On Monday, I wake up feeling groggy and sick to my stomach. As soon as I manage to stumble out of bed, I trip over my own feet to get to the bathroom, and immediately acidic bile, along with the remain of last night's dinner are sloshing around in the toilet, yellow streaked with brown sauce and dotted with chunks of pale, half-digested chicken.

I just lean over the bowl for awhile, shuddering and spitting over and over again. Waiting for the feeling to pass. As I hunched over the bowl, my mom rapped on the door with her knuckles, and launched into one of her speeches about how I never clean up around here. Honestly, ever since dad left she's seemed to be harsher and harsher on me. Maybe because she's going through a messy divorce, maybe because her son would rather smoke weed than work on college applications.

'Michael, how many times have I told you to put your clothes in the hamper, not on the floor. You don't even wash the clothes, the least you could do is put them in the right place.'

I opened the door, and I'm not going to lie, it was a little satisfying seeing her go from nagging to nurturing in less than five seconds.

'Oh, Mikey, you look awful. Were you just throwing up?'

I nodded, and tried to look extra pathetic, really lay it on thick. I even leaned against the door frame, like I couldn't hold my diseased body up any longer. The sicker she thought I was, the longer I'd get to stay home in the end. 'I think it might be the flu. A couple kids have been going home sick lately.' I doubted it was actually the flu. More likely, it was the fish sandwich I'd bought off the back of a food truck yesterday. (The set up had been majorly sketchy. The guy had been sweating and his fingernails were grimy. Plus, you know, the fact that I was getting a fish sandwich from off the back of a truck. Then again, I'm a teenage boy, and we aren't really known for making sound decisions.)

'Oh Jesus, I might need to take you to the hospital. I'll have to call Keisha and tell her that I can't make the flight today, rearrange some things.'

I hastily interrupted. Going to the hospital was just as harrowing as going to school, and I'd probably end up leaving sicker than I'd come in. 'Nah, that's not necessary. I probably just need to rest, and let this thing run it's course. It's like, the spring flu. Not a big deal.'

Now she's looking a bit suspicious. And I realize that in my hurry I've made my illness seem too trivial. I change my line of argument.

'Plus,' I say gently, 'Don't you need the hours?'

She flushes red, something she always does when I bring up money. She works as a stewardess for American airlines, and she spends days away from home, flying all over the southeast, barely making enough money to pay the mortgage that 'that bastard', as she likes to call dad, left her with after he ran off with his secretary.

I know, stereotypical, but that doesn't make it hurt any less. Although maybe it's not so cliché, since the secretary was a guy named Lorenzo.

'Come on, let's get you into bed.' She ushers me back down the hall to my room, argument abandoned. A second before I fall into bed, I suddenly feel a wave of doziness and nausea. Sweat breaks out over my forehead, and the small window of relief I felt after puking my guts out rapidly closes.

'Okay honey, I'm so sorry I have to leave you. I'll call Aunt Bren, have her come over and make you some soup.'

Aunt Bren. She's my mom's little sister, and everything that's wrong with the South. Overweight, watches NASCAR, goes out to lunch with her nephew, mistakes a Native American for a Mexican, and tells him to go back to his own country. Yeah, not my favorite person in the world. I seriously worry about her kids sometimes.

'Okay. Bye mom.'

Because I'm obviously never going to say any of that out loud.

'Bye sweetie.'

She scratches the back of her neck, and I notice when she turns around to put the shirt in the hamper that a heat rash has crawled between the collar of her jacket and the her hairline. Little bumps cover the skin, which looks scaly and dry.

'Put some Cortisone on that.' I croak out. It hurts my throat a little. I think I need some water.

'Shush. Sick people should rest, not try to give other people medical advice.' She clucks at me.

We both get a chuckle out of that, and she pats my hand and tells me she loves me. Then she's gone.

A/N: Just a little story I decided to write after watching a clip from nature about the Cordyceps parasite attacking a colony of bullet ants. Concrit, or any crit I suppose, are welcome.