When my alarm went off this morning I did not want to get up. That’s pretty unusual for me. Typically I’m a carpe diem kind of gal, but not today. My head hurt and I felt like the cat spent the night sleeping on my chest. My limbs were heavy and my eyes resisted opening when I rolled over to hit snooze on the alarm. I heard myself groan, the sound of my own voice coming from far away, and I pulled my pillow over my head to further muffle the sights and sounds of dawn.

“You okay?” my husband asked.

I tried to form an answer but barely managed to grunt in response. Ten minutes later the alarm sounded again and I turned it off without lifting the pillow, blindly fumbling until silence returned. I felt my husband roll away and leave the warmth of our bed.

Okay, no problem. No yoga today. I could handle that. I just needed another hour of sleep and I’d be fine; my day could get back on course.

Later I felt someone rub my arm. My husband. “Honey? You gonna make it?”

I pushed the pillow away, its weight unbearable. “I’m so hot. I need water.” My voice barely above a whisper, my words held back by the threat of a cough. This turn of events was unbearable. I’d taken today off to get caught up on things. I’d planned to exercise, do some housework, do some gardening, then relax by the pool reading a paperback I’d picked up two months ago. There was no way I could settle for my sick day turning into a sick day.

My husband returned with a glass of water and, thoughtfully, two ibuprofen. He kissed my forehead, wished me well and was gone. I gazed out the window at the clear, crisp morning and closed my eyes.

When I woke, it was almost noon. I definitely felt better, although I seemed to be moving underwater. My sinuses had been busy while I slept. I blew my nose, piling up used tissues without clearing my head, which was now throbbing. I let myself fall back onto the bed, thinking, “Five more minutes.”

When next I woke it was almost 1pm. It occurred to me that I must be hungry, but a thick carpet of moss had grown over my tongue and I couldn’t imagine eating. I lay there for a minute, considering my options. By this time I was supposed to be relaxing, so technically I was on track for my fabulous day off. Except, of course, for the nausea and congestion and the complete absence of accomplishment or any sense of relaxation.

I struggled to an upright position, dropping my feet over the side of the bed, bracing myself. I could do this. After a bit the room quit spinning and I felt more confident. I stood up, holding my hands out on either side for balance. So far, so good. “Nothing to it,” I croaked. I decided I sounded worse than I felt.

I entered the master bathroom and was surprised to see my relatively normal-looking self looking back at me. “You don’t look sick,” I admonished myself, trying to ignore the rasping but unable to prevent the coughing fit. I washed my face and brushed my teeth, determined to reclaim my day.

In an effort at normalcy, I went to the kitchen for coffee. My stomach recoiled at the thought, so I settled for tea. With a steaming mug in hand, I exited through the back door and settled on a lounge chair by the pool. With my thick terry cloth robe pulled snug around me, I realized I’d forgotten my book inside.

No worries. It was enough to appreciate the warmth of the sun and the sounds of the birds and the scent of the honeysuckle blooming nearby. I had to rely on my imagination for the honeysuckle since I couldn’t breathe through my nose and I could barely inhale through my mouth without triggering a spate of coughing. I leaned back and closed my eyes, trying to enjoy the moment.

When I woke, the sun was low in the west and my husband was sitting on the lounge chair, squeezed against my legs. “Are you okay?” he asked.

And so it went; my impromptu sick leave and a gorgeous autumn day, wasted.

For the Indie Ink Writing Challenge this week, Bran MacFeabhail challenged me with “You’re sick today and it’s gorgeous outside.” and I challenged Daily Shorts with “You try, and try, and try but nothing seems to work. Finally, just when you’re ready to give up, ….”.

About Fran Hart

Disciple of Christ, earning a living as the director of US-based operations for a Taiwanese company, managing an engineering organization while carving out time to write. Wife, Mother, Grandmother.
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