Annie & Jack After Forty

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Chapter 47


I open my eyes, and I know it immediately — I’m sick. My legs are throbbing and aching, my eyes feel gravelly, and my head feels like it’s in a bubble. I have Jack’s flu virus, and I’m screwed. We are supposed to leave for New York today, at the last possible minute, which is at one o’clock, so Jack can do to a meet and greet before they cut the ribbon. The people from the Silvia foundation, city officials, and the team from Rivinal, Jack, Eli, Mick, and Marybeth will all be there. It’s an important day for the people involved but also for the city of New York.

Jack is softly snoring. I roll myself away from him and out of bed. I need to take four ibuprofen now. I look at the clock. Wow, It’s seven-thirty. I tiptoe to the bathroom and down the pills and bring the acetaminophen with a glass of water back to bed with me. I drink half the water down, set my phone alarm for two and a half hours, that’s when I need to take my next dose of medicine.

“What are you doing?” Jack asks sleepily.

I look at him, and it must be visible that I’m sick.

“Oh, sweetheart, I’m so sorry. What can I do for you? I’m going to call Teddy’s baby. Don’t move.”

I close my eyes and try to convince myself I’m not sick. I tell myself over and over that I won’t have it as bad as Jack. I’ve been exposed to all kinds of illnesses, over the years, living in and out of hospitals. Odds are, it won’t be as bad as a man who dislikes people and likes to limit his interactions to as few as possible. Three days, that’s all I’ll have this virus for, I can do three days of feeling crappy. I’m going to close my eyes until I can take more medicine. I can make it to New York. I can be sick there, to be closer to Jack.


“I need to call you back, Eli.”

“Why the hell, are you not due to arrive until an hour before the ribbon-cutting, Jack?”

“Eli, I made the arrangements still sick and half-asleep, I’ve been fucking sicker than I have ever been in my life. Annie has it now. I’ll be there by three, and I have to leave after the first piece of equipment takes a hunk of Earth to make way for Silvia.”

“Are you fucking kidding me? You don’t have a choice, Jack. This is it. It starts today. Soon enough, you can get this fucking over with and go back to your fucked up secluded life. We accept you for bailing on us with most of the PR bullshit and the fucking politics. The schmoozing, the ass-kissing, but you are not fucking us over today for some woman who has the fucking flu. Get real.”

“Are you fucking serious, Eli?”

“You fucking better believe I am Jack. You made it to the top, you’ve made your mark, it’s time. It’s the fucking flu. She’s not dying for fuck’s sake.”

“I’ll see you at three, Eli.” I hang up and toss the phone on the table.

“He’s right, Jack.”

“What are you doing out of bed? How do you know he’s right?”

I get up and go to her to pick her up to carry her to our bed.

“I’m sick, not dying. I heard most of what Eli was screaming. Please get me to New York and put me to bed, then you can be away but close by me. I can make it to New York. Maranda and Meg have everything under control here for me.”

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