Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Red (10/01/09)
TITLE: Swine Flu
By Laury Hubrich
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I turn on the windshield wipers only to realize it’s my eyes watering. I should stop and call 911 but I can’t. I’m doomed. Worst case scenarios fly through my head at amazing speeds.
I admit it. I’m an addict - truly. The search online was long and hard but when I discovered it, I knew it was ‘the’ one. I coerced my husband to stop by the store. I walked right to the display case and staked my claim. My eyes delighted at the crisp, clean white and I practically swooned at the sporty red border. Victory was mine when told only one left – surely a sign from God. My husband, poor guy, didn’t really buy my ‘sign from God’ case but soon gave in to my wiling and conniving. I felt a tiny bit bad about that, but honestly, he didn’t stand a chance.
I make it to work, barely. Co-workers can tell something’s wrong. I walk into the bathroom and stare at my reflection. My eyes look sickly. If I blow my nose and feign a sneeze or two, I’ll get kicked out for sure. We don’t get our swine flu vaccines until next week. It just might work. But what if I really do get the swine flu before then? I’m a mess. I need an intervention.
I reach deep into my pockets but find nothing but an old tissue and lint. To ‘phone a friend’ is no option. Panic washes over me. Passersby pass me by – at a wide berth. Maybe it is swine flu. Maybe that’s what made me forget my cell phone. Maybe, just maybe…
My eyes light up. My husband could bring it to me, but then reality settles back in place. No way on earth would he go home, find my phone, drive into town, park, walk into the building, and pass security, just to feed my need. No. Even in my sick, weakened state I was able to come to that conclusion.
I’m positive by now, my friends think I’ve died. I haven’t sent one text since I woke up late. My body begins to shake. I attempt to do some work but instead I have to sit on my hands to quiet them. It’s then I make the decision.
I haul my middle-aged body up off my chair to go see my boss. She doesn’t let me within five feet of her. Word sure spreads quickly. I’m sent home with her blessing, but first she hands me a twenty to pay the co-pay for a doctor’s visit. I must really look sick. I feel a twinge of guilt as I reach out to grab the money.
I slowly and sickly make my way out the door; sweater and bag drag behind me. My act must be Emmy-Award-Winning. I turn around just in time to see the secretary follow me with anti-germ spray in hand.
Each mile I get closer to home, my heart grows lighter. I make it without incident. Almost before I come to a complete stop, I run to the porch, open the door, trip over the dog, give him a quick pat, and race to my room. I stop and admire the object of my affection as it perches daintily on the table. The sun shines down on it, making a rosy sparkle. Reverently, I pick it up and lovingly press it against my flushed face. The cool plastic gives me chills. My heart flutters. My flu-like symptoms disappear. Loyal to the core, it has been recording messages all morning. I shamelessly admit to my addiction and promise myself I will get help – tomorrow. For now, I plop onto my bed and catch up on missed texts and voicemails. Before I know it, I fall asleep, the phone firmly grasped in my hand.
I feel a drop of water slip down my cheek. I open my eyes and see my husband hovering. Sweat beads his brow and his eyes are glassy. It must be the flu. I jump out of bed and grab his arm. “We’re going to the doctor.”
He looks at me like I’m crazy and asks, “Honey, where did you put the remote?”
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