Jessica Thompson as That Girl

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XXX. Fever and Apologies

Jessica’s POV:

My gaze drops onto my toes. It’s untrimmed and unpainted. Maybe Krista and I can paint our nails tomorrow.

“That’s good,” Krista said. “I’m glad things are working out.” She laughs, “I was getting worried about you since you’re always breaking girls’ hearts left and right. Be careful or else one day, it may bite you in the ass.”

I took a step back and walked towards the restroom. I’ll pretend I’ve been sitting in here and I didn’t hear anything.

Krista’s head pops in, “Why are you sitting in the bathroom in the dark? I was about to grab the broom over there and smack you with it.”

I stood up and hugged her.

She laughs, “What are you doing?” Krista pat my back.

I held her firmly, and when I opened my eyes, Brody came into view. He stood there at the end of the hallway. Our eyes hardly wave from each other. “Thank you.”

Krista giggles, “What are you saying? Something wrong?”

Unlike earlier, some crushed my chest - leaving me incapable of thinking anything. There weren’t any tears, and the screams didn’t depart from anyone’s mouths.

My body feels hot, and the temperature erupted. I should’ve worn my slippers or grabbed a sweater before I went downstairs.

Brody clenches his fists, but his gaze didn’t waver.

I’m so selfish.

And amid the silence, only two broken words linger inside the house. “I’m sorry.”

Krista pushes me back, forcing my attention to rest on her. “Are you okay? Are you sleepwalking or something?”

My sight flickers towards the space where Brody used to stand.

He left.

Krista felt my forehead. “Oh gosh, you’re burning up.” She took off her sweater and wrapped it around my body. “Let’s go upstairs.” She grabbed my hand and led me back into my bedroom. Krista laid me down and tucked the blanket around my body. “Wait here. I’ll grab you some medications.”

Waves of heat coursed through my veins.

“101.5,” mom said. She exhales lightly, “I told you to dress warmer to the festival.”

I wore three layers of clothes, and somehow, I still got sick.

A cold sweat glistened into a pale feature, and I coughed violently.

Mom smoothes her soft hand across my face. “I’ll go get you some soup.”

I shook my head.

“You’re going to eat. You haven’t eaten anything this morning.” She left the room without allowing me to input another word.

Krista settled beside the bed and pouted. I smile, “Go and have fun.” We made plans to hang out with a few other people at the festival. We’re not particularly close to them, but it’s not bad to hang out with other people once in a while.

Krista shook her head and pouted harder. “How can I go out and play when you’re here near death.” Why does everyone look and sound like I’m about to roll into my gravestone?

“Go and have fun. Bring me back a caramel apple. Tell them I’m sorry for not showing up.”

Krista exhales softly.

“I want to sleep, and it’s boring just watching me sleep for the whole day.”

“Alright. I’ll be back in a few hours.”

I nod, “I’ll be here. Maybe in a different position.”

Krista chuckles, “Sounds like a good plan.”

After Krista left, mom bought me a bowl of soup. I threw up everything on the side of my bed. My eyes sunk, and everything ached. Mom cleaned up everything and helped me change clothes, then went to do the laundry.

Dad left with Brody to hang out with some of their friends. They made plans before my sudden sickness. I told them that it’s okay. My cold shouldn’t interfere with everyone’s lives.

“Mom,” I called for her.

She looks up from her phone, “Yes?”

“You should go. Have fun.”

“Do I really look like the type of mom who would leave her dying daughter for her friends?” She stood up and tucked the blanket in tighter. Mom grabbed the thermometer and scanned my forehead for the gazillion times. “Your temperature is going down. Good. Now rest, and I’ll go make you something easy to eat.”

I can only comply and close my eyes. When I finally opened my lids, everything was fuzzy. The glass of water stared at me from the bedside nightstand. I grabbed the cup and took a sip then plopped back onto the wet pillow.

“Mom?” I called for her.

No response.

“Mom?” I forced the volume in my voice to grow louder.

No response.

An aching cough left my throat. I’m out of water. I grabbed the glass cup and stumbled out of bed. With each step, my stomach tightened and ached more. I kept swallowing, but my throat only compressed.

“Mom,” I called for her again. “Mom!” I clenched my hand on the glass. The other held against the wall. “Mom!”

Where is she?

No matter what I do, I can’t stop the hot feeling rising through my chest. A gagged like sound left my mouth, and I quickly covered it. “Mo-” I stumbled and vomited on the floor. “Mom.” I can taste the bitterness.

I forced myself to stand up and ignored the warm clouded liquid that used to be in my stomach.

“Mom. I vomited,” I said, my voice barely audible. When I made it to the stairs, I leaned against the wall. Somehow, it looks like a dangerous task. Each step seemingly spreads across or merges. “Mom. Are you downstairs?”

No response.

I wiped the sweats off of my forehead and clung onto the shred of clarity. The logical thing would be to go back into my bedroom and wait for mom to come back.

Yes, that would be the logical action to take.

A glass broke.

“Mom?” I turned around.

Hanging my weight against the wooden bar, I stumbled my way down the steps. Each time I missed, my ankle twisted into an awkward position.

“Mom?”

Each time I received no response, fear loops around my mind. What if something happened to my mom? What if she collapsed? What if she tried to get something from the top cabinet and a cup fell on her head? If I don’t go downstairs and check, she may just be lying there in the cold.

I know I’m overthinking things. I always do that, especially when I’m sick. My parents had always said I have an overactive imagination.

When I felt another sensation, my hand gripped onto my stomach. My eyes widen, and another bile pours out of my mouth. I retched the rest of the stomach acid that burned my throat. Without control, my ankle twisted once more, and I stumbled down the stairs.

The images around me only blurred. I couldn’t make it from left to right. I wanted to call out for my mom, but nothing came out. My head hurts. Did I hit it? I move my hand only to see sharp blades on my palm.

The front door opens, and mom made her appearance, or at least, I think it’s my mom. She drops the grocery bag and rushes towards me. “Jess! Jess!”

“I’m fine,” I said. “I’m fine.”

Mom didn’t listen to me; her shaky hands hover around my body. She grabbed her phone. “Someone! Please, help me! My daughter is sick and fell down the stairs!” The words only merged and turned into an echo. “I don’t know what to do! What should I do?!” The tears spilled from her eyes.

When I open my eyes, I can feel something hard pressing against my chest. “She’s conscious!” The voice sounds familiar, but I couldn’t put my finger on it.

Who is it?

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