The Eighth Page

The Lowest of Lower Winter

I walked into the Isham waiting room, thrilled that I was officially excused from 4th period French and not so thrilled at the fact that it appeared that I had the stomach of a starving Ethiopian kid from all the tissues stuffed in my sweatshirt pocket. As I sat down, I heard a faint noise in my head. I thought they had started playing muzak in Isham, which seemed homey enough, but I soon realized it was just a chorus of nose-blowing filling my ears and the drumming of my headache in my temple. My tear ducts were frozen from the long walk from Flagstaff to the Quads, causing my eyes to overflow with uncontrollable tears. And even though my eyes were watering to the point where I was partially blind, I somehow managed to read the “How Insomnia Affects Teens” poster on the opposite wall. The girl seated next to me started striking up a conversation about physics, which I knew nothing about, and my first instinct was to respond with equal courtesy, but all that came out was a scratchy, half-hearted, and fully-phlegmy “yeah.” My eyes had finally dried out a bit and I noticed that she was covered in inflamed, red bumps that looked contagious. I shuffled around to take a book out of my backpack, in order to hide my attempt at inching further away from her. As Chicken Pox girl inhaled and exhaled, I could feel her infected breath slowly cover the surface area of my neck. The breathing was so heavy I could envision the germs forming a scarf around me. The thought sent shivers down my spine, along with the ones I had already acquired from my fever. I had to flip through the first pamphlet I saw to calm down. The pamphlet bore the title, “Date Rape and You!” The “Dangers of Roofies” section only made me sicker, and a worse person for reading it. I tossed the pamphlet into the recycling and decided I needed to update myself on my illness before the nurse whisked me away into her office. I felt my forehead and I was easily still a good five degrees warmer than I should have been. I felt my glands and they had actually improved, from the size of a small melon to a strawberry size. Chicken Pox Girl had finally been taken to the Promised Land, otherwise known as the nurse’s office, and I was left to just stare ahead at the couple seated in front of me. The only reason I did not at first question them being together in Isham was because they were always seen together making out in Uncommons or in a dark corner in the comfy chair room. They were together so much, it was odd to see them apart. On that rare occasion when I saw them in their separated state, I sometimes wondered if they were missing a leg or some other equally important appendage. At first, as they gripped each other’s hands with determination, it ran across my mind that they were there for a gynecological check up or STD testing. Both of them sniffled in harmony though, and I figured they had just hooked up so excessively that they had merely exchanged colds. Finally, when they were leaning in for a bacteria-filled kiss, I heard my name and the nurse ushered me into her office filled with some much-desired Tylenol and Sudafed. Oh yeah, that’s the good stuff. -Edith Young