Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: SICK (05/09/19)
- TITLE: An Itty Bitty Virus
By Betty Castleberry
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I prayed for a cold. I didn’t really want to be sick; I only wanted a little bitty cold that would allow me some quiet, alone time. Temporarily losing my appetite so I could drop a few pounds sounded good, too. Okay, I also admit I didn’t want to help with the church bake sale. Illness would be a perfect excuse to get out of it, right?
So, I woke up yesterday with my throat burning like I was a side show fire eater and my throbbing head feeling like a ticking time bomb. When I raised up from the pillow, my nose dripped steadily. I had managed to catch the Godzilla of all colds. It was all I could do to drag myself out of bed and grab my ringing phone.
It was Maggie, a friend from church. When I hung up, I had been added to the prayer list and been excused from bake sale duty. This cold could possibly have a few good things going for it after all.
The only thing to do was settle myself on the couch wrapped in a warm, fluffy throw. I checked the end table beside me for necessities. Peppermint tea, aspirin, TV remote, phone, and novel; they were all there. I had the whole day before me with nothing to do but recuperate. Ah, sweet down time.
I had just turned on Jeopardy when someone knocked. The door creaked open and I heard someone call, “Mary Jo?”
Struggling to untangle myself from the throw, I answered, then looked up to see Maggie, looking a bit like an overgrown, hot pink zinnia in one of the colorful caftans she favored. Her ample frame headed toward me. “I let myself in, honey. Thought you might not be up to answering the door.” She plopped a container down on the coffee table in front of me. “Cheesecake. I know you love it.” Forget losing my appetite. I never turn down cheesecake.
“Um, thank you, but I’m probably contagious,” I croaked, sounding like that famous bullfrog, Jeremiah. “Maybe you shouldn’t be here.” That much was true, but I really didn’t feel like visiting.
“Don’t worry about me. I’ve got a strong constitution.” She patted my knee. “The other girls will be here soon.”
“Other girls?” I said, looking at her through red, watery eyes.
“Yes. They’ve all had this nasty stuff and know how bad it makes you feel. They’re all bringing something, too. We know you don’t feel up to cooking.”
As if on cue, there was another knock on the door. Maggie put herself in charge of letting people in, and soon my living room was filled with a half dozen chattering women, all bearing food. So much for my alone time.
Someone handed me a bowl of chicken soup. Two ladies sat on the couch, laughing about something a neighborhood kid had done. One friend scrolled through her phone, showing us pictures of her new grandson, Thaddeus. Or maybe it was Theodore. Maggie watched Jeopardy, shouting out the answers to the questions. Well, great. Why didn’t I just advertise in the paper? Sympathy and food wanted for sick, middle-aged woman who had no idea she really didn’t want a prayer answered.
The bake sale with its ridiculously early start, long hours, noise, and hard work was beginning to look pretty good.
That was the last thing I remembered until I woke a couple of hours later to a quiet house. All the ladies were gone, the TV was off, and my throw had been gently tucked around me. I picked up the note on the coffee table. The food is put away. Call if you need us. Feel better soon. It was signed by Maggie.
I had to smile. Although I had found out I didn’t really want to be sick, I had also found out what wonderful friends I had. Maybe I also found out that God answers prayers in unexpected ways.
There’s one thing I’m absolutely certain I found out. I know I must ask Maggie for her mouth-watering cheesecake recipe. After all, what’s a few extra pounds among friends?
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