Fever

The sun revealed the red highlights in your hair this morning, as you sat there with your sweat-drenched curls, and insisted on eating your breakfast. So stubborn, but there you sat, with your spoon in the air, and the bowl of oatmeal before you, a grown child silhouetted in the sun’s early light. You ate: moving the spoon gently into the white whirlpool of the cereal, and then letting it dive deeper down to the hidden pool of dark, sweet syrup. I begged you, “Can I take your temperature yet?”

“No,” you mumbled through a mouthful of food. “Not done eating yet.”

So I sat there, with my jacket half-on, and the thermometer in my hand; with the impatience beginning to boil through me, like water percolating through heated rock, and in the silence of our dining room, the steam began to rise. In invisible clouds, it rolled off my nose, enveloping my head, and turning the air around me into a shimmering mist of almost-ice crystals. While you sat there, my love, making your metallic rhythm of spoon against bowl, the snakes of my mind wove around you, pinning your arms to your side, your waist to the chair, and prying the spoon from your fingers.

And then you looked up; your pale-sick face frozen in time, while the copper sparked from your hair, and something in me caught on fire. Through a golden cloud of embers, you reached towards me, the heat of your fever blasting us both, as you took the thermometer from my trembling hand. Into my mouth it flew, past my lips, under my tongue, and into the deepest recess that you could find—glass encased in flesh, with the poison underneath—flowing through you, flowing through me, and leaving nothing, but the space between.

Ω

Jenny Rae Rappaport  Jenny Rae Rappaport's website lives with her husband and cat in central New Jersey, and is currently working on a novel. Her non-fiction has appeared in Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show, and her microfiction in Thaumatrope. She is a 2002 graduate of Orson Scott Card’s Literary Boot Camp and a 2009 graduate of the Odyssey Writing Workshop.  In her copious spare time, she knits and hand-dyes yarn.

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