I woke up around 11 am on the Friday morning. I hadn't gone to school the entire week. The heat in my chest felt like lava, ready to erupt out of my mouth and ears at any moment. The pain in my limbs had gotten even worse since the Finder's Camp and it took me forever to build up the courage to get out of bed every morning this entire week. I pulled off the duvet and felt the cool room air wash over my feverish body. I sat up and almost decided to go back to bed as a splitting headache assaulted my brain. I stayed put until the throbbing subsided somewhat. I wrapped my gown around me, slipped on my slippers and trudged downstairs.
I saw Maria, our maid, busy in the kitchen and I went and sat at the counter.
"Good morning Maria," I said.
"Good morning Adriel," she said. I always smiled at the way she said my name in her Xhosa accent.
"How are you?"
"I must ask you how you are doing,"
"I'm still the same," I said, smiling lousily.
Maria, being our maid for the past 5 years, meant she knew exactly what I needed whenever I got sick. She was there during my mother's illness and after when the house lost its glow and surrendered to gloom. She brought me two slices of plain toast and a glass of cold orange juice. It wasn't much, but it was what I needed.
"You must get better. You are missing too much school," she said.
"I know, I hate being sick, and you know how much I hate having to catch up on work."
"Oh before I forget, your father says you mustn't forget about your Doctors appointment this afternoon. He's picking you up at two."
I got up and went to put the dishes in the sink. I turned and didn't see the open cabinet door above the sink. My nose met the glass in an angry manner and an acidic pain jetted through the bridge of my nose. I felt the warm stream of blood soon thereafter begin pouring out of my nose. I grabbed some paper towel and put it to my nose, closed my eyes and let everything just sink in. Today was going to be a bloody mission to get through.
An hour later, despite having showered and gotten dressed, I was still nursing my bleeding nose. My nosebleeds never lasted this long, and neither should they really. I began to get panicky and phoned my dad; losing blood like this could not be very good. I didn't want to become anaemic.
"Yeah, what's wrong son?" my dad asked over the phone.
"My nose is bleeding," I said.
"Have you tried putting you head between your knees and clamping the bridge with your fingers?"
"Yes, nothing's working. I even tried the wet cloth on my forehead trick and nothing's working. It's been like this for an hour."
Even though my dad wasn't saying anything on the other side of the phone line, I could hear him thinking.
"Dad?" I asked, wondering if he actually was still on the line.
"Yeah, I'm coming to pick you up and we can go to the doctor a little early. I don't expect you to bleed out until two o'clock this afternoon," he said and laughed hesitantly.
"Okay," I said.
"Are you ready and dressed?" he asked.
"Okay, I'll come get you in ten minutes."
It took 15 minutes to drive to the doctor, park the car and walk into the waiting room. We sat and waited another fifteen minutes before I was called in to the office. Her name was Dr. Ross. She was a paediatrician, and had been my paediatrician since I was a toddler. She was a tall woman, with strong legs and arms and golden blonde hair, something I had always admired about her. She always wore a blouse and suit pants, colourful jewellery and lipstick that might have been a bit too red for her olive complexion. But it was a quirk that I liked about her and I had always felt comfortable in her presence.
"Your dad said you have a stubborn nose-bleed," she said when I had seated myself in front of her desk.
"Yes, I'm not sure why it's bleeding this much. It usually stops after 15 minutes or so."
"How often do you have nosebleeds?" she asked.
"Not very often at all. I bumped my nose this time, so it didn't just happen spontaneously."
"Okay," she said and motioned for me to sit on the examination bed. She set up and little machine on a trolley and held what looked like an electrode in her hand.
She explained to me what it did and that she was going to use it to cauterise the bleeding vessel in my nose and that I would smell some unpleasant burnt flesh smell. It happened quite fast. The smell was there and then it was gone and my nose stopped bleeding. I made to get off the bed but she stopped me.
"And where do you think you're going?"
"My nose has stopped bleeding,"
"You had an appointment with me this afternoon, and that wasn't for a bleeding nose, now was it?"
"No," I said guiltily. She smiled kindly.
"It won't take long, just a quick examination okay," she said gently, "just you put on that gown over there and I'll be with you in two shakes of a lambs tail."
She returned after a minute and almost completely undressed me.
Her questions ranged from when I started feeling ill to what subjects I was doing at school, when I had gotten the bruises on my side to which ballet had perked my interest lately. She also got it out of me that I had a boyfriend. She was very excited about that aspect of my life.
"We all need someone to love, don't we?" she said while lifting my legs up and down and flexing my knees.
"I think so too," I said, staring up at the ceiling which had pictures of squirrels pasted onto it, no doubt for the amusement of Dr. Ross's younger patients.
"I think we can call your dad in now."
My dad and I sat in front of Dr Ross and she explained that I might be anaemic and she wanted to get to find out why. She said I might have an iron deficiency or something and that it was necessary to take some blood for testing. She also said that I had a chest infection and she handed me a packet antibiotics that would clear it up.
I waited in the car for about 20 minutes while my dad sorted the accounts and made an appointment to discuss the results of the tests. He got into the car and looked at me with a wired expression.
"What is it dad?"
"Nothing," he said, "I'm just glad you haven't lost all of your blood."
"Oh, it smelled so nasty, when she burned the bleeding vessel,"
"Did it?" he said chuckling.
"Yeah, it was gross."
"Do you know how to take the pills?"
"Yep, it's written on the packet," I said, showing him Dr Ross's neatly handwritten instructions.
"Don't worry Dad, I'll be back at school in no time."
"That would make me very happy," he said and pulled my head towards his and kissed my forehead, "very happy indeed."
I stayed indoors the entire weekend. Winter was fast approaching and it was becoming increasingly unpleasant leaving the warmth of the house. Tyler visited on Saturday and brought along with him a ton of homework I needed to catch up on. So we sat together at the coffee table in the lounge solving equations and correcting tenses from dawn until dusk. I enjoyed spending this time with him. Just sitting and talking. It's amazing how much you can learn about someone when cooped up in an enclosed space with nothing to do but talk. In the evening Kerry and Rhys joined us for pizza and a movie.
They all ended up spending the night and when I awoke the following morning we were all heaped together in a bundle of blankets and pillows. The grey light that shone through the open blinds dimly lit the room, but not quite enough to violently wake someone from slumber. What awoke me was the incredible heat that was emanating from within me and leaking out of every pore in my skin. I felt Tyler close behind me, responding to the feeling of by body in that unconscious arousal that all men experienced. If it wasn't for this unbearable fever and the need to rid myself of the blankets and my clothes I would have considered pressing myself up harder against him, turning around, waking him up, staring into his golden brown eyes and kissing him.
I slithered out of the tiny space I was occupying between Tyler and Kerry and went to the kitchen to drink a glass of water. It was only by the time that I got up to my bathroom and was looking at myself in the mirror that I realised I was crying. I wiped the tears away and sat on the edge of the bathtub. I was shivering now and I quickly and quietly snuck into my father's room and woke him up.
"Dad," I said, "I don't feel well."
He sat up and looked at me. Then he touched my forehead and then either side of my neck.
"You're burning up," he said.
He stood up and led me back to my room and tucked me into bed.
"I'm going to call Dr Ross okay," he said before leaving the room.
I heard him on the phone downstairs and then busy in the kitchen, no doubt serving my friends breakfast. I heard him climbing the stairs and he entered my room with a plate of toast and a glass of orange juice. I ate one slice and drank half of the juice.
"Are Tyler and them still here?" I asked.
"No. I told them you were sick and needed some rest. They said they hope you feel better soon."
"I hope so too," I said unsure.
My father stayed by my side until the sound of Dr Ross's car crunched urgently onto the gravel driveway outside the house. When he left to greet her, an insidious wind took his place and the coldness of it settled in my shivering bones.