Another story from the e-book: Love and Other Cures of the Common Cold. Find more of the writer’s works here.
She coughed all through the night. He drifted in and out of sleep miserably through it. Waking up when the hacking sounds got loud behind his ears. Some comforting words, a cup of water, and pulling the duvet tightly over her. It was strange and annoying that there was no medication of any sort in the house. How the last one was used up and not replaced was a mystery to him. Ok, maybe not that much of a mystery. This was not rocket science. He simply forgot, he thought.
At about 5am he got up from the bed and made it to the couch in the living room and there for what seemed like forever, he managed some sleep. Forever was 45 minutes. He woke up when she snuggled up on him, her scattered hair and oversized sweaters cutting her the look of a weather beaten lost puppy. She sniffled and coughed, her body rattling against his weakly. He was tired. But then, so also was he patient. He wrapped his arms around her and gave her a reassuring squeeze.
They said nothing for a while. The sound of their breathing filled the room. His light, hers heavy against blocked nostrils. She sniffled and coughed again, he patted her back and muttered sorry. The pharmacy would not be open till 9am. That was still a long time away.
“Babe, I need to get up. I need to put on the pumping machine.”
She made no sign she heard him but he eased slowly from under her and let her slide gently onto the cushion. He came back with the duvet and wrapped her in it.
“Let me make you some tea.”
“Dragon soup.” She said in a decibel he barely picked.
“Dragon soup.” Her voice a little higher and pained from the extra effort.
“Oh okay. Let me get you that tea first.”
“You promised you would make me dragon soup.” She struggled to say in between a pitiful whimper.
“Yes, I will babe. Ok, let me get you that tea quicktime first. Just sit tight ok?”
She nodded weakly as a bout of cough escaped from her.
Dragon soup. Pepper soup, with more pepper. His trademark treatment for cold. Before he administered syrups and tablets if necessary. He just could not remember promising to make her dragon soup. But it definitely sounded like what he would say, what he would do.
She sat up when the tea came. Double strength, black, no sugar, with a squeeze of lime. She held the mug gingerly in her hands and let the vapour hit her face. She loved the flavour.
She felt better after the dragon soup. Her nose dribbled but at least her airwaves were clear and she felt warm inside. Chores kept him busy and helped tome pass faster. When it was 9.30am he drove to the pharmacy.
Septrin. Cough syrup with codeine. Strepsil. Paracetamol. Vitamin C. Blood tonic. All the basic he could get from the shelf.
“Did you get oranges?” She asked when he got in through the door.
He paused. “No. But I got Vitamin C. Here…” He handed her the paper bag of medicine. “I’ll ger some water.”
She fell asleep after a while. Her breathing got lighter. He kept casting a glance over at her I’m between TV and breakfast. At about noon she was up. An early kick off was about to be on TV. She immediately got in a chatty mood. Sign that she was improving.
“Who is playing today?”
“Today? Everybody. Right now though, Manchester United and Sunderland.”
“Ok. Have you eaten?”
“Yes…” And he sneezed. They gave each other a knowing look and she smiled. He sighed and leaned back into the chair.
Living, Loving, Dying.