Good morning, friends! Today is Friday… Which means it’s time for segment #38 of my fictional story, When Life Hands You Lymes. Sit back and enjoy!
“Madalyn!” I heard Katie burst into my room, but didn’t remove the pillow from my face. Suddenly, I felt the pillow jerked away. Bright light and a scared look on Katie’s face greeted me.
“Are you ok?”
Ok? Did I look like I was ok? The answer to that would be a big, huge, resounding no, but I nodded my head instead.
“Were you asleep? Why didn’t you answer your phone? Do your realize that we’ve been calling you for hours?” Katie wrote something on her phone then plopped down on the bed next to me. It was only then that I realized she’d turned on my light. It was dark outside.
Not seeming to mind that I wasn’t talking, Katie continued. “I didn’t think much about you not answering your phone until we all gathered for supper, started supper and finished supper and you still hadn’t showed up. What is wrong with you?” Falling back on the bed, Katie blew her bangs up with an exaggerated breath, but still didn’t give me time to answer. “I was worried you’d had a stroke or some other crazy medical emergency.”
Katie? Worrying about me? Was she being for real or was just another part of her act? I closed my eyes to block out her triad. I wished she would just go back downstairs. I wanted to sleep. I wanted to be alone. I didn’t want her in my room reminding me of how I’d failed. So, not only had I messed up her life by not being able to do work for Emerson Airlines, I then went and freaked her out by not showing up for supper or answering my phone.
Supper. The very word made my stomach clench like a fist. I ground my teeth together as I tried not to gag.
“Madalyn?” Mom’s calm voice was just the balm I needed to hear, but I didn’t move, didn’t respond. Who knew how long it would take me to stop crying if I started in the condition that I was in? I’d never felt so utterly dejected, alone, guilty and sick before. If I could do anything to rewind the last several hours, I would have. I didn’t want to go through that pain again, the horrible emotions, feelings and sensations I had felt.
“She’s not asleep.” Katie seemed to notice for the first time that I hadn’t been carrying on part of her conversation.
“What’s wrong?” Mom sat down on the other side of my bed, up near my pillows.
“I don’t kn-” Katie began.
“Katie. I’m asking Madalyn.” Mom’s voice was soothing, but I didn’t doubt the look my sister was getting. Mom was a pro at putting us in our place with a simple look. “Madalyn, would you please open your eyes?”
I opened them.
“Do you feel too sick to talk?” Mom’s eyes were worried.
I shook my head.
“Then why don’t you tell me how you feel?”
Mom glared. Not at me, at Katie. “Would you like to leave the room?”
“Sorry. No, I want to know what’s wrong. My little sister had me worried.” Katie picked up my hand.
I felt tears slide out the corner of my eyes. Of course Katie had no way of knowing how she’d hurt me. That I had heard her. And now I was confused. Which side of Katie did I trust? Had she just been upset? Or did she really mean what she had told Darrick? Did it even matter? She had said it, after all, and that must mean she’d been thinking it.
“Madds? What happened to your hand?” Katie’s hand-stroking stopped. “Who did this to you?”
I gave her a blank stare. “Me.” Duh. It’s not like anyone else had access to biting my hand.
“Why?” Katie’s face showed her shock.
“You wanted to inflict pain on yourself?” Her horrified expression would have made me laugh if I had any energy left.
I gave Mom a helpless eye-roll. “I was in pain.”
“Well of course you were!” Katie hopped off the bed and came back a moment later with a wet wash cloth. “Anyone who bites themselves would have to be in pain.”
“I think she means she was doing it to relieve pain elsewhere.” Mom finally stepped in and rescued me.
My shoulders sagged a little bit with relief. Just keep doing the talking, just keep doing the talking. I didn’t want to talk. At all. I was too tired. To upset. To confused.
“Where were you hurting?” Mom leaned over me and gave me a comforting smile.
“All over.” And it was true. Now that I thought about what had happened earlier, all I could think of was a blur of pain. I could barely even remember why it had affected me so badly. I knew just as well as anyone else that Katie was prone to making rash statements and being unfeeling when she was under pressure. That’s one thing Dad and her were working on.
“Are you still in pain?” Mom’s face was filled with sympathy, not scorn.
“Can I get you anything?” Katie looked genuinely frightened.
I lifted one shoulder in an awkward-laying-down-shrug.
“How about some food?” Katie stood up again.
And strangely enough, my stomach wasn’t twisted into knots any more. “Thanks.”
I could hear Katie’s sigh of relief as she left the room.
“Alright, Maddie, let’s get your hand cleaned up.” Mom took the washcloth that Katie had left on the bed and carefully wiped my hand. “Next time you’re in so much pain please call me, ok?” Even though she phrased it as a question, I knew she wasn’t actually giving me a choice.
“And do you know what happened to bring on this bout of pain?” Mom searched my face.
I forced my eyes to stay on her. “I was upset at not feeling up to par and for letting my family down and not helping Katie with her project, and suddenly I felt weird all over.” And that is what had happened. Looking back, Katie’s words were just a haze.