The Kissing Disease
Trimm lay in his bed wondering if he would die from boredom which was almost as bad as being sick in the first place. He heard the front door open and a voice call out.
He recognized the voice as Jackeline from across the street, his longtime neighbor, friend and classmate.
"Up here, Jackie," He called, although his voice wasn't that strong.
A moment later, Jackeline appeared in his bedroom doorway.
Her long blonde hair flowed down her back. She was wearing shorts and a tee shirt with sandals on the warm summer day. It occurred to Trimm that his friend had grown up almost without him even noticing.
"So, who'd you get the kissing disease from?" She wanted to know.
"I didn't get it from kissing," he frowned.
"That's how most people get mono," she said.
"You can also get it from shared soda cans, or somebody sneezing in your face," Trimm argued.
"Or other body fluids," Jackeline noted. "Did you finally get laid?"
"Shut up," He mumbled, embarrassed.
"Why didn't you tell me you were sick?" She complained, taking a seat on the end of his bed.
"How'd you find out?"
"She was going to take a leave of absence from work to take care of me," Trimm said, rolling his eyes. "I had to remind her that I'm eighteen, not eight."
"Well, some TLC isn't a bad thing," Jackeline reasoned.
"Can you believe this happened to me a week after we graduated?" He groaned.
"And I'm just finding out now?"
"You're living your own life," he shrugged. "This isn't your problem."
"I work nights!" She said, rolling her eyes. "We could have been hanging out all this time had I known."
"I guess you know now," Trimm said.
"I heard it can be a pretty nasty virus and infection."
Trimm nodded in affirmation. "I thought I was just burned out. The long baseball season and the playoffs. Working at the gas station. All the graduation stuff. Trying out for the Serguci League. Stress about college."
"But it wasn't that?" She guessed.
"I felt fatigued," Trimm explained. "I had no motivation. I was exhausted all the time. The Doc said I probably got the virus weeks or months earlier and it had been incubating inside me, waiting to strike."
"The prom, maybe?" Jackeline wondered. "Did you and Gabby suck each other's faces off that night?"
"The exhaustion kept getting worse," Trimm continued, ignoring her crack about prom night. "I was becoming moody and depressed. Didn't care about anything. Then I got a fever and it felt like I was burning up. My mother finally took me to the Doctor's to figure out if I was dying or something."
"I would have been very upset if you had died without telling me," Jackeline said.
"It got so I could barely get out of bed," Trimm told her. "I wasn't eating. And then they finally figured out I had mono."
"There's no cure, you know," Trimm said. "All you can do is rest and drink fluids and wait for the virus to bury itself."
"Are you okay?"
"There's always danger of liver damage and the spleen can swell and that causes a lot of internal pain," Trimm reported. "That's why I can't play baseball even if I got my strength back. I could rupture my spleen or something."
"Sorry," Jackeline said with sympathy. "I know how much you were looking forward to playing for the Browns."
"This summer definitely sucks," Trimm grumbled.
"It will get better," she predicted.
"I sleep most of the time," he sighed. "I'm not eating."
"You do look thinner," she admitted.
"I'm exhausted," He complained. "The other day I literally crawled to the bathroom."
"I've been forced to learn patience," Trimm said. "When I'm not sleeping I'm watching Moron TV or computer streaming."
"You could have been feeding my phone addiction by texting me non-stop."
"I'm too tired to hit the keys," Trimm said.
"Wow, you really are in sorry shape."
"It's frustrating to be an invalid," Trimm complained. "I've been depressed a lot."
"I'll cheer you up," Jackeline said warmly.
"Okay, take your clothes off," he joked.
"Don't be a perv!" She protested.
"When you're dogged by a relentless endless stubborn exhausting disease it's easy to get down," Trimm admitted.
"It won't last forever," Jackeline reminded him.
"It already feels like forever," Trimm pouted.
"I'll go get you something to eat," Jackeline offered.
"I'm not hungry."
"You're wasting away," she worried. "You're as white as a ghost."
He saw the look of pity on her face. "My mother said there's chicken soup in the frig," he sighed. "Don't warm up too much though."
"I'll be right back," she said with enthusiasm. "Don't go anywhere," she added lightly.
"Very funny," Timm mumbled and he listened to her laugh all the way down the stairs.
He smiled. It was nice to see her and to have her in his house during his darkest hours (days, weeks). Trimm felt a butterfly float in his stomach and he realized just how much he had missed Jackeline since his illness took him out of action.
Trimm was dozing when Jackeline returned carrying a bowl of soup for him.
"Geez," she said with surprise. "I wasn't gone that long."
"It doesn't take much or long for me to conk out," Trimm reveal, sitting up on the bed as she handed him the bowl and took a seat on the edge of the bed again.
"Are you worried?" Jackeline asked.
"I've never felt this physically weak and emotionally vulnerable before," he admitted. "I'm really tired of dealing with it."
"Sorry," she shrugged. "But I'm here now."
"You'll get tired of me soon enough," he predicted.
"I've tolerated you this long," Jackeline grinned.
"Where's Bruce Almighty?" Trimm asked, referring to her boyfriend.
"Texas," Jackeline pouted. "He went down early to check out the campus and stuff."
"Is it over?" Trimm asked with sensitivity.
She shrugged. "Texas is a long way away. I don't know what the hurry was."
"Yeah," Trimm agreed.
"What am I supposed to do now? She asked. "Sit around and wait for him to come back?"
"I don't know," Trimm admitted. "Don't give up so soon though."
She laughed. "Are you giving me romance advice?"
"I'm so good at it," he deadpanned.
She noticed he hadn't touched the soup. "Eat," she ordered.
"I told you I'm never hungry."
Jackeline took the spoon from him and he let her feed him. "You'll be as good as new soon," she predicted.
"How's the job going?"
"Being a waitress is a tough gig," Jackeline said. "But they're nice at Serguci's Italian Family Restaurant so I have no complaints."
"I had to quit mine," Trimm sighed.
"Oh well," Jackeline said. "Pumping gas at Davio's Service Station wasn't the best job for you anyway."
"It wasn't going to be a career choice," he grumbled.
"You going to start community college on time?" Jackeline asked.
"I hope so," Trimm said. "We'll see how it goes." He looked at her with interest. "You all ready for Green?"
"Counting the days," she smiled.
The soup was consumed.
"Do you want some more?" Jackeline asked.
"No," Trimm replied. "That was plenty."
"That was barely hardly any at all," Jackeline frowned. "Geez, you used to eat three school lunches in one setting!"
"That was before I was sick," Trimm pointed out. "And bored," he added with a sigh
"I'll come over every day," Jackeline offered.
"You'll be bored."
"No I won't."
"I'm all depressed," he warned.
"Sorry," she said, reaching for his hand.
He let her squeeze it and he forced a smile. "Thanks," he said warmly.
"It's okay," She assured him, taking the bowl and standing. "I'll come by again tomorrow, okay?"
"Sure," he said contently as he watched her leave.
He waited until he heard the front door close before letting out a long sigh. He wished she'd stay 24/7.