The very first thing Vernon noticed when his alarm went off was a burning in his throat.He tried swallowing, but it felt like choking down broken glass.
He also couldn’t breathe through his nose. He felt alright the night before. How could this happen? He was always so careful to use hand sanitizer. It was like his body betrayed him.
“Not today,” he said out loud. His words were muted and rough. It made him cringe. Pain radiated across his chest. Vernon closed his eyes. Even his eyelids burned.
He was sick.
Vernon got out of bed, hoping things would improve as he worked through his morning routine. A shower didn’t revive. Brushing his teeth made him gag.
Coffee. He rested his hope in the heavenly stimulant. Although too congested to taste it, the warmth soothed his troubled throat. Sadly, the benefits were temporary.
He sat at the table, wondering what to do. Nobody at work would want this, he reasoned, but he really couldn’t afford to take a sick day. Then again, if he takes today off, he might feel better tomorrow. If he goes to work, he might only prolong the agony.
Vernon made a second cup of coffee. As it brewed he looked in his medicine cabinet. It was empty except for a box of outdated laxatives.
Back at the kitchen table, Vernon rubbed his eyes. When he was a boy, this sort of thing was simple. His mom would take one look at him, feel his forehead and make the call.
Vernon grabbed his phone. He told his boss he was sick. His boss told him to get better. He reminded Vernon they need him for the Albertson Project. Vernon said he’d do his best.
He felt horrible.
Vernon went back to bed. As he lay there, he couldn’t help wonder what was worse, the cold he had or the quilt he felt skipping work. He sighed. Sometimes, being an adult sucks.