When It RainsMature

I slammed the phone back down in irritation. Standing in the living room with my seriously ill sister, I felt very alone. And cold. I went into the kitchen and turned on the heating at the boiler. I felt very hungry all of a sudden, remembering that I hadn’t eaten for about eighteen hours. The smell of blood had made my stomach churn and it was grumbling audibly now it was awake. The empty feeling made me feel sick, so I made a hasty sandwich and ate it quickly to silence its complaining. It didn’t make me feel any better. In fact, now I knew that I was going to be sick.

I bolted up the stairs to the bathroom and just made it in time to vomit into the sink, holding my hair back with one fist. I filled the cup that was used for mouthwash with water from the tap and rinsed the acidic taste out of my mouth. My legs felt weak, and I sat on the floor, resting my clammy face against the cold enamel of the side of the bath. It made me feel a lot better. I don’t know how long I sat like that, with my eyes closed, breathing slowly, but after a while the nausea passed.

I used the edge of the bath to pull myself up so I could walk downstairs. I felt a jolt of shock when I saw that the sofa was empty except for the blood stained blanket. There were more spatters than ever dotting the floor. I followed the freshest trail and found Evelyn in the kitchen, sat on the floor much like I had been upstairs, with the shards of a smashed drinking glass and the remainder of the water it had contained pooled around her. The clock on the wall told me I had been upstairs for almost two hours - Evelyn could have been there for almost as long as that. She had passed out again, that much was obvious. I didn’t think I could drag her back in now I felt so weak. I just wanted to curl up and sleep, anywhere, it didn’t matter. I wondered if already the symptoms were showing. I could have had the virus inside me all this time and not known - there was nothing I could do to get rid of it anyway.

I grabbed a damp tea towel and did my best to clean up the place, scrubbing at the stubborn bloodstains through the three rooms with one hand over my mouth and nose. The smell had gotten stronger and I didn’t feel like sprinting for the sink again.

I moved Evelyn a little to one side so I could mop up her spilt drink. I wiped her forehead with a wet flannel because under my hand it was raging hot. She had some kind of fever. Her nose had stopped bleeding, but her face and lips were encrusted in it. She almost came around while I was wiping it away, eyelids feebly flickering, before she went back under.

Next I started on the glass. Clinical detachment, just focussing on each clean-up task, stopped me from thinking about the illness and my parents and my friends and what was going to happen now. I was so determined, concentrating on keeping it out of my mind, that I didn’t pay much attention to the shards I was picking up one by one.

“Ouch!” I gasped as the razor edge of a long fragment sliced diagonally into the length of my palm. Immediately blood welled up out of the wound, dripping onto the floor I had just cleaned. Irritated, I wiped the scarlet droplets away and wadded a fresh cloth into a ball, pressing it hard onto the wound to try and stop the bleeding. A long cut like that - it wasn’t dangerously deep, but still would need stitches to help it heal. I couldn’t go to the hospital now to have it treated. The place would be packed with hopeless people begging for drugs to heal them that nobody could give.

I stood up and looked out of the kitchen window. The room seemed dimmer, and the sky outside had turned grey. It was only early afternoon, so it shouldn’t be getting dark.

I grabbed the back door key and unlocked it one-handed, walking out onto the wooden deck. The sky was overcast with gunmetal clouds, bruising the landscape. There was an unseasonable chill in the air and the wind seemed to cut right through my clothes to my bones. As I stood there, letting the spray of rain in the wind cool my skin, the first heavy drops began to fall. April showers, I thought, as the rain picked up. I couldn’t bring myself to move, even as the rain began to fall hard and fast as bullets, soaking through my uniform in moments. My hair was plastered to my head, rivulets of water snaked down my face and tangled my eyelashes but it felt good. Like the rain was washing away my fever.

The End

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