Saliva scratched its way down her throat as she swallowed. She sighed through her mouth, though a small amount of air managed to whistle its way through her nose.
She reached for another tissue as a sneeze lingered, prodding slightly. Testing. She wrinkled her nose and glanced at the bright light in her room. Excited, the sneeze bounced around until it was time for it to explode outward into the etiolated tissue. It fairly shredded and she wiped her nose before dumping it into the garbage.
Groaning, she leaned back against her multitude of pillows placed strategically on her bed. She pulled the covers up and turned the page of her book. She sniffled yet again, though whether from the book or her illness, it was uncertain.
A cough clawed its way free, feeling vengeful for the tight hold she had kept over her lungs. It brought with it its companions, each as eager as the next, their freedom celebrated with sharp hacks. Her stomach muscles clenched with effort, and she doubled over until it was over. Only then did she lean back and allow her head to loll sideways, book now held uselessly between limp fingers.
Then the door opened, and something delicious made itself known. She tried to smile, but all she could do was glance over. Her mother set a bowl down on the small table, and gently felt her forehead. With a smile she promised some tea, and left her to eat.
She eased the spoon out of the bowl, relishing the steam’s warm encouragement. She knew the taste more than well enough to make up for her lack of smell. And sure enough, the moment it touched her tongue, she found herself smiling.
It did not last long, the soup. Soon all that was left was a yellowish residue that clung desperately to the bowl’s edges. And when her mom returned with tea, she pulled her lips upwards as her eyes softened. The warmth from her mother’s hands passed through the mug to hers.