I’ve been in bed since the kids were asleep tapping away at the laptop with two tissues stuck up my nostrils.
My head feels like a five kilogram bag of wet sugar and although the thoughts are rising with some level of coherency, they’re subdued and syrupy, and I’m doing my best not to infuse the writing with an air of self pity.
I realise my hopes for sex this evening are shot when RM comes into the bedroom and flicks the light on to catch me breathing heavily, dragging the tissue paper inside my gaping mouth and then billowing it out while observing her, through crusty slits, with my lined and puckered eyeballs. I look like some kind of pale diseased dragon hiding in the dark.
‘How are you feeling?’ she asks.
‘Good,’ I say, as I remove the tissues, causing a sneezing fit like a diffuser might cause a bang by pulling the wrong wire on a bomb.
‘Yeah, sounds like it,’ she says.
‘I’ve just booked us movie tickets through the Movie Times site,’ I say, once I recover. ‘We’re going to Gold Class baby!’
‘Oh cool. So now we get free movie tickets for a year?’
‘No,’ I say, as I unload my lap of computer and turn to my side. ‘I misunderstood the deal. Apparently I can only get four double passes over a year if I mention movietimes.com.au in seperate blog posts every three months.’
‘Yeah, I was going to get back to them with a polite no thanks… but I’d promised at least some kind of partnership… and the website is pretty good… easy to use. So I’ll just take the first two tickets and run. Unless they come back to me with another deal.’
RM is all PJ’d up and so switches the light back off and jumps into bed. It feels good to have her next to me even though I’m sweating like a pig in a hot tin shed at the same time that I’m shivering under the blankets and pulling a beanie over my ears.
‘I don’t like it when you’re sick,’ she whispers, the approaching slumber already shaping her words.
‘I’ll get better…’
‘It’s like… when you’re a kid… and you suddenly realise your parents don’t know everything and there’s less certainty about the world, and things feel a little less safe.’
‘Hey, I watched Who Wants To Be A Millionaire with your father once… trust me… he knows everything.’
As RM sighs and hugs me her melancholy words, coupled with the maddening fever, force my mind towards limits and mortality. I like it when she’s with me – whether I’m well or not – but sickness reminds me that we’re only offered so many nights together.
As if reading my thoughts she says. ‘It makes me realise you’re not superhuman…’
‘Hey,’ I say, searching for a lift. ‘I still cleaned the living room…and cooked dinner… gave the kids a bath… secured us Gold Class tickets…’
‘Yeah, but not with the same gusto,’ she says, as her breathing shifts suddenly and she rolls away from me. ‘And who knows what tomorrow will bring. You might be all fluey and achy and I’ll feel guilty for going to work and…’
Minutes pass as I fight against my flu-affected consciousness for sleep but the awareness of the final inevitable separation keeps coming back; the way I’ll finally betray my family; the reality that I won’t be able to rise above it.
These thoughts bring their own version of loneliness and so I reach out for the laptop to write, to censor reality, to clear away self-pity with a few taps of the delete button.
RM has drifted away but I can ignore the distance in sleep, for now, by shifting myself a little so that we’re touching each other.
And one more deep breath, before I drift away myself, to whisper: ‘I’ll be better by tomorrow.’