Thank you so much for the prompt, anon! Hope you like it! :)
I groan into the the pillow, scrunching it to my face from under me, not lifting my head nor opening my eyes. It’s bright; too bright, even through my eyelids. And my head feels like lead, and something bashes down on it from the outside, something hard and invisible, but ringing a pulse with each hit.
I roll over, with effort, and still refuse to open my eyes. I’m so tired. I’m never leaving the wondrous cocoon of blankets, ever. I shiver, and pull them to my chin, burrowing in tighter, my eyes growing heavier again and I welcome the depths of the darkness that pulls me under.
When I wake again, it hits me. I can’t breathe. My face hurts, my eyes reduced to slits. When I go to sit up, my arms feel as though they are merely feathers, collapsing under my weight, and my throat burns like I’m on my fortieth shot of straight, cheap, paint stripping vodka.
I’m sick. No no no no no no no. I can’t be sick!
I moan again, though I’m not sure if it’s from annoyance that of course I would be ill now, or from how shitty I actually feel. I’ve had the flu before, I’m pretty sure it’s on par with that, and that was pretty fucking terrible.
“Finally awake are you?”
Josh laughs as he comes into the bedroom at my squinting at him from behind the quilt. He’s only in his shorts, his tee bunched in his fist, half a bottle of water in hand and his hair sweaty from his run.
“H…” My voice dies before it passes my lips, already lost to the raspy wheeze I have instead. I cough, but it only burns more, and causes another twenty seconds of spluttering and barking. Even then, my voice is barely above a whisper. “Hey.”
His eyes soften and his mouth gapes a little, before he sits on the bed, sliding closer to me. His hand reaches my forehead just as I am stuffing the bed covers back around me with a shiver, having been nudged out of place slightly from his weight. “Jesus, Jen,” he presses his palm gently to my head, his face concerned. “Your burning up, bad.”
“I’m fine,” I mumble, my voice sounding like a forty year old chain smoking man wearing a peg on his nose.
Josh scoffs as he rises. “Sure you are. You look like death warmed up, it’s a fucking wonder I can make you out from the sheets you’re that pale! I’m getting you some Tylenol and you’re staying in bed until I run you a bath.”
He’s out the door before I can protest again, and just as well, because there’s no way I’d win a fight to leave this bed; I’m losing it to my own body right now anyway.
I’m fine, I tell myself as he bangs around downstairs. I’m fine, I tell myself as a wave of nausea crashes over me. I’m fine, I tell myself as I throw back the medicine Josh has brought me. I’m…. I’m asleep.
When I wake, I feel even worse than before, as if that was possible. Beside me on the nightstand, Josh has left some water, some tissues and handful of crackers. Even they make my stomach flip.
“Hey, I’ve ran you a bath if you want it?”
Josh leans on the doorway, eyes scanning me over.
I swallow thickly, grimacing as my saliva burns like acid. With hunks of glass in it. I nod and feebly lift the covers from me, swinging my legs out to the floor. I pause, take a ragged breath, and push up on shaking arms.
The room spins and I feel lightheaded, but there is nothing for me to hold on to. I sway on unsteady feet, my arm reaching out to grasp the air, too cool on my skin. I’m getting dizzy and I close my eyes lightly. Then his arm slips around my waist.
“I’m okay.” I croak.
“I know,” he says, and I’ve never been more thankful for his arm on me.
I wobble into the bath, filled with bubbles and scented oils that I can’t smell, but I can, at least, feel on my clammy body. Josh perches on the toilet seat, not trusting me to be alone. Fainting while sick is one of my regular acts, and I guess we’d both rather it wasn’t in a tub full of soapy water.
“How long was I out of it?”
Josh grins and checks his watch. “Well it’s nearly six now…”
“But that’s nearly all day!” My voice fades to nothing as my exclamation builds, but he hears me.
“You needed it,” he shrugs. “You think you can eat something?”
I nod, pulling the plug and standing, quickly reaching for my towel, the air on my wet skin giving me instant goosebumps. “I’ll try. I’m not really hungry though.”
I’m dressed back into some warm pajamas, woolly socks and three blankets, my hair knotted high on top of my head when Josh walks back in with a bowl and two mugs balanced in his hands. He sets the steaming mugs down on his nightstand and places the food between us.
“Mac n’ cheese,” he smiles proudly. I once told him mac n’ cheese was the most comforting of all the comfort foods, forget chicken soup and grapes, cheese and pasta is what you need. He produces two forks from the pocket of his hoodie along with some more medicine for me. “You need it,” he looks at me sternly pressing the box into my hands. I don’t even argue as I break his gaze to pop two into my mouth and chug quickly on some water.
As I do, Josh punches some buttons on the remote for the TV, scrolling through listings. I place the glass back to the unit and when I turn back, the titles for The Breakfast Club are on the screen.
“It was this or Journey,” he laughs, wrapping an arm over my shoulders. I don’t even have the energy or the brain power to come up with a retort, instead just settling into his embrace and warily picking up a fork.
“This is fine,” I sigh.
I only manage a few mouthfuls of the pasta before I admit defeat and toss my fork back into the bowl. I feel Josh’s eyes on me, and see his mouth press together in a thin, worried line, before he reaches beside him and passes me a mug.
“Hot chocolate. Help your throat and y’know, keep your sugars up.”
I smile gratefully, the cup warming my hands and then my body as I take a sip and let the smooth, richness melt through me. “Thank you.”
I’m tired again, and after finishing my cup, I snuggle in closer to Josh, tucking my head on to his shoulder with a sniff.
“You shouldn’t be this close to me; you’re gonna get sick too,” I tell him, though I make no effort to move. My body is both a dead weight and floating like a feather, and all I do is take a handful of his shirt in my hand to anchor myself to him.
“So you admit that you’re sick?” He’s smirking, I can hear it in his voice.
“You’re happy about the fact that I’m not well. Gee, thanks Joshy.” My voice is soft, feeble almost, but I smile too and he can tell I’m playing. “I feel like shit. Dammit, it’s so typical! It’s your birthday tomorrow!” I’m whining pathetically at the injustice of it, though it’s no one’s fault. “It’s just not fair!” I cough loudly, turning my head away from him and sitting halfway up. When I stop, I let out a wavering breath, deflating.
“Well as long as you’re here I don’t mind if we just do this again. But I get to pick the movie.”
I shake my head, with a laugh and wriggle myself back into him. I’m too drained to protest that technically he picked this one. “Deal,” I murmur into his chest, my head on his shoulder and my hand lying over where his stomach meets his breast bone, eyes closing heavily with a sigh as I succumb to sleep once more.