air.
I could see her over the top of my book. She looked embarrassed and she mumbled an apology to those around her. As if we , the captive audience to her snufflings, could escape the confines of the tiny, waiting area. She coughed, a dainty dry sound like tearing cloth that would not stop. I pulled my feet under my chair.
Her solicitous husband went in search of a cup of water for her.
“She doesn’t need water, idiot!” I almost shouted at his retreating back. “She needs to be doused with bleach!”
He brought her a cup of water and tenderly helped her to drink it. She smiled at him and he smiled back, his eyes shining brightly at her, most likely from fever.
This weeble couple didn’t act like my weebles. Dad would have solicitously offered to massage Ma’s throat for her.
Two seats opened up in the far back of the waiting area and he helped his wife to the back of the room.
The kitty is not prone to give or take cuddles. He hops onto my chest and butts my chin with his head in a kitty greeting. He settles under my chin and extends a silky paw to caress my face. His purring rumble settles into a soft drone of “there, there.” Animals can sense things. He knows I’m dying from the Junta virus. The Junta virus Apple Annie infected me with.
I don’t have the strength to lift my head from the pillow. My face feels as if it is being crushed. I reach for a tissue and snort loudly. The kitty explodes from my chest in puff ball of black fur. On the floor he arches his back, gives me an emerald green stare and hisses at me before he slinks off to some hidey hole.
“Yeah? See who cleans out your liddahbox when I’m dead.”
I hope Himself remembers I would like a Viking funeral. A single flaming arrow arcing overhead buries itself in the folds of the death sail. The sail erupts in a ball of flame lighting the twilight sky. The current steers the burning death ship out to sea. Across the sky, the Valkyries, raise their voices in song and escort the soul of the warrior princess to Valhalla.
Another snort and explosion rips from me. I can feel all the intercostals, the muscles between my ribs, rip. There is a tearing between my shoulder blades. I see Apple Annie’s face floating in front of me. I crochet colorful curses in granny square patterns in every language I can think of including Klingon. Filthy p’tak!
I have filled up a wastebasket full of tissue. My nose is scrubbed raw.
Himself is going shopping and asks if he can bring me anything.
“Yed, could you ged me some Buffs?” I gasp.
I hold up a tissue. “Buffs. Da kind wid da lotion.”
“Oh, Puffs. I thought you were allergic to those.”
“I am, bud I don’t dink it will make much of a difference now.”
“Ok. Puffs. Anything else?”
I shake my head. “Buffs. Wid lotion. Nod wid Vicks.”
“The Vicks might make you feel better.”
“I’d radder die.”
I clutch the box of Puffs to my chest like the Holy Grail, and I again curse the sweet Apple Annie . I know she is Typhoid Mary. She blows in spreading her disease and then happily prances off to bingo.
Day Six. I still feel like….punk. My nose is still stuffy, but thank to the Puffs it’s not raw anymore. I have gone through a box and a half of Puffs. I’m hoarding them. Using them only if I absolutely have to. There seems no end in sight to this Junta virus. I start to feel better and then crash on the sofa for hours on end. An alarm alerts me to drag my butt to the car and pick the Young One up from school. Once home, I retreat to my cave.
I haven’t eaten much through the week other than tea and toasted bagels. I’ve gone through two liters of ginger ale, a carton of orange juice, a bottle of white grape juice, and endless cups of tea. If I’m not wheezing into my Puffs, I’m in the bathroom weeing. After all this loss of fluid, and feeling like a balloon head, there had better be some significant weight loss to make this all worth it.
I think of Apple Annie again. The filthy p’tak!