Aurelia: (to me) You look awful.
Me (croaking): I feel worse.
Aurelia: Your lips are cracked; your hair isn’t brushed, and you’re voice sounds like someone is grading the road behind your house.
Me (still croaking): You needn’t elaborate.
Aurelia: Would you like some peppermint ice cream?
Me: Yes, but I had two bowls already today.
Aurelia: Three bowls are allowed when you’re sick.
Me: I have the chills too.
Ni pops in. (Note to readers: you haven’t met Ni yet. She is Beth’s best friend in Salvation).
Ni: How about some hot lemonade?
Me: Mmm. I don’t know . . .
The characters consult one another, then Aurelia turns back to me.
Aurelia: You were a very good teacher this week.
I know I look bad when I start earning sympathy praise from Aurelia.
Me: Maybe I’ll just sleep.
Ni disappears into the kitchen. Aurelia follows her. I hear the fridge open, a cupboard closing, and the running of the water from the faucet. Someone pushes the button on the microwave, but the water keeps running. The characters’ voices carry over the running water.
Ni: You know this is your fault, Aurelia. If she wasn’t all anxious about Exile coming out, she would have postponed her magazine interview tomorrow and slept today. Instead of cleaning house.
The microwave beeps.
Aurelia: I think she’s much more worried about your book coming back from the editor. It’s causing stress.
Ni: Are you sure it’s not all those ARCs of Exile waiting to be packaged and her school visit in two weeks, and preparations for the Portland Writing Festival?
Aurelia emerges from the kitchen, a steaming mug in her hands. Ni follows. They both look at me skeptically.
Aurelia: (to me) You can’t do everything you know.
Me: (sigh) I don’t think either of you are to blame for a sore throat & fever.
Aurelia hands me the hot lemonade.
Aurelia: The next time you’re sick, you have my permission not to blog.
I close my eyes, take a sip, and say, “Thank you.”