Tangled Up in Flu

I got the flu shot this fall.

I was reluctant to let the nurse stab my arm with the needle; it was my first time. Afterward, my friend and I were instructed to wait around for thirty minutes to make sure we didn’t develop a deadly reaction. I laid down on the orange couch and let my head roll off the side. He talked about driving across the country that weekend. I thought about what sort of deadly reaction I might be contracting that very minute.

But I didn’t contract a deadly reaction. I didn’t even get a rash. My arm retained a dull ache for a week. Then winter set in.

I forgot about the flu shot until this weekend, when my boyfriend sent me a solitary text message: Really sick.

Earlier that week, he had sat awake in the night shaking and burning up with a high temperature. I opened the windows, fed him pills, and waited for him to pass out. The next morning he was fine . . . Or so I thought.

Then I got the text message. Apparently, he had developed the flu that night as he shivered with chills in my bed. Which could only mean one thing, I thought, as I slapped a cold compress on his head later that night: I’m probably next.

Or was I?

As I sat on his bed, propping up a glass of water and forcing him to swallow enough aspirin to kill a small dog, I reminded myself to wash my hands. Not like it would matter much–we had slept in the same petri dish of germs. His fever had spiked to almost 103, and I sat him up with cold juice.

Will the flu shot work? I hope so, and so does he. Because to be honest, he might be cute, but I don’t know if he’d make a hot nurse.


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