I woke up with vomit in my mouth. The kind of dirty stink that makes you run to a cup of anything to change the experience. All night I had been bent at the waist, feeling my body implode, stopped only by the frozen stomach muscles that I hadn’t felt for years. My skin was chilled and I could feel the fever coming on. At first I thought I had been sitting too long in the same position, stopping up the pipes. But after ten minutes of intense pain, I knew the McDonald’s I had too willingly wolfed down after a day of not eating was now fighting back the onslaught of my teeth and digestive juices. In fact, I thought that they had combined forces against me.
Forcing a finger down my throat had never been easier. I wanted to do anything to stop the pain. I dry heaved up some yellow mucus but the food had moved on to more distant locations. Would I be forcing this out both ends as my sister had experienced in the hospital when we were kids? I always dreaded that experience and didn’t wish it on my worst enemies. Well, maybe I did wish it on my worst enemies, but that was only because those people don’t seem to have ever experienced misery in their lives. And the good people of the world don’t deserve to go through that, least of all my sister, or myself.
So there I was, once again in that familiar position from college and childhood, grasping the dirty cold white porcelain in a way that only the truly sick are semi-comfortable with. Normally people will do anything to keep their heads away from a toilet. But when they need to purge something, it suddenly becomes a pillow and a relief from the heat.
During a brief misery-filled break from the porcelain, I rifled through my cabinets looking for the first aid that I was usually so proud of organizing, though I wondered if any of it could help. I felt like I had cut my arm off and was now looking for a band-aid. It felt therapeutic to throw things open and on to the ground. Now the contents of my cabinets seemed so over packed with backup toothpaste and backup deodorant that I soon realized, as the pain took hold, that I might actually have to get help from elsewhere. The upstairs neighbors were scattering ants on a gym shoe-damaged hill, heels made of lead. I wondered if they had heard me and would soon show up at the front door with contempt or concern. Could I finally call an ambulance for myself? Had that day come when I was that desperate for help? I shuddered at the pain and found 6 aspirin loose in a zip lock bag. I tore open the baggy dumping the contents onto the dusty rug. I took down three with the sewer water that comes out of my spout if I don’t let it run for 30 seconds, which made me wretch even more. Maybe I should eat some oatmeal. That’s all I have in the house to eat. But I knew I would instantly throw that up and who knows if I could even stand to run the microwave which was so far away in my rapidly cooling apartment.
The white of the porcelain curdled into Feta cheese and black roots shot up into the overcast sky. They grew into trees which rustled in an imagined wind as my heart thumped into the ground with a curious purpose. The sound was muffled by the cheese which was now white snow as a light brown deer emerged from between the branches to examine me. We regarded each other for a moment with wanderlust. I suddenly grew warm. My forehead started to sweat. I tried to lay on the bed, but swearing and turning on all sides and bending in every way imaginable didn’t seem to make me feel like doing anything other than calling for help. Is this how I will die? Some random stomach problem which might be as serious as my appendix bursting or a hole in my stomach spilling digestive juices into my body cavity. I think they call it sepsis and I think this is how it feels.