Episode 126

Melinda’s Story

“You look like you’re feeling better,” Dr. Vitnor greeted me in the morning.

I smiled as I sat up in the bed. “I am. My throat doesn’t hurt as much, and my headache is gone.”

“I’m glad to hear it. Let’s take a look, shall we?”

While the doctor examined my neck and throat, the day nurse used the finger clip and checked my temperature. Dr. Vitnor checked the readouts and smiled. “Well, it looks like your fever has broken.”

“So, I’m all better?”

“Almost. You will need to keep taking the antibiotics for a few more days. Now that your throat is better, would you prefer liquid or a pill?”

“Pills are easier.”

Dr. Vitnor nodded. “You’re no longer contagious, but I would like you to spend the day here. We want to see you eat and get your strength back. If you are up to it, you can return to your dorm tonight.”

When Doctor Vitnor left, the nurse handed me a menu. After skimming it, I asked for a plate of scrambled eggs, figuring that would be gentle on my throat while providing me with energy.

I was weak, but my head no longer hurt. While I waited for my food to be sent over from the dining hall, I worked on some of my homework. Sarah brought me a change of pajamas on her way to her German class. We chatted briefly, but Sarah didn’t have time to linger and, a short time later, headed off to class.

I had nearly caught up on all of my assignments by the time my breakfast arrived. I still had very little appetite and could only eat about half my eggs, although I forced myself to drink both the juice box and the glass of water on my tray. By the time I was done, I was too exhausted to continue my work. I put my books away and laid down for a few minutes.

I was awakened from my nap when a nurse came to check on me and bring my lunch. I found my appetite was slowly returning as I ate most of my chicken noodle soup while reading for English. However, despite my appetite, I still grew very weak and needed to lie back down as soon as I finished eating.

When the nurse woke me for dinner, I changed into my clean pajamas. I was just about to start my Latin homework when Dr. Vitnor entered. “I wanted to check up on you one last time before my shift ends. You look much better. Would you like to go back to your dorm?”

“Yes, but . . .” I bit my lip.


I sat up as straight as I could. “I swear, I’m not avoiding any tests or anything. I’m still really tired. I kind of want to just sleep tomorrow like I did today.”

Dr. Vitnor smiled. “I will speak with your advisor and your dean. I will excuse you from classes and activities tomorrow. If you still feel ill the following morning, speak with your advisor.”

I nodded, packing my belongings as soon as the doctor left. A short time later, a nurse came to tell me I could leave. I took my time walking back to the dorm, not wanting to over-exert myself. As soon as I reached my empty room, I crawled into bed.

When I opened my eyes again, the sun was shining. I glanced at the clock, then my roommate, who was getting ready for class.

Sarah smiled when she saw me. “Hey. I was just about to wake you. How you feeling?”

“I’m a lot better, but I’m still so tired. The doctor said he would excuse me from my classes. And activities. I’m sure Clarissa already knows, but just in case, can you remind her at practice today?”

Sarah nodded. “Yesterday’s game felt so strange without you there to keep score. Sandy volunteered to do it, since she hurt her thumb in practice Tuesday.”

“She did? Is she okay?”

Sarah waved a dismissive hand. “Yeah. It’s just a strain, but when Clarissa suggested her sitting out the game, she jumped at the idea. I’m not sure she calculated the chocolates correctly, though.”

Sarah spent a few minutes updating me on what I had missed in my classes and activities over the past few days before heading off to class. I wanted to call Pat, but classes were starting, and I didn’t want him to get in trouble. I would wait until after his last class.

After taking a quick shower, I grabbed a protein bar from under my bed and flipped through my assignment book. I had lost track of time in the infirmary. Somehow, it was already Thursday. I wanted to catch up on some of my schoolwork while I still had a burst of energy.

I brought my music history book into my bed and started reading. I managed to catch up on my music and physics assignments before growing weary. After sending a quick email to my physics teacher asking about how I was supposed to make up the lab, I climbed under my covers for a long nap.

When I heard Sarah moving about, I opened my eyes without sitting up. “What time is it?”

My roommate spoke quietly. “Around three. I’m on my way to basketball. I’ll be back later. You go back to sleep.”

I rubbed my eyes and sat up. “No, I should get up. I skipped lunch. Do me a favor? Can you make sure I don’t miss dinner?”

“Yeah. You coming to orchestra?”

I groaned. “I’ll see how I feel.”

When Sarah left, I called Pat. He answered almost immediately, and I sent him a weak smile. “Happy birthday.”

“Hey, you. You look better.”

“You don’t.”

He was pale and his voice was raspy. “Yeah, I’m not feeling too hot. I’m in the infirmary. My dean sent me here after Reflections. I’ve been kind of out of it ever since.”

“I’m sorry I missed Valentine’s Day.”

“I missed it, too. Don’t feel bad.”

“But I got you sick on your birthday.” I couldn’t quite keep the guilt away.

“Sweetheart, you didn’t get me sick. You just got sick a day before I did. I’m going to say Walter got us sick.”

“Walter’s not sick.”

“I know. I just like blaming my brother for things.”

I smiled. “Well, you get some rest, okay? Maybe we can celebrate your birthday this weekend.”

“My birthday isn’t for a few days.”

Pat was probably still groggy from being sick. I had lost track of time while I was in the infirmary. He probably had no idea what day it was.

Instead of correcting him, I just smiled. “Get some sleep.”

“I love you.”

“I love you, too. Go to sleep.”

I decided that skipping orchestra would be a bad idea. It was our last rehearsal before our recital. Sarah came to get me after basketball and, as promised, made sure I joined her in the dining hall.

My appetite had returned. I finished an entire bowl of soup, a small salad, and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Over dinner, my friends filled me in on what I had missed while I was sick. By the time I had to leave for orchestra, I felt as if I hadn’t missed the past three days.

Orchestra was more grueling than ever. Mr. Williams began by having us arrange our folders so the music was in the order we would perform it. This took quite a while since Kelsey dropped all her papers, scattering them across most of the flute section and into the saxophones behind us. A few other classmates and I helped her retrieve the papers as Mr. Williams, ignoring the commotion behind him, continued writing the song titles on the board. I then helped Kelsey figure out which pages were for which song and put them in the correct order, encouraging her to store the papers in the binder pocket, since her rings were broken.

As Mr. Williams gave us final instructions for our performance, I organized my own binder. I had just enough time before he tuned the orchestra and had us review the entire repertoire. Although I knew we weren’t flawless, I thought it sounded pretty good. Most of the audience wouldn’t notice the minor imperfections in the performance. I left rehearsal looking forward to the weekend.

Pat’s Story

Every few hours, a nurse would bring me a tray identical to my lunch. I obediently took the medicine but didn’t always eat. I tried to watch television or read, but I kept falling asleep.

This pattern continued until Melinda called me. I checked my watch. It was after classes. On Thursday. I had been in the infirmary for over a day. How had that happened?

“Happy birthday,” she greeted me as her face filled my screen. The color had returned, and she looked much better than she had the last time we spoke.

“Hey, you. You look better.”

She frowned. “You don’t.”

“Yeah, I’m not feeling too hot. My dean sent me here after Reflections. I’ve been kind of out of it ever since.”

Her eyes were filled with compassion. “I’m sorry I missed Valentine’s Day.”

“I missed it, too. Don’t feel bad.”

“But I got you sick on your birthday.”

I shook my aching head. “Sweetheart, you didn’t get me sick. You just got sick a day before I did. I’m going to say Walter got us sick.”

She made a face of confusion. “Walter’s not sick.”

“I know. I just like blaming my brother for things.”

She smiled. “Well, you get some rest, okay? Maybe we can celebrate your birthday this weekend.”

I shook my head. “My birthday isn’t for a few days.”

“Get some sleep.”

I nodded. “I love you.”

“I love you, too. Go to sleep.”

Attention Hammerheads

Melinda is always trying to build her vocabulary. What were some words in this episode that were new to you? She will add them to her vocabulary journal.