February 2, 2010
Carl leaned toward the lumpy lump under the blankets. “Hon?”
Audrey peeked out. Her eyes barely opened.
“I’m going,” he said, kissing her head. “And you’re hot.”
“Thank you.” Audrey resubmerged. Her hand slid out, felt around for the kleenex box, grabbed a tissue and sucked back in.
A few days ago, Audrey had made the mistake of saying, “I never get sick.” Kapow! Sore throat. Fever. Sniffles.
It didn’t depress her, though. How could she be depressed having something called “the sniffles”? Call it “the yanka-yankas” and she’d be a basket case. Sure, today she couldn’t get out of bed without holding onto furniture, but it was only a short crawl to the bathroom. Carl had set her up with an electric kettle, herbal teas and Ak-Mak crackers. That would do until somebody got home.
Audrey looked through the books on the nightstand: a dictionary, an old copy of Dune, a short story collection… and there was that library book by Garth Stein, The Art of Racing In the Rain. She’d already renewed it twice.
• • • • •
The shadows were long when Carl got home. Evan, just back from his daily run, was gulping water from the kitchen faucet.
“How’s your time today?” Carl asked.
“Uhhh…” Evan swiped his mouth.
“Mom still up there?”
Upstairs, Carl walked toward the rumpled bed. The rumples didn’t add up to Audrey. He checked the bathroom, then paused near the attic stairs. He heard Sonny and Cher.
Audrey sat at her computer wrapped in a fleece blanket. She swayed to “I Got You Babe” as she typed.
“You must be feeling better,” Carl said.
Audrey smiled. “I must be,” she said. Carl hugged her, his face turned toward her computer screen. He read some of the text, then noticed a fat manuscript on the desk.
“The beast?” he said.
Audrey nodded. “The beast. I’m starting over. I mean, the story I read today was told by a dog.”
“What kind of dog?”
“They’re pretty smart.”
“Yeah, I think that’s how he knew words like ‘disingenuous’ and ‘intractability.’”
“I don’t even know those words.”
Audrey didn’t go downstairs for dinner. Evan brought her a tray, and she fell asleep with kleenex and Chapter One of the beast, as yet untitled, and a green pen in her hand. On the top sheet, she’d scribbled inside a big circle:
©2010 Pam Wells