You will spell it flu and not flue because it’s the flu but you’re not really 100% sure so it’s interchangeable because when it’s the flue anything goes…
You will remember tiny steel cans of apple juice you drank in kindergarten. You will remember clean, shredded towels that came from your mom’s apartment. You will remember Dad in his bed and his legs and everyone around him and the moment he departed and you will look at his picture right there young, smiling in a suit from you don’t know when, and you will remember tomato soup and grilled cheese tucked in on the couch, mom ministering.
You will sweat sweat sweat in your hoodie not wanting to breathe on the Walgreens employees who are tracking you in the aisles ‘cus it looks like you got stealing on your mind as you wander with your hood up but all you really need is a thermometer you can’t find (which you really don’t need to tell you you are farked) but you pay for little cans of 7-Up and saltines and cough syrup and the girl behind the counter who knows you says “feel better” and you give her thumbs up and you float away.
You will walk out to your car like a drunk, concentrating one foot at a time, conscious of every movement, planning your route back home sweat trickling down your scalp, beneath your breasts, body aching wishing you had someone else to take up this chore, but when you exile yourself you only got yourself to make shit happen, so you drive home like you been drinking all night, hoping not to weave and you make it back to “your” parking spot, you drag yourself upstairs gasping for breath, sipping water, fearing food and your bed and all you got is sitting sideways on the couch watching NYPD Blue.
You will cough all day and night and your neighbors will take out a contract on your life because the coughing is keeping them up but you haven’t slept a true sleep in ten days and you figure by now if someone comes in and strangles you on your couch it would be a relief.
Your earlobes will turn into golden raisins because you ain’t got water in your body. You will be a fool for not forcing water or broth or saltines, but it’s all you got.
You will wake up on the couch and wonder where you are. You will wonder at everything and not care about anything and pray for sleep sleep sleep.
You will have that song stuck in your head, that phrase, it won’t go away and you’re good with that because nothing really matters.
You will wonder if you will ever sleep again and who will do laundry and if you will ever eat again.
“Don’t you love her madly…”
You will desire rain, hard rain, wind.
You won’t be able to breathe for a long time, but when your breath returns it will be unbelievable. You will be able to lie down and cough often, but maybe not so much, but a dream will slip in and that means you’re not crazy anymore, or less so, anyway.
You will be able to speak in full sentences with your
brother without gasping for breath (not like before when you told him “I really
have to go now, sorry.”) You will take a little bag of garbage out. You will sit upright longer than you have in
a long time, the fog of flue receding.
You will return to Walgreens to buy some frozen veggies (covered in cheese) and toilet paper. You will apologize to the counter girl for not speaking to her earlier as you were afraid to spread the flu and kill the world. God bless her pretty cotton-candy blue hair.
You will sleep and dream. You’re still not poised to journalize, you’re still not ready to make gourmet meals or walk five miles, but you’re in the 4th turn now and headed for the finish line, tissues filled with phlegm in the garbage can, one load of laundry done, and your bed made of clean sheets.
The flue no longer rules you. How will you celebrate? How will you give thanks for the sweat and ache and loneliness and perseverance thru a shitty flu?