Lovers

Lovers

With a searing headache and nauseating murmurs from a stomach filled with sloshing clementine and hot coffee acids, she wills herself to remain conscious. Whether or not she wants to matters not in this moment. Luckily, she thinks to herself, the pain has subsided. When it will return, she cannot know for sure, but she can get close to such knowledge. She takes a glance at the timer, approximately three hours of the semblance of bliss lie ahead of her. 

Dark, the room flickers in the blue haze of a television screen. Comfortably propped up by a mountain of soft pillows and blankets, she hides on the couch and wishes to disappear. A wave of violent vomit attempts to free itself. She takes a slow, shallow breath and focuses her mind on the taps and clicks of the XBox controller being played by her caregiver. He stops out of concern for her change of breath. She urges him to continue; it helps keep her mind off her stomach’s determination to reveal its contents. He jokes with comments about how he told her that oranges and coffee are never a good idea, even when well. She cannot laugh but grunts in agreement. Eventually, they decide that throwing up would be the best cure for the nausea, but they soon realize that that would probably not be safe, since the doctor explicitly told her not to do anything that would apply pressure to her face, and that included pushing while pooping. They decide to wait out the nausea and add Tums to the mix after another thirty minutes of agony.

Seeing her on the verge of slipping into sweet sleep, he gently nudges her and suggests a movie. She asks for the time. He informs that it’s about four in the morning. The timer rings out to warn that she has about thirty minutes until the painkillers stop killing pain. Time for another round. Does she want a cracker or a cookie this time? he inquires. She cannot stomach the thought of either, so he decides for her.

Eyes heavy, she comments that the movie needs to have a lot of dialogue so that she can just listen to it. He shrugs as if that’s no problem and chooses a comedy about some people doing some things that inevitably go wrong, with the righting of the wrong being the central plot of the thing. She laughs and then winces at the pain the laughter produces when she squinches her nose. Eyes watering, she sits up in an attempt to relax her face.

As the movie comes to a close, the sun begins to glow from beyond the living room windows. She definitely cannot leave the apartment, but she also definitely does not want to sit on the goddamn couch any longer. Slowly, he helps her sit up as she swings her legs off the couch, onto the floor. They attempt a bathroom trip. She pees but cannot poop. They laugh, and again, she winces at the pain the laughter continues to cause.

The timer goes off. Another round of painkillers with crackers for sure this time. He opens a window for a fresh breeze. She watches as he plays a video game. She asks again for the time. He kindly suggests not to worry about it, and that when the sun sets on this day, she can finally go to sleep. In the meantime, he wonders, can she stomach some soup?