I lounged around my home, phone in hand, anxiously awaiting for Nora's call. She was supposed to be spending the day with Vee and then coming over for a movie night with me. But that was hours ago. I rarely went hours without hearing from her and struggled to reign in my controlling side.
Another hour and a half passed before I gave up. I dialed her number, listening to sweet voice on the voicemail. It did little to soothe my frazzled nerves. After another half hour of debating, I gave in, snatching up my car keys and making my way to her home. On the way to Nora's, I texted her:
Hey, Angel, I called but didnt get an answer. I can come pick u up now if ur ready for our movie night
Without giving all the details, I figured it would lessen the surprise whenever I showed up in her driveway, but still giving a bit of forewarning. The twenty minute drive seemed much longer than that and I couldn't help, but wondering about everything that could have happened to her. It was already late, unless she forgot about our plans- which I highly doubt since she begged me to sit with her through The Princess Bride- and was still with Vee.
Pulling in, I breathed a sigh of relief when I didn't see Blythe's car parked out front. I didn't hesitate whenever I let myself into her home, gently calling out, "Angel? You here?" No answer.
Maybe I was overstepping as I led myself up the stairs and to her door. It was cracked and I could see her lying in bed, asleep. She had blankets piled on top of her and I spotted the bottle of NyQuil on her bedside table. My Nora was sick. Without thought, my hand drifted to her forehead and I felt the fever going strong. Her shoes were thrown haphazardly at the foot of her bed and peaking from under the covers I could see she was wearing one of my sweatshirts she had stolen on a rainy night.
"Hmmm?" She hummed, her eyes opening bleary and unfocused.
"Shh, Angel, it's just me. Go back to sleep. I'm going to take care of you."
"Kay." There wasn't much more I could do for her, except wait for her to wake up and need me. I decided to climb in beside her under the bed sheets, spooning her. Maybe my body heat will offer warmth and comfort for my Angel. Laying beside her relaxed a lot of the unexpected tension I felt, and I drifted asleep.
"Patch?" Hands shook me awake. Nora was resting against me, her voice hoarse. My eyes opened, immediately, and I looked at her, resting a hand against her cheek.
"How are you feeling, Angel?"
"Why are you here?" I chuckled a bit, brushing a piece of sweat soaked hair behind her ear. "Where else do I have to be? You stood me up for our date. Practically broke my heart." She bumped me, weakly.
"Let me tie your hair back, it's a mess." I ignored her gentle protests and grabbed the scrunchie she tried to hide from me off her bedside.
"Jeeze, you sure know how to make a girl feel beautiful, Patch."
"Have I been one to lie to you?" Her eyebrows rose, asking if I really wanted her to answer that question. I shut up and gathered her hair in my hands, pulling it up into a ponytail, so she wouldn't have to wrestle with it. Nora didn't fight it much, instead she seemed to enjoy me taming the rat's nest on top of her head. Of course this didn't surprise me much since Patch knows best and I especially knew the last thing Nora hated was for her hair to be in tangles.
"For a hardened criminal, you sure do know a lot about pulling up a girl's hair," Nora chuckled. Her chuckle didn't last long before it turned into a drawn out hoarse cough. I tsked gently and snatched up the NyQuil.
"When was your last dose, Angel?"
"Maybe around five this afternoon. Hey, what time is it, now?" Her eyes glanced at the alarm clock and she sighed whenever she realized it was nearly ten p.m. "I'm never going to fall back asleep. Wait, does this mean you'll still watch The Princess Bride with me?"
She knew me all too well because as she asked the question, she cozied up beside me, rested her head on my shoulder, and looked up at me through her eyelashes.
Nora was without a doubt the most seductively unaware female I'd ever met. And that's saying something. Unknowingly (most of the time), she had power beyond what she could imagine and one look from her eyes or a quick swish of her hair could sway me into doing almost anything. Not that I'd ever tell her that. God, I'd stay in an eternal state of lustful acquiesence.
"I guess. But I didn't think to bring everything over with me when I came this way, so I'll have to run back to my flat." Nora smiled and nodded before bending at the waist and pulling on her shoes.
"Oh no, no, no. I'll run and get the movie, you'll stay here- in bed."
"No, Patch, I want to go with you. I miss P.J. And our bed."
I didn't speak to her, only pulled the legs of her sweatpants up a bit and began placing her sneakers on her feet. I could nearly hear her satisfied smirk as she stood to her feet. After a bit of a struggle, she finally agreed to wrap her throw blanket around her shoulders for extra warmth before we headed outside. It being early December the weather was icy and the last thing either of us wanted was for a simple cold to become something more serious, particularly with my newfound mortality and susceptibility to illness. I also asked that she wait inside so I could crank up the Jeep and allow the heat run for a few minutes as we packed up her drugs and other sickly people necessities.
When the time came to leave, Nora drudged out of the room. Her sluggish manner was indication enough to me that she felt worse than she was letting on. Normally one to have energy and excitement, her slow steps contradicted her usual behavior. I'd have to keep an eye on her.
The drive over was hell. Maybe not literally, but it seemed like it could be a version of hell for someone.
Sick girlfriends (what a childish way to describe my relationship with Nora) are the worst.
She moaned the whole way here and I even had to pull over, so she could blow chunks on the sidewalk.
Also, wiping her down with a couple of glovebox napkins was not easy. And her breath reaked. None of these are things I would ever say to my Angel, nor would I be bringing up how much I disliked the overall experience of caring for a sick person. Of course, I loved being able to take care of my Nora and look after her when she was unable to do so, but, damn. Did it have to be (and smell) so unpleasant?
"Think you can make it inside, Angel?"
"Mhmmm, will you carry the blanket, please?"
By the blanket, she means the throw blanket I asked her to cover up with that was now covered in vomit. But, naturally, I agreed. Stinky ass vomit aside.
"Sure, Angel. Pass it here. I can carry that and your mini pharmacy inside, but you'll have to unlock the door."
"Okay. I can't wait to cuddle Patch."
"I'll cuddle you as soon as we get you settled." (And risk infection of the plague).
"No. I don't mean cuddling you. I mean cuddling P.J., our baby."
Damn dog, always stealing my damn girl. Shoulda never took that stupid, ugly, damn mutt in. We trucked our way inside. I nearly slipped on ice, but was able to recover before Nora could spot it. Entering the flat was like entering a cozy sauna, except for P.J. jumping at my feet. Nora bent immediately, showering him with love and kisses. I hope he catches whatever disease Nora's been infected with. Dumb dog.
"C'mon, Angel, let's head to our bedroom and I'll get you tucked in, so we can start the movie." She smiled and stood. P.J. trotted behind her. Ten minutes later, we were cuddled into bed. Nora had just been given another dose of NyQuil and, despite the movie playing, her eyes slowly folded closed and her head lolled lazily onto my chest. One arm was wrapped around P.J. (whom I swear was laughing on the inside at my jealous sneer) and the other tucked underneath her chin. Nora's mouth hung open and she sounded similar to a bear as she breathed.
But she looked beautiful.
Obviously not in the way of a conventional beauty. But she was real. And vulnerable and perfect. Angel was drooling and a little snotty, but she was here with me and because of that, she was lovely. Despite the disgusting details of the night (and this stupid dog I can't help love because she does), caring for Nora was a gift and something I was glad to do. It just took putting aside the inconveniences to see how lucky I really was to hold this treasure in my arms.
"Goodnight, Angel. I love you. In sickness and in health."