Two things with this story. One, I got inspired by all the illnesses going on this season, especially with my family (sorry, guys). Two, in my attempt to kill my perfectionism (hint, hint), I took on an exercise from The Write Practice to write a 500-word story as is. In other words, write a story that’s not perfect from the get-go. So even though this will probably be a choppy draft, I have to say I’m pleased with how it turned out.
Why me? How did I escape the madness? That’s what I ask myself every day that passes. Every day that passes without suffering some effect of the flu.
The reporters say this is worse flu season on record. I believe it. Daniel and Michelle caught it twice in a four week span. Dianna caught it once beforehand, so she’s a little lucky. I, on the other hand, am probably the luckiest. And it’s not like I eat the healthiest things in the world. I devoured a pack of powdered donuts and a big can of Red Bull for dinner. Doctors would probably say my immune system is shot to hell. And yet, I ended the day unscathed.
It’s Wednesday. On this particular day, there’s an important meeting at the office. There are rumors abound that Karl Wiggins is stepping down as color analyst. I dreamed about that position ever since interning at KHGA. I dreamed about this ever since I was eight. I remember Alex and I calling kickball games at Jeffries Elementary. We promised we would go to college, enter broadcasting school, and grab that brass ring. I don’t know what happened to Alex. We lost touch when he moved to St. Charles, and eventually, hearing about his passing. But, I didn’t stop. I dedicated my schooling to him.
So here I am, standing at the back of the bullpen, waiting on the owners to make the official announcement. I start sweating. I knew I shouldn’t have worn my polo; the white one where people can clearly see me perspiring profusely. The room starts to spin. I shake it off, cast it off as nervousness. I exit the room and grab a cup of water. It usually takes a couple of cus to calm me down. I take a deep breath and waltz right back in. The suits make the announcement we all knew coming.
“We will miss Mr. Wiggins and wish him luck in his future endeavors.”
That’s executive talk for “good riddance.”
“So now, there’s an opportunity for one of you to fill his spot. We have set up interviews for all the interns.”
One of the suits lay a piece of paper onto the desk. As they walk out, we gather around the table. I start feeling faint again, but I have to know when my interview is. According to the paper, mine is tomorrow. Now, I don’t know if it was the shock of reading my time or if it’s something else, but I race into the bathroom. I can feel my lunch bubbling up. I knew I shouldn’t have ate that week old fried rice. I find the nearest stall as the lunch shoots out of my mouth.
“You okay in there?”
Crap. I had hoped no one was in here.
“Um…yeah. Just ate something that didn’t agree with me, apparently.”
“Better get it checked out. The flu’s going around, you know?”
Don’t remind me about the flu. For the past month, my family’s been fighting it.
I’m relieved to be at home. My stomach feels like it’s churning butter out of my stomach. Daniel and Michelle run to me. The force of the two almost set off a chain reaction in my stomach. Not that I’m not glad to see them.
“Honey, you home?”
Dianna’s voice is still a little raspy. I think I’m starting to feel a tickle in my throat, too. But again, I chalk it up to nervousness.
We sit at the kitchen table, eating homemade chicken soup. The kids beat the spoons on the table. They don’t even bother to try. Meanwhile, Dianna stirs the soup around.
“How was work?”
I tell them about the opening and my interview. I slurp up the soup, but suddenly feel the urge to vomit it back up.
“You all right, Randy?”
She palms my forehead.
“You feel hot,” she says. She grabs the thermometer from the mug of pencils. Ramming it into my mouth, she waits. I roll my eyes. Hopefully, this doesn’t take long and I can get to practicing my pitch. She pulls it out my mouth and shakes it violently.
“We have to take you to the Emergency Room.”
“Honey, I feel fine.”
Bug to humor her, we go to Wellesley Medical. We see a slew of people with face masks. Some have kids with them. Dianna grabs masks for every one of us. It’s hard to breathe in them, especially because I have glasses.
It’s about thirty-five minutes before the nurse calls me in. He takes my measurements. Weight, blood pressure, heart rate. The usual. Then she checks my temperature. I wonder what he’s typing. Afterwards, we go to the exam room, where we wait another twenty minutes.
“Is Daddy going to be alright?” asks Michelle. Dianna huddles the kids close to her. Immediately, I can’t help thinking she’s keeping them away from me, like I have some kind of disease.
The doctor comes in. He looks like he’s in good shape, but his salty hair says I can’t keep this up much longer. I tell him everything that’s going on. The vomiting, the burning up, the dizzy spells. He gives me a thorough exam. Then comes the part I hate the most. The part where he sticks the long cotton swab up my nose. I almost cough up a lung once it’s in.
“I’ll be back with the results.”
All this waiting and waiting has me frazzled. I should be practicing for my audition tomorrow. Instead, I’m stuck in this exam room.
The wait’s not long this time. The doctor shoots straight to the point.
“It’s confirmed. You have the flu.”
What? Why? Why now? And right when I have my audition tomorrow?
“I prescribed some Tamiflu. Take two doses every day for five days. It should help relieve the symptoms.
I want to say “screw that; I can’t be sick. Not now.” But I guess it was bound to happen. I’m amazed it hasn’t happened already.