Chapter 23

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Thursday, October 9th

Today was going to be the last barrel practice day of this week. I was going to have a revelational breakthrough to enlighten me and perfect my technique. I would have become an inspirational barrel racer if I had only just been able to go today.
I'm not sure why it would have to be today for me to somehow just suddenly be good at it, but that's what keeps running through my mind as I lay in my bed with a fever.
Mom says it's the flu. I say it's a pain-in-the-butt. But as the sharp pains in my stomach increase, I decide it might be more fitting to change the last word to a-
"Leah?" Mom peeks in the door when I groan a bit too loudly.
"Oh, it's just a cramp. It'll pass-" I grit my teeth. "eventually."
"Do you want an Tylenol?"
"Please, with peanut butter on top?"
She disappears from the doorway, and appears a minute later, instead of stopping at the doorway, walking all the way to my bedside and hands me the pills. 
"Thank you." I mutter. Why today? Who couldn't it have been yesterday?
She smooths my hair back from my forehead and allows her hand to linger on my brow, a very intent and thoughtful look plastered onto her face. "You're a little warm. Do you feel chilled?" 
"Yeah." I reply, gulping down the pills and a glass of water. "A little."
"Hmm..." She surveys me with a critical eye, frowning. I understand why she's frowning though. I probably look like a hobo that drowned and resurrected five days later, maybe even worse. Five and a half days. "Are you hungry?"
My stomach growls, but at that moment I am bombarded with another wave of stomach pains. "Nope."
"You sure? There are crackers and soup in the pantry."
"I'm sure." I groan, rolling onto my stomach and pulling the covers over my head. 
"Okay, well, you call if you want anything."
"Alright." My throat is starting to feel iffy too, on top of everything else. Ugh. Flu season.
She smiles a little, and walks out, leaving the lamp on. 
I lay there for a quarter of an hour at least, pondering the reasons and deepest revelations of life and feeling sorry for myself. Mostly just feeling sorry for myself, actually. The only good thought I came up with on the deepest truths of life is that being sick sucks. And that isn't a very helpful thought at all.
My phone vibrates in the pocket of my yoga pants and I very slowly remove it, just for the sake of being slow.
*Why aren't you at school?* I glance at the ID, already knowing who, but looking just the same. It's Joshua. I'm just surprised he didn't text sooner. 
*I'm sick.* 
*Oh. Bailey isn't here either.*
Bailey was supposed to be my ride to school this morning, but she called in sick too. *She's got it too.*
*Are you okay?*
*Yep. Like a unicorn in a land of candy.* I snort. This reply is crazy, even for me.
*That's really weird, but I'll take it as sarcasm.*
*Nice translating skills.*
His reply this time is slower, and much more thought out. *Is there anything you want me to get on the way back from school?*
Hmm. I bite my lip, thinking. *A jar of nuttella?*
*Sure. Anything else?*
*Maybe a box of Ritz crackers.*
*Okay. Love you, Agapé.*
*Love you too, Mr Hart. Thanks for buying me treats.*
*No problem. See you in a few hours.*
I turn my screen off, trying to think straight, which is hard since nuttella has dominated my mind. Wait! I turn my phone back on, type in the password and hit the 'new message' icon.
*You can't come over. You'll get sick.*
I wait, picturing the rather mischievous smirk he would give me if I was there. I can guess what his answer will be. My phone flashes, and I read his text. *I don't care.*
I must be a psychic. *I don't want you to be sick. *
*We have to practice our songs, and I'm very flu resistant. I won't get sick.*
*You'll get sick.*
*I don't care.*
Ugh. I know that he doesn't have to listen, but I wish he would. *Respect my wishes.*
*Respect mine. I want to see you.*
*Come over then. Your illness won't be on conscience.*
He doesn't respond, but I know him well enough to know he's probably laughing inside.
Oh well. If he gets sick, it won't be my fault.

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