Sick Day A Vignette By Carli Tesini

I should’ve stayed home. I shouldn’t have gone to school. I certainly wouldn’t have, if I had a choice. But no, the decision was not up to me (as usual) and so now I’m here, my knuckles white as I cling to the sleeves of my black fleece, gritting my teeth against the nausea rolling in my stomach.

It’s silent reading. The classroom is dead quiet, our teacher hunched over her desk like a vulture, watching us intensely as we read. My book is in front of me, trembling in my sweaty hands as I try desperately to focus on the words and not the pressure building in my throat. My mind flashes back to the conversation I had with my father this morning:

-Dad, I don’t feel well.

-Eat some breakfast and you will feel better.

-I can’t eat anything; if I do, I’ll throw up.

-You better eat something or you’ll feel worse.

-Can’t I just stay home from school today?

-You’re fine. And you’re about to miss the bus, so hurry up.

Frustration tightens my chest at the thought of his carelessness...or is it just the nausea that has been building all morning, a reservoir held back by a flimsy dam, the stones beginning to crumble? My head spins and a sour taste spreads across the surface of my tongue; I know I have to leave now. I drop my book on my desk, rise from my chair, and speed-walk to the door of the classroom. But I’m too late.

The dam cracks, crumbles, and everything is released-my anger, my frustration, my half-digested breakfast of toast and milk I was forced to eat this morning. All over the threshold to my fifth-grade classroom. I look back at my classmates, the mess dripping down my chin, meeting their horrified expressions. Every single one of them has forgotten that it’s silent reading and there’s no talking aloud, and if you put your book down you’re in trouble. Even my teacher, usually so stoic and strict, has her mouth slightly open, her eyes full of shock. I turn and race out of the classroom.

I finish throwing up in the bathroom and sink to the floor, leaning my back against the cool stall door. My face is throbbing and not just because I’m sick. It’s suddenly like all the air has been vacuumed out of the bathroom and I can hardly move. The acidic taste of vomit lingers in my mouth, but it’s nothing compared to this tightness, this urge to be anywhere but here, this need to disappear and become a million specks of dust and drift into the air vents and out of the school and far, far away. Their expressions of horror are burned into my brain and I bury my face in my arms, not caring about the mess I leave on my fleece. I should’ve stayed home. I shouldn’t have come to school. I certainly wouldn’t have, if I had a choice. But no, the decision was not up to me, as usual, and so now I’m here, crumpled in a vomit-covered heap on the bathroom floor, longing to become nothing, nobody, to utterly vanish.


Created with images by stevepb - "thermometer headache pain" • ZapTheDingbat - "Reading" • Sarebear:) - "Embarrassed" • Megadeth's Girl - "Sad"

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