Last night, I began to ache in every joint and muscle. I thought little of it, but it grew within the hour to where I couldn’t shake the feeling. I couldn’t shake how miserable I was suddenly feeling, in the physical sense. I took a shower, and it was a beautiful respite. I inhaled the steam and the warmth soothed my body in every portion. I felt queasy, but it made the nausea calm within me. Just as I felt maximum, fleeting relief, I heard the chiming of my phone. That’s him, I thought. Oh he’s on his way home. He, after all, is the nicest thing I know, at least in the human sense. He was due to return to Michigan that night.
Then, it was so unfortunate that leaving the shower didn’t make me feel better. In fact, I felt wholly worse. I was shaking from the cold of the ambient temperature, but the shaking never stopped. I got dressed and groveled in pain on my bed. Oh, he said he was showering and then coming to visit me. I haven’t seen him in weeks, this nice thing of mine. I wish I didn’t agree so readily to see him like this. But it’s too late, he’s on his way. I need this, I think. I need something, or someone to make the awful go away. I feel so unwell. My body starts cooking. 100 degrees. 101 degrees. I’m covering myself in blankets, barely wanting to move. I want to be well. I was so well, just hours ago! I could have seen him any other time of day, and it wouldn’t be this agony. Oh well, he’s nearly here.
I had intended to wrap his gifts, which accumulated like the snow outside in the days he was gone. I just kept thinking of him, and kept wanting nice things for him, because he’s so nice. I couldn’t wrap them, no. I put them in a recycled bag and threw a sheet of wrapping paper over top. I meant for this to be so much more thoughtful, but it’s too late now. Maybe he didn’t bring his gifts? Maybe I wouldn’t have to give mine. We missed Christmas and New Year, this year. It was a sad time, all things considered. Then I heard the car pull up, that little blue Ford Fiesta. It’s him. I gotta get to the door, it’s so cold out and I don’t want him to freeze. I didn’t tell him I was sick. Or that chills were wracking my body. I didn’t have to. I wrapped a blanket around my shoulders, and wobbled to the door.
There he was, the nicest thing. He had a pot of white roses, flecked with shimmery glitter and a frozen pizza. Oh, he really did mean for me to heat the oven to 375 degrees, I thought. I fell into his arms, headbutting his chest affectionately. Then I began to quiver. I’m so happy you’re here, I’m thinking. I’m so happy, but I’m so sick. And he handed me the sweetest little card, handmade, with money to fund my fish habit in the form of a gift card to the pet store. After preheating the oven, I realized I would hand him my gifts. They’re not wrapped…but neither were his. Thoughtfully, he inspected everything, and we spoke. I sat on the floor, shrouded in blanket. I smiled and explained the thought behind every gift. I said I just kept adding to the pile because he was gone so long. We chuckled. Candles that smelled of hot cider like the kind we enjoyed at the Irish pub, Christmas cheer and so forth. He’s a man who likes his candles. Poker chips, because I know you and you like to play poker sometimes. When you win, we get to eat out, wherever I choose and it’s a new adventure every time. Chocolate from the gift shop in the museum, like two years ago when we drove on a snowy February to Ann Arbor. A pin from your favorite show, which we watched an episode or two of together, because I knew you were itching to. I had included his favorite candies, way back from Halloween, because he likes the Child’s play mix the best. Stress-relieving lotion, also, not for him to use on me but for me to use on him as we trade turns giving massages. I was so happy.
I had a really rough night, after he left. We cuddled for maybe an hour, and then he decided I needed to rest. I threw up at 5 AM. I was struggling to fight the sickness, which must have been a bad flu attack. It’s making the rounds, and nearly everyone I’m employed with had a similar night. But not everyone had this wonderful encounter with a boy who cares so deeply. He told me, before he took off, that if I needed anything at all, he would retrieve it for me. I told him, after some thought, come back at 1 pm tomorrow when I am scheduled to be working. I’ll call in, because I need to do that anyways. I’m somewhat of a workaholic, I admit. I survived the night, though. At 1 pm, his Ford Fiesta appeared once more. I happily jumped out of bed, my fever broken and my body beginning to heal. My throat is still sore and I’ve been hacking and coughing. But I’m so much better, especially since he is here.
We cuddled and ate Chinese food and cuddled some more. My cold heart warmed. This is the nicest thing, I’ve decided. My animals are in the periphery at all times. My cat, Kronos, tries to cause mischief but we both watch him with admiration. The puffer fish in one of my display tanks begin to swim up and down the corner of the tank. Look, I tell him. He looks. There is a book, too, that I’ve been reading on the history of the hobby. He flips through that, and greedily listens to every word. I show him fish vocalizations. Isn’t that crazy, how that darter sounds underwater? There’s so much to show and so much to tell. He’s a quiet one, but he never needs to say much. I’ve learned over the years to pay attention to his actions. He never says what he needs to say, most of the time, but he always does what he needs to do every time.
A fish geek girl can scarcely ask for more than this understanding. A fish geek girl can scarcely have a nicer thing.