sickness - quotes and descriptions to inspire creative writing
In a world of endemic sickness, where cruelty is the cause and love the antidote, the patients declare themselves doctors and seal the fate of the world.
Darwin has lain sick these past three days and I haven't dared go out even to forage or trade. I lie cloths of cold water over his forehead and pray for the fever to break. I haven't prayed since during the big virus outbreak and to be honest I blamed God for loosing every damn person I ever loved. It wasn't fair that they should die and I be made to live without them. But now I offered God a deal, "save my boy, let me keep Darwin and I will come back to you. I will follow your path, I swear. I'm still gonna kill if it's me or them, but I'll teach him the right ways. Please. Hear me."
I woke to the sound of him calling me in a croaky whisper and almost on reflex my hand shot out to his forehead. Cool. A wave of relief flooded me. I hung my head. "A deal's a deal. Tomorrow we'll have Christmas again and visit the old church at midnight, burnt out wreck that it is. It's a place to start."
When he finally wakes his eyelids are weighed down and he moves sluggishly. He recalls that it is Christmas day but he can't seem to muster any excitement. Worry becomes anxiety. Hospitals went out at the same time as accountable law and order. I run through my supplies in my head. I have Ibuprofen and acetaminophen, but he can't have them unless it's an emergency. Anything under forty degrees and he has to tough it out. I don't have either a fan or the power to run one but we don't need it. Without heating in this vast building all I have to do is remove some layers. I expect him to fight me for taking off his Christmas coat but he barely seems to notice. I start to check his skin for rashes and bumps, but I don't know why. I have zero medical training and no access to anyone who does. I fetch his stocking and put it in his clammy hands. His eyes are drawn to the red velvet and he runs his hands over it slowly. I will him to pull out the candy, to show some interest, but he doesn't.
He wanted her to be the same, for his prayers to have been answered and all those warnings about what to expect not needed, the door opened and with the help of her daughter she entered the room. It was hard to make out features at this distance in the purposely darkened room but this frail, devoured woman that refused to meet his gaze couldn't be Elaine it had to be a mistake; her daughter seeing his disbelief forced a small smile then tenderly lowered the woman to the edge of her bed.
She reached for the child's hand and stiffened at the fear in her eyes, the child retreated to the safety of the attendant. "It's not catching baby, whatever it is its only for me," the young girl tugged at the attendants sleeve to make him understand she wanted to leave
Lara didn't even know she was angry until Tom did it again. The used tissue arced from his hand as if in slow motion, coming to rest on her new cream couch. The bark of her voice even surprised her. “Get your filthy snot rags of the couch!” He looked at her through wide red-rimmed eyes, his mouth slightly open and a glisten of snot above his cracked lips. She knew she should reign it in, apologize before she made it worse, but she just didn't have it in her to stop. Her words crashed out unchecked, unaltered. “It's just lazy, OK? Lazy, disgusting and vile. Get your damn bogey rags off my couch!” Her second voice was urging her to stop, but this was an explosion in progress, no reverse gear, no dampeners. Lara's every word was clipped, punching into the air. She jabbed the air with a pointed finger at each utterance, her eyes narrowed and set hard...“Tom, you are a mess. What the hell are you doing here? Wrecking my place? Giving me your germs? Out! Go home!” Tom stood, swaying ...
To Zac happiness was like a cloudless spring day; the kind of day when you don't notice the weather at all. The sky is blue, it isn't warm or cold and you've stopped noticing the delicate flowers that bloomed only a few weeks ago. It's perfect but quite untreasured until the rain comes. His childhood had always been happy, he'd just never acknowledged it, not to himself or anyone else. It was a house of discussion rather than argument; there had been chores and routine dinners; a dog to walk and feed. But now Mom was sick, her health had been something else he'd taken for granted. She'd always been there and always would, right? Folding laundry and telling him “you'll never guess what” stories. It struck him that something had just been removed from his life, his happiness. It was the springboard on which his whole life was based, it was the reason he could make friends, study and have wild nights with his friends. How was it he'd missed it all this time?
The fever came fast, robbing Alicia of her strength. From a bonny lass to a curled up child, shaking and pale, the transformation couldn't have been any more cruel. The sickness showed no sign of shifting, no hint of lifting to a more milder form, if anything the chills were intensifying and so the doctor from the big town was summoned, no expense would be spared.
The sickness moved from door to door like a button salesman and just as unwanted. It washed from the east-side, a slow moving tsunami of fever that picked off both strong and weak in equal number. There was no greater leveller than this germ, impervious to wealth or pleading. The medicines ran dry in days and no medics would answer a call. All that was left was solace in the Lord and prayers for the souls of the departed.
Her hands were frailty and caution, shaking gently as she reached for the hot tea. In her movements were so much of the woman she was and still is. They were ashen where the sunlight caught them, not ghostly like a white person, just subdued and greyish. I think that's the first time I realized how vulnerable she was and how much of a toll the sickness had taken.