||Sunday Feb. 3
Today may have been a typical day. I wouldnít have known this though because now anything relating to normal doesnít apply to me. I have been sick for so long that I have forgotten what itís like to feel good. The fever struck weeks ago and I found myself overcome with chills and shudders that seemed to wrack my very body and leave me shaking uncontrollably. My parents wanted me to go to the doctor but I somehow persuaded them no. My father could care less anyway, he is just playing the part of concerned parent. He canít fool me though. Behind his mock concern thereís a beating waiting in the wings somewhere. Heís not happy unless he is hurting someone. Mom tried to take my temperature but the thermometer registered nothing.. ďIt must be broke,Ē she said. I donít buy it. Something is horribly wrong with me. Maybe Iím dying, and any minute now I will hear the laughter of God as he lets me in on the great cosmic joke. My Gran says there is a purpose in everything but what is the purpose in feeling bad all the time? Like now I can barely hold my head up to see the paper and write this. Iím so weak and I have a feeling it has something to do with the marks on my neck.
Monday feb. 4 Ė morning
The chills are especially bad this morning. No matter what I tried or how many covers I put over me, my body shook. I noticed the marks on my neck were bruising as well. I wish I knew how they had gotten there. They are way too large for a mosquito or spider bite. Itís funny that I should use the word ďbiteĒ to describe the marks because thatís exactly what it looks like. Once when I was little, a dog had bitten me on the leg. The marks on my neck look something like that except the flesh isnít torn or anything. Itís strange that I canít recall anything that would cause such a mark. My own dog Marlowe would never have attacked me in such a way. And you would think Iíd remember it if he did. Heís way too protective of me to cause me harm. But yet I wonder if this is what my chills are about. Could it be the onset of rabies?
As I got dressed for school I was surprised by how I looked in the mirror. My face was pale- skin almost pasty - as if I had been standing in a meat freezer. I put it down to the fact that I hadnít been eating properly since the onset of my fever. If I could just get myself to school I reasoned, maybe the color would come back into my cheeks. I wish I knew what had brought all this on. Itís not like anything unusual happened. I went to bed one night and woke up the next morning drenched in sweat and shivering uncontrollably. Were the marks on my neck then? I donít recall. Could something have gotten into my room during the night? And if so, what was it? I canít imagine another animal getting past Marlowe, and he sleeps in the room with me.
As I prepared to go downstairs and try to grab a little breakfast, I looked over at him. Marlowe wagged his tail and then oddly enough slinked away from me when I reached down to pet him. ďWhatís wrong, boy?Ē I whispered. If the dog could have spoke I imagine he would have said, ďYou.Ē
Monday Feb 4 School
The hardest part was getting out the door without throwing up. By the time my stomach had settled down I had already missed the bus. That meant I had to walk nearly twelve city blocks just to get to school. I knew I should have just said to hell with it, but I had already missed enough days due to my fever. And both mom and dad, who work day jobs, didnít know I had been laying out. I didnít need the principal calling them to check up on me, or mailing a letter home, so I dragged my ass to school. The worst of it was not the walking distance, but the sun. It seemed a little too bright for morning and it hurt my eyes. I was going to need some sunglasses or I would have a raging headache by noon.
By the time I got to school the second bell had rung and the halls were nearly empty except Niles, the janitor, pushing a broom along. He barely looked at me which wasnít all that unusual. He was never very friendly with us, and we kind of liked it that way. He was a creepy kind of old. Itís not that he looked scary or mean, he just seemed to be one of those men that you never knew what he was thinking. The girls were especially wary of him; as if they thought at any moment he would grab one of them and drag them down to the boiler room. But he never really bothered any of us.
When I stumbled down the hall and passed by him, I could almost catch the scent of dirt, as if he had been outside digging up bushes or something. Normally I would have curled up my nose at such an earthy smell, but today it didnít seem so bad. In fact, it was almost appealing.
I stopped at my locker and fumbled with the combination. My hands were shaking but after the second try the clasp popped open. I reached inside for my math book when I noticed something lying on top of it: an envelope. I picked it up and examined it. Across its face in a graceful feminine script was my name, followed by a drawing of two hearts entwined with barbed wire and razor blades. I opened it up and inside was a card. It looked to be hand drawn as well. On the front cover appeared to be two naked bodies writhing together in sexual abandon. It would have made a great tattoo with its detail, but the longer I stared at it the less it looked like two lovers getting busy. In fact after a while it began to look like two serpents Ė one light, the other dark Ė with their jaws clamped on each otherís throats.
I flipped it open and looked inside. Carefully written in the same hand was a single sentence: ďWhen all is said and done, Weíll be together in blood and one.Ē Of course the card wasnít signed. Instead of a signature, a white rose, blood dripping from its virginal petals, rested at the bottom of the page. Weird. What the hell was this? Was I being stalked by the Riddler? Riddle me this, Riddle me that, Who got bit by the vampire bat? Donít ask me why I thought of that, it just came into my head. Doesnít mean it has to make sense.
I closed the card and glanced around, looking down the hall in either direction. I was the only one there; even Niles had taken his mop and went elsewhere. I looked at the card in my hands again, the cover image once more resembling two bodies in ecstasy. Flipping it back open, the rose signature and mysterious message seemed to start at me. ďWho are you, bloody rose?Ē I muttered under my breath.
I slipped the card in my pocket and shut my locker. As I put the lock back on, I stopped. Something felt different. Ever since I had laid my hands on the mysterious card I was feeling better. I wasnít shaking or shivering anymore, and my eyes had come out of squint mode, as if the sun itself had dulled in its brightness. If just holding the card made me feel this good, I definitely had to find whoever sent it to me.
(To be continued...?
@2010 Paul D. Aronson.